Sectors And Aircraft States
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What is a sector? A sector is a piece of airspace with a polygon boundary as lateral limits and with defined bottom and top altitudes/levels as vertical limits. The airspace controlled by the controller is his/her sector. (e.g. LHBP_APP sector covers the Budapest TMA, LHCC_CTR covers all Hungarian airspace, or after a division, LHCC_E_CTR can cover the Eastern part of Hungary)
NEW in Euroscope: An important feature of Euroscope is that it can make the airspace you are controlling visually appear, and on top of that, since it "knows" the vertical and horizontal limits of the airspace you own, it can handle aircrafts differently. Suppose you log in to control the Netherlands as EHAA_CTR, the territory between the North Sea to the German and Belgian borders (practically the "FIR") lights up. Further suppose that heavy traffic makes it necessary to split up this sector and your colleague comes online as EHAA_W_CTR to deal with the London inbounds in the Western part, that part of your earlier "lit-up" will "go blank", since it is not owned by you anymore. Another nice example is controlling multiple-sector airspaces, like the VATSIM Eurocontrol positions: with EuroScope the controller's work becomes much easier - it will be discussed below in details.
You may ask, how does Euroscope know all this? The programming is surely very sophisticated, but the division and handling of sectors is always the competency of VACCs and controllers. So once they are agreed on (and most VACCs have been smartly using airspaces), it has to be loaded to the software so that it knows all the vertical and horizontal sector information. Since other VATSIM controller clients did not have this airspace handling capacity, technically these sector definitions are put in a separate ESE file. (So EuroScope uses two files to determine your sector: (1) the earlier used SCT files and (2) the new ESE files.) This may sound complicated, but don't get scared: it is a one-time issue (or only at AIRAC changes), and in fact it makes life easier! The philosophy of EuroScope is to integrate all airspace information of a VACC into one SCT and ESE file; if you switch controlled sector in your VACC, a different airspace is lit up, and you don't have to reload SCT files! Therefore VACCs are expected to take care of updating the sector information so that controllers can use them easily. The complete definition can be found in the Airspace section of the ESE Files Description page. Please, consult it how you can define your sectors.
You can define any number of sectors for one sectorfile. Each sector may have a hierarchy list that defines which controller will control that individual sector. In this way every logged in controller will be assigned by one or more sectors to be worked within. These are completely dynamic in EuroScope. When another controller logs in who has higher priority for a sector, it will be reassigned immediately. On the other way a leaving controller's sectors may be inherited by the online ones. The hierarchy makes it possible to define the sector e.g. for a tower with the hierarchy list that assigns the sector first to the tower controller, then to the appropriate approach and finally the control. In this way if tower is online the sector belongs to him even if approach is online. But if tower controller quits the sector will be assigned to the approach immediately.
The sectors owned by you and not owned by you are displayed with different background colors. That way it is really easy to notice where you are controlling. This feature probably helps best for the Euro Control position controllers, who can see immediately when a FIR controller come online or leaves the system.
In this picture I am controlling the Eurocontrol East sectors from Poland to Bulgaria. No other controller is online and the whole area belongs to me.
Here you see that Praha came online. Therefore his FIR no longer belongs to me. Its color is changed. And you also can notice the red line indicating an active handoff area where I should pass the aircraft tracking by me to the next controller.
We have now one more controller. Wien Radar is online. It does not change my sectors as Austria does not belong to Eurocontrol East. But the red line indicating the active handoff area is visible.
Flight Plan Extraction
We can say that EuroScope puts flight plan analysis into a new level. It incorporates the FSNavigator database and uses all point and airway definition information to decide the exact route an aircraft will follow. (This requires pilots to file valid flight plans (WAYPOINT (AIRWAY) WAYPOINT, e.g. TORNO Y56 GIGOR for a LHBP-LOWW flight. EuroScope still can handles "slightly invalid" routings, but on the other hand we must see that since the route section of the flight plan is a free text data, it is simply impossible for a software to understand all that a pilot have filed if it is not a validated flightplan. That way the extraction of the route data works is good for 90% of the flight plans - but there are still ones that are completely misunderstood. In these cases the controller can easily edit the routings)
On top of the horizontal route data EuroScope extends it with a vertical profile. For that all the coordination point (see again in the ESE Files Description page) descriptions are used and also a rough climb and descend rate calculator is implemented. In this way a complete 3-dimensional flight route is calculated for each known aircraft.
In this picture you can see that just from fixes and airway names the whole flight plan will be extracted point by point.
It could happen that you or another controller gives a shortcut to a pilot. It can be very easily set through the TAG. Once the waypoint is defined the extracted route is also changed (so does the distance-to-go calculation).
Now, as we have this complete three dimensional flight route estimations, EuroScope can compare them with the sector definitions. The result of this comparison is that EuroScope is able to classify the aircrafts to the following categories:
- Non concerned - an aircraft that is not inside any of your sectors and (based on the flight plan) will never ever enter there. Basically you will never control that aircraft.
- This picture is really interesting. I am controlling Budapest Radar, Budapest approach is also online and DLH3446 is coming to LHBP. But as the coordinated flight level at Budapest TMA entry point (RUTOL) is FL190 and approach is controlling up to FL195 this aircraft never enters to my sector at all just to approach.
- Notified - an aircraft that is still far away but if follows the flight plan route will enter to your sector. Note that approach has left, therefore I am controlling that sector too.
- Coordinated - in real world this is a very important state indicates that the neighbour controllers are agreed how the AC will be handed off. As there are no such tools in VATSIM all Notified aircraft become Coordinated 15 minutes prior entering your sector.
- Transfer to me initiated - another controller initiated a handoff to me.
- Assumed - you are controlling the aircraft. Note the sector indicator already indicating that the next controller I will handoff the aircraft will be Ferihegy Tower (abbreviation used is FT ).
- As the aircraft is within 3 minutes time to the next controller the sector indicator automatically changes to display the next controller frequency.
- Transfer from me initiated - when I initiated a handoff to the next controller.
- Redundant - when the aircraft is still inside your sector but the next controller is already tracking it.
- Non concerned - just to close the sequence, as the aircraft leaves your sector and will not come back its state changes to Non concerned again.
Image is to be created.
Radar Connection States
With v3.1, some new radar states for the aircraft's target symbol have been introduced, mainly related to the new Professional Radar Simulation. All radar targets can be freely customized using the Symbology Settings dialog. The available standard radar targets are:
- squawk stand-by - If an aircraft's transponder is on standby, there is only a small cross at the aircraft position.
- primary radar only - If you are receiving only a primary radar response of an aircraft, its position is indicated by a larger cross (plus).
- Mode A/C secondary radar only - If an aircraft is squawking C (VATSIM mode) and you are receiving only a secondary radar response, the aircraft's position is indicated by an X.
- Mode S secondary radar only - If an aircraft is squawking C (VATSIM mode), the aircraft is identified as being equipped with a S transponder by the equipment code and you are receiving only a secondary radar response, the aircraft's position is indicated by a diamond.
- Primary radar + mode A/C secondary radar - If an aircraft is squawking C (VATSIM mode) and you are receiving the primary and the secondary radar response, the aircraft's position is indicated by a cube.
- Primary radar + mode S secondary radar - If an aircraft is squawking C (VATSIM mode), the aircraft is identified as being equipped with a S transponder by the equipment code and you are receiving primary and the secondary radar response, the aircraft's position is indicated by a circle.
- Primary radar + mode A/C secondary radar - Squawk Ident - If a mode C aircraft is squawking squawking IDENT then this special "4-legged" icon with text saying: SPI (Special Position Identification) indicates its position.
- Primary radar + mode S secondary radar - Squawk Ident - If a mode S aircraft is squawking squawking IDENT then this special "4-legged" icon with text saying: SPI (Special Position Identification) indicates its position.
- Flightplan track - the flightplan track's calculated positions are indicated by a triangle.
- Coasting - When there is no position update for 30 seconds, the target of the aircraft changes to #.
- History dot - The target's history trail is depicted by dots.
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