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United Kingdom Division

ATC Positions

ATC Positions
Revision: 19 Jun 2022

The UK's ATC is split into the following categories; Delivery, Ground, Tower, Approach, and Centre (En-Route). These are also called positions. The idea behind these positions are to ensure that controllers do not deal with more aircraft than required, and each positions its own responsibilities.


Depending on traffic levels and airspace complexity, some airports may have more than one of each of the positions. In fact, it is common practice for busy airports, such as Manchester or Heathrow, to have more than one Tower, Approach and even Ground controllers.


Some airports might not even have one of these positions, such as Leeds which does not have a Ground controller, or Doncaster which does not have either Delivery nor Ground. In such a case, the position above will take-over the responsibilities for the underlying position. This is also called top-down controlling.


Uncontrolled Airports & Airspace
Revision: 19 Jun 2022

In OCAS, the airspace is not directly controlled by ATC. However, that is not to say that ATC is not present at all. In fact, it is common small, uncontrolled airports have an Information controller during specified hours. For example, Sandtoft Airfield, a small uncontrolled airfield used for General Aviation in the North of England, has an Information controlled online usually between the hours of 09:00-17:00 local time.


These Information units will usually provide a Basic Service to aircraft, which provide information such as general activity (e.g. glider activity, current circuit height and direction) or weather information (e.g. current pressure setting). These units do not have the ability to provide any clearance or give instructions to aircraft, but instead provide advisory's based on the information reported to them.


Approach - Intermediate and Final
Revision: 20 Jun 2022

When looking at Approach and Centre ATC units, there will often be multiple positions to consider. Approach is often broken-down into Intermediate approach and Final approach. Intermediate approach will deal with arriving aircraft after taking them from the en-route controller, and then hand them off to final approach once the aircraft is nearer the airport, and below the Transition Altitude. It is common practice for busy aerodromes to have more than one intermediate approach position, with one final approach position.


The idea behind this split of traffic is to ensure that controllers are able to focus on a smaller area of responsibility, especially during high levels of traffic. Sometimes, final approach will only be open when the traffic levels are at their highest, to aide with workload distribution. Intermediate controllers take on the responsibilities of final approach where the final approach controller is not present. 


On POSCON, it is requested members only log onto final approach positions where an intermediate approach position is filled.


Revision: 19 Jun 2022

Name: Delivery/Planner

Abbreviation: DEL

R/T Callsign: DELIVERY

Coordination Callsign: GMP

Responsibilities: The Ground Movement Planner, or Delivery, controller provide clearances for departing aircraft, as well as assigning stands to arrival aircraft. It is regarded as one of the most important positions at an aerodrome, as it defines the workload for Ground and Tower controllers alike. The Delivery controller must ensure only a sensible amount of aircraft is sent to the Ground controller, and manage any delays caused by controller workload.

Name: Ground

Abbreviation: GND

R/T Callsign: GROUND

Coordination Callsign: GMC

Responsibilities: The Ground Movement Coordinator, or Ground, is responsible for all aircraft movements on the stands and taxiways. From giving pushback clearances to taxi clearances, it is a vital position for any airport. It's AoR spans the entire airport, with the exception of Rapid Exit Taxiways, and Runways.

Name: Tower

Abbreviation: TWR

R/T Callsign: TOWER

Coordination Callsign: AIR

Responsibilities: The Tower controller is responsible for the Aerodrome Traffic Zone (ATZ), the runway, and the rapid exit taxiways. They are also responsible for local VFR traffic in the absence of an Approach controller. The Tower controller is responsible for providing landing and take-off clearances, and managing the overall use of the runways.

Name: Final

Abbreviation: APP

R/T Callsign: DIRECTOR/RADAR (Non-Radar/Procedural Facilites: APPROACH)

Coordination Callsign: FIN

Responsibilities: The Final approach controller is responsible for vectoring inbound aircraft onto the approach path, being that the ILS, VOR, or even a visual approach. Most of the aircraft they receive will come from the Intermediate approach controller.
Depending on the aerodrome, they may also be responsible for VFR aircraft in the vicinity. The final approach controller, however, does not control departures.

Name: Intermediate

Abbreviation: APP

R/T Callsign: RADAR/DIRECTOR (Non-Radar/Procedural Facilites: APPROACH)

Coordination Callsign: INT

Responsibilities: The Intermediate approach controller is responsible for arriving aircraft into the aerodrome. The controller will often take the aircraft directly from the en-route controller, and vector (guide) them into the airport. If the Final approach controller is online, they will transfer control of the aircraft to them at the agreed transfer point.
At some aerodromes, they may also be responsible for some, or all, of the departing aircraft until control is transferred to the en-route controller. Occasionally these controllers may also control departures or arrival directly from other approach units, if the flight is local.
INT is also responsible for VFR aircraft in the CTR/CTZ, as well as providing ATSOCAS services to aircraft outside of controlled airspace, workload permitting. 

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