ARTCCAir Route Traffic Control Center
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The authors would like to thank the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) and the ATCs at Indianapolis ARTCC for their gratuitous support on performing the experiment.
The mainframe computers acting as the central computers, or hosts, for most of the ARTCC systems--IBM 3083s, IBM 9020Es, IBM ES/9121 s, and the Raytheon 750--are antiquated vacuum tube systems.
Each ARTCC is responsible for a defined airspace that typically covers several states and extends from the ground to 60 000 feet, except where other types of ATC are enacted.
Filing a simple direct route is technically contrary to AIM 5-1-8(d), which states that operators should "[f]ile a minimum of one route description waypoint for each ARTCC through whose area the random route will be flown.
If you have IFR charts handy and can look up the frequency, call the nearest approach control or ARTCC and start the ball rolling.
By 0400, the King Air was in cruise at 14,500 feet msl and receiving flight-following services from the Fort Worth ARTCC.
Prior to the accident, the pilot had been in contact with the Albuquerque ARTCC and declared an emergency, stating he was trapped underneath a cloud layer in mountainous terrain, and that the visibility was deteriorating.
Each HOST computer--one at every ARTCC (Center)--stores and transmits flight plan data between other ARTCCs, processes radar data, and enables aircraft hand-off from one controller to another.
For reference, Don Brown, then the National Air Traffic Controllers Association's Facility Safety Representative at the Atlanta ARTCC, wrote an interesting comment on this topic in 2005.