SpeedbirdHeavy
Topic Author
Posts: 414
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2004 3:39 pm

### ATC Center Frequencies

I have often wondered why there are so many frequencies for Centers?

I just flew from DEN to PHX on Ted. I was listening to Channel 9 the whole way. I must have counted at least 7 or 8 different frequencies for Denver Center. Also, between what I heard on the plane and what I hear on my scanner at home, there must be at least 6 or 7 different frequencies for Albuquerque center.

What do they all mean? How is it determined who gets passed over to what frequency? Are all those frequencies emanating from one facility too?
China Airlines...Come fry with us!

goboeing
Posts: 2476
Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2000 5:31 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

The Air Route Traffic Control Centers are further divided into sectors, each with it's own name that you can find in the Airport Facility Directory. Some are high altitude only (such as above FL280), and some go from the low teens all the way up to the highest cruising altitudes. So there are some stacked on top of each other and also side by side.

Nick

InnocuousFox
Posts: 2556
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2003 1:30 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

(Click on the picture below to get a less distorted version)

Centers...

Low Sectors...

High Sectors...

Approach (TRACONS)...

Each TRACON can have between 1 and maybe 10 different sub-sectors as well depending on how busy they can get. OMA has 2, for example (east/west) and places like ORD will have many more. The point is for each controller to have no more than about 8 aircraft under his control at any one time.
Dave Mark - Intrinsic Algorithm - Reducing the world to mathematical equations!

planespotting
Posts: 3026
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:54 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

imagine what it would be like if there was just ONE (1) frequency for each center? 747's going 500kts at FL390 would be waiting for Cessna 172 pilots to call "out of 1.3 for 3.5" and so forth and vice versa. Makes it a lot easier with shit loads of freqencies. Also, there are remote antennaes all over the United States that are connected via land (phone) line to the ARTCC. How do you think airplanes in western north and south dakota can talk to Minneapolis Center in Minneapolis?

N766UA
Posts: 7862
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 1999 3:50 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

Cleveland ARTCC, for example, is divided into 8 areas with each having about 10 different sectors based on altitude. There is also flow control which has its own frequencies. On top of that there are all the non-controllers like the weather people, credit union folks, and other office workers. Based on your question, though, Cleveland has over 70 frequencies based on altitude and geographical area. For example, 2 sectors could work the same area of land but one would be from 8000-FL190 and the other from FL190-FL390 for example. You are handed off as you progress from controller to controller, area to area, and center to center.

Tiger119
Posts: 1595
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2003 1:52 pm

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

InnocuousFox (or anyone for that matter), on the first graphic, each area has a three letter label for the center. I know where the centers are except for ZLC. Is that Salt Lake City and what is the significance of the first letter "Z?"
Flying is the second greatest thrill known to mankind, landing is the first!

SUPRAZACHAIR
Posts: 474
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 3:27 pm

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

I know where the centers are except for ZLC. Is that Salt Lake City and what is the significance of the first letter "Z?"

Salt Lake City is correct. Z just means center. Pretty simple.

CWUPilot
Posts: 122
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2004 7:49 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

Had the pleasure of visiting Seattle Center the other day. It was very exciting to see how different controllers for different sectors work together to trasfer airplanes from one sector to another. Also, I got to play around in their atc sim and try it out myself. Good times!!!

-CWUPilot
"The worst day of flying still beats the best day of real work."

SUPRAZACHAIR
Posts: 474
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 3:27 pm

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

CWUPilot-

Is that over by the Muckleshoots? How'd you go about setting it up? I'd like to visit some ATC facilites some time.
-Zach

modesto2
Posts: 2694
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2000 3:44 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

I'd imagine that it's difficult to visit ATC facilities these days. A few years ago (back in 2000), I visited the Bay TRACON. This facility is essentially the approach/departure control for Bay Area aircraft. It was fascinating to sit next to controllers as they line up aircraft on parallel approaches to SFO's 28L and 28R. To arrange this visit, I just called the facility and informed them that I'm an aviation enthusiast. After 9/11, their policies may have changed. However, it doesn't hurt to ask!

SUPRAZACHAIR
Posts: 474
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 3:27 pm

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

Yeah, i didn't think you even had a chance after 9/11, but I did notice in the AIM section 4-1-6: Pilot Visits to Air Traffic Facilities.

http://www.faa.gov/Atpubs/Aim/Chap4/aim0401.html

So I'm gonna make some phone calls and see what I can do. I'd love to visit SEA tower some time.

N766UA
Posts: 7862
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 1999 3:50 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

As long as the security level isn't up, getting into a center or tower isn't that hard. My father is a supervisor but I was able to get 3 friends in with me (2 pilots, 1 non-pilot) for a tour. Even worked some planes! If you get a no the first time, try again... chances are it's just an anal boss.

planespotting
Posts: 3026
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:54 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

yeah thet easiest to visit is a control tower at a Class C or D airport. Just get the tower number from the local FBO and give them a call, or better yet if you're taxiing in ask the ground controller if getting a tour is available, that way they know you're a pilot and that they should be expecting you. the folks at Moline are super nice about this

NWA744
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon May 31, 2004 2:52 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

Is there a website where you can find all the center frequencies? I live in the Cleveland Center, and want to program them into my scanner, but have only been able to find a few of them...

N766UA
Posts: 7862
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 1999 3:50 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

NWA744: You're only going to pick up the high altitude stuff and you'll only hear the pilot's side of the conversation. Really not worth it to try to listen to center freaks.

NWA744
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon May 31, 2004 2:52 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

Alright N766UA. Thanks.

I've found that I can track a departing plane from Detroit departure to a center frequency, but I usually lose it after about 20 minutes. When planes are arriving, I can usually see them from my house (with binoculars) right when the tune into Detroit approach. I was just wondering if I could find the center freq that they came from, but you're right in that you can only hear the pilots, which is a huge downside.

timz
Posts: 6310
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 1999 7:43 am

### RE: ATC Center Frequencies

NWA744, you can follow departing aircraft until they're on a high-alt freq-- right? Next step is to keep listening to that high-alt freq until you hear aircraft passing overhead from, say, the West Coast to JFK-EWR. Listen for their readbacks of the freqs they're switching to, until you've got a bunch of high-alt freqs in your area. Hopefully one of them will also have some Detroit arriving traffic, and you'll be able to hear their readbacks of the low-alt freq they're switching to.

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