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Topic review (newest first)

1969-12-31 16:00:00

Air Traffic Controllers

They are the smart people that coordinate aircraft flightpaths.

1969-12-31 16:00:00

every ariplanes in air have a strong Radar on it and radar shows to pilot every things around the airplanes .

1969-12-31 16:00:00

Why you dont see an airplane in the air?  Lots of airspace and air pollution.  Look for the condensation trails their massive jet engines leave a few miles long.  Why dont other airplanes see other airplanes often in the air unless you know where to look?  TCAS (traffic collision and avoidance system) actually picks up the transponder RF and displays it on a little LCD read out or a mounted cockpit display.  This only works if the aircraft has an operating transponder though!  You only need an xponder in certain class airspace or if you want ATC to more easily provide services.  Aircraft with an EAST COURSE fly at ODD altitudes and WEST COURSES fly at EVEN altitudes.  Fighters and military aircraft only carry airborne search/fire control radar.  Civilian jets carry weather radar/storm scope if you will.

Claudio M
1969-12-31 16:00:00


Baby Jane
1969-12-31 16:00:00

we pilots sure try to complicate answers don't we? it's simpler than many make it out to be here. mostly we look out the window.

1969-12-31 16:00:00

air traffic controllers are always monitering the skies and they have onboard radar wich helps

Midnight Rose
1969-12-31 16:00:00

By not hitting other airplanes.

Lachlan W
1969-12-31 16:00:00

The eyes have it. It's a big sky out there; really big. That and a clean window are the biggest collision avoidance devices that exist.

1969-12-31 16:00:00

they have a system installed called TCAS - traffic collision avoiding system plus they are guide from the ATC - air traffic control towers during approaches and take off

1969-12-31 16:00:00

When an aeroplane takes off, it has already booked a flight plan.  The aircraft fly at different heights to avoid colliding with each other, essentially they are layered in the sky.

Alloy Boy
1969-12-31 16:00:00

Because pilots are told what direction and altitude to travel by air traffic controllers.  Major airports have local controllers and once the plane leaves their airspace, they are handed off to other controllers.

John B
1969-12-31 16:00:00

Would mostly agree with Aviopage.  First, I've flown airplanes thousands of miles with no radio, much less talking to ATC (it was quite pleasant).

I didn't see TCAS until I got on with an airline.

Only the F-16 I flew had radar capable of air-to-air paints.

But every single one of them had this thing called a window that you could actually look out of and see other aircraft through.

While I appreciate ATC pointing out traffic when I'm talking to them, and there are regulations that specific altitudes for direction of flight (I've seen people get it wrong though), and TCAS is nice to help with a visual pick up.  Still nothing beats the Mk I Eyeball.

As the old fighter pilot saying goes, "Sight is life, speed is merely groovy."

1969-12-31 16:00:00

Large plane have collision detection radars.  Even so they get directions from air traffic to avoid collision.  Also planes follow "air corridors" (sort of like sky hwys) that most planes going the same way all use.  So planes going from NYC to L.A. all follow the general corridor.

Small planes do it by visual methods.


If you ever go up on a small plane (in pilot or co-pilot seat) you will realize that there's a lot of space and very little traffic.

Good Luck...

1969-12-31 16:00:00

there's a few factors contributing to the lack of collisions

- size of the sky. no explanation necessary i hope.

- vision. pilots can detect another airplane on a collision course by sight

-ATC. air traffic controllers make sure aircraft near congested areas such as airports have safe separation and follow their filed flight plans, and direct 'lost' aircraft away from danger

-TCAS. Traffic collision system. it is a radar system mounted on most large aircraft that calculate the course speed and altitude of each other plane and warn the pilot if another plane is on a collision course with them. It even calculates the proper corrective action ( climb, descent), and orally tells the pilot.

-airways. like highways in the sky, they're marked by radio navigation points on the ground such as VORs and in conjunction with air traffic controllers, it is near impossible to collide with something in that airway. it is considered restricted airspace and can only be used by those who have filed a flight plan, and thus those who are being watch over by ATC

grumpy geezer
1969-12-31 16:00:00

Lots of people posted on this one without knowing anything about air traffic separation.  So there are some pretty goofy answers above, and also a couple of pretty good ones.

The primary method of air traffic separation is visual separation by pilots.  EVERY pilot is responsible for keeping her aircraft clear of other aircraft and out of the way of traffic routes.

The second most important process is altitude separation.  Airplanes are required to fly at pre-assigned altitudes for flights in a given general direction.

Aircraft on instrument flight plans (and most flights are not on a flight plan) are assigned a specific route and altitude by Air Traffic Control to keep them separate from other aircraft.

Many people casually interested in aviation somehow get the impression that all airplanes have radar, but actually only a few are so equipped, and on-board radar is chiefly for weather observation, and do not allow pilots to see other airplanes.

In heavy traffic areas and en-route airways, air traffic controllers use ground-based radar to observe the positions and movements of aircraft under their control.  And some airplanes are equipped with additional electronic equipment (TCAS) that warns pilots of nearby aircraft.

TCAS is required in all US registered commercial aircraft, but not necessarily in commercial airplanes not registered in the US.

In summary, the main point is that every pilot is responsible for traffic separation, and all the other systems are add-ons.