Air Traffic Organization Policy

JO 7210.3
Effective Date:
April 3, 2014
Subject:  Facility Operation and Administration

Section 3. Communications Procedures


Facility air traffic managers must establish procedures to provide interim communications in the event that local or long-line standard Service “F” fail. These must include the use of telephone conference circuits and the use of airline or other facilities.


a. Answer public access telephones by stating the facility's name and type. The employee may state his/her name at his/her discretion. If, for any reason, a caller specifically requests identification, the employee should provide his/her assigned operating initials in lieu of the actual name. Contract facilities must answer public access lines by stating the name of the service provider and type.

ARTCC: (The facility's name) Center; for example, “Washington Center.”
FSS: (The facility's name) Flight Service; for example, “Juneau Flight Service” or “(Service Provider Name) Flight Service.”
ATCT: (The facility's name) Tower; for example, “Atlanta Tower.”
Approach Control: (The facility's name) Approach Control; for example, “Dulles Approach Control.”

b. Answer local airport, private exchange (PX), or interdepartmental system type telephones as outlined above, except omit the location name; e.g., Center, Tower, Flight Service, etc.

c. Where the public access telephone is recorded, a beeper tone is not required. In place of the “beep” tone, the FCC has substituted a mandatory requirement that persons to be recorded must be given notice that they are to be recorded and give consent. This notice is given to the public through an entry in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). Consent to the record is assumed by the individual when placing the call to an operational facility.

d. When equipment capabilities exist, every effort should be made to conduct conversations with flight-crews or other appropriate persons regarding any aircraft accident, incident, and/or ATC services on a recorded line.


a. Frequencies allocated to a facility must be continuously monitored except:

1. ARTCCs need not monitor 121.5 and 243.0 MHz if other ATC facilities monitor those frequencies in a given area.

2. FSSs equipped with ICSS equipment may reconfigure the ICSS to allow the temporary selection, muting, or rerouting of 121.5 and 243.0 MHz during the period of an interfering signal; e.g., continuous emergency locator transmitter (ELT), stuck mike, etc.

b. Facilities must establish procedures to ensure that frequencies used on a shared basis; e.g., single frequency approach operations, are continuously monitored by one of the positions of operation.


a. Air traffic facilities must have transmit and receive capability on emergency frequencies 121.5 and 243.0 MHz as necessary to meet emergency frequency network requirements.

b. Normally, ARTCC emergency frequency capability must be limited to the transmitter/receiver site nearest the ARTCC.

c. At locations having more than one type of facility, such as a FSS and a tower, or a FSS, a tower, and an ARTCC, a common transmitter and receiver may be shared where practicable. Where this is done, the transmitter must be equipped with a lockout device to avoid inadvertent interference between facilities.

d. When facilities are in proximity and no derogation of services will result, transmit/receive capability should not be provided for each facility. The following requirements must be maintained:

1. Geographical area coverage must not be derogated.

2. Facilities without emergency frequency capability must have appropriate landlines for rapid relay of emergency information.

e. The two emergency channels must not be terminated on the same key in the transmitter-receiver selector panels. Neither emergency frequency must be terminated with any other frequency.

f. To preclude inadvertent use of these frequencies, a mechanical or other appropriate device must be provided which will require deliberate removal or bypass before any emergency frequency transmit key can be moved to the locked-operate position.

g. UHF emergency frequency 243.0 MHz is installed in military aircraft using an override arrangement. As a result, transmissions on this frequency are received by all military aircraft within the transmitter's area of coverage. Unnecessary emissions on this frequency derogate communications on ATC frequencies and may interfere with valid emergency communications. Reduce transmissions on 243.0 MHz to the absolute minimum consistent with safety.

h. As a minimum, conduct two-way, ground-to-air checks during low activity periods:

1. Once a week.

2. Following equipment repairs.

3. Following Technical Operations maintenance checks.

i. Control facilities should limit broadcasts on 243.0 MHz to the facility in the area of desired coverage and must ensure that broadcasts are not continued unnecessarily.


Facilities equipped with battery-powered transceivers must ensure that they are maintained in a state of readiness. Transceivers must be checked at least once a week.


Facility air traffic managers must notify System Operations and Safety by message, attention Manager of System Safety and Procedures, with an information copy to the appropriate Service Area office, of changes in the operational status of communication facilities not covered by FAAO 7900.2, Reporting of Electronic Navigation Aids and Communication Facilities Data to the NFDC. The following data must be reported (include the RIS AT 7230-12 in the text):

a. The date and time FAA assumes operation of or decommissions an operations center, message center, data switching center, domestic or international aeronautical fixed telecommunication network (AFTN) “data communication circuit”, or international voice circuit.

b. Change in the hours of operation of any of the above and the effective date.

c. Changes required in weather schedule publications and communications systems drawings.


a. The frequencies 121.6, 121.65, 121.7, 121.75, 121.8, 121.85, and 121.9 MHz are authorized to ELT test stations and for use in ELT exercises by the Air Force, Coast Guard, and other search and rescue organizations. Coordination with regional frequency management offices must be effected prior to activating the transmitter. Non-Federal assignments must be obtained through the FCC.

b. Airborne ELT tests must not be authorized.

c. Aircraft operational testing of an ELT is authorized on 121.5 MHz and 243.0 MHz as follows:

1. Tests should be no longer than three audio sweeps.

2. If the antenna is removable, a dummy load should be substituted during test procedures.

3. Tests must only be conducted the first 5 minutes of any hour.

d. Normally, there will be no interference on 121.5 MHz or 243.0 MHz as testing will be conducted in a screened or shielded room or test enclosure that will hold the self-contained ELT unit with the antenna fully extended. If interference is noted, it must be brought to the attention of the repair station operator for corrective action. If the repair station operator does not correct the fault and the interference continues, make a verbal report to the appropriate FSDO.


a. Assign each “Radar Associate” position the identical frequencies as the “Radar” position except where precluded by system hardware/software limitations or facility needs.

b. If the conditions of paragraph a cannot be met, the frequencies needed to control each sector must be available at another position. This level of redundancy assures all A/G frequencies can readily be covered in the case of VCE outage.


a. Air traffic VSCS positions listed as “released to maintenance” must not be reconfigured unless prior approval has been received from Technical Operations.

b. When approval has been obtained and the reconfiguration action has been completed, return the previously released position to Technical Operations and continue to list the position as “released to maintenance,” or as directed by Technical Operations.

During the period that the VSCS position is listed as “released to maintenance,” this procedure must be utilized whenever a reconfiguration to the position is required.


a. Facility air traffic managers must ensure that local procedures are developed which will accommodate switching from VSCS to a VTABS operation. These procedures must include, but not be limited to:

1. Controllers must, in the event that VSCS air/ground communications capabilities are lost, notify the operational supervisor and attempt to access all air/ground resources through the VSCS via Main, Standby, and BUEC.

2. The operational supervisor must notify the operations manager-in-charge (OMIC) and consider combining sectors within the area before going to a VTABS operation. The VTABS system is designed wherein the entire facility must be switched over to VTABS. Consider all alternatives before making the transition to VTABS. If these resources are unsuccessful, the OMIC must coordinate with the NOM to transition to VTABS.

3. Operational supervisors must ensure the VTABS sector map configurations are appropriate for the operation.

4. Controllers must verify the appropriate VTABS frequency mode; i.e., main, standby, or BUEC, for their operating position, since the VTABS frequency selection will be in the same mode as when it was last used.

b. When a catastrophic loss of VSCS occurs and transfer to a VTABS configuration becomes necessary, the OMIC must assure that the procedures established in para 2-1-7, Air Traffic Service (ATS) Continuity, are adhered to.

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