Section 6. Watch Supervision-Terminal/En Route

  1. Watch supervision requires maintaining situational awareness (defined below) of traffic activity and operational conditions in order to provide timely assistance to specialists and that ensure available resources are deployed for optimal efficiency. Watch supervision may be performed by a manager, supervisor, or controller-in-charge (CIC). The objectives and tasks of watch supervision must be specified in a facility directive, which is focused on operational requirements. The directive must specify, as a minimum, the required tasks for maintaining a safe and efficient operation. These tasks must include, but are not limited to:
  1. The requirement to provide guidance and goals for the shift.
  2. Monitoring/managing traffic volume/flow.
  3. Position assignments.
  4. Position relief.
  5. Training assignments.
  6. Processing leave requests (e.g., leave approval).
  7. Configuring/monitoring/reporting equipment status.
  8. Data collection and reporting.
  9. Monitoring presidential aircraft and reporting security requirements.
  10. Situational awareness is defined as a continuous extraction of environmental information, integration of this information with previous knowledge to form a coherent mental picture, and the use of that picture in directing further perception and anticipating future events. Simply put, situational awareness means knowing what is going on around you.
  11. Management of the operational environment with a goal toward eliminating distractions of:
  1. Non-operationally-related activities or tasks that are distracting, such as controller schedule or leave bidding.
  2. Non-operationally needed items and equipment.
  3. When activities or tasks that are not time critical or operationally necessary become distracting to the operation, watch supervision must take steps to defer or relocate these activities or tasks.
  1. Administrative duties must not be accomplished to the detriment of any operational duty.


Individuals medically disqualified or taking medically disqualifying substances must not be assigned watch supervision duties, in accordance with paragraph 2-8-6, Restricted Drugs.

  1. In the role of watch supervision, a CIC must perform these duties in accordance with management direction, with the following exceptions:
  1. Evaluating and counseling employees on their performance.
  2. Recommending selections, promotions, awards, disciplinary actions, and separations.
  3. Site Coordinator for drug or alcohol testing.


On-the-spot corrections are not considered an evaluation of performance and are required as part of CIC duties.

  1. Efficient air traffic services require watch supervision regardless of the number of people assigned. Facilities must establish local procedures for watch supervision assignments.
  2. Where authorized, when two or more operations managers are assigned to the shift, one must be designated as the Operations Manager in Charge (OMIC). The OMIC is responsible for the day-to-day, shift by shift, management of the control room operation.
  3. When two or more supervisory traffic management coordinators (STMC) are on duty, one must be assigned as supervisory traffic management coordinator-in-charge (STMCIC).
  4. When two or more operations supervisory personnel are on duty in an operational area (for example, radar room, tower, ARTCC area, etc.), one must be assigned as in charge.


These “in charge” personnel may be called OSIC, operations supervisor-in-charge (OS/CIC), or other names designated by the facility manager.

  1. When two or more specialists are on duty and no supervisory personnel are available, one specialist who is fully qualified and rated in the assigned operational area must be designated as CIC to perform the watch supervision duties.


In combined radar/tower facilities, when there's a tower CIC and TRACON CIC, one must be designated as the overall controller-in-charge (OCIC).

  1. At facilities where a specialist stands a watch alone, the responsibility for watch supervision becomes part of his/her duties.
  2. Personnel performing watch supervision duties may be required to perform operational duties in addition to watch supervision duties. The performance of operational duties should be done on a limited basis such as during periods of low activity.
  3. An individual is considered available for watch supervision when he/she is physically present in the operational area and is able to perform the primary duties of the function. If the supervisor/CIC leaves the operational area or is engaged in an activity which will interfere with or preclude the performance of watch supervision duties, then another qualified individual must be designated to supervise the watch.
  4. EN ROUTE. Operations Supervisors (OS) may only be assigned watch supervision for one area of specialization. The Service Area Director of Air Traffic Operations may approve an air traffic facility manager (ATM) to assign a OS watch supervision to one additional area outside their home area of specialization. The approval must be renewed annually.
  1. The ATM must document training requirements in their local orders.
  2. The OS must comply with the required tasks in paragraph 2-6-1a, Watch Supervision.
  3. The OS may provide watch supervision in their two approved areas simultaneously provided the following conditions are met:
  1. The supervisor must have direct line of sight to both areas.
  2. May only be assigned during mid-shift configurations and/or during facility defined times included in the approval.


This does not apply when the OS is assigned the Operations Manager in Charge (OMIC) position during midnight operations.

  1. Prior to being designated as a CIC, specialists must meet the following prerequisites:
  1. Have been certified for 6 months in the area/facility CIC duties to be performed. (The Director of En Route and Oceanic Operations Area Office or Terminal Operations Service Area Office may issue a facility waiver for the 6 month requirement where a more immediate assignment is needed. Waivers to facilities will be for 1 year, with renewals based on the result of a yearly evaluation by the area office director.)
  2. Be operationally current.
  3. Be selected by the air traffic manager or his/her designee.
  4. Successfully complete CIC training.
  1. Specialists who have been designated as a CIC and subsequently transfer to another facility are not required to fulfill the requirement of subparagraph 2-6-3a1 at the new facility; however, they must meet all other prerequisites.
  2. In facilities that use CICs to provide midwatch coverage, specialists that provide such coverage must be designated as a CIC only for the purpose of providing midwatch coverage upon facility/area certification and completion of the local CIC training course. Air traffic managers must ensure the local CIC training course is completed within 30 days of facility/area certification/rating.


In combined radar/tower facilities, specialists who are certified in the tower cab may be designated as CIC in the tower, provided all of the above prerequisites are met.

  1. All eligible employees who meet the prerequisites of subparagraphs 2-6-3a1 and 2 must be considered for selection as CIC. Air traffic managers, when determining facility requirements for CICs, must consider the following:
  1. Facility operational needs.
  2. Scheduling concerns.
  3. Staffing concerns.
  4. Special events.
  5. Other issues.
  1. When facility requirements are established, air traffic managers may designate a panel to forward recommendations for CIC candidates to the designated selecting official. A facility may have one recommendation panel for each area of specialization.
  2. The recommendation panel must consider the following knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) in reviewing each candidate. These KSAs must include but are not limited to:
  1. Problem solving and analytical ability.
  2. Planning and organizing.
  3. Decisiveness.
  4. Judgement.
  5. Communication skill.
  6. Interpersonal skill.
  1. The recommendation panel must forward its recommendations to the air traffic manager or his/her designee. Written feedback must be provided to the selecting official for all candidates not recommended including dissenting opinions.
  2. Candidates who are not selected to be a CIC, upon request, must be advised of the reasons for nonselection. If applicable, specific areas the employee needs to improve must be identified. Employees may request assistance from their immediate supervisor in developing options to improve the identified areas.


These provisions do not apply to midwatch CIC coverage.

  1. Assign personnel to positions as required by activity, equipment, and facility function. Positions may be consolidated in consideration of activity and the qualifications of the personnel involved.
  2. To the extent staffing resources permit, and where the position is established, the tower associate (local assist) position must be staffed. This position is considered essential to the operational integrity and safety levels required to minimize the potential for surface errors and land‐over incidents. Nonlocal control functions must not be consolidated/combined at the local control position except during periods of significantly reduced traffic levels.
  3. When conducting line up and wait (LUAW) operations, local control position must not be consolidated/combined with any other non-local control position.


FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 10-3-8, Line Up and Wait (LUAW) Operations.

  1. Personnel performing watch supervision duties are responsible for ensuring that breaks are administered in an equitable manner and applied so as to promote the efficiency of the agency. They are also responsible for ensuring that breaks are of a reasonable duration.


Breaks to recuperate are provided to enable employees to engage in activities necessary to rejuvenate themselves in order to effectively manage fatigue.

  1. Personnel performing watch supervision duties are responsible for knowing the whereabouts of employees to ensure their availability for position assignments.
  2. Personnel performing watch supervision duties must not condone or permit individuals to sleep during any period duties are assigned. Any such instance must be handled in accordance with applicable Agency policy and the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
  1. Facility watch schedules must take into account normal traffic flow, thereby permitting the posting of a continuing schedule for an indefinite period of time. Facility management is responsible for ensuring watch schedules are in accordance with collective bargaining agreements.
  2. Air traffic control specialists whose primary duties are those directly related to the control and separation of aircraft must meet the following criteria:
  1. Do not work more than 10 operational hours in a shift.
  2. Hours worked before a shift, whether operational or not, will count as operational hours.
  3. All work beyond 10 hours must be nonoperational.
  4. Have at least an 8-hour break from the time work ends to the start of any shift, except as follows:
  1. Employees are required to have a minimum of 9 consecutive hours off duty preceding the start of a day shift. For purposes of this paragraph only, a day shift is generally defined as a shift where the majority of hours fall between 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  2. This requirement applies to all shift changes, swaps, and overtime to include scheduled, call-in, and holdover assignments.
  1. Have an off-duty period of at least 12 hours following a midnight shift. (A midnight shift is defined as a shift in which the majority of hours are worked between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.)
  2. If an employee is assigned more than two (2) consecutive ten (10) hour midnight shifts, all of the consecutive ten (10) hour midnight shifts require a 2100L (Non flex) start time.
  3. Ten (10) hour midnight shifts are limited to no more than four (4) in any six (6) day period.
  4. No day shift may immediately precede a ten (10) hour midnight shift.
  5. Eight (8) hour midnight shifts may be extended by no more than one (1) hour per single shift.
  6. A 0530L start time or later is required when working an eight (8) hour day shift prior to an eight (8) hour midnight shift. Employees may not flex to an earlier start time than 0530L.
  7. Do not work more than six shifts without taking a regular day off.
  8. Have at least 30 consecutive hours off-duty within each seven-day period.
  9. Authorized leave, compensatory time used, and credit hours used are considered hours of work.
  10. These criteria apply to shift adjustments, including the exchange of shifts and/or days off and the change of shifts and/or days off.

Facility air traffic managers must ensure that overtime duty is equitably distributed among all eligible employees who desire it. Retain overtime duty records for 12 months.

  1. Facility Air Traffic Managers must ensure that the scheduled staffing is adjusted on holidays to a level consistent with the anticipated workload. Application of this policy is not intended to result in a standardized holiday staffing schedule for all holidays. Holiday staffing schedules may vary for individual holidays since the traffic in a particular area cannot always be expected to be the same for each holiday.
  2. Prior to establishing work schedules for a Federal holiday, facility air traffic managers must:
  1. Consider the previous year's traffic statistics for each holiday.
  2. Check, as appropriate, with local sources (Air National Guard, USN, USAF Reserves, local flying schools, fixed base operators, etc.), for information concerning anticipated activity.

Hours of duty of facility air traffic managers and administrative staffs should conform with the duty hours of their respective service area office.


Facility air traffic managers will be currently informed by the service area office of their authorized facility personnel complements. The authorized complement will always be the end-of-year employment ceiling authorization. Circumstances may result in the establishment of a complement different from that provided in workload formulas.

  1. At facilities where both tower and radar/nonradar approach control services are provided, the Air Traffic Manager (ATM) must ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that these functions are not normally consolidated during non-midwatch operations.
  2. The ATM must stipulate, in a facility directive, procedures for consolidating approach control functions in the tower cab. The directive, at a minimum, must address:
  1. When it is appropriate to permit the consolidation of operations to the tower cab,
  2. Required upward reporting to the General Manager during non-midwatch operations,
  1. At those locations with only one certified tower radar display (CTRD) in the tower cab, the facility directive must also address radar separation responsibilities, and other issues inherent in operations conducted with one CTRD in the tower cab.
  2. During midwatch operations (where the majority of hours fall between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.) when traffic permits, all functions may be consolidated for meals or breaks.
  3. Air traffic managers must ensure that no less than two fully-certified and current operational personnel are assigned to midnight shift, unless no such personnel are available for assignment.
  1. In order to ensure that a receiving controller is prepared to accept an aircraft, coordination between facilities/operational areas must be accomplished either manually via landline, or positively acknowledged via automation, (for example, acceptance of the handoff by keystroke entry), when an operational area is operated with one ATCS between the hours of 0000L to 0500L.
  1. Coordination procedures during the time period defined in paragraph a can be suspended during periods of increased of traffic. An increase of traffic may include, but is not limited to, the following:
  1. Late night SWAP events.
  2. Military movement/exercises.
  3. Multiple arrivals/departures in a short period of time.
  1. The coordination procedures do not supersede existing requirements in FAA Order JO 7110.65.
  2. Facilities must have local procedures to be used during the hours identified above. Such procedures are to be placed into local SOP or LOAs between facilities.


Automated coordination cannot be hand-offs that do not include human interaction.

  1. In the event there is no response from the facility/operational area with which coordination is attempted, immediate action must be taken to determine the status of the unresponsive controller and begin appropriate notification.
  2. When operations permit, it is expected that functions will be consolidated to facilitate breaks in up/down facilities during midnight shifts.