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.

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. When equipment capabilities exist, every effort should be made to conduct conversations regarding ATC services, aircraft accidents, incidents, and contingency operations on a recorded line.
  4. Recorded telephone lines must be identified in the facility SOP.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  1. 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 they are maintained in a state of readiness. Transceivers identified for use during a Contingency Plan Event must be checked weekly for receive and transmit capability on both battery and commercial power. These checks facilitate controller familiarization.


FAA Order JO 7210.3, Subpara 4-6-5g, Preparation of FAA Form 7230-4.


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 FAA Order 7900.2, Reporting of Electronic Navigation Aids and Communication Facilities Data to Aeronautical Information Services. The following data must be reported (include the RIS AT 7230-12 in the text):

  1. 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.
  2. Change in the hours of operation of any of the above and the effective date.
  3. Changes required in weather schedule publications and communications systems drawings.
  1. 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.
  2. Airborne ELT tests must not be authorized.
  3. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Assign each “Radar Associate” position the identical frequencies as the “Radar” position except where precluded by system hardware/software limitations or facility needs.
  2. 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.
  1. Air traffic VSCS positions listed as “released to maintenance” must not be reconfigured unless prior approval has been received from Technical Operations.
  2. 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.

  1. 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.
  1. When a catastrophic loss of VSCS occurs and transfer to a VTABS configuration becomes necessary, the OMIC must assure that the procedures established in paragraph 2-1-7, Air Traffic Service During Planned and Unplanned Outages, are adhered to.


  1. Facility air traffic managers will ensure that reported headset tones are documented, the Safety Management Information System (SMIS) is updated, and affected equipment tested. Headset tone incidents must be handled in accordance with Appendix 5, Checklist for Reported Headset Tone Incidents.
  2. If an employee wishes to file a claim due to a headset tone, the OS/CIC will ensure reporting is done in accordance with FAA Order 3900.19, Chapter 3, Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.


  1. Headset tone incidents are automatically reported to the Environmental and Occupational Safety and Health (EOSH) Safety and Environmental Compliance Manager (SECM) through the SMIS.
  2. All FAA employees must file Injury and Illness Incident Reports (OSHA Form 301) electronically via the Department of Labor's (DOL) Employees' Compensation Operations & Management Portal (ECOMP). FAA employees file CA-1/CA-2/CA-7/CA-16 claims forms via ECOMP.


FAA Order 3900.19, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Policy.

  1. Plantronics cordless headsets, model CA12CD, may be used in operational areas by positions that require only monitoring of operations and/or to affect landline communications. These positions include: Operations Manager-in-Charge (OMIC), Operational Supervisor-in-Charge (OSIC), Operations Supervisor (OS), Controller-in-Charge (CIC), Traffic Management Coordinator (TMC), and Coordinators.
  2. Cordless headsets are not authorized for use in two-way communications with aircraft or for any other function that includes over-the-air broadcasting.
  3. Air Traffic Managers must ensure operational personnel who use cordless headsets are trained on the use, application, and limitations of the CA12CD prior to operational use.
  4. ATC facilities must not use more than 30 cordless headsets. Co-located facilities (control rooms within 150 feet) must not use more than 30 cordless headsets, combined.
  1. Under ideal conditions, the maximum useable range between the base station and cordless headset is 100 feet (Multiple users may reduce the effective range of the headsets).
  2. Base stations must be separated by at least 3 feet from each other.
  1. Use of cordless headsets during the conduct of a performance or certification skill check must be done in accordance with the provisions of direct monitoring.


FAA Order JO 3120.4, Air Traffic Technical Training.

  1. Cordless headsets that cause or receive interference must be immediately removed from service. Where applicable, FAA Technical Operations must be informed of the actual or suspected interference.