- Callsign 'Ronaldsway Tower' 118.9 Mhz (Now 119.0 MHz)
The author presses the
'Crash Alarm' for the last time on September 7th 2015 (it was just a routine
ATC is provided from
two locations, Aerodrome Control - located at the top of the 'stalk' and
Approach Radar Control,
located in the lower building. Air Traffic Control procedures are
governed by the UK Air Navigation Order, CAP 493 - The Manual of Air Traffic
Services Pt1 and the Manual of Air Traffic Services Pt 2 (Ronaldsway Airport)
Runway and Taxiway
During the hours of
darkness or in poor visibility the airfield runways are illuminated with
white lights and the taxiways with green centreline and blue edge lights.
These lights are all controlled from the Visual Control Room using a touchscreen
display. Taxiway holding points adjacent to runways are protected
by red 'Stop Bars', a row of red lights across the taxiway which aircraft
and vehicles are forbidden to cross. When the controller gives permission
to enter the runway, he deselects the stop bar on the lighting panel and
the green centreline lights continue onto the runway.
Aerodrome Control has
authority over aircraft on and in the immediate vicinity of the airport
and vehicles on the Runways & Taxiways. Ronaldsway has two runways
available, giving a total of four possible landing and take-off directions,
they are designated according to the first two digits of their magnetic
directions, the longest runway is either 26 or 08 with the shorter cross-runway
21 or 03. ATC decide on the 'Runway in Use', based mainly on the wind direction
as aircraft performance is enhanced by operating into the wind, but also
other factors such as navigation aids available or in light winds the direction
traffic is arriving from or departing to. Pilots can request a non standard
runway and ATC will try to oblige, but it may not be possible as our aim
is to provide a 'safe, orderly and expeditious' flow of traffic and what
might be advantageous to one flight could result in delays to several others
and reduce overall expedition.
Diagram - December 2011
Diagram - December 2011
The tower controller
keeps track of aircraft and vehicle movements using a 'flight progress
board'. This holds paper flight progress strips in coloured holders
appropriate to the type of flight: Departures in blue holders, Arrivals
in yellow, Local flights (not landing away from Ronaldsway) in green and
Overflights in Red. Vehicles operating on the manoeuvring area have laminated
strips showing their radio callsign. All ATC instructions are recorded
on the strips which are moved around the board to indicate positions of
aircraft. A specific section of the board is used to show aircraft
or vehicles that have been allowed to enter the runway. To assist
the controller an Aerodrome Traffic Monitor shows radar derived information
of the traffic situation in the vicinity and to aid visual acquisition
of aircraft it is orientated 'south up' to replicate the controller's view..
ATIS 123.875 MHz
Aerodrome Control is
where the ATIS - Automatic Terminal Information Service broadcast is prepared.
This is transmitted continuously using a computer generated 'voice'
when the airport is open and is routinely updated every 30 minutes.
It gives the runway in use, type of instrument approach to be expected,
latest weather report from Met and any other pertinent information on the
airfield or ATC operations. Each broadcast is identified by an incrementing
letter of the alphabet. Additional phrases can be recorded by ATC
Data Management System (FDMS)
Integrating all the
ATC data together is the Copperchase Flight Data Management System. Flight
Plans are automatically received via the Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication
Network (AFTN) and live estimates on inbound flights by phone from Scottish
Centre are entered to print paper Flight Progress Strips. Flight plans
filed directly with Ronaldsway ATC are entered into the system for dissemination
via the AFTN and Airways or local aircraft transponder codes (squawks)
entered. Weather information from the Ronaldsway Met Office is displayed
and relevant flight data is exported to the Park Air surveillance displays.
The main duties of the Air Traffic Service Assistants (ATSAs) are keeping
the FDMS up to date, by processing flight plans, inputting estimates and
logging arrival and departure times of aircraft to produce the computer
movement log book. FDMS terminals are located in both Aerodrome and Approach
Radar ATSA and ATCO working positions enabling data to be entered as required.
Ronaldsway Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) giving pertenant information on changes
to published information are produced on the system for dissemination world-wide
via the UK NOTAM Office.
Tower Flight Progress
Inbound aircraft will
normally establish communications with tower when transferred by radar
at 10 miles or less from the airfield, either when they are established
on an instrument approach or visual with the airfield. There is normally
no telephone co-ordination required from radar so long as the ATM and SSR
is serviceable as the aircraft callsigns and landing order will be apparent
from the display. If there is any possibility of confusion, e.g. a slow
VFR light aircraft which will be overtaken by a faster IFR inbound, radar
will co-ordinate with tower to ensure that both parties have agreed a plan
Tower has absolute control
of the runways and will clear an aircraft to land once a preceding landing
aircraft has taxied clear of the runway or a departing aircraft is airborne.
Normally aircraft will receive a landing clearance by about 4 miles from
touchdown but it may be later if an aircraft is departing or a vehicle
crossing the runway. Once the aircraft has landed and slowed to taxiing
speed, instructions are issued to the parking stand, e.g. 'Jersey 8 Bravo
Golf, taxy to stand ten via bravo, alpha and foxtrot'.
Departing aircraft operating
under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) will call tower before starting engines,
giving the ATIS information letter and are passed an 'airways' or
local clearance as appropriate. A typical 'airways' clearance would be:
'Jersey Eight Alpha Hotel is cleared to Manchester via (airway) Lima One
Zero. Climb Flight Level seven zero, after noise abatement turn right
(onto) heading one five five, squawk zero four seven seven. This
gives the pilot his initial departure clearance and he will read it back
to ATC for confirmation. Departures operating under Visual Flight
Rules (VFR) will normally make their first call after starting engine(s)
and be issued with a local clearance and squawk. As Ronaldsway is
situated in Class D controlled airspace, all flight require a flight plan
to be submitted to ATC before departure. Sometimes pilots will pass
this by radio after starting, but this inevitably results in some delay
to their flight as the plan has to entered into the computer system to
print a flight progress strip.
FDMS Computer Terminal
Inputting an inbound
estimate and squawk
Message Editor Window
When the flight has
completed boarding and is ready to go he will call tower again and be cleared
for 'push and start'. This authorizes engine start and for the aircraft
to be pushed back off stand by the tug, positioning onto the apron centreline.
As ATC has no responsibility or control over vehicles operating on
the Apron area, it is up to the ground crews to ensure that all vehicles
and other obstructions are clear before commencing the pushback. Smaller
aircraft, e.g. Let 410s may taxi directly off stand without being pushed
When engine start is
completed and the tug disconnected the pilot will call for taxy instructions
and if the route is clear a typical ATC response would be 'Jersey 8AH runway
08 taxy to hold alpha nine via bravo, the QNH is 1021', which the pilot
will read back. All ATC instructions must be read back for confirmation.
The pilot will switch on the aircraft ATC transponder with the issued 'squawk'
code to show his position on ATC secondary surveillance radars and taxi
to the holding point. As the aircraft approaches the holding point,
the tower controller phones Ronaldsway radar and requests a 'release'.
This gives him permission to let the aircraft depart in accordance with
any instructions radar might issue. If there is no conflicting traffic,
the reply might be 'released to Scottish Control on 133.050', i.e. the
aircraft can depart in accordance with the clearance already issued and
be transferred directly to Scottish Centre on frequency 133.050.
If there is conflicting traffic, the radar controller can change the assigned
heading or add a level restriction, e.g. 'Jersey 8AH climb straight ahead
after departure, released'. In this case the tower controller passes
the amended clearance to the pilot and obtains a read back before instructing
the aircraft 'Runaway zero eight, line up' and after again reading the
instruction back the pilot taxies the aircraft onto the runway.
The clearance issued
to Jersey Eight Alpha Hotel (BEE8AH) has been recorded on the flight progress
strip, passed to the crew and read back - the ticks indicates that the
read back is correct.
If there are no
other aircraft or vehicles on the runway the controller will then transmit
'Jersey 8AH runway 08 cleared for take-off' which will be read back and
the pilot will commence the take-off run. After the aircraft is airborne
and established in the climb, in this case probably passing around 2000
ft, communications will be transferred to the appropriate departure frequency:
'Jersey 8AH contact Ronaldsway radar, 120.850'.
Ground Movement Control
Ground movements are
controlled to de-conflict aircraft and to optimize the departure order
of aircraft on the same route, aircraft being cleared to one of the designated
holding points or given clear instructions regarding other aircraft, e.g.
'follow the Stobart Air ATR to hold Alpha 9'. If a runway has to
be crossed while taxiing this must be specifically instructed, e.g.
'taxy to hold alpha one via foxtrot and alpha, cross runway two one' .
Vehicles are controlled
on the Manoeuvring Area using a discrete UHF frequency. 118.9 is re-broadcast
on this frequency so that vehicle drivers can be aware of aircraft movements.
ATC has no responsibility for vehicles operating on the airport Aprons
(aircraft parking areas). On the aprons, vehicles must use the designated
roadways and give way to all aircraft movements. Certain vehicles are permitted
to 'Free Range' on taxiways (but not runways) keeping well clear of all
The radar controller
has amended the initial clearance to instruct the aircraft to climb straight
ahead after departure which has been annotated on the strip, passed to
the pilot and read back (ticks by the instructions). The revised clearance
will be due to one or both of the inbound aircraft shown by the flight
progress strips above the runway designator as the flight paths are required
to cross at some point.
Approach Radar Control
'Ronaldsway Approach/Radar' 120.85 MHz & 118.2 MHz (Now
135.9 MHz & 120.850 MHz)
The Ronaldsway Approach
Radar desk - actually a straight desk, distortion caused by the panoramic
Radar usually controls aircraft up to about 40 miles from the airport.
Inbound traffic arriving via the Airways system is transferred from Scottish
Control, usually with no telephone co-ordination required, in accordance
with standing agreements that vary according to the route flown. Off-route
traffic will be identified and issued a clearance into controlled airspace
at a level under Ronaldsway's jurisdiction, that is at Flight Level 70
Northern Irish Sea
Approach Radar Controller
The author at work
in 'Radar 1'
Inbound aircraft flying
under the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) are vectored (given headings to
steer and levels to fly at) using radar until they are established on an
appropriate Instrument Approach or wish to continue with a visual approach.
Separation is provided by ATC from other IFR aircraft either laterally
or vertically. The minimum separations allowed are 3 miles laterally
or 1000 ft vertically. They are then transferred to Tower.
Outbound Airways traffic
is worked by Ronaldsway Radar if there is a confliction with local traffic,
either inbound or overflying. Once the confliction is resolved the
aircraft is transferred to the relevant Scottish Control sector in accordance
with the standing agreement. Levels are assigned to keep aircraft
within controlled airspace and radar cover (to the north radar cover at
lower levels is restricted due to screening from the hills). Within
the Ronaldsway Control Zone, the minimum altitudes to be used are defined
by the 'ATC Surveillance Minimum Altitude Chart'
Under 'Standing Agreements'
with the Area Control Centre, inbound aircraft are descended by Scottish
Control and outbound aircraft climbed by Ronaldsway Radar to standard levels
as depicted. This ensures vertical separation with no co-ordination normally
required between units.
Airway 'Lima Ten' to
the southeast is worked as a one way system, aircraft positioned on radar
headings to keep inbounds on the north side and outbounds on the south
Two common ATC Scenarios
- vectoring aircraft arriving via airway L10 for an Instrument Landing
ILS Approach Runway 26
Minimum Altitude Chart
Shows the lowest altitudes
that can be allocated by controller when vectoring aircraft
(Click for larger map)
ILS Approach Runway 08
||A significant proportion
of the airways traffic to Ronaldsway arrives via Lima Ten from the south
east direction. As the aircraft are already positioned by Area Control
on the north side of the airway, they are easily de-conflicted with outbound
traffic being routed by Ronaldsway to the south side of the airway.
The only problem that can occur is aircraft wanting to 'stay high' for
fuel conservation and having to be retained inside the confines of the
airway as the top of Ronaldsway's Control Zone only extends up to Flight
Level 65. MATS Pt1 instructs controllers that aircraft are to be retained
within Controlled Airspace if possible.
complicated as the arriving traffic is still positioned by Area Control
on the north side of the airway and departures have to be positioned on
the south side due to a traffic orientation system involving the whole
route structure between England and Northern Ireland. At some point
the aircraft tracks have to be crossed and vertical separation must be
maintained until horizontal radar separation is obtained. Often not
helped by inbound aircraft wanting to maintain an optimum descent profile
(staying high) to save fuel. This can result in outbound aircraft effectively
being 'trapped' at lower levels. (And using more fuel!)
A close up view of the
surveillance display showing runway 26 in use. 'Aer Arran 8 Lima Charlie'
was being vectored to the ILS but has become visual with the airfield and
released for a visual approach (own navigation with no ATC level restrictions)
as it is horizontally separated from departure 'Neptune 521' which is being
vectored to the south side of the airway climbing to Flight Level 70.
Air Traffic Services
Outside Controlled Airspace (ATSOCAS)
ATC is mainly concerned with aircraft operating within controlled airspace,
services are also provided to aircraft operating in uncontrolled (Class
G) airspace. Services available outside controlled airspace are either
'Basic Service', ''Traffic Service', 'Procedural Service' or 'Deconfliction
Service', which are defined in the Manual of Air Traffic Services and other
The green 'blips' on
the display are from the Primary Radar showing track history with a small
diamond symbol showing current position from the Secondary Surveillance
Radar. The aircraft data block shows the radio callsign 'Jersey 821' with
the SSR ATC Squawk code, 7026. The next line shows the current level
reported by the aircraft transponder, in this case Flight Level 57 with
the down arrow indicating that the aircraft is descending. The bottom line
shows the computed ground-speed, 232 Knots.
If either the Watchman
Primary radar (PSR) or Cossor Secondary radar (SSR) has to be taken out
of service, Ronaldsway can operate using the remaining system, but with
significant degradation to the service provided. If operating without SSR,
there are no aircraft labels on the display and aircraft identities have
to be remembered by the controller. Each aircraft has to be individually
identified before a radar service can be provided and as there is no height
information provided, many more radio transmissions are required to establish
vertical separations. All of the 'Standing Agreements' with Scottish Control
cease to exist so every inbound and outbound aircraft has to be co-ordinated
between Ronaldsway and Scottish. For aircraft operating outside controlled
airspace, there is also no height information on 'unknown' aircraft so
aircraft operating under a Deconfliction Service have to be vectored well
clear of any unidentified blip, even though the 'unknown' aircraft may
be flying 30,000 ft above Ronaldsway's traffic. The Short Tern Conflict
Alert (STCA) safety net is also unavailable without SSR.
If using SSR only, only
aircraft with operating transponders will be shown on the controllers display.
Inside controlled airspace this is not a problem as transponders are mandatory,
but outside there may be aircraft flying without transponders or with transponders
not switched on for one reason or other. These aircraft are totally invisible
to the controller when operating using SSR only and pilots will be informed
of the 'reduced service - SSR only'
In the event of a complete
radar failure, Ronaldsway is able to offer a 'Procedural Approach' service,
providing separations based on time, level and distance in accordance with
MATS part 1. Although it is quite possible to work the airspace in this
way (and not unlike the service provided in 1937 in 'QBI') it is un-expeditious
and large delays are likely to build up in busy traffic situations, with
traffic being held both in the air and on the ground. The Flight Progress
Board becomes essential to the control of traffic, levels allocated to
aircraft being recorded as with radar control, but in addition many more
radio calls are required between ATC and aircraft to ascertain when levels
are vacated and can be allocated to another aircraft. Expected Approach
Times (EATs) are issued to inbound aircraft that have to hold, as a rule
of thumb when aircraft are making instrument approaches, one aircraft can
land every 10 minutes, providing that there are no conflicting departing
aircraft. Inbound aircraft may have to enter a holding pattern at a higher
level if there is a departing aircraft below. Once the departure is laterally
separated (time or distance) the inbound aircraft can be descended in the
hold to a suitable level to commence approach.
approaches are designed to allow an aircraft flying in Instrument Meteorological
Conditions (IMC) to become visual with the airfield and complete a landing.
Each Instrument Approach Procedure has defined minimum altitudes below
which an aircraft is not allowed to descend without visual contact with
the airfield. The Instrument Landing Systems are certificated to 'ILS Category
One' enabling instrument approaches down to a minimum altitude (runway
26) of around 200 feet (subject to pilot/company minima). At the specified
'Decision Height' pilots must be able to continue the approach visually
or commence a missed approach. Automatic landings are not permitted at
Ronaldsway has instrument
approach procedures published for runways 03, 08 & 26. The main instrument
approaches used are the Instrument Landing Systems on runways 08 &
26. Both runways also have non-precision NDB/DME approaches and Surveillance
Radar Approaches available. Runway 08 also has a VOR/DME approach available,
using the en-route 'IOM' beacon to the west of the airfield. The only instrument
approach available to runway 03 is a Surveillance Radar Approach. There
are no instrument approaches available to runway 21, if required an instrument
approach can be made to another runway followed by visual manoeuvring to
land on runway 21.
CAA Approach Procedure
These give a pilot all
the information required to complete a instrument approach to land, including
the point at which the approach must be discontinued if the airfield is
not sighted. This varies according the aircraft category (based on size
& speed) and the approach type. Pilots will more normally use charts
produced by one of the big commercial companies, e.g. Aerad or Jeppesen.
Charts are published for every approach available, those below are just
- PSR Only
Aircraft operating at Ronaldsway
For more Aircraft
from 2014 and earlier see my Aircraft
Pictures Web pages
The Isle of Man Aircraft
in the Isle of Man are regular visitors, often arriving direct from the
manufacturer for registration formalities, before continuing on to customers
the world. By Mid 2014
over 700 aircraft had been registered since 2007, using the prefix M-
Ronaldsway is regularly
visited by military aircraft, most often the Hawk T1 & T2 jet trainers
from RAF Valley, usually for ILS training or practice diversions.
Embraer Phenom 300
RAF Hawk T1 from
208 Sqn, Valley
RAF Tornado GR4 from
41 (R) Sqn at Coningsby
RAF Sea King from
22 Sqn, Valley
The RAF Red Arrows
EAM and the ATP
Ronaldsway has long
had an association with the British Aerospace ATP, since Manx Airlines
started operating them in 1988. This continues today with aircraft
maintenance organisation European Aircraft Maintenance (IOM) carrying out
major servicing, mainly for Swedish operators West Air and NextJet.
French Air Force
Swiss Air Force Super
French Navy Falcon
West Air ATP-F
I have endeavoured to
update the information provided on this page to my retirement date of September
30th 2014, however there are several developments that have either happened
since then or are due to happen in the near future and I will attempt to
describe them below.
With effect from the
13th November 2014 all class 'F' Advisory Routes within UK airspace have
been abolished, either completely or replaced with another category of
Controlled Airspace. Around the Isle of Man route W2D to Pole Hill,
W911D to Dean Cross and W928D to BLACA have gone. Route W911D from
IOM to BOYNE (for Dublin) has been changed to a class 'E' airway and renamed
Y911 with a base level of Flight Level 75, the airspace is also a Transponder
Mandatory Zone (TMZ) for VFR aircraft wishing to operate within its confines.
This could cause some additional workload to Ronaldsway controllers, particularly
when runway 08 is in use as the Manual of Air Traffic Services states that
controllers should keep aircraft with Controlled Airspace if at all possible,
but with a short distance to touchdown from the Control Zone boundary it
is almost inevitable that pilots will request to descend below the airway
to avoid additional routing and wasting fuel.
Revised airspace around
the Isle of Man from 13th November 2014
Changes to Ronaldsway's
ATC Radio Frequencies
A project that dates
back to the 1990s to improve Ronaldsway's VHF radio coverage at lower levels
over the north of the island is at last coming towards operational status.
Originally planned and trialled with an additional transmitter/receiver
station on 120.850 at Jurby, revised plans will now see the main Approach/Radar
radio station re-located to Snaefell summit from Ronaldsway airfield.
Due to the new location and mountain top elevation, this will require alterations
to the main operating frequencies at Ronaldsway. On the 22nd September
2014 'Radar 2' frequency 118.2 MHz was permanently withdrawn from service
to allow engineering work to commence for the main frequency changes. With
effect from the 11th December 2014 the new operating frequencies will be:
- 135.9 MHz
- 119.0 MHz
Other (when instructed
by ATC) frequencies will be 120.850 and 125.3. The change to the primary
Approach and Tower frequencies will be the first since they were introduced
into service on the 16th January 1964!
Replacement of ATC
Surveillance systems at Ronaldsway
A project started in
2011 was to replace the 15 year old Watchman PSR & Cossor SSR radar
systems. The Watchman would have required extensive refurbishment
to continue in operation and the Cossor Mode A/C SSR needed to be replaced
by the start of 2012 to comply with requirements to operate only Mode-S
systems. The replacement systems chosen were a Selex ATCR-33S Primary
Surveillance Radar installed at Ronaldsway and a Wide Area Multilateration
Mode-S SSR system using multiple sites around the island. Unfortunately,
due to various technical issues that have arisen, by the time of my retirement
from ATC at the end of September 2014 the system is still under evaluation
and not yet in operational use. As a result of this the Watchman radar
has had to be modified (in common with all existing ATC 10 Cm systems)
to prevent interference from 4G mobile phone transmissions. The Cossor
Secondary Radar System has also suffered a major fault and has been temporarily
withdrawn from service.
The new radar system
is completely processed with no primary radar 'blips' displayed on the
screen as with the older system. Instead, different symbols are used
to show the source and type of information displayed. The primary and secondary
radar is combined electronically and aircraft tracks are then displayed
to the controller.
A primary radar only
contact is show as a vertical cross +
An MLAT only contact
is shown as a diagonal cross x
A combined contact (PSR
& MLAT) is shown as a star *
is provided to the controller based on information being downlinked from
the aircraft Mode-S transponder, depending on the type of transponder fitted
into the aircraft. The most basic information displayed shows the
aircraft radio callsign, either as a Flight Number for airline flights,
Aircraft Registration, or Military Callsign. This information can
be stored in the transponder in the case of aircraft registration, or has
to be entered by the crew before each flight in other cases. The
aircraft vertical level (Flight Level) is also transmitted and displayed
either as a flight level or an altitude if the aircraft is operating at
or below the Transition Altitude, 3000ft in the case of Ronaldsway at present,
although this is due to change to 18,000ft in the future.
More advanced transponders
also downlink 'Enhanced Parameters'. This can include, selected level
on the autopilot, aircraft indicated airspeed, actual aircraft heading
and the barometric pressure set on the altimeter. These can be displayed
on the controllers display as required. From the Selex Primary Radar, digitized
weather returns can be overlaid on the display to plan for weather avoiding
requirements by pilots.
Selex ATCR-33S Radar
Selex Wide Area Multilateration
Selex data on the
Mode-S two line Data
Mode-S three line
Primary radar returns
from rain showers around the Isle of Man
the UK Ground Navigation Aid Infrastructure
This is a program by
NATS En-Route Limited, agreed by the UK CAA, to reduce the number of ground
based radio aids as most commercial aircraft are now navigated mainly using
self contained inertial systems backed up by GPS. The VOR/DME at Dean Cross
(DCS) will be withdrawn from service in December 2014 and future plans
indicate that the beacons at Glasgow (GOW) and Turnberry (TRN) with be
removed in 2016 and Manchester (MCT) in 2017. The New Galloway Non
directional (NDB) beacon is scheduled to be removed in 2016. In 2018
the VOR/DME beacons at Isle of Man (IOM), Belfast (BEL) and Wallesey (WAL)
are scheduled to be replaced with new equipment.
Navigation Aids used at
Ronaldsway is equipped
with a variety of radio navigation aids, to enable pilots flying in Instrument
Meteorological Conditions (IMC) to fly to a point where they can safely
complete a landing on one of the runways. These days the use of GPS is
becoming common for en-route navigation and airfield approach procedures
are published for some airfields in the UK. As yet, no such procedures
have been designed for Ronaldsway.
beacons transmit an identification in morse code, usually two or three
letters. Pilots will listen to the beacon to ensure that they have tuned
the correct frequency although equipment on some modern aircraft can 'auto
tune' the beacon and display the identification visually on the flight
'RWY' 359 kHz
Located on the airfield
the NDB is a basic Medium Frequency homing beacon, can be used for holding
and non precision instrument let down procedures. NDBs have been in use
for aircraft navigation since the 1930s and radiate a signal in all directions
(hence 'non-directional'). Automatic Direction Finding (ADF) equipment
in aircraft enable pilots to navigate to or from the beacon. The beacon
radiates on a continuous basis, even when the airport is closed.
'I-RY or I-RH'
Located adjacent to
the 'RWY' NDB, DME
is a radar based system that provides aircraft with a distance from the
beacon. DME frequencies are paired with an associated VHF navigation aid,
in this case the Instrument Landing Systems on runways 26 & 08. The
airborne DME equipment is automatically tuned by the ILS/VOR equipment
and interrogates the ground beacon, receiving a reply pulse that enables
it to calculate and display the slant range to the beacon, which is displayed
in a digital format on the flight deck. This gives distances from touchdown
on either runway, being located equidistance from the runway thresholds.
The DME beacon codes according to the ILS system in use, but is also used
in conjunction with the NDB approaches and just to give a distance to the
||ATC engineering is a small
section of specialist engineers who keep all of the ATC technical equipment
operating. This ranges from the many computer systems used to radio beacons,
radio transmitters and receivers, instrument landing systems, radar and
radar display consoles and radio and radar recording systems. Whilst based
in the control tower, considerable amounts of equipment are located around
or away from the airfield. The picture shows the main equipment room in
the control tower.
I-RH & I-RY 111.15
Mhz DME CH48Y
approach aids installed for runways 08 & 26. Comprising a VHF Localizer
signal for horizontal guidance and a UHF Glideslope signal for vertical
guidance together with Distance Measuring Equipment giving range from touchdown.
The runway 08 Localizer is offset by 4 degrees to the north of the final
approach track, this was due to siting problems for the localizer aerial.
The usual location at the far end of the runway was not available and the
aerial had to be located to the south side of the runway.. Only one of
the two ILS systems can be radiating at any time and a complex interlocking
system is installed to facilitate changing from one to the other.
The mast on the left
of the picture with the 'hat' is the RWY Non Directional Beacon radiating
on 359 KHz.
On the right is the
vertical aerial for the airfield
Distance Measuring Equipment.
The orange and white
hut contains the beacon equipment.
'IOM' VHF Omni
Directional Range with Distance Measuring Equipment (VOR/DME)
IOM 112.2 Mhz
Located to the west
of Ronaldsway near Cregneash
The 'IOM is an en-route
navigation aid operated by the UK National Air Traffic Services (NATS),
but also used by Ronaldsway
for holding and approach to runway 08
Offset ILS Localizer
Aerial - Runway 08
ILS Glidepath Aerial
- Runway 26
S band Primary Surveillance Radar (PSR) & Cossor Secondary Surveillance
Radar (SSR) Mode A/C
Article - Radar
Article - Secondary Surveillance Radar
out to a range of 60nm, the radar is used for separation and tactical vectoring
of aircraft to a final approach aid. The watchman can also be used to conduct
Surveillance Radar Approaches (SRA) to runways 03, 08 & 26, the controller
giving headings to steer to maintain the final approach track to 2nm from
touchdown, together with advisory altitudes or heights. The radar aerials
are co-located on the same turning gear, with the SSR aerial mounted on
top of the PSR aerial. Primary radar works by detecting radar pulses reflected
from objects, generally aircraft but also ships, land surfaces and precipitation
and produces a 'blip' on the radar screen. Secondary radar works by interrogating
a transponder fitted to the aircraft and returns a discrete code (squawk)
and a height, which is displayed on the screen. Using the display processor
a particular code can be associated with an aircraft callsign to display
it on the controllers screen.
The aerials for the
co-located 'IOM' VOR & DME
The large circular aerial
is for the VOR with the vertical aerial for the DME above. Electronic equipment
is in the building below the aerial.
The co-located radar
aerials for the Watchman Primary Radar and Cossor Secondary Surveillance
Radar The PSR aerial is the lower solid dish type aerial with the
Large Vertical Aperture SSR aerial above.
Selex ATCR-33S PSR on
the hill behind
Radar returns are shown
on Park Air situation displays, with the Watchman primary radar returns
shown as green 'blips' overlaid with the Cossor SSR labels. Aircraft
processed by the Copperchase FDMS system, e.g. all Ronaldsway inbound and
outbound aircraft, have the aircraft callsign and level displayed other
aircraft just show the ATC squawk code and level. The system computed
groundspeed can also be displayed as required by controllers. The
displays also provide 'Safety Nets', at the moment the only one in use
at Ronaldsway is Short Term Conflict Alert (STCA) - see above for a more
Radar showing 'uncancelled'
returns from weather and land areas in the IOM and England
A more normal picture
with and weather and land returns processed out.
The Area Control Centres
& Scottish (Prestwick) Centres operated by National Air Traffic Services
Air traffic control
services over a wider area around the British Isles are provided from the
two Area Control Centres, London ACC at Swanwick and Scottish ACC at Prestwick.
In the vicinity of the Isle of Man, most Area ATC is provided by Scottish
Control some by London Centre. Services are provided by both civil
and military controllers.
Pictures courtesy of
and © NATS PC
Scottish controls en-route
aircraft operating within the controlled airspace structure over the northern
half of the UK
traffic in the vicinity of the Isle of Man are:
Antrim Sector 123.775,
Isle of Man Sector 133.050, Rathlin Sector 129.1
Scottish Area Control
London Area Control
controls Lima 10, Whiskey 911 Delta and Whiskey 928 Delta to the north
and east of the Isle of Man.
Isle of Man Sector
10 and and Whiskey 2 Delta to the south and east of the Isle of Man.
When 'bandboxed' (combined)
with Wallesey Sector uses 128.050.
Sector controls the high level routes over the Isle of Man and
as such has no direct interface with Ronaldsway.
Centre Operations Room
Scottish Centre 'West
NATS Radar Stations
covering the airspace surrounding the Isle of Man
A Scottish sector
using Electronic Flight Progress Strips
Surveillance Display picture
provides a Flight Information and Alerting service to all aircraft that
require it to the north of the Isle of Man.
NATS Lowther Hill
NATS St Anne's radar
125.475 London Volmet North 126.6
Most of the airspace
controlled by London has no direct interface with Ronaldsway, however to
the south of the Isle of Man a Flight Information Service is provided by
London Information. London Volmet provides
a continuous broadcast of weather reports for airfields, including Ronaldsway.
London Military 277.625
Provides a service to
the many military aircraft operating around the northern Irish Sea. Often
providing an Airways crossing service, one of their major customers are
the Hawk aircraft operating from RAF Valley on Anglesey, that need to cross
the controlled airspace over the Isle of Man before continuing with operating
over southern Scotland or the Lake District. Provides a radar service in
Air to Air refuelling Area 13 which is located just to the east of the
Isle of Man.
Flight Information Service
Officer at NATS Prestwick Centre
Snaefell Radio Station
Operated by NATS and
providing en-route ATC transmit and receive services for London & Scottish
Located on the highest
point of the Isle of Man, accessed by the Snaefell Mountain Railway tramcars
or in Winter months by NATS own railcar
London Military Sector
NATS Snaefell Radio
Warton Radar 129.525
+ discrete UHF frequencies
Operated by British
Aerospace primarily as a flight test centre. Can be very busy usually with
military aircraft, most often Typhoons and Tornados. Provides an extensive
radar service to their aircraft all around the Irish Sea and also a Lower
Altitude Radar Service (LARS) to other users. Equipped with a Selex L band
radar, also has feeds from NATS en-route radars.
Adjacent airport to
the east, operating scheduled services to several destinations, including
the Isle of Man. Can be busy with private aircraft. Ronaldsway and Blackpool
will often conduct 'radar handovers'. Equipped with a Plessey AR15 radar
with SSR feed from NATS. Advisory route 'W2D' is often closed on weekdays
if Warton are conducting flight testing and Isle of Man - Blackpool flights
will route direct with a handover from one airfield radar to the other.
Unfortunately, the owners
of Blackpool airport closed it to all operations on the 15th October 2014,
citing financial problems with the operation, thus severing an airline
route to the Isle of Man that had been running since the 1930s. As of December
2014 the airport had partially re-opened, but only to private non-commercial
flights. There is hope that full operations will be resumed in 2015.
Busy commercial airport
to the south east, occasionally there are radar handovers between Ronaldsway
& Liverpool, but low level coverage is limited so more often aircraft
are 'free called' between units. Commercial flights between the Isle of
Man and Liverpool operate via the airways system.
Valley Radar 125.225
+ UHF frequencies
Very busy military training
airfield to the south, although normally only operating Monday to Friday.
Two squadrons of BAe Hawk training aircraft, 208 (R) Sqn & 4 (R) Sqn.
Often Ronaldsway stands by as a diversion airfield for the Hawks which
also visit regularly for practice ILS approaches and sometimes visual circuits.
Valley is also home to 22 Sqn 'C' flight providing Search & Rescue
facilities using Sea King helicopters and the Search and Rescue Training
Unit (SARTU) operating Griffin and A139 helicopters. Radar handovers regularly
conducted between Ronaldsway and Valley. RAF Valley ATC also provides
a Lower Altitude Radar Service (LARS) in the area, offering Traffic Service
and De-confliction Service.
Belfast International (Aldergrove)
One of two commercial
airports serving Belfast in Northern Ireland. There is very little overlapping
radar coverage between Ronaldsway and Aldergrove so aircraft are normally
'free called' between units.
The second commercial
airport for Belfast. As with Aldergrove, poor overlapping low level radar
coverage normally precludes handovers between units and traffic is 'free
called' Airline flights between the airports operate via the airways system
so depart/arrive via Scottish Control. Light aircraft operating to the
club airfield at Newtownards also usually work Belfast City.
Dublin North 129.175
Dublin Information 118.5
The major airport for
the Irish Republic. Very busy and ATC there have a hold established just
the other side of the Flight Information Region (FIR) boundary at 'ROKNA'
which is between the Isle of Man and Dublin. Airline flights between
the airports operate via the airways system so arrive/depart via Scottish
Listening to ATC
I should probably mention
at this point that despite what has been published in the past and the
general availability of radio scanners and publications detailing frequencies,
monitoring ATC communications is in fact illegal without proper authorization,
although as far as I am aware, nobody has been prosecuted for it and it
seems to generally accepted in the UK (and Isle of Man).
Ofcom publish guidance