ATC Liaisons Operations Guide

This is intended to be an in-flight reference for our ATC Liason team.

Quick Reference Info

ATC Liaison Team Pre-launch Checklist

Mission Elapsed Time Action
Initial is Shelbyville VOR (SHB), 187 Degree Radial, 22 miles
BAK xx/xxx BKM HIBAL SHB 187022
dd BND REACHING FL350 yymmddhhhh-yymmddhhhh
xx/xxx - system assigned identifer
dd - nearest cardinal heading (N,NE,E,SE,..)
yymmddhhh year=11 mm=month dd=day hhhh=time (GMT) Start and end timees
Call Indy Center, Give them the URL to FAA info page, ask if they want to know cutdown latency times with reports.
Call KBAK Tower, give them the URL to FAA info page
T-1h Call Indy Center, give est launch time
Radio KBAK Tower, give est launch time
T-15m Radio KBAK Tower, give est launch time
T-00m Launch Radio KBAK Tower
Call Indy Center, Give them Launch Time, Estimated Climb Rate, Estimated time to reach Float Alt
T+35m +/- 10m Reaches Level Flight Perform first Standard ATC Report procedure

White Star ATC Position Reporting Procedure

  1. View latest flight path trajectory predictions to become familiar with future trajectory for next few hours
  2. Ask Flight Director for following info, and write it on a new line in the ATC Report Log Google Spreadsheet:
    1. Estimated command latency
    2. Cutdown Timer Setting
    3. Downlink latency (subtract Sample Loaded Time UTC, from Latest point time on public Track page map)
  3. Run ATC Path Predictor tool, leave output on screen for call
    1. Write center name in ATC Report Log Google Spreadsheet
  4. Tell Flight Director you are about to call 'Center'
  5. Establish call in skype
    1. Log in to skype using account: whitestaratc see Passwords page for password
    2. Make call to the appropriate Center phone number.
  6. Initial Contact with center:
    1. “Hello, this is YOURNAME, in control of the SpeedBall-1 Balloon. I have a position report and trajectory forecast for the high altitude balloon SpeedBall-1. What time or lat/lon interval would you like me to report for the future trajectory points?” [THEY REPLY] “Standby please for one minute.”
    2. Look at APP table output and write down the desired times in the ATC Report Log
    3. Give balloon position report.
    4. Ask center what the name and phone number is of the next center we're likely to enter.

Skype Account for ATC Inbound phone #: (502) 442-0589

Columbus Municipal Airport / BAK
Lat 39°15'42.90”N Long 85°53'46.80”W
Lat 39.261917N Long 85.896333W
Surveyed Elevation is 656 feet MSL

FAA Notice requirements

Section 101.37   FAA Notice requirements White Star Info
1 The balloon identification. Speedball-1
2 The estimated date and time of launching, amended as necessary to remain within plus or minus 30 minutes. March 21, 2011 00:00 UTC
3 The location of the launching site. Initial is Shelbyville VOR (SHB), 187 Degree Radial, 22 miles
Columbus Municipal Airport BAK
4 The cruising altitude. FL350
5 The forecast trajectory and estimated time to cruising altitude or 60,000 feet standard pressure altitude, whichever is lower 30 min
6 The length and diameter of the balloon, length of the suspension device, weight of the payload, and length of the trailing antenna. Balloon is 7.85 feet in diameter.
Balloon length is 30.16 feet
Payload is 3.58 feet
Payload weight is 12 lbs.
Trailing antenna is 33ft
Total length is 66.77 feet
7 The duration of flight. 72 hours max
8.A The forecast time and location of impact with the surface of the earth. TBD
8.B For solar or cosmic disturbance investigations involving a critical time element, the information in paragraph (a) of this section shall be given within 30 minutes to 24 hours before beginning the operation. N/A
8.C Cancellation notice: If the operation is canceled, the person who intended to conduct the operation shall immediately notify the nearest FAA ATC facility. On duty ATC person
8.D Launch notice: Each person operating an unmanned free balloon shall notify the nearest FAA or military ATC facility of the launch time immediately after the balloon is launched. On duty ATC person
Indianapolis Center ARTCC ZID
Operations Manager

Position Reports

FAA Regulation on position report contents and frequency: CFR Part 101.39 - FAA Ballon Regs

General Information that must be understood

The North Atlantic Tracks

These are the daily flight paths assigned to trans-Atlantic airliners. These tracks are published twice daily, and they are only effective for a few hours each day. They are published in the day-time and the night-time. The day-time OTS is released at 2200 UTC and of the night-time OTS is at 1400 UTC.

We have maps of the daily North Atlantic Tracks, in two separate sets, Eastbound lanes, and Westbound lanes, with and without our forecast flight path overlaid. The track maps have a footer text that tells what hours and date in the UTC time zone that the tracks shown are active. ALWAYS BE AWARE OF WHAT HOURS THE TRACKS ARE ACTIVE, AND WHAT TIME IT IS NOW IN THE UTC TIME ZONE.

If our forecast trajectory goes within 5 degrees of the NAT, tell the flight director on duty, and confirm that they understand.

Waypoint names listed there are Reporting Waypoints from High Altitude Enroute Charts. Their location can be looked up at the Airspace Fixes tab of

Contingency: Failure of Automatic NAT Map

If the automatic NAT track map fails to work, you must stay aware of the twice daily update of the North Atlantic Tracks. Every shift the Daily NAT bulletin should be referenced, and fully read. The tracks should be plotted on a map along with the balloon's forecast trajectory, at the time of bulletin publication.

Regulatory/Law concerns

This is important: At LAUNCH SpeedBall will be classified as a Medium Unmanned Free Balloon1), by international law, having a total of 5.4kg payload as two packages. After SpeedBall loses 1.4kg of ballast (~3lbs) it's classification changes to a Light Unmanned Free Balloon.

White Star Balloon Information for FAA/ATC

ATC Scripts


US / European ATC Balloon Position Report Format

         "Position" Callsign, "Flight Level" Altitude, Time "ZULU", Position Lat, Position Lon

Example: Position Speedball One, Flight Level tree four zero, at zero zero fife six ZULU, fife eight decimal two one niner eight west, tree seven decimal two two zero north

Report speed in KNOTS when requested

NAT ATC Report Format

Postion, Speedball1, Lat, Long, HH:MM (in UTC), FL###, Estimating Lat,Long at HH:MM (in UTC), Lat, Long, HH:MM (in UTC) Next Report Speed in Mach number if requested

Example: Position, Speedball1, five six north, zero one zero west, at one two tree five flight level tree tree zero estimatating fix six north zero two zero west at one tree one zero five six north tree zero west next

Position Announcing Postion Report
Speedball1 our id
five six north, zero one zero west current position
at one two tree five current time UTC
flight level tree tree zero altitude express as flight level, FL330 = 33,000ft
Note proper ICAO Phraseology of the number three is spoken TREE
estimating five six north zero two west estimate position of next fix. Over the NAT ATC requires aircraft to report every 10 degrees
at one tree one zero ETA of next fix in UTC
five six north zero tree zero west next 2nd fix down the flight plan

Balloon Tracking

Not available at this time - Will be added later

Nat Info / Tracks / Weather

Live NAT and Weather Maps

NAT Tracks with Balloon Position

Live Atlantic ATC Radio Streams

Important Reference Info


RVSM Levels: FL310 to FL430
Oceanic controlled airspace: FL55 to FL600


NAT TRACKS message time of publication of the day-time OTS is 2200 UTC and of the night-time OTS is 1400 UTC.

ATC References

SpeedBall as seen by the law

Classified as a Medium Unmanned Free Balloon2), having a total of 5.4kg payload as two packages.
The balloon will be a Light Unmanned Free Balloon after all ballast has been dropped Payload < 4kg.

Spoken Terminology/Phraseology

There is specific aviation terminology that must be understood and used when communicating with ATC. Verbal and written examples will be provided. Use international phonetic pronunciations of all letters and numbers.

Written Verbal Explanation
FL390, FL55 Flight Level Tree Niner Zero, Flight Level Fife Fife These indicate altitude: 39,000ft, 5,500ft above mean sea level.
RVSM R V S M Reduced Vertical Separation Mimimum3)
missionoperations/airspacenotification.txt · Last modified: 2018/07/29 17:58 (external edit)
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