ATCC Controllers' Read Binder...

NOTAMS, FAQs and other info for users of ATCC

December, 1998

New Format

The old newsletters have been moved to a newsletter archive page (put together and indexed by a longtime ATCC user--thanks Len!), and this newsletter will be shorter, with more product news and fewer controlling tips. The reason is that everything a Center Controller needs to know about controlling has already been discussed. There isn't a whole lot of written knowledge, certainly none that real controllers are ever given, because as we've always said, common sense is what controllers mostly use. Check the archives for all the good data!

Latest Product News

First, a little info on Xavius Software: we do contract programming projects (often off-site), not full-time game publishing. Certainly, everyone realizes that ATCC is a hardcore sim appealing to a small niche segment. It alone can't support a company, so it has always been a fun side project in-between other projects. We just can't devote resources (i.e. production, distribution, support, development) to the extent that we would like to, so development is slower and more sporadic than in a normal game or sim company. Keep that in mind as we relate the current status of the ATCC projects:

  • The ATCC Program (V1.1) --- The program itself is now out of print, after almost two years to the day since version 1.0 was first released. Except for a handful of backorders it is likely out of stock everywhere. We won't be doing a full reprint anytime soon, instead focusing on newer ATCC projects. Many thanks to all V1.0 and V1.1 users from these past couple years!

  • Speech Recognition Driver --- We've been trying, but the technology (inexpensive speech recognition using existing sound cards) just isn't there yet. We cannot in good conscience release it, because it only gives around 80-90 percent accuracy, and anything less than 98 percent leads to frustration, sometimes extreme frustration! So we are shelving this for now, to integrate it with version 2.0 or revive it if newer speech technology emerges before then.

  • New Sectors --- After some evaluation, it is clear we cannot support the production and distribution of new sectors (packaging, shipping, sales, support etc) and do our rent-paying projects, so we are devoting our limited ATCC resources to the new version and must shelve these new sectors for an undetermined time (first half, '99). We're very sorry to users who have been waiting for these sectors, but we just can't do it at this time! Please have patience...

  • Version 2.0 --- The good news, we are still continuing with this, with an estimated completion date in mid- to late- '99. Hi-res (1024x768 or 1280x960 probably) will be the big improvement, along with everything else mentioned in previous newsletters (VFR aircraft, holding, more dynamic incidents/airport closures/emergencies, etc).

Disabling the New Voices

The additional voices downloadable from our download page of course are just pitch-shifted from the original, to add a little variety. Most people like the new effect, but some don't. To disable the new voices, find the file NUM_VOC in your ATCC folder, open it with notepad or another ASCII editor, and change the number from "3" to "1." Then you can remove the v2 and v3 folders to free up disk space.

Time Slowdown?

We've had a couple reports of ATCC running under Windows 98 apparently slowing down. This may be the most obvious if you get a speech readback, then the orange RCVR light doesn't start blinking until well after the speech has stopped. If you see this, check the clock, and match it against a (real) clock. If it's obviously slower, please let us know. Possibly adjust the settings for the ATCC16 icon in your ATCC folder (right click on the icon, select PROPERTIES, MISC) and move the IDLE SENSITIVITY slider all the way to HIGH. If this does or doesn't fix it, let us know!

A Sequencing Puzzle:

This would actually cause many controllers to panic, at first, but it's not a difficult solution:

You are handed a mega-stack of aircraft, all directly on top of each other (different altitudes: 110, 120, 130, and so on), all on the same heading (090), all going to the same airport, and you need to get them 8 miles in trail (arbitrary, actually) by the end of your sector. What is the quickest and most efficient method?

Answer: Probably this: #1 aircraft (make it the one at 110) continue on heading 090. The next aircraft (at 120) turn right 20 degrees (heading 110). The next turn 20 right from that (heading 130). The next 20 right from that (heading 150) and so on.

They will all begin to space apart from each other (fan out). Once aircraft #2 has 8 miles or a little less spacing from #1, turn him direct to the common convergence point (probably the airport). Shortly after that, #3 will have spacing with #2. Turn #3 direct to the airport. Then #4 will get spacing with #3, so turn him direct to the airport too, and so on.

This is a common method of quickly sequencing military flights (such as a formation flight of twelve F-18's, which you would normally work as a single aircraft, with only the leader's blip). They sometimes stick together all the way to their base, and other times request a flight breakup prior to approach (due to a cloud layer in the descent, for example). This can be a nightmare, if the airport or area they are descending into requires miles-in-trail with subsequent aircraft going to the same airport, and the military flight informs you of the need for a breakup just before you are supposed to hand him off. When you need quick spacing in short distances, you can use the above trick to achieve it with minimal effort and a minimal waste of space.

Microprose's European Air War

Super-keen flight sim fanatics will notice that Microprose's new release European Air War also uses the above technique to achieve a quick string-of-pearls approach after the player's flight of aircraft makes it back to home base in a big cluster. This is because Xavius' own Chris Coon did the programming for that, as well as the radio chatter and the ground controller elements, which simulate radar coverage to provide vectors to the enemy. "Radar was crude in WWII [the era it simulated], so there really is no fancy ground control or ATC except for the quick sequencing prior to landing," he reports,"but it is a fun prop combat sim--check it out!"


The Read Binder is updated every other month. All information is for use with Xavius Software's Air Traffic Control Center only, is the opinion of the author(s), and may not reflect the current policies of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Send your questions or comments to!