Air Traffic Control In The USA Ielts Answers and Questions

IELTS Reading Passage – Air Traffic Control In The USA

Air Traffic Control In The USA

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was established after the accident happened in the skies over the Grand Canyon in 1956, to regulate and monitor the aircraft operations in the skies over the United States, which were becoming quite jammed. The safety of flight in the United States was improved greatly as a result of the air traffic control. And, the same air traffic control procedures applied to the rest of the world.

Before the Grand Canyon disaster occured, rudimentary air traffic control (ATC) existed well. At the early period of 1920s, the air traffic controllers manually guided the aircraft in the vicinity of the airports with the lights and flags, at the same time beacons and flashing lights were mounted along the cross-country routes to set up the earliest airways. Nevertheless, this purely visual system was not useful in bad weather conditions. And, the radio communication was coming into use for ATC by the year of 1930s. The first region which has some resemblances with today’s ATC was New York City. And, other significant metropolitan areas are following soon after.

In the 1940s, the system remained basic even after the ATC Centres got an opportunity to take advantage of a new form of radar and improved radio communication, which was brought by the Second World War . America’s airspace was regulated on a full scale only after the creation of the FAA, and this was unexpected, the arrival of jet engines resulted in a large number of very fast planes, decreasing the pilot’s margin of error and asking some set of rules to keep all of them well separated and operating safely in the air. 

Most of the people thought that in ATC, the controllers were in row sitting in front of their radar screens at the nation’s airports, informing arriving and departing traffic what to do. This does not cover the whole part. The FAA understood that the airspace over the United States could have many different kinds of planes at any time, flying for various purposes, in different weather conditions, and a similar sort of structure was required to accommodate all of them. 

The following things were put into effect to meet the challenge. First, virtually ATC extends to the whole of the United States. Controlled airspace covered the entire country above the ground and the higher about 365mm. In some areas, mainly near airports, controlled airspace expanded about 215mm above the ground. The FAA regulations are applied in the airspace, which is a controlled airspace. Pilots are bound by fewer regulations in uncontrolled airspace. So, the recreational pilot who wants to fly without any restrictions should stay in the uncontrolled airspace imposed by the FAA, below 365mm. And, the pilot who wants the protection from ATC can easily enter into the controlled airspace.

Two types of operating environments were recognised by the FAA. In proper meteorological conditions, under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flying would be permitted, which suggests strong reliance on visual cues to maintain an acceptable safety level. In poor visibility conditions, a set of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) under which the pilot depends on both altitude and navigational information provided by the instrument panel of the plane to fly safely. A pilot can choose a VFR or IFR flight plan in a controlled airspace on a clear day, and the FAA regulations were designed in a way which accommodates VFR and IFR operations in the same airspace. Nevertheless, a pilot can only opt to fly IFR if they have an instrument rating which is higher than the basic pilot’s licence that should also be held. 

Controlled airspace is parted into various types, which is indicated by the alphabetical letters. Class F is designated for Uncontrolled airspace and the controlled airspace above sea level below 5,490m and not in the vicinity of an airport is Class E. Class A refers to all the airspace above 5,490m. The purpose of the division of Class E and Class A airspace is to figure out the type of planes operating in them. Normally, one can find general aviation aircraft and commercial turboprop aircraft in Class E. The realm of jet engines is above 5,490m because jet engines operate well in higher altitudes. The difference between Class E and Class A airspace is that in Class A, pilots should be instrument-rated and all operations are IFR, which means skilled and licensed in aircraft instrumentation. It is because ATC control of the entire space is important. Other three types of airspace, Class D, C and B governs the airports’ vicinity. These relate to small municipal, medium-sized metropolitan and major metropolitan airports respectively and have an increasingly intense set of regulations. For example, Class C airspace is set up for two-way radio contact with ATC, where all the VFR pilots have to enter. The pilot must obey all regulations governing VFR flight even though no explicit permission from ATC is needed to enter the airspace. An explicit ATC clearance is required to enter in the Class B airspace. The private pilot who flies without permission will lose their license.

Air Traffic Control In The USA IELTS Reading Questions

Questions 1 – 7

Answer the questions below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer.

  1. What was established after the Grand Canyon disaster ?
  2. When was the radio communication coming into use for ATC ?
  3. What brought the newly developed radar and improved radio communication ?
  4. How many types of operating environments are the FAA recognised ?
  5. Which letters are used to designate different types of airspace ?
  6. Where do jet engines operate well ?
  7. What is required to enter in the Class B airspace ? 

Questions 8 – 13

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage?


  • TRUE                if the statement agrees with the information
  • FALSE              if the statement contradicts the information
  • NOT GIVEN      if there is no information on this in the passage

8. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is established as a result of accident occured in the skies over the Grand Canyon

9. Rudimentary air traffic control established after the Grand Canyon disaster

10. Number of road and air accidents occured in the Grand Canyon

11. Federal Aviation Administration reduced the pilot’s margin of error

12. Under Visual Flight Rules, a pilot relies on both altitude and navigational information given by the instrument panel of the plane to fly safely

13. Controlled airspace divided into three types

Air Traffic Control In The USA IELTS Reading Answers

1. Federal Aviation Administration

2. 1930s

3. Second World War

4. Two 

5. alphabetical/ alphabetical letters 

6. Higher altitudes

7. ATC Clearance

8. True

9. False

10. Not Given

11. True

12. False

13. False

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