When planes are flying over land, they are usually watched over by, and keep in contact with air traffic control (ATC). VERY simply put, whichever ATC tower’s jurisdiction/zone you’re in while en route to your destination, that’s who your pilots are in contact with and it’s those ATC officers who tell the pilot where to fly while under their jurisdiction. When they leave that ATC’s jurisdiction, they enter another one’s, and so on and so on, until they reach their final destination.
That system works well while you’re over land – thanks to radar, ATC knows where all the planes in their jurisdiction are, and they’re in contact with said planes to ensure they’re all where they belong and aren’t at risk to smash into each other, go through a storm, etc.
However, a different system comes into play when flying over water, because, well, there aren’t any traffic control towers over the ocean 😉 So this is what they do instead…
That being said, the technology always continues to improve things and a new satellite network is currently in the works that will be able to track all commercial planes in real time, anywhere on the planet. Click here to learn more about it.
Finally, if you want a really good read, check out this article written in the New York Times – it’s a pilot’s-eye view of what a flight from London to Tokyo is like, and it includes some of the things mentioned in the video above. If you’re an aviation geek, it’s a pretty fascinating read!
Enjoy your day, travel friends!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary