ATM will be deeply described in Chapter 10. As a rough definition, we can say that ATM is about the processes, procedures, and resources which come into play to make sure that aircraft are safely guided in the skies and on the ground. Therefore, it plays an important role in airport operations.
Air traffic control: ATC (to be also studied in Chapter 10) is the tactical part within the Air Traffic Management (ATM) system. It is on charge of separating aircraft safely in the sky as flying at the airports where arriving and departing. These duties are carried out by air traffic controllers, who direct aircraft movements, usually via VHF radio. Air traffic control responsibilities at airports are usually divided into two main areas: ground control and tower control.
Ground control is responsible for directing all ground traffic in designated movement areas, except for the case of traffic on runways, i.e, ground control in on charge of aircraft movements in aprons and taxiways, but also all service vehicles movements (fuel trucks, push-back vehicles, luggage trollies, etc.). Ground Control commands these vehicles on which taxiways to use, which runway to proceed (only for aircraft in this case), where to park, when to cross runways, etc. When a plane is ready to take off, it must wait in the runway head and turned over to tower control, who is responsible to authorize take-off and surveil the operation thereafter. After a plane has landed, it exits the runway and then is automatically turned over to ground control.
Tower Control controls aircraft on the runway and in the controlled airspace immediately surrounding the airport, the so-called Control Zone (CTR) or Terminal Maneuvering Area (TMA).4 They coordinate the sequencing and spacing of aircraft and direct aircraft on how to safely join and leave the CTR/TMA circuit of arrivals and departures.
Communication services: Together with ATC services, the ATM provides an information system that apply both for airport operations and en-route operations. In regard of airport operations, pilots check before take off the so-called Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS), which provides information about airport conditions. The ATIS contains information about weather, which runway and traffic patterns are in use, and other information that pilots should be aware of before boarding the aircraft and entering the movement area and the airspace.
4. The difference between CTR and TMA can be consulted in Chapter 10.