Radar Identification

Radar Identification of aircraft must be established and maintained before radar services may be provided to an aircraft.


Primary Target
A primary target may be considered Radar Identified if one of the following apply:

  • Observed within 1 mile of departing an airport with a control tower, provided a departure notification message is received.
  • A position report is received from the aircraft and complements the targets position and current track.
  • Observed making identifying turns or turns of 30 degrees or more. (May only be used if a pilot position report is received, only one aircraft is observed making these turns, and the aircraft can comply with minimum altitudes if IFR).

Beacon Target
A Secondary (beacon) target may be considered Radar Identified if one of the following apply:

  • An aircraft is instructed to “Ident” and a target is observed using the feature.
  • Observed squawking an assigned beacon code.
  • Aircraft is observed to switching transponder to standby (target disappears) and then back to normal (target reappears) when instructed.

DAL1465, Ident.
DAL1465, Squawk 6010
N312PD, squawk standby.… N312PD, squawk normal.

Note: It may be necessary to use multiple methods of radar identification if multiple targets are in that same area.

Position Information
Provide the aircraft’s position to the aircraft whenever the aircraft is identified by identifying turns or any of the beacon target methods.

N312PD, radar contact, 14 miles west of Provo.

Inform an aircraft that is has been radar identified:

  • On initial entry into the ATC System.
  • If radar identification is lost then reestablished. When lost, inform the aircraft that radar identification has been lost.

DAL1465, radar contact.
DAL1465, radar contact lost.

Transfer of Radar Identification

Radar identification may be transfered/received by:

  • Pointing to the target on the receiving controllers display.
  • Use of voice communications.
  • Use of automation.

Transfering Handoff
A radar handoff must be accomplished before an aircraft entering the receiving controller’s airspace. Any changes to aircraft (altitude, heading, data block, etc.) during or after the handoff, must be approved by the receiving controller.

Before transferring communications:

  • Ensure all violations and conflicts in your airspace has been resolved.
  • Ensure coordination has been completed with all controllers whose airspace the aircraft will fly in/through.

Inform the receiving controller of any restrictions issued to ensure separation and any information not included in the data block. Comply with any restrictions issued by the receiving controller and vise versa unless otherwise coordinated.

Receiving Handoff
Ensure transferring controller verifies aircraft compliance of any restrictions issued for safe entry into the receiving controller’s jurisdiction. Comply with any restrictions issued by the transferring controller. Confirm aircraft identity using these rules:

  • Confirm identity of primary targets by reporting their position.
  • Consider beacon (secondary) targets identity to be confirmed when the data block associated with the target indicates the aircraft is squawking the assigned code.

Point Out
The transferring controller will obtain approval prior to allowing an aircraft to fly through the receiving controller’s airspace through the use of a point out and comply with any restrictions issued by the receiving controller. The transferring controller is responsible for any changes to the aircraft to include handing them off to other sectors after point out approval.

The receiving controller will ensure separation between the aircraft being pointed out and traffic in their jurisdiction. As stated before, issue any restrictions to the transferring controller as necessary.

Prearranged Coordination
Prearranged coordination authorizes aircraft to enter another controller’s jurisdiction without prior coordination. This mainly applies to areas where aircraft will commonly pass through a portion (usually small) of the receiving controllers airspace. Refer to local Facility Directives for PACP guidance.

Terminating RADAR Services
(JO 7110.65 par. 5-1-13)

  • Inform an aircraft when RADAR service is terminated when:
    • Identification is no longer necessary
    • Aircraft proceeds into Non-RADAR converge area
  • RADAR service is automatically terminated and the aircraft need not be advised of termination when:
    • An aircraft cancels it’s IFR flight plan, except:
      • when in class B, C, or other airspace where basic RADAR service is required.
    • An aircraft conducting an instrument, visual, or contact approach has either:
      • Landed, or
      • Been instructed to change to advisory frequency (or VATSIM equivalent such as UNICOM)
  • An arriving aircraft shall be informed when RADAR service is terminated at tower-controlled airports where RADAR coverage does not exist to within 1/2 mile of the end of the runway.