Air Traffic Control (ATC) is a service provided by ground based air traffic controllers who co-ordinate movements of aircraft on the ground and in the air to ensure a safe, orderly and smooth traffic flow.
ATC services are provided for the major part of the airspace, and are available to all users (private, commercial and military). Such airspace is called "controlled airspace" in contrast to "uncontrolled airspace."
- The uncontrolled airspace is mainly used by recreational aviation above and around small airfields such as Amougies, Balen (Keiheuvel), Spa, etc. Belgocontrol has no control over operations at these airfields but provides flight and meteorological information to their users.
- The controlled military airspace consists of the control areas of the military airfields and the areas reserved for military training and activities (e.g. Beauvechain, Kleine Brogel, Florennes, Koksijde, Elsenborn, Schaffen, …). There is of course co-ordination between the military air traffic controllers and Belgocontrol.
- The controlled civil airspace consists of the local airspace (CTR - Control Zone) and the terminal areas (TMA - Terminal Area) of the airports of Antwerp, Brussels Airport, Charleroi, Liège (during the hours of civil activities) and Ostend. Apart from these areas, the airspace is organised as a network of airways and specific controlled areas (CTA).
By law, pilots must generally follow the instructions of air traffic controllers when they are in controlled airspace; however, the pilot always retains the final responsibility for the conduct of his aircraft.
Air traffic control services can be divided into three major fields of action :