May have been discussed before, but travelling between the East Coast US and Europe many times, I’ve always wondered just what sort of air traffic control exists when leaving Canadian air space and then flying out over the Atlantic until control is reestablished say, by Irish air traffic control. Vice versa, coming back to the US.
Listening in on United’s passenger ATC audio, one typically hears something like this from the Canadian air controller after passing over St. John’s, or Gander: “Radar coverage terminated. Good night!”
Oh, so he or she might as well say “Aviation Canada wishes you a pleasant journey” [like the wonderful folks on the Swiss railways], but from here on out, you’re on your own buddy! Hope you make landfall over Shannon!"
About now [noon EST], one can see the map for, say Goose Bay, Riviere-Du-Loop, or Baie Comeau, filled with the first big concentration of European flights headed for the US. Many flights, one right behind the other, maybe at different flight levels, many not. I guess they all kept themselves separated from each other! How did they do that?
Is there some radar or some visibility over ever airliner all the time over the Atlantic? Once the pilot is let go, so to speak, by the Canadian or Irish controller, can the pilot, if encountering turbulence, bad weather, whatever, decide to go up or down, left or right to avoid the problem? Must they get permission from someone? If so, from whom?
Or, is it that once you leave radar coverage, you must, must stay exactly as you had filed in your flight plan? No changing altitudes midstream. No deviations from the exact route you had filed. “I know it’s rough out here, but sorry folks, we’ll be close enough to Shannon in only a few more hours, where we can get permission to deviate! Have another Gerolsteiner! Sorry!”