Explore Courses

Air traffic control in the USA Reading Answers- IELTS Sample

Updated on 16 December, 2022

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Reading answers for IELTS Banner

To achieve the desired band scores on the IELTS exam, it is necessary to practice as many IELTS sample papers as possible. To help you prepare, here is a reading passage for practice on the topic 'Air traffic control in the United States,' complete with questions and answers.

Air traffic control in the United States

  1. An accident that occurred in the skies over the Grand Canyon in 1956 resulted in the establishment of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to regulate and oversee the operation of aircraft in the skies over the United States, which were becoming quite congested. The resulting structure of air traffic control has greatly increased the safety of flight in the United States, and similar air traffic control procedures are also in place over much of the rest of the world.
  2. Rudimentary air traffic control (ATC) existed well before the Grand Canyon disaster. As early as the 1920s, the earliest air traffic controllers manually guided aircraft in the vicinity of the airports, using lights and flags, while beacons and flashing lights were placed along cross-country routes to establish the earliest airways. However, this purely visual system was useless in bad weather, and, by the 1930s, radio communication was coming into use for ATC. The first region to have something approximating today's ATC was New York City, with other major metropolitan areas following soon after.
  3. In the 1940s, ATC centers could and did take advantage of the newly developed radar and improved radio communication brought about by the Second World War, but the system remained rudimentary. It was only after the creation of the FAA that full-scale regulation of America's airspace took place, and this was fortuitous, for the advent of the jet engine suddenly resulted in a large number of very fast planes, reducing pilots' margin of error and practically demanding some set of rules to keep everyone well separated and operating safely in the air.
  4. Many people think that ATC consists of a row of controllers sitting in front of their radar screens at the nation's airports, telling arriving and departing traffic what to do. This is a very incomplete part of the picture. The FAA realized that the airspace over the United States would at any time have many different kinds of planes, flying for many different purposes, in a variety of weather conditions, and the same kind of structure was needed to accommodate all of them.
  5. To meet this challenge, the following elements were put into effect. First, ATC extends over virtually the entire United States. In general, from 365m above the ground and higher, the entire country is blanketed by controlled airspace. In certain areas, mainly near airports, controlled airspace extends down to 215m above the ground, and, in the immediate vicinity of an airport, all the way down to the surface. Controlled airspace is the airspace in which FAA regulations apply. Elsewhere, in uncontrolled airspace, pilots are bound by fewer regulations. In this way, the recreational pilot who simply wishes to go flying for a while without all the restrictions imposed by the FAA has only to stay in uncontrolled airspace, below 365m, while the pilot who does want the protection afforded by ATC can easily enter the controlled airspace.
  6. The FAA then recognized two types of operating environments. In good meteorological conditions, flying would be permitted under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), which suggests a strong reliance on visual cues to maintain an acceptable level of safety. Poor visibility necessitated a set of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), under which the pilot relied on altitude and navigational information provided by the plane's instrument panel to fly safely. On a clear day, a pilot in controlled airspace can choose a VFR or IFR flight plan, and the FAA regulations were devised in a way that accommodates both VFR and IFR operations in the same airspace. However, a pilot can only choose to fly IFR if they possess an instrument rating that is above and beyond the basic pilot's license that must also be held.
  7. Controlled airspace is divided into several different types, designated by letters of the alphabet. Uncontrolled airspace is designated Class F, while controlled airspace below 5,490m above sea level and not in the vicinity of an airport is Class E. All airspace above 5,490m is designated Class A. The reason for the division of Class E and Class A airspace stems from the type of planes operating in them. Generally, Class E airspace is where one finds general aviation aircraft (few of which can climb above 5,490m anyway), and commercial turboprop aircraft. Above 5,490m is the realm of the heavy jets, since jet engines operate more efficiently at higher altitudes. The difference between Class E and A airspace is that in Class A, all operations are IFR, and pilots must be instrument-rated, that is, skilled and licensed in aircraft instrumentation. This is because ATC control of the entire space is essential. Three other types of airspace, Classes D, C and B, govern the vicinity of airports. These correspond roughly to small municipal, medium-sized metropolitan and major metropolitan airports respectively, and encompass an increasingly rigorous set of regulations. For example, all a VFR pilot has to do to enter Class C airspace is establish two-way radio contact with ATC. No explicit permission from ATC to enter is needed, although the pilot must continue to obey all regulations governing VFR flight. To enter Class B airspace, such as on approach to a major metropolitan airport, an explicit ATC clearance is required. The private pilot who cruises without permission into this airspace risks losing their license.

Download E-Books for IELTS Preparation

ielts sample essays

Questions 1 - 7

Answer the questions below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates are asked to write no more than three words in this type of question. You can quickly scan the passage to answer these questions.

1. What was established after the Grand Canyon disaster?

2. When was the radio communication coming into use for ATC?

3. What brought the newly developed radar and improved radio communication?

4. How many types of operating environments are the FAA recognised?

5. Which letters are used to designate different types of airspace?

6. Where do jet engines operate well?

7. What is required to enter in the Class B airspace?

Download IELTS Preparation Guide For Free

Get to know about the latest updates on the IELTS Exam, Eligibility, Preparation Tips, Test procedure,  Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Registration Process, Important Exam Dates, and much more!! This guide is a one-stop solution for every IELTS Aspirant who aims to crack the exam with an impressive band score.

Questions 8 - 13

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage?


TRUEif the statement agrees with the information
FALSEif the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVENif there is no information on this in the passage

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates have to identify which statements are true or false by tallying them with the information provided in the passage. To answer these questions, read the passage carefully before marking it as true or false.

8. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is established as a result of accident occurred in the skies over the Grand Canyon

9. Rudimentary air traffic control established after the Grand Canyon disaster

10. Number of road and air accidents occurred in the Grand Canyon

11. Federal Aviation Administration reduced the pilot’s margin of error

12. Under Visual Flight Rules, a pilot relies on both altitude and navigational information given by the instrument panel of the plane to fly safely

13. Controlled airspace divided into three types

Solutions 1-7





Federal Aviation Administration

After an accident in the skies over the Grand Canyon in 1956, the Federal Aviation Administration was created to control and supervise the operation of aircraft in the sky.



By the 1930s, radio communication was used for air traffic control for the first time.


Second World War

Although the ATC Centers took advantage of the new form of radar and radio communication, which the Second World War brought about, the system remained fundamental. 



The FAA recognized 2 types of operational environments.


alphabetical/ alphabetical letters 

There are different types of controlled airspace, and the alphabets indicate which type it belongs to.


Higher altitudes

Jet engines are effective at altitudes above 5,490 meters because they operate well at a higher altitude.


ATC Clearance

Those wishing to enter the airspace of Class B must obtain explicit clearance from the Air Traffic Control Bureau.

Solutions 8-13






Following an accident over the Grand Canyon in the skies, the Federal Aviation Administration was established to monitor and control aircraft operation in the US.



Fundamental air traffic control (ATC) existed before the Grand Canyon incident.


Not Given




Jet engines resulted in the development of a large number of really fast planes in the years following the establishment of the FAA, resulting in a reduced margin of error for pilots.



According to Instrument Flight Rules, pilots rely on altitude and navigational information in the plane's instrument panel to ensure safe flight during low visibility conditions.



Controlled airspace is divided into several categories, each of which is identified by an alphabetical letter.

Important IELTS Exam Resources

IELTS Exam Overview

IELTS is required to be taken by international students and workers who wish to study or work in a country where English is the primary language of communication. Know the complete details.

IELTS Online Test

IELTS Exam Syllabus

With the right knowledge of the IELTS exam syllabus and pattern, cracking the popular English test won’t be difficult.

IELTS Syllabus

IELTS Exam Pattern

The IELTS exam pattern encompasses four major sections, i.e. listening, speaking, writing, and reading.

IELTS Exam Pattern

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Refer Your Friend & Earn upto ₹15000

Help your friend upgrade to a Global Career and earn rewards together.


The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.