Originally Posted by msoultan
What I wanted to know was what is the difference between SOCAL TRACON and Los Angeles Center. I'm assuming when they refer to "socal" on the charts, that's SOCAL TRACON and when they refer to Los Angeles Center, that's an ARTCC? Just trying to understand the differentiation between the two.
I'm a pilot, and was formerly a controller at Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (SoCal Approach / SCT), located in San Diego, California, just east of the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. I also worked at an ATC center, but not Los Angeles Center.
SCT is a combination of 6 formerly independent airport approach controls, that were located at the airports of LAX, ONT, BUR, NZJ, SAN (actually, I think it was at NZY) and PSP. Beginning in the mid 1990's, and starting with Los Angeles Approach, ultimately six of the area's approach controls were combined into SCT.
NATCA Southern California TRACON
SoCal uses different ATC rules to separate traffic, and different equipment, than an enroute center. It's primary job is to get aircraft sequenced to land.
Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (LA Center / ZLA) is located in the upper southern California desert area of Palmdale. Much like the divisions of SCT, ZLA has "areas" of control, given simple letters to identify them, A, B, C, etc.
Generally speaking, the 22 ARTCC's in the country have "all" the airspace, and delegate that the towers / TRACON's. When those generally part time facilities close, the ARTCC will take over the airspace. SCT is a 24 hour facility, however.
There is little that is the same between the two. The two facilities share very little. ZLA uses long range radar that turns at 5 sweeps per minute in a "mosaic" (that means a computer uses data from more than one radar site at the same time to derive the position of a target). SCT uses single site (non-mosaic) terminal radars, generally located at their respective primary airport, that turn at 10 times per minute.
Both facilities use completely different software (SCT uses ARTS IIIe, ZLA is HOST / DARC) and hardware.
Hope that gives you a quick overview answer.