The Flight Control console, often referred to as CONN, is responsible for the actual piloting and navigation of the spacecraft. Although these are heavily automated functions, their criticality demands a human officer to oversee these operations at all times. The Flight Control Officer (also referred to as Conn) receives instructions directly from the Commanding Officer.
There are five major areas of responsibility for the Flight Control Officer:
• Navigational references/course plotting • Supervision of automatic flight operations • Manual flight operations • Position verification • Bridge liaison to Engineering department
During impulse powered spaceflight, CONN is responsible for monitoring relativistic effects as well as inertial damping system status. In the event that a requested maneuver exceeds the capacity of the inertial damping system, the computer will request CONN to modify the flight plan to bring it within the permitted performance envelope. During Alert status, flight rules permit CONN to specify maneuvers that are potentially dangerous to the crew or the spacecraft.
Warp flight operating rules require Conn to monitor subspace field geometry in parallel with the Engineering department. During warp flight, the Flight Control console continually updates long-range sensor data and makes automatic course corrections to adjust for minor variations in the density of the interstellar medium.
Because of the criticality of Flight Control in spacecraft operations, particularly during crisis situations, Conn is connected to a dedicated backup flight operations subprocessor to provide for manual flight control. This equipment package includes emergency navigation sensors.
• Navigational references/course plotting. The Flight Control console displays readings from navigational and tactical sensors, overlaying them on current positional and course projections. Conn has the option of accessing data feeds from secondary navigation and science sensors for verification of primary sensor data. Such cross-checks are automatically performed at each change-of-shift and upon activation of Alert status.
• Manual flight operations. The actual execution of flight instructions is generally left to computer control, but Conn has the option of exercising manual control over helm and navigational functions. In full manual mode, Conn can actually steer the ship under keypad control.
• Reaction control system (RCS). Although the actual vector and sequence control of the system is normally automated, Conn has the option of manually commanding the RCS system or individual thrusters. Conn also serves as a liaison to the Engineering department in that he/she is responsible for monitoring propulsion system status and providing system status reports to the commanding officer in the absence of an engineering officer's presence on the bridge.