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{{ATC-navbar}}
{{Main article|Air Traffic Control}}
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{{Main article|Air traffic control}}
  
[[Air Traffic Control]] is an agreed procedure and process which keeps the [[aircraft]] separated to ensure that they don't crash into each other or are affected by turbulence when passing through the same air space. The separation of planes taking off or landing at airports is three minutes. This allows the air to settle again. Pilots have used an analogy of calling the atmosphere soup as air and liquid has similar properties.
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[[Air traffic control|Air Traffic Control]] is an agreed procedure and process which keeps the [[aircraft]] separated to ensure that they don't crash into each other or are affected by turbulence when passing through the same air space. This article, probably more directly useful for pilots, will teach you that procedure and will hopefully help you to enjoy controlled areas and airports on the FlightGear multiplayer servers.
  
In order to be able to effectively and reliably communicate, ATC and pilots agree on a set of keywords and jargon. This may vary between regions and the like. English is the agreed language for internaltional flights. <!-- <ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.icao.int/icao/en/trivia/peltrgFAQ.htm#23 |title=IDAO FAQ |accessdate=2009-03-03 |dateformat=lmdy}}</ref> -->
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== Controller roles ==
 
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The roles a controller can assume mirror the ones that a pilot can encounter in "real life" aviation:
==Lesson 1==
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{| class="wikitable"
{| class="prettytable"
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! scope="col"| Position suffix
! align="center" bgcolor="#EFEFEF" | Position Suffix
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! scope="col"| Name
! align="center" bgcolor="#EFEFEF" | Name
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! scope="col"| Description
! align="center" bgcolor="#EFEFEF" | Description
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|-
 +
| xxxx_DL
 +
| Clearance Delivery
 +
| Checks flight plans submitted by pilots (or creates them) to make sure no aircraft intersects the route of another one at the same time and that visibility conditions and cruise altitude are adequate. Revokes or amends the flight plans as necessary. Assigns squawk (transponder) codes. Gives aircraft clearances (authorizations to fly to a destination airport via a certain route).
 
|-  
 
|-  
| xxxx_GND
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| xxxx_GN
|Ground Controller
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| Ground
|Controls the movement of aircraft on the ground at an airport, however only the taxiways and bays... not the active runways. Whenever a plane needs to cross an active runway, it has to call the tower.
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| Controls the movement of aircraft on the ground at an airport (stands, apron, taxiways). Issues taxi clearances, assisting pilots if needed. Controls the ''inactive'' runways, but does not control the ''active'' ones; thus, a pilot generally needs to contact Tower to enter or cross them (at some fields, Ground coordinates with Tower and is able to issue runway crossing clearances).
 
|-
 
|-
! bgcolor="#EFEFEF" align="left" |xxxx_TWR
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| xxxx_TW
! bgcolor="#EFEFEF" align="left" |Tower Controller
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| Tower
! bgcolor="#EFEFEF" align="left" |'Owns' the runways and the airspace up to 10 NM (nautical miles) from the airport. Clears planes for takeoff and landing.
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| Controls the ''active'' runways and the airspace up to 10 NM (nautical miles) from the airport; chooses the runways to use; clears planes for takeoff and landing, making sure that they are at least 10 NM or three minutes apart.
 
|-
 
|-
|xxxx_APP
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| xxxx_AP
|Approach Controller
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| Approach
|Controls the airspace up to 30NM away from the airport, up to 18,000 ft (usually). Handles all aircraft leaving or arriving at an airport, until they are established on the ILS (then gives the plane to TWR) or are leaving their airspace to continue flight (then hands off to CTR)
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| Controls the airspace up to 30 NM away from the airport, up to 18,000 ft (usually). Handles all aircraft leaving or arriving at an airport, until they are established on the ILS/have the runway in sight (then gives the plane to TWR) or are leaving their airspace to continue their flight (then hands them off to CTR). Ensures that aircraft is adequately separated.
 
|-
 
|-
! bgcolor="#EFEFEF" align="left" |xxxx_DEP
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| xxxx_DE
! bgcolor="#EFEFEF" align="left" |Departure Controller
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| Departure
! bgcolor="#EFEFEF" align="left" |An position rarely used except at busy airports in the real world which relieves the work-load of the approach controller by handling all the departures, and getting them away from arrivals as quickly as possible, leaving the approach controller free to handle arrivals (the hard bit).
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| This position is rarely used, except at busy airports; it handles all the departures and hands them off to CTR, leaving the approach controller free to handle only arrivals. Coordinates closely with the approach controller to prevent collisions.
 
|-
 
|-
|xxxx_CTR
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| xxxx_CT
|(ARTCC) Center Controller
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| Center
|Centers own all airspace not controlled by APP or TWR. They control the plane while en route, and get it from X to Y safely, until it can be descended and given to the approach controller.
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| Center (sector) controllers own all airspace not controlled by APP/DEP or TWR. They control the plane while en route, and get it from X to Y safely, until it can be instructed to descend and given to the approach controller.<ref>In some areas (e.g. France) Center controllers are supplemented by Flight Service Stations (FSS), which provide useful information (weather, frequencies...) to pilots and do ''not'' offer air traffic control.</ref>
|-
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! bgcolor="#EFEFEF" align="left" |xxxx_FSS
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! bgcolor="#EFEFEF" align="left" |Flight Service Station
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! bgcolor="#EFEFEF" align="left" |Flight Service Stations cover large areas (e.g.: France) and provide support to pilots and controllers. They can advise pilots of weather and frequencies for other controllers. They do not provide Air Traffic Control.
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|-
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|xxxx_DEL
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|Clearance Delivery
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|Clearance Delivery is rarely used in FlightSims. In the real world, a controller would give a clearance (which explains where the plane is allowed to fly) to all planes, but the ease of giving a clearance in the virtual world, means the Tower can normally give the clearance.
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|}
 
|}
  
The 'xxxx' in the table replace a code used to identify the area that controller is using. These are known as [[ICAO]] codes, and can be found on the [http://www.airport-technology.com/icao-codes/ ICAO web-site]. For example, Heathrow is 'EGLL' so a Heathrow Tower Controller would log-in as EGLL_TWR.  
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* The "xxxx" in the table replace a code used to identify the area that controller is using; these are known as ''ICAO codes'' and can be found on the [http://www.airport-technology.com/icao-codes/ Airport Codes list]. For example, London Gatwick is "EGKK" so a Gatwick Tower Controller would log-in as ''EGKK_TW''.
 +
* Center controllers also have ICAO identifiers, but they are not for one airport, but for a larger area. For example, ''LFFF_CT'' is France Center, and ''LFFF_FS'' is the France Flight Service Station.
 +
* At large airports, multiple controllers may man the same positions.
  
Centers and flight service stations also have ICAO identifiers, but they are not for one airport, but for a larger area. For example, LFFF_CTR is France Center, and LFFF_FSS is the France Flight Service Station.
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=== Controller roles in FlightGear ===
 +
Since there are not many ATCs in FlightGear, often a single controller fills more than one position. Generally speaking:
 +
* a controller filling a particular position also fills the positions below him/her (the one listed before in the table above) if no one else is covering it; for example, if ''EGKK_TW'' (a Gatwick Tower Controller) is online, but there is no ''EGKK_GN'', the Tower controller acts also as Ground controller;
 +
* as an exception to the rule above, Tower controllers often act also as Approach controllers for the respective airports.
  
You may also see the callsigns xxxx_SUP and xxxx_OBS. These are used only in the virtual world and represent, respectively, a supervisor and an observer (someone who isn't controlling).
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=== Handoffs ===
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If more than one controller is manning an area, the first controller should tell the pilot to contact the second controller when the airplane is about to enter the airspace of the latter. This is usually done with the phrase: "callsign, ''contact'' station ''on'' frequency".
  
So now you can choose your position, but beware: if you are the approach controller at an airport which doesn't have a ground / tower controller, planes will expect you to offer them all those facilities, but if you are a London Center controller, you are not expected to offer center facilities to airplanes in an adjacent sector, but could be expected to offer very basic facilities of GND / TWR / APP to airports in your sector...
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== IFR vs VFR flights ==
 +
{{Main article|Flight rules}}
 +
A distinction you should know for flying in controlled areas is the one between IFR and VFR flights, as flight planning and some phraseology are different.
 +
* VFR (Visual Flight Rules) can apply when a pilot is able to orientate and recognize other aircraft and obstacles visually (that means, for example, the sky should be clear of clouds at low altitudes near the airport when taking off and landing, light must be sufficient, and there must be little or no fog at all); they are used mainly in general aviation;
 +
* IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) apply in all other cases.
  
==Lesson 2==
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== Getting and reading charts ==
Now, we'll have a look at each of the positions in details:
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{{Main article|Getting aeronautical charts}}
 
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You should [[Getting aeronautical charts|get aeronautical charts]] for the airports you intend to fly from/to, specifically:
===_GND (Ground)===
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{| class="wikitable"
Ground is possibly the easiest (but most boring) position available to controllers. The basic responsibility is to get planes to and from the runway and terminal buildings as quickly as possible (to save fuel and time) and to avoid planes colliding with each other. For this, you'll need a GROUND SECTOR FILE. These are very detailed maps of a particular airport (can be downloaded from the Sector System on IVAO) which hold all the taxiways as geographic data (press F5 to view).
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! scope="col"| Chart type
 
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! scope="col"| Description
Depending on the airport, the taxiways may have letters, or descriptions (e.g.: Inner Taxiway) or each section of the airport may have a number (called blocks). At Heathrow, the last two are used, so a statement like 'taxi to block 76 via the outer taxi-way' would be valid.
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===_TWR (Tower)===
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Tower has responsibility for all planes coming into or out of the airport, and the planes wishing to enter or cross the active runways. For Tower you can use any sector file with the airport shown, and center on your airport and zoom in to give your short (10NM) range. The first responsibility is to choose which runways to use (there's always at least 2 - one runway being used either direction) according to the weather (more later). You will also be expected to give IFR clearances, but this is very simple.
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The biggest responsibility the tower has is to ensure that planes can take-off and land as quickly as possible, without any two colliding. Your approach controller should make sure that all planes arriving are well spaced and already heading directly for the runway. When a plane you've given permission to take-off to has left the ground, they are given straight to APP (Approach). Normally, there will not be a ground controller, so you may have to also give basic ground instructions (just ask a plane to get to the runway - not giving them directions - but warn them of any other traffic).
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===_APP (Approach)===
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Approach is the most complicated position. Approach controllers deal with all traffic arriving and leaving (unless there is a departures controller - unusual). The main aim, as always, is to keep the aircraft arriving and leaving separated. For departing traffic, the aim is to get them going in the right direction and give them to center as soon as possible; for arriving traffic, the aim is to get them onto the approach (the correct height and heading) so that they can follow an electronic system (the ILS) which gives them exact guidance onto the runway, and then you can hand them off to the tower, who will clear them to land and try and get planes taking off in between the landings.
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The difficulty is, of course, dealing with the high volumes of traffic around an airport. In Lesson 3, SIDs and STARs are introduced which are standard ways of leaving from or arriving at an airport which ensure that planes maintain separation.
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===_DEP (Departures)===
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An unusual position in the virtual world, the departure controller controls all planes leaving an airport; normally _APP will handle these but sometimes traffic means that there is just too much for a single controller to do. It is the aim of the departures controller to get the departing aircraft away from the airport as soon as possible without interfering with approach's planes. Later, you will see that departures are kept below a certain altitude until they're a distance away so that any arrivals can fly over them without any mid-air collisions.
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In this position you absolutely must co-ordinate very closely with the approach controller.
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===_CTR (ARTCC - Center)===
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Center handles all airplanes in a specific area which are en route and not getting ready to land or having just departed. They navigate the plane from place to place as quickly as possible whilst ensuring that planes stay separated from each other. A plane may deal with many centers as it passes over many countries in a flight.
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Notice how I've mentioned separation in every description? SEPARATION is the first key to controlling. It does not matter how far out its way a plane has to go if you keep everybody on board alive. A pilot may well want to have landed five minutes earlier, but it's your job as the controller to keep them separated. Of course, having said that, the second key to controlling is expedite flow - that is keep traffic moving quickly and get it where it wants to go by the most direct route.
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==Lesson 3==
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Let's look at a plane taxiing to the runway and taking off now. So, to do this, we'll consider two controllers:
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''ground control (_GND) and the tower (_TWR).''
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First, we have to know which runway is being used so that ground can get the plane to the right place. The rule is 'planes always like to be heading into the wind for takeoff or landing'. The winds are given in the METAR like 'xxxyy'. The direction of the wind is given first in 3 digits, and the speed after that in 2 digits; so 11007 indicates winds of 7kts with a direction of 110 (magnetic heading). Winds under 5 kts can be considered 'calm' and can be ignored. Thus, the basic idea is to match the heading of the wind, and the runway heading (add a '0' to the runway number - 17L is 170) as closely as possible. Runways are numbered by knocking the '0' off the heading, and appending 'L' for left or 'R' for right if there are parallel runways.
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At Heathrow, there are runways 9L and 9R, and the same runways (used in opposite directions) 27R and 27L. If the wind is 110º @ 15 kts then runways 9L and 9R are most suitable, as 90 and 110 are only 20 degrees away, but 270 and 110 are 160º away! At Heathrow, where there are parallel runways, one runway can be used for landing and the other for taking off - so a plane can be leaving on 9L while another is almost landing on 9R. Where there is only one runway, the same runway can be used to landing and taking off. It is important to notice that if an aircraft is taking off on runway 7, and another lands shortly after on runway 7, they are travelling in the same direction, so they are not approaching each other, and a collision is impossible.
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Knowing about your ATIS which can be read by all planes to avoid you repeating information, you would want to put the active runways in your ATIS so that other controllers know which runways you have chosen, and so planes have an idea of what they will be expected to do. Always keep your ATIS short (as it is hard for the pilots to read a long ATIS), and delete any blank lines at the end. The other component of your ATIS should be the current weather, so a good ATIS for a tower or ground controller would be:
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''London Heathrow Ground/Tower Information <alpha/bravo/charlie/delta/echo...>. Active runways are 9R for departures, and 9L for arrivals. Weather is'' '''(copy from METAR)''' ''110@15 FEW030 OVC090 Q1015 NOSIG. On initial contact report you have <alpha/bravo/charlie/delta/echo...>'' ; the only detail to note here is the use of alpha/bravo, etc. Each time you update your ATIS change the identifier up by one, so start with alpha, then use bravo, then charlie. This is used so that when a plane calls you and says 'information alpha' you know if he has current information or an old version.
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Now that the active runway has been established and the ATIS set-up, you can go about controlling. First, though, you need to know some basic guidelines about contact. Usually, expect a plane to call you first. They should give their current location, callsign (used to identify each plane) and which ATIS they have, so:
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'''B-ELIO: Ground, this is B-ELIO at the terminal, Information Alpha. Request clearance to Paris Orly.'''
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B-ELIO, a plane, has called you telling you where he is, what information he has, and what he wants. To reply, you need to tell him whether the information is current ('Alpha is current') or new information ('New active runway is 23') and reply to his request.
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First, we earlier mentioned IFR clearance. This allows the controller to know where the plane is going, and to plan ahead for the aircraft. If you remember looking at a Flight Strip in lesson 1, you will recall it allows a controller to see the destination of the aircraft, the route the aircraft will follow and the requested altitude. The aim of the clearance is just to confirm these details with the pilot, especially in the real-world where they may be altered due to traffic levels, to make sure there aren't any mistakes and everyone knows what's going to happen. The clearance is as follows:
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'''<Callsign> is cleared to <destination> as filed''' (give any changes to the flight plan here). '''After takeoff c/m''' (climb and maintain) '''<altitude> on runway heading / and turn <left/right> to <heading>, expect <requested flight level> after 10 minutes. Squawk <transponder code>.'''
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Here's an example clearance:
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+
'''You: B-ELIO is cleared to Paris Orly as filed. After takeoff c/m 6,000 and turn left to heading 180 (south) expect FL310 after 10 minutes. Squawk 5201.'''
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+
The clearance can be given whilst on the ground, and is given by Clearance Delivery (_DEL) if one is online, else the GROUND (_GND), or TOWER (_TWR) controller. The pilot must read-back the whole clearance, to which you confirm by saying 'readback correct'. The Squawk code is a number used to identify the plane. It can be seen on the flight plan (will default to 1200) and means - in the real world - a controller can tell the dots apart as each one has a number. Just assign an available number in the 5000 or 6000 range (eg: 6001, 6002, 6003, etc.).
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'''B-ELIO: B-ELIO cleared to Orly as filed. c/m 6000 left 180 - expect FL310 after 10, and squawk 5201.'''<br>
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'''You: B-ELIO, readback correct, call when ready to push-back and start-up.'''<br>
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'''B-ELIO: B-ELIO requests start-up and push-back.'''
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Here a push-back and start-up means he wants a vehicle to pull the plane away from the buildings so he can start his engines... this is a real-world call, and is not used in the virtual world, so just approve it. He might skip this entirely and just ask if he can taxi, otherwise say:
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'''You: Cleared to push-back and start engines. Call when ready to taxi'''
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B-ELIO will then call you when he's ready to taxi. Note you don't have to type B-ELIO, just click on his icon on the screen and ProController automatically inserts it for you. You can often just respond with 'roger' or 'rgr' which means you've heard what the other person has said, or 'wilco' which means you have heard and will obey. When he calls to taxi:
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'''B-ELIO: rgr (to the push-back and start-up clearance). Ready to taxi to the active runway.'''<br>
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'''You: B-ELIO, Taxi to runway 9 (or whatever Tower has chosen) and hold short, altimeter 1009.'''<br>
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'''B-ELIO: to runway 9 and h/s, alt 1009, B-ELIO (h/s is short for hold short)'''
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Hold short asks the plane to get close to the point given (here, the runway) without actually getting on to the point. Each runway has a line painted on the ground (the holding line) at which a plane waiting to take-off will wait until he is cleared onto the runway (tower's duty). If you put the plane on the runway, tower might be landing a plane and this plane might well land on top of it! The altimeter is given now so that you are sure that the plane has the correct altimeter setting, and is just good practice. Even with it in your ATIS, and their take-off checks, it never hurts to be safe. Your aim as ground is just to get a queue ready for takeoff so that tower has aircraft ready to takeoff when there's a gap in arrivals.
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If the pilot needs to cross a runway, he'll stop before the runway and ask for clearance. You just direct him to ask the tower for this information. Imagine for a second that there's another plane taxiing to the runway as well... tell the plane to give way:
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'''You: B-ELIO, Taxi to runway 9 and hold short. Give way to the American Airlines 747 taxiing from left to right.'''
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Now the pilot will have to give way to the 747 moving in front of him from his left to his right. If B-ELIO was also an American Airlines, you can use the word 'Company' to mean 'of the same company' so 'Give way to company 747...' would be legal. As a ground controller, with a detailed map, you might like to give full details of the way you want him to go, but normally the controller can just give a simple statement like the ones above:
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'''You: B-ELIO, taxi via Inner Taxiway to block 53, then left onto taxi-way B to runway 9, and hold short.'''
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Now the plane is ready to get onto the runway and takeoff, you hand him off to TWR, using the method you learnt in Lesson 1 by right-clicking on the plane, selecting 'aircraft >' and then 'request handoff' and select the appropriate controller. This will ask the controller for a hand-off and, when they accept, the circles around the plane will change colour, you can now go through the same menu and choose hand-off which will give B-ELIO the following message. In the real world, you'd actually say it, and in IVAO, you can just type it without using the automated system:
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'''You: B-ELIO, contact the tower frequency 119.7 (you'd have to look up the frequency in who is on-line)'''
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So now, it's Tower's turn to get this plane off into the sky...
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If you were awaiting a plane to land, you could just leave the plane queuing, but if you are ready to have him on the runway tell him to get into position on the runway. Remember, it is your job to get aircraft onto and off the runways as quickly as possible, so that planes can land and take-off quickly:
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'''You: B-ELIO, taxi into position and hold.'''<br>
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'''B-ELIO: Position and hold, B-ELIO.'''
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One thing to note, Europeans may use the terminology 'line up and wait' in stead of 'position and hold' - it means exactly the same. You may also use a conditional clearance, to make your job easier:
+
 
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'''You: B-ELIO, taxi into position and hold [after the arriving B747 / following the departing B757]'''
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The plane may give a call back when he's ready like 'ready to go' or 'on the numbers' or 'in position'. If not, just wait until his icon stops moving and give him his takeoff clearance:
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'''You: B-ELIO, winds calm/110@15, runway 9, cleared to takeoff'''<br>
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'''B-ELIO: Cleared to takeoff.'''
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The plane will commence his take-off roll, and - as soon as he is airborne - you want to get rid of him and get onto your next plane. You initiate the hand-off to approach, and handoff as soon as (s)he accepts. So now, onto approaches dealings...
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==Lesson 4==
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''(In this section the approach controller is presumed to be handling departures, as there are very, very rarely departure controllers. If there were a departure controller, (s)he would deal with a departing plane, and the approach controller would deal with any planes arriving)''
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So approach now has a plane that wants to get on with its flight. The first thing to notice was the clearance:
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''climb and maintain 6,000...''
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It wasn't explained last page, but the reason for this low height is to ensure that planes arriving at the airport - also at low heights - that are arriving from the takeoff end of the airfield are kept above the departing planes. If arriving planes are only cleared down to 8,000 ft. then - even if they have to fly over the airport and turn around - they cannot conflict with departing planes. For this reason, departing planes are usually cleared to 6,000 and arriving planes to 8,000 until they are on the 'safe' (non-departure) side of the runway.
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Let's look at how the hand-off occurs this time:
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'''EGLL_TWR: B-ELIO, contact EGLL_APP on 119.72, good-day.'''<br>
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'''B-ELIO (to you): Heathrow Approach, good-day, this is B-ELIO out of 1,700 for 6,000 on runway heading'''
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This time, because the plane is in the air, you want to acknowledge you can see him on the radar:
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'''You: B-ELIO, Radar Contact, continue to 6,000... (and right to 120)'''
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The aim now is to get the plane heading in the right direction (that is, towards the first VOR or NDB - remember how they're shown on the display - listed in the Flight Strip, or just in the general direction of the country he's heading to. When the planes far enough away from the airport, or there's no other traffic, climb him up to 12,000 - 18,000ft and hand him off to center. Now, a few words about giving the plane vectors (headings), remember:
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* Don't expect the plane to respond instantly... think ahead. By the time he's got your message and started to turn he might be 1 NM further on that you expected.
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* If he's heading directly to a 'fix' (any VOR, NDB or Intersection) give them a 'direct <place>' order like 'B-ELIO, turn left direct BIG' - don't bother trying to figure out headings when you've been given an easy way.
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* Consider your heading -- are you sure you mean 90 and not 270? If the aircraft is heading to the left of the screen, he's flying a heading of 270 and not 90!! This may seem obvious, but is one of the biggest problems for new controllers.
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Now the plane's in the sky, a big, bold few words about separation:
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'''Keep your planes at least 3NM from each other, or at least 1,000 ft vertically between them. If you think the planes will eventually come too close, don't wait -- turn or descend one immediately! In order to make collisions between planes traveling in opposite directions less likely, use this rule:'''
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+
{| class="prettytable"
+
! align="center" bgcolor="#EFEFEF" |  
+
! align="center" bgcolor="#EFEFEF" |
+
|-
+
|Plane flying headings 0-179     
+
|Fly at ODD FLIGHT LEVELS
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|-
 
|-
|Plane flying headings 180 - 359     
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| Airport information
|Fly at EVEN FLIGHT LEVELS
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| Describes the characteristics of the airport and provides a list of radio frequencies.
 +
|-
 +
| Ground (aerodrome chart/airport diagram)
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| Depicts the taxiways and runways of a specific airport; used while taxiing from and to the terminal.
 +
|-
 +
| SID/STAR
 +
| Used for instrument departures and arrivals.
 +
|-
 +
| VFR
 +
| Those charts are used for VFR flights and usually depict minimum safe altitudes for each area, as well as reporting points (you must report your position to ATC when flying over them).
 
|}
 
|}
  
What are Flight Levels? Flight Levels are used to shorten heights -- you should recognize them from the plane's blip -- you simply remove the two last digits from the height, for example 32,000ft --> FL320. Also, when you talk about Flight Levels, the pilot uses a standard altimeter setting (instead of the local altimeter setting found after the Q in the METAR weather report in the bottom right of your screen); while at low altitudes the plane will use the local barometric pressure. This means that all planes cruising will think 32,000 ft is at the same place, and not vary slightly depending on the local pressure.  
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== Phraseology ==
 +
=== A sample IFR flight ===
 +
We will teach the phraseology through an IFR sample flight from LEBL (Barcelona) to EDDF (Frankfurt am Main). For simplicity, we assume that all controller positions (delivery, ground, tower, approach/departure and center) are manned; also, we assume our callsign is ''BAW1542'' (to be read as ''Speedbird one five four two'').
 +
==== Planning the flight ====
 +
{{Main article|Flight planning}}
 +
It's a good practice to file a flight plan on [http://flightgear-atc.alwaysdata.net/ Lenny's website] so that the controllers will be able to know your departure/destination airports, cruising altitude and route without asking you about that every time.
  
Your aim is to get the planes in the right direction at a height ready for hand-off to an ARTCC (_CTR) and away from the airport. Once you've done it pass your plane onto the centre controller. It is a good idea to use the .chat <callsign of controller> function to ensure that you and your center agree on what places and heights you'll hand off at.
+
Follow the instructions on the [[Flight planning]] article to file a flightplan from LEBL to EDDF with a cruising altitude of FL250.
  
Now the planes with Centre. The same hand-off procedure as above applies... wait for the first contact. When you've got it, identify the plane, and report 'radar contact'. If a plane is in your airspace and won't contact you try asking on your frequency, then try a quick switch to 121.50 to send a 'Contact EGTT_CTR on 132.600' to get the plane's attention. Using 121.50 (the Guard Frequency) is used when you can't contact a plane -- all planes within a few hundred miles will hear your broadcast, irrespective of who it was intended for! Remember to switch back to your frequency -- you don't want everyone to hear your broadcasts for the rest of eternity (or perhaps you do; I certainly don't).
+
==== Getting the departure clearance ====
 
+
We start on the airport apron at terminal T1, stand 221.
Centers job is pretty easy until its busy. Read the planes intended route and just get the plane to fly it. If there are other planes, make sure they don't collide. Since opposite traveling planes will have a 1,000 ft separation (using the table above) you shouldn't need to worry that much. Other than that, listen to the pilot's requests and help him where you can. When you get to your ARTCC boundary hand-off to the next centre, or - if there isn't one - give the order:
+
 
+
'''You: B-ELIO, no control available in France, resume own navigation to Belgium, radar service terminated'''
+
 
+
This statement removes all your requirements to control the plane, as it now knows that your not watching on radar, and you're not going to help him navigate. When you are navigating as centre - if the flight plan doesn't include a route - find the start and end points, and plan a quick route (either direct - give one heading - or by 'hopping' from VOR to VOR).
+
 
+
These terms are used often while controlling to confirm or deny requests and answer any questions:
+
 
+
{| class="prettytable"
+
! align="center" bgcolor="#EFEFEF" |
+
! align="center" bgcolor="#EFEFEF" |
+
|-
+
|Affirmative (sometimes affirm or aff)
+
|Yes or correct
+
|-
+
|Negative (sometimes neg)
+
|No or incorrect
+
|-
+
|Confirm...
+
|Is it correct that...
+
|-
+
|Unable...
+
|Sorry, I cannot accept your request for...
+
|-
+
|Roger (almost always rgr)
+
|I've heard and understood your last transmission
+
|-
+
|Wilco
+
|I will comply with your orders (implies Roger)
+
|-
+
|Standby (sometimes stby)
+
|Please wait, I will call you back when I am free.
+
|}
+
  
'''Some examples of these:'''
+
The first thing we need to do is to check the current air pressure and which runway is being used; as a general rule, planes should be heading into the wind for takeoff and landing. To accomplish this, we need to listen to the ''ATIS'' (Automatic Terminal Information Service), a prerecorded message describing weather information, the runways in use and other important information for pilots; it's transmitted continuously on a dedicated radio channel. The frequency to use is written in the Airport information chart and can also be found by clicking on ''AI -> ATC Services in Range -> LEBL'': in our case, it's 121.970 MHz.
* '''You:      Confirm current altitude is FL310.         '''
+
**'''B-ELIO:  Negative, FL290'''
+
* '''B-ELIO:  Request descent to FL290                  '''
+
**'''You:     Unable FL290 (there is already traffic at FL290?)'''
+
  
When the plane is nearing its final destination, make sure it has descended to between 18,000 and 22,000 ft. This means that the approach controller can take the plane and descend it quickly -- it's no good trying to descend a plane 35,000 ft in 20 NM and still get it to land. Notice that the plane should remain above 18,000 ft (in your airspace) until you've handed off. Approach might decide not to take the plane and have you make it fly circles in the sky for 20 minutes until he has some room; otherwise arrivals and departures might crash while they're being handed over! So:
+
We open the Radio panel, set the COM1 frequency to 121.97 and listen to the ATIS message:
 +
* '''LEBL ATIS:''' ''This is El Prat information Alpha. Landing runway two five right. Departure runway two five left. Transition level five zero. Wind two zero zero degrees, one zero knots. Visibility one zero km or more, few two thousand five hundred feet. Temperature two two, dewpoint one zero. QNH one zero one eight. No significant change. On initial contact advise controller you have information Alpha.''
 +
This tells us that:
 +
# We're going to depart from runway 25L.
 +
# We need to set the altimeter to 1018 hPa<ref>European airports generally use hPa (hectopascals) for the QNH while American ones use inHg (inches of mercury). Some airplanes allow you to enter QNH values using both units; if that is not the case, you will need to use a converter.</ref> and set it back to standard pressure (STD) at the transition level (FL050, or 5000 feet).
 +
# Every ATIS broadcast is identified by a progressive letter of the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_phonetic_alphabet NATO phonetic alphabet]; we'll need to tell the delivery controller that we have information "Alpha" so that (s)he can check whether we have the latest information or not.
 +
Note also that numbers are spelled out for clarity - this will be done in all further communication.
  
'''You: B-ELIO, d/m (descend and maintain) 18,000 on QNH 1221, right to 270 and expect hand-off to approach in five minutes.'''<br>
+
We now get the clearance (authorization to fly to a destination airport) from the delivery controller. The process is as follows.
'''B-ELIO: down to 18,000 on 1221, will expect approach in five, B-ELIO.'''
+
# We get the Delivery frequency from the Airport information chart or the ATC Services in Range window (in this case, the frequency is 121.800 MHz) and tune COM1 to it (or connect on Mumble and join the delivery channel, or just talk on the Multiplayer chat).<ref>Each controller is free to use FGCom, Mumble or just the text chat as (s)he wishes; generally speaking, everyone accepts ATC via chat and, if voice communication is offered, that is announced on initial contact. Prefer voice communication if possible as it enhances realism and because speaking is quicker than typing.</ref>
 +
# We contact the controller and ask for the clearance. (It is the pilot who needs to initiate contact with ATC, not the opposite). ''Tip: note down the clearance on a piece of paper as it's difficult (and risky) to memorize it.''
 +
# The Delivery controller gives us the clearance including:
 +
#* our callsign;
 +
#* whether we've got the latest ("current") ATIS information or not;
 +
#* our destination airport;
 +
#* the departure SID/waypoints;
 +
#* the route we'll need to follow (if it is not mentioned, we'll follow the route we wrote in our flight plan);
 +
#* the initial and cruising altitude;
 +
#* the squawk ([[transponder]]) code we'll need to set.
 +
# We read back (repeat) the clearance to confirm we understood it correctly.
 +
# The controller corrects any mistakes we've made and then hands us off to the Ground controller.
  
What is the QNH? This is an altimeter setting. As the plane will shortly be moving back to local pressure, and not the flight level standard pressure, the pilot must know the local pressure. This ensures that his diagrams which give him the height of the airfield above sea level are correct -- if everyone used a standard altimeter setting at low altitudes the airport's height would seem to fluctuate over a period of hours by a few hundred feet! And finally:
+
* '''BAW1542:''' El Prat Delivery, this is Speedbird one five four two, requesting delivery to Frankfurt, flight level two five zero, we have information Alpha.
 +
* '''El Prat Delivery:''' Speedbird one five four two, Alpha is current, cleared to Frankfurt via OKABI three Whiskey, initial altitude five hundred feet, expect flight level two five zero after ten minutes, squawk four zero zero zero.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Cleared to Frankfurt via OKABI three Whiskey, initial altitude five hundred feet, expect flight level two five zero after ten minutes, squawk four zero zero zero, Speedbird one five four two.
 +
* '''El Prat Delivery:''' Speedbird one five four two, readback correct, contact El Prat Ground on one two one decimal six five zero.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Contact El Prat Ground on one two one decimal six five zero, Speedbird one five four two.
  
'''You: B-ELIO, contact EGLL_APP on 192.72'''
+
The controller asked us to follow the OKABI3W SID after departure - get the SID charts, find it and look at the chart or read the text route descriptions. In this case, the SID prescribes pilots to climb to 500 ft, turn left to intercept radial 199 PRA and be at least at 2500 ft at 8 NM from PRA; intercept radial 287 VNV and pass VNV at 5000 ft; turn right to KARDO, pass KARDO at FL120 and proceed direct OKABI. If you've got the Level-D files from [http://www.navigraph.com/ Navigraph], select the SID in the [[Route Manager]] dialog for the route to be automatically entered; otherwise, use the Route Manager to input the VORs and waypoints manually.
  
I'm not sure how we ended up at Heathrow, but that's another story!
+
We also set the transponder code and switch the transponder to Ground mode (if the aircraft we're using supports this functionality).
  
==Lesson 5==
+
==== Pushing back and starting up ====
Our plane, B-ELIO, is now about 40NM east-south-east of Heathrow ready to start the approach to runway 9L - as tower has chosen runway 9R for departures, with the winds of 87@22 - the plane is at 18,000 ft and is heading at 270 (towards the left of our screen...).
+
Before pushing back (being pushed away from the stand with a tug) and starting up, we need to get appropriate clearances from the Ground controller. This ensures we won't block taxiways unnecessarily.
  
Did you remember that the landing direction would be towards the right of the screen? I hope so... Anyway, planes need to be at 2,500 ft about 8NM away from the airport heading in the correct direction to intercept the magical [[ILS]] device that will guide them perfectly onto the runway. We know we need to keep the plane at 8,000 ft until its past OCK, and then get it down to 2,500 and onto the grey dotted line leading to the left runway (9L) for the ILS and tower to take the passengers safely to the ground. Formulate a plan: accept the hand-off, descend the plane to 8,000 and send it directly towards OCK VOR, at OCK descend it to 2,500 and fly it past OCK on 270, then turn it to 360 (north, easier to read than '0') up the grey dotted line pointing north, then turn it to 45 so that is cuts the grey-dotted line at 90 to runway 9L... when the plane is on a course taking it through extended center-line (an imaginary line representing a line extending from the runway) it is said to be intercepting the localizer. The plane can then be told to get itself onto this extended center-line as the ILS will warn the plane when it needs to turn to establish itself on the line.
+
* '''BAW1542:''' El Prat Ground, Speedbird one five four two at stand two two one, request pushback.
 +
* '''El Prat Ground:''' Speedbird one five four two, El Prat Ground, pushback approved, facing south.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Pushback approved, facing south, Speedbird one five four two.
  
Since the airplane is on the wrong side of the airport, we fly three sides of a rectangle, the first is known as the down-wind (since you land heading up-wind), then the next 'leg' is known as the base, and the red-line shows the final. If the plane was coming from the west, he could just fly a 'straight-in' approach, also known as an extended final - as the plane only flies a very long final.
+
We then push back, making sure the aircraft is turned towards ("facing") south at the end of the maneuver, and ask for permission to start our engines.
  
The orange line shows the 'intercepting the localizer' as the plane will continue to fly this heading until the ILS tells it to turn right onto the center-line of the runway. As soon as the plane reports it's established on the localizer (it has direction signals), it can be cleared for the approach and told to descend with the glideslope which gives the plane height signals. The glideslope and localizer give precision approach information and are known - together - as the ILS (Instrument Landing System). Then get the plane to the tower, because - remember - you may well be dealing with planes taking off which you need to get out of your air-space, and other planes trying to get established on the ILS, as the tower wants a steady stream of well-separated planes on the ILS. You hopefully now know what you're supposed to be doing, but how do we do it. We'll look at each stage in turn.
+
[[File:LEBL-stand220-pushback.png|center|thumb|800px|Our aircraft's position after pushback (noon and night view). Note that the taxiway centerlines are not lit in proximity of stands.]]
  
'''B-ELIO: B-ELIO with you at 18,000 for Heathrow. Information Alpha. (Your ATIS - might contain weather, voice IP?)'''<br>
+
* '''BAW1542:''' Speedbird one five four two, request startup.
'''You: B-ELIO, Radar Contact, alpha is current. d/m 8,000 and direct OCK please.'''<br>
+
* '''El Prat Ground:''' Speedbird one five four two, startup approved.
'''B-ELIO: rgr, down to 8,000 to OCK.'''
+
* '''BAW1542:''' Startup approved, Speedbird one five four two.
  
Great... B-ELIO will now get to OCK and be at 8,000. Just before he gets to OCK, you need to issue the next instructions so that he can be ready for them:
+
After that, we start our engines and complete our checklists as quickly as possible.
  
'''You: B-ELIO, d/m 2,500 continue present heading and expect ILS approach to runway 9L at Heathrow.'''<br>
+
==== Taxiing to the runway ====
'''B-ELIO: rgr, 2,500 on my heading for 9L, B-ELIO.'''
+
We ask for clearance to taxi to the departure runway.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Speedbird one five four two is ready to taxi.
 +
* '''El Prat Ground:''' Speedbird one five four two, taxi to holding point Echo two via Lima and Echo, QNH one zero one eight.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Taxi to holding point Echo two via Lima and Echo, QNH one zero one eight, Speedbird one five four two.
  
OK so far? Now let's head him towards the airport. This is the base leg:
+
The current QNH may be repeated by the ground controller, even if we have just heard it on the ATIS, as a reminder to set it to the correct value - so check it. After that, open the ground chart and check your taxi route before starting, as in some cases taxi signs will not be present at all intersections. You will notice that the controller cleared us only to holding point E2, so, once there, we'll need to report our position and await further instructions. The holding point is marked by a ''stop bar'' (a dotted/continuous yellow line: the dotted one faces the runway while the continuous line faces the taxiway, to remind you that you need a clearance to cross the runway, and it is lit at night by means of pulsing yellow lights).
  
'''You: B-ELIO, turn right heading 360 (for base) the for base is for information and is usually left out.'''<br>
+
Taxi to E2 as instructed at a maximum speed of 30 knots and ''hold short'' (stop) just before the stop bar. Remember that, while the controller may instruct you to ''hold position'' (stop) and ''give way'' to another plane, it's still your responsibility not to collide with buildings, vehicles or other aircraft; also, should you at any point become unsure of your position, stop at once and ask the ground controller.
'''B-ELIO: t/r (turn right) 360, B-ELIO'''
+
  
This is where judgment and cunning use of the feature for monitoring heading and distance come into play. It is also your duty to give the plane the frequency for the ILS (in the form xxx.xx) which can be found at www.ivao.aero/db/ss (or from database, sector system) using the search facility. The plane just hit the extended center-line at least 8NM away from the airport, so make sure you issue the turn to 45 at the correct time, otherwise B-ELIO will miss the ILS. Right place, so...
+
<gallery widths=400px mode=packed>
 +
File:LEBL-E3.png|Taxiing to intersection E3 - no ground signs are present, so you should use the ground chart as a reference.
 +
File:LEBL-E2.png|Approaching holding point E2.
 +
File:LEBL-E2-stopbar.png|Close up of the E2 stop bar.
 +
</gallery>
  
'''You: Turn right heading 45 to intercept the localizer on 119.21 to 9L and report established.'''<br>
+
We contact the ground controller to tell him/her we're at E2.
'''B-ELIO: right to 45 for LLZ to 9L, will report established'''
+
* '''BAW1542:''' Speedbird one five four two, we're holding short Echo two.
 +
* '''El Prat Ground:''' Speedbird one five four two, cleared to cross runway zero two, taxi to holding point Golf one via Echo one and Kilo.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Cleared to cross runway zero two and taxi to holding point Golf one via Echo one and Kilo, Speedbird one five four two.
  
B-ELIO will now get himself onto the localizer and call:
+
We then cross the runway without delay and turn left on K. Near K2 you can notice a ''CAT II/III holding point'' (marked by an empty yellow rectangle with vertical lines, equipped with ''fixed'' lights) - that's where we would stop if visibility was reduced or if another aircraft was landing using ILS; since that's not the case and we were cleared to G1, just proceed.
  
'''B-ELIO: established'''
+
<gallery widths=400px mode=packed>
 +
File:LEBL-K2.png|The CAT II/III K2 stop bar.
 +
File:LEBL-G1.png|Approaching the G1 stop bar.
 +
</gallery>
  
This is your cue to clear him for the approach and allow him to descend (otherwise he'll fly perfectly over the runway at 2,500ft). This is done with the following command:
+
We stop at G1 while the ground controller instructs us to contact the tower:
 +
* '''El Prat Ground:''' Speedbird one five four two, contact El Prat Tower on one one eight decimal three two zero, goodbye!
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Contact El Prat Tower on one one eight decimal three two zero, Speedbird one five four two, bye!
  
'''You: B-ELIO, rgr (I heard the 'established') cleared the ILS approach to 9L, descend with the g/s.<br>
+
==== Lining up and taking off ====
B-ELIO: Cleared ILS approach.'''<br>
+
We contact Tower on text chat, FGCom or Mumble (depending on the tools the controller is using) to get our takeoff clearance. It will include, in that order:
'''You: B-ELIO, contact the tower on 118.52 (if there is a tower, else you'll have to do the job... and look up the tower frequency in who's on-line)'''<br>
+
# the wind direction and speed;
'''B-ELIO: Over to the tower, thanks for your help.'''
+
# wind gusts, if any;
 +
# warnings (like wake turbulence, rain...), if any;
 +
# the runway number;
 +
# the words ''cleared for takeoff''.
  
That's your job done! As the approach controller you have the most work, so don't be afraid to give planes holds. A hold is a request for a plane to circle around a given fix (e.g.: a VOR) at a given height until you can do something with them. In fact, if you have lots of planes all circling a VOR, it's known as a 'stack' because the plane's are stacked there. So, we could get three planes holding at the OCK VOR (while we waited for traffic to decrease) at 6,000 ft, 8,000 ft and 10,000 ft and add new planes to the top and take planes ready for the approach from the bottom. To give a hold, the basic command is:
+
* '''BAW1542:''' El Prat Tower, Speedbird one five four two, holding short Golf one.
 +
* '''El Prat Tower:''' Speedbird one five four two, wind is two one zero at five, runway two five left, cleared for takeoff.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Cleared for takeoff two five left, Speedbird one five four two.
  
''Hold at <vor name> VOR at <current altitude/10,000 etc. / FL120 etc.>, expect further clearance in <time> minutes.''
+
{{note|If a tower controller clears an aircraft for takeoff while it is still on a taxiway, the pilot is also cleared to enter the runway &ndash; there is no need to issue a separate ''line up and wait'' instruction.}}
  
Which requests the pilot flies around the <vor name> VOR at the assigned altitude until you give him a new clearance. The expect further clearance (e.g.: expect further clearance in 10 minutes) just gives the pilot some idea of the delay and does not give the pilot the right to start flying away after that time is over! The full clearance for holding is as follows, but usually you can just use the one above unless you specifically need to avoid a plane coming to a certain side of the VOR:
+
We set the transponder to ''On'' so that the controllers and other aircraft will be able to see us on radar screens and the [[Traffic alert and collision avoidance system|TCAS]], line up, take off and follow the SID. After the takeoff, the tower controller will hand us off to the departure controller:
 +
* '''El Prat Tower:''' Speedbird one five four two, contact Departure on one two six decimal five zero zero, goodbye!
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Contact Departure on one two six decimal five zero zero, Speedbird one five four two.
  
'''Hold <north/east/south/west> of the <vor name> VOR on the <approach heading> radial, expect further clearance in <time> minutes.'''
+
We switch to the departure frequency and contact the controller:
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' El Prat Departure, Speedbird one five four two passing ''current altitude'', OKABI three Whiskey departure.
 +
* '''El Prat Departure:''' Speedbird one five four two, radar contact, climb and maintain flight level two five zero.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Climb and maintain flight level two five zero, Speedbird one five four two.
  
The approach heading is the heading at which you want the plane to approach the VOR. So, hold north of the OCK VOR on the 270 radial would ask the pilot to fly to OCK on a hdg of 270 and then to hold so he's always north of the fix. A hold is a racing track shaped rectangle.
+
We climb to FL250 and continue following the SID waypoints. When we're approaching the final fix (OKABI) the controller will tell us to follow our flightplan:
 +
* '''El Prat Departure:''' Speedbird one five four two, resume your own navigation, frequency change approved, goodbye!
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Resuming our own navigation, frequency change approved, Speedbird one five four two, bye!
  
The key to remember as the approach controller is to, wherever the planes coming from, remember its height is just as important as its direction when it comes to landing - 2,500 ft (above ground level) for the ILS.  
+
We're now free to follow our flightplan - it's a good practice to keep an eye on the multiplayer map to check for traffic and to announce altitude changes/turns on text chat if other pilots are nearby.<ref>In real world flying, we would be handed off to center controllers and we would report our position over special points, marked as black triangles in the charts. Since center controllers are not common in FlightGear, this is not usually done.</ref>
  
Disaster! You've got a propeller aircraft doing an approach and you've started a 747 on the same approach behind it. There's nothing to hold it at, and there getting very close -- what do you do? You could take the plane away and start the approach again, but using an orbit -- a circle to the left or right and then on the original heading -- will increase your time, just give:
+
==== Approaching the destination airport ====
 +
We start descending on our own so as to reach FL150 approximately 100 NM from the destination airport. When we're about 80 NM from EDDF we check the ATIS for the destination airport, just like we did at LEBL - in this case the frequency is 118.02. We tune in the COM1 radio to that frequency and listen:
 +
* '''EDDF ATIS:''' ''This is Frankfurt information Echo. Landing runway zero seven right. Departure runway zero seven center. Transition level five zero. Wind zero two zero degrees, four knots. Visibility one zero km or more, few four thousand eight hundred feet. Temperature one niner<ref>"Niner" is used instead of "nine" to avoid confusion between the similarly sounding "nine" and "nein", the German word for "no".</ref>, dewpoint zero seven. QNH one zero one eight. No significant change. On initial contact advise controller you have information Echo.''
  
'''You: B-ELIO, one orbit to the left please for spacing.'''<br>
+
We then contact the approach controller (in this case Langen Radar, 118.45 MHz):
'''B-ELIO: wilco'''
+
* '''BAW1542:''' Langen Radar, Speedbird one five four two at flight level one five zero, we have information Echo.
 +
* '''Langen Radar:''' Speedbird one five four two, radar contact, Echo is current, descend and maintain five thousand feet, proceed direct UNOKO.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Descend and maintain five thousand feet, proceed direct UNOKO, Speedbird one five four two.
  
Also, sometimes as approach you will want to slow a plane down to ensure that it isn't conflicting with a plane already on approach in front... if they are too close, the second plane will end up missing his approach because the plane in front will still be on the runway.
+
We proceed to the UNOKO waypoint and descend to 5000 ft, as instructed. At 5000 ft we set the altimeter to the local QNH (1018 hPa).
  
'''You: B-ELIO, slow to 210kts'''<br>
+
When we're near UNOKO the approach controller will contact us and assign us a STAR (standard arrival route):
'''You: B-ELIO, slow to minimum feasible speed please'''<br>
+
* '''Langen Radar:''' Speedbird one five four two, cleared UNOKO one Mike arrival.
'''You: B-ELIO, maintain minimum 190kts            ''etc.'''''
+
* '''BAW1542:''' Cleared UNOKO one Mike arrival, Speedbird one five four two.
 +
Now we follow the altitudes and route in the STAR &ndash; in this case, we fly over UNOKO, IBVIL, MANUV, RAMOB and proceed to TAU.
  
Anyway, back to our imaginary flight in which B-ELIO is flying the approach and is back with the tower...
+
We hold (circle) over TAU until the controller instructs us to continue the approach:
 +
* '''Langen Radar:''' Speedbird one five four two, turn right heading one four zero, descend and maintain three thousand feet, reduce speed to two five zero knots.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Turn right heading one four zero, descend and maintain three thousand feet, reducing speed to two five zero knots, Speedbird one five four two.
  
==Lesson 6==
+
We now engage the autopilot's heading select mode, fly the given heading, reduce our speed and continue our descent as cleared. After a couple of minutes, the controller calls us and instructs us to use the [[Instrument Landing System]] to get towards the runway:
Tower now has B-ELIO who is now cleared for the ILS approach, so can descend to the decision height. The decision minimum height is the height above the airport to which the plane can descend before being cleared to land. The plane cannot pass the decision height until he has visual contact (that is, he can see) the runway he wants to land on. If he cannot see the runway he will execute a missed approach and go around for another approach.
+
* '''Langen Radar:''' Speedbird one five four two, cleared ILS approach runway zero seven right.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Cleared ILS approach runway zero seven right, Speedbird one five four two.
  
The pilot will report to the tower:
+
As soon as the localizer is alive we engage the autopilot's localizer mode and, as soon as the glideslope is alive, we switch to approach mode and descend on the glide. The controller will call us one last time to hand us over to Frankfurt Tower:
 +
* '''Langen Radar:''' Speedbird one five four two, contact Frankfurt Tower on one one niner decimal niner zero.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Contact Frankfurt Tower on one one niner decimal niner zero, Speedbird one five four two.
  
'''B-ELIO: B-ELIO with you to land 9L.'''<br>
+
==== Landing ====
'''You: B-ELIO, Rgr. (you do not need to give radar contact, as the pilot no longer needs a radar service. He is using ILS)'''
+
We switch to 119.90 MHz and/or join the Frankfurt Tower channel on Mumble, then contact the tower controller to get the landing clearance. It will include:
 +
# the wind direction and speed;
 +
# wind gusts, if any;
 +
# warnings (like wake turbulence, rain...), if any;
 +
# the runway number;
 +
# the words ''cleared to land''.
  
You can then give the landing clearance, or - more likely - you can delay the clearance until he is 8NM from the airport and so are more certain that he will be able to land. The 8NM point of the approach is marked by a special device that causes a tone and light in the plane's cockpit. This device is known as the outer marker (O/M or OM). You can ask the pilot to tell you at this point for his clearance:
+
* '''BAW1542:''' Frankfurt Tower, Speedbird one five four two, ILS approach runway zero niner right.
 +
* '''Frankfurt Tower:''' Speedbird one five four two, Frankfurt Tower, wind zero one zero degrees, five knots, runway zero seven right, cleared to land.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Cleared to land, runway zero seven right, Speedbird one five four two.
  
'''You: B-ELIO, report the O/M for landing clearance'''<br>
+
<gallery widths=400px mode=packed>
'''B-ELIO: rgr<br>
+
File:EDDF-finalapproach.png|Short final to runway 07R.
'''B-ELIO: at O/M'''
+
File:EDDF-landing-07R.png|Landing on 07R.
 +
</gallery>
  
'''You: B-ELIO, winds 109@17, runway 9L, cleared to land.'''<br>
+
We land on 07R and ''vacate'' (exit) the runway at the earliest opportunity, making sure not to block other aircraft and not to enter a taxiway marked with a ''NO ENTRY'' sign; in this case, we vacate on the left, since the terminal is on the left. (On occasion, the controller will ask us to vacate on a specific side or to use a specific exit). We are now asked to switch to Ground:
'''B-ELIO: 9L, cleared to land, B-ELIO.'''
+
* '''Frankfurt Tower:''' Speedbird one five four two, contact Frankfurt Ground on one two one decimal eight zero.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Contact Frankfurt Ground on one two one decimal eight zero, Speedbird one five four two.
  
Your aim as the tower is to clear the plane to land to avoid it having to miss its approach, and get other planes taking off between the landing planes, whilst maintaining separation between the planes. You must remember to account for the fact that a plane trying to land may miss its approach, and have to fly past the airport -- so make sure you turn slower planes away from the airport quickly in case a jet needs to continue past the runway.  
+
==== Taxiing to the stand and shutting down ====
 +
We switch the transponder to ground mode and check the ground chart to get the name of the taxiway we are on; in our case, we have vacated the runway on taxiway M15. We then contact the ground controller:
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Frankfurt Ground, Speedbird one five four two on Mike one five, runway zero seven right vacated.
 +
* '''Frankfurt Ground:''' Speedbird one five four two, Frankfurt Ground, taxi to holding point Mike one four via Mike, hold short of Mike one four.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Taxi to holding point Mike one four via Mike, hold short of Mike one four, Speedbird one five four two.
  
After B-ELIO has landed, while he's still on the runway, you still control him. You want him off your runway as soon as possible, so you can land the next plane (otherwise, if he's still anywhere on the runway, you'd have to give a landing plane a missed approach), so:
+
We taxi to holding point M14, stop and report our position to the controller, so that (s)he can coordinate with Tower and clear us to cross the active runway 07C.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Speedbird one five four two, holding short Mike one four.
 +
* '''Frankfurt Ground:''' Speedbird one five four two, standby. ''(The controller will ask Tower for crossing clearance &ndash; it might take a bit.)''
 +
* '''Frankfurt Ground:''' Speedbird one five four two, cleared to cross zero seven center, taxi to Lima via Lima niner.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Cleared to cross zero seven center, taxi to Lima via Lima niner, Speedbird one five four two.
 +
At this point, we resume taxiing, making sure to cross the runway expeditiously.
  
'''You: B-ELIO take first taxi-way to <left/right> then contact ground on 121.65 (look up frequency in who's on-line)'''<br>
+
Since the taxiways and the apron are managed by two different controllers, the ground controller will hand us off to the apron controller:
'''B-ELIO: Thanks for your help, switching to ground.'''
+
* '''Frankfurt Ground:''' Speedbird one five four two, contact Apron East on one two one decimal niner five.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Contact Apron East on one two one decimal niner five, Speedbird one five four two.
 +
We switch to the new frequency and report:
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Apron East, Speedbird one five four two on Lima nine, request taxi to the stand.
 +
* '''Apron South:''' Speedbird one five four two, Apron East, taxi to stand Delta five via Lima and November one.
 +
* '''BAW1542:''' Taxi to stand Delta five via Lima and November one, Speedbird one five four two.
  
And your job is done... let's look at a worse scenario. You landed a plane before B-ELIO and for some reason it hasn't been able to get off the runway yet. You must not let B-ELIO land whilst any other plane is on the runway, so you order B-ELIO to miss his approach:
+
<gallery widths=400px mode=packed>
 +
File:EDDF-M15.png|Taxiing on M15.
 +
File:EDDF-crossing-07C.png|Approaching holding point M14 and preparing to cross runway 07C. Note that the stop bar is not lit, only the ground sign tells you to hold short of the runway &ndash; so be careful.
 +
File:EDDF-L.png|Taxiing on L.
 +
</gallery>
  
'''You: B-ELIO initiate missed approach immediately, c/m 6000 on runway heading, and contact approach on 192.72 (again, use who's on-line)<br>
+
We taxi to the stand and shut down, also switching the transponder off &ndash; there's no need to ask a clearance for that. Our flight is now finished.
B-ELIO: Missed approach, and will contact approach.'''
+
==== This tutorial in video format ====
 +
The departure and arrival presented in this tutorial have also been recorded. Some interactions were simplified, the result should however be more close to what you usually experience on the multiplayer network. Closed captions are available.
  
Approach will then climb the plane back to 6,000 ft (as it is almost a departure now) and complete the down-wind and base legs again (possibly on the other side of the airfield, depending on traffic). The plane can then be vectored back onto approach by the approach controller, and then given back to tower to try again. Of course a plane can initiate their own missed approach.
+
{{#ev:youtube|dA-UXATCHuI|400}}
 +
{{#ev:youtube|E3yfeWjlyic|400}}
  
'''B-ELIO:''' No visual on runway, going around (same as missed approach), B-ELIO.<br>
+
=== A sample VFR flight ===
You: Rgr, c/m 6000 left to 60 (perhaps there's traffic straight ahead?) and contact approach on 192.72.'''
+
[http://forum.flightgear.org/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=12953 de profundis] has written a VFR tutorial that takes you for a sample flight from KRNO (Reno Tahoe) to KBIH (Eastern Sierra Regional) and covers VFR flight planning, phraseology and tips in great detail. You can get his ''Cross Country Tutorial'' from the [http://forum.flightgear.org/viewtopic.php?f=72&t=19600 dedicated forum thread].
  
Once, B-ELIO is back with the ground controller, having taxied just off the runway, he will be given instructions to taxi to the terminal building. If there is no ground, the tower controller can just give a 'taxi to parking' order without specialized instructions.
+
== Tips ==
 +
* This tutorial, for the sake of simplicity and brevity, assumed no other aircraft was present. On multiplayer servers you might be instructed to hold your position, give way to other aircraft or hold (make circles) over a point to remain separate from other aircraft; check the [[ATC phraseology]] page for the specific phraseology used in those situations.
 +
* Follow the guidelines detailed in [[ATC best practices]] to make the experience enjoyable for everyone.
 +
* When practicing controlled flying, make sure you know your aircraft well (you should be able to maintain an assigned speed, altitude and heading), go to a less trafficked airport and tell the controller it's your first time interacting via ATC.
 +
* '''Remember to read back (repeat) the clearances; it is the only way for the controller to know whether you received them correctly or not.'''
 +
* Execute the clearances while reading them back.
  
That concludes the average flight in ProController, but the next (and last) page of this lesson contains some information that you may want to know, for example: the words used to represent single letter (e.g.: alpha for A in ATIS, and lima for L as in 'taxi-way lima' as opposed to 'taxi-way L').
+
== Notes ==
 +
<references />
  
 
[[Category:Air Traffic Control]]
 
[[Category:Air Traffic Control]]

Latest revision as of 13:22, 31 October 2016

1rightarrow.png See Air traffic control for the main article about this subject.

Air Traffic Control is an agreed procedure and process which keeps the aircraft separated to ensure that they don't crash into each other or are affected by turbulence when passing through the same air space. This article, probably more directly useful for pilots, will teach you that procedure and will hopefully help you to enjoy controlled areas and airports on the FlightGear multiplayer servers.

Controller roles

The roles a controller can assume mirror the ones that a pilot can encounter in "real life" aviation:

Position suffix Name Description
xxxx_DL Clearance Delivery Checks flight plans submitted by pilots (or creates them) to make sure no aircraft intersects the route of another one at the same time and that visibility conditions and cruise altitude are adequate. Revokes or amends the flight plans as necessary. Assigns squawk (transponder) codes. Gives aircraft clearances (authorizations to fly to a destination airport via a certain route).
xxxx_GN Ground Controls the movement of aircraft on the ground at an airport (stands, apron, taxiways). Issues taxi clearances, assisting pilots if needed. Controls the inactive runways, but does not control the active ones; thus, a pilot generally needs to contact Tower to enter or cross them (at some fields, Ground coordinates with Tower and is able to issue runway crossing clearances).
xxxx_TW Tower Controls the active runways and the airspace up to 10 NM (nautical miles) from the airport; chooses the runways to use; clears planes for takeoff and landing, making sure that they are at least 10 NM or three minutes apart.
xxxx_AP Approach Controls the airspace up to 30 NM away from the airport, up to 18,000 ft (usually). Handles all aircraft leaving or arriving at an airport, until they are established on the ILS/have the runway in sight (then gives the plane to TWR) or are leaving their airspace to continue their flight (then hands them off to CTR). Ensures that aircraft is adequately separated.
xxxx_DE Departure This position is rarely used, except at busy airports; it handles all the departures and hands them off to CTR, leaving the approach controller free to handle only arrivals. Coordinates closely with the approach controller to prevent collisions.
xxxx_CT Center Center (sector) controllers own all airspace not controlled by APP/DEP or TWR. They control the plane while en route, and get it from X to Y safely, until it can be instructed to descend and given to the approach controller.[1]
  • The "xxxx" in the table replace a code used to identify the area that controller is using; these are known as ICAO codes and can be found on the Airport Codes list. For example, London Gatwick is "EGKK" so a Gatwick Tower Controller would log-in as EGKK_TW.
  • Center controllers also have ICAO identifiers, but they are not for one airport, but for a larger area. For example, LFFF_CT is France Center, and LFFF_FS is the France Flight Service Station.
  • At large airports, multiple controllers may man the same positions.

Controller roles in FlightGear

Since there are not many ATCs in FlightGear, often a single controller fills more than one position. Generally speaking:

  • a controller filling a particular position also fills the positions below him/her (the one listed before in the table above) if no one else is covering it; for example, if EGKK_TW (a Gatwick Tower Controller) is online, but there is no EGKK_GN, the Tower controller acts also as Ground controller;
  • as an exception to the rule above, Tower controllers often act also as Approach controllers for the respective airports.

Handoffs

If more than one controller is manning an area, the first controller should tell the pilot to contact the second controller when the airplane is about to enter the airspace of the latter. This is usually done with the phrase: "callsign, contact station on frequency".

IFR vs VFR flights

1rightarrow.png See Flight rules for the main article about this subject.

A distinction you should know for flying in controlled areas is the one between IFR and VFR flights, as flight planning and some phraseology are different.

  • VFR (Visual Flight Rules) can apply when a pilot is able to orientate and recognize other aircraft and obstacles visually (that means, for example, the sky should be clear of clouds at low altitudes near the airport when taking off and landing, light must be sufficient, and there must be little or no fog at all); they are used mainly in general aviation;
  • IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) apply in all other cases.

Getting and reading charts

1rightarrow.png See Getting aeronautical charts for the main article about this subject.

You should get aeronautical charts for the airports you intend to fly from/to, specifically:

Chart type Description
Airport information Describes the characteristics of the airport and provides a list of radio frequencies.
Ground (aerodrome chart/airport diagram) Depicts the taxiways and runways of a specific airport; used while taxiing from and to the terminal.
SID/STAR Used for instrument departures and arrivals.
VFR Those charts are used for VFR flights and usually depict minimum safe altitudes for each area, as well as reporting points (you must report your position to ATC when flying over them).

Phraseology

A sample IFR flight

We will teach the phraseology through an IFR sample flight from LEBL (Barcelona) to EDDF (Frankfurt am Main). For simplicity, we assume that all controller positions (delivery, ground, tower, approach/departure and center) are manned; also, we assume our callsign is BAW1542 (to be read as Speedbird one five four two).

Planning the flight

1rightarrow.png See Flight planning for the main article about this subject.

It's a good practice to file a flight plan on Lenny's website so that the controllers will be able to know your departure/destination airports, cruising altitude and route without asking you about that every time.

Follow the instructions on the Flight planning article to file a flightplan from LEBL to EDDF with a cruising altitude of FL250.

Getting the departure clearance

We start on the airport apron at terminal T1, stand 221.

The first thing we need to do is to check the current air pressure and which runway is being used; as a general rule, planes should be heading into the wind for takeoff and landing. To accomplish this, we need to listen to the ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information Service), a prerecorded message describing weather information, the runways in use and other important information for pilots; it's transmitted continuously on a dedicated radio channel. The frequency to use is written in the Airport information chart and can also be found by clicking on AI -> ATC Services in Range -> LEBL: in our case, it's 121.970 MHz.

We open the Radio panel, set the COM1 frequency to 121.97 and listen to the ATIS message:

  • LEBL ATIS: This is El Prat information Alpha. Landing runway two five right. Departure runway two five left. Transition level five zero. Wind two zero zero degrees, one zero knots. Visibility one zero km or more, few two thousand five hundred feet. Temperature two two, dewpoint one zero. QNH one zero one eight. No significant change. On initial contact advise controller you have information Alpha.

This tells us that:

  1. We're going to depart from runway 25L.
  2. We need to set the altimeter to 1018 hPa[2] and set it back to standard pressure (STD) at the transition level (FL050, or 5000 feet).
  3. Every ATIS broadcast is identified by a progressive letter of the NATO phonetic alphabet; we'll need to tell the delivery controller that we have information "Alpha" so that (s)he can check whether we have the latest information or not.

Note also that numbers are spelled out for clarity - this will be done in all further communication.

We now get the clearance (authorization to fly to a destination airport) from the delivery controller. The process is as follows.

  1. We get the Delivery frequency from the Airport information chart or the ATC Services in Range window (in this case, the frequency is 121.800 MHz) and tune COM1 to it (or connect on Mumble and join the delivery channel, or just talk on the Multiplayer chat).[3]
  2. We contact the controller and ask for the clearance. (It is the pilot who needs to initiate contact with ATC, not the opposite). Tip: note down the clearance on a piece of paper as it's difficult (and risky) to memorize it.
  3. The Delivery controller gives us the clearance including:
    • our callsign;
    • whether we've got the latest ("current") ATIS information or not;
    • our destination airport;
    • the departure SID/waypoints;
    • the route we'll need to follow (if it is not mentioned, we'll follow the route we wrote in our flight plan);
    • the initial and cruising altitude;
    • the squawk (transponder) code we'll need to set.
  4. We read back (repeat) the clearance to confirm we understood it correctly.
  5. The controller corrects any mistakes we've made and then hands us off to the Ground controller.
  • BAW1542: El Prat Delivery, this is Speedbird one five four two, requesting delivery to Frankfurt, flight level two five zero, we have information Alpha.
  • El Prat Delivery: Speedbird one five four two, Alpha is current, cleared to Frankfurt via OKABI three Whiskey, initial altitude five hundred feet, expect flight level two five zero after ten minutes, squawk four zero zero zero.
  • BAW1542: Cleared to Frankfurt via OKABI three Whiskey, initial altitude five hundred feet, expect flight level two five zero after ten minutes, squawk four zero zero zero, Speedbird one five four two.
  • El Prat Delivery: Speedbird one five four two, readback correct, contact El Prat Ground on one two one decimal six five zero.
  • BAW1542: Contact El Prat Ground on one two one decimal six five zero, Speedbird one five four two.

The controller asked us to follow the OKABI3W SID after departure - get the SID charts, find it and look at the chart or read the text route descriptions. In this case, the SID prescribes pilots to climb to 500 ft, turn left to intercept radial 199 PRA and be at least at 2500 ft at 8 NM from PRA; intercept radial 287 VNV and pass VNV at 5000 ft; turn right to KARDO, pass KARDO at FL120 and proceed direct OKABI. If you've got the Level-D files from Navigraph, select the SID in the Route Manager dialog for the route to be automatically entered; otherwise, use the Route Manager to input the VORs and waypoints manually.

We also set the transponder code and switch the transponder to Ground mode (if the aircraft we're using supports this functionality).

Pushing back and starting up

Before pushing back (being pushed away from the stand with a tug) and starting up, we need to get appropriate clearances from the Ground controller. This ensures we won't block taxiways unnecessarily.

  • BAW1542: El Prat Ground, Speedbird one five four two at stand two two one, request pushback.
  • El Prat Ground: Speedbird one five four two, El Prat Ground, pushback approved, facing south.
  • BAW1542: Pushback approved, facing south, Speedbird one five four two.

We then push back, making sure the aircraft is turned towards ("facing") south at the end of the maneuver, and ask for permission to start our engines.

Our aircraft's position after pushback (noon and night view). Note that the taxiway centerlines are not lit in proximity of stands.
  • BAW1542: Speedbird one five four two, request startup.
  • El Prat Ground: Speedbird one five four two, startup approved.
  • BAW1542: Startup approved, Speedbird one five four two.

After that, we start our engines and complete our checklists as quickly as possible.

Taxiing to the runway

We ask for clearance to taxi to the departure runway.

  • BAW1542: Speedbird one five four two is ready to taxi.
  • El Prat Ground: Speedbird one five four two, taxi to holding point Echo two via Lima and Echo, QNH one zero one eight.
  • BAW1542: Taxi to holding point Echo two via Lima and Echo, QNH one zero one eight, Speedbird one five four two.

The current QNH may be repeated by the ground controller, even if we have just heard it on the ATIS, as a reminder to set it to the correct value - so check it. After that, open the ground chart and check your taxi route before starting, as in some cases taxi signs will not be present at all intersections. You will notice that the controller cleared us only to holding point E2, so, once there, we'll need to report our position and await further instructions. The holding point is marked by a stop bar (a dotted/continuous yellow line: the dotted one faces the runway while the continuous line faces the taxiway, to remind you that you need a clearance to cross the runway, and it is lit at night by means of pulsing yellow lights).

Taxi to E2 as instructed at a maximum speed of 30 knots and hold short (stop) just before the stop bar. Remember that, while the controller may instruct you to hold position (stop) and give way to another plane, it's still your responsibility not to collide with buildings, vehicles or other aircraft; also, should you at any point become unsure of your position, stop at once and ask the ground controller.

We contact the ground controller to tell him/her we're at E2.

  • BAW1542: Speedbird one five four two, we're holding short Echo two.
  • El Prat Ground: Speedbird one five four two, cleared to cross runway zero two, taxi to holding point Golf one via Echo one and Kilo.
  • BAW1542: Cleared to cross runway zero two and taxi to holding point Golf one via Echo one and Kilo, Speedbird one five four two.

We then cross the runway without delay and turn left on K. Near K2 you can notice a CAT II/III holding point (marked by an empty yellow rectangle with vertical lines, equipped with fixed lights) - that's where we would stop if visibility was reduced or if another aircraft was landing using ILS; since that's not the case and we were cleared to G1, just proceed.

We stop at G1 while the ground controller instructs us to contact the tower:

  • El Prat Ground: Speedbird one five four two, contact El Prat Tower on one one eight decimal three two zero, goodbye!
  • BAW1542: Contact El Prat Tower on one one eight decimal three two zero, Speedbird one five four two, bye!

Lining up and taking off

We contact Tower on text chat, FGCom or Mumble (depending on the tools the controller is using) to get our takeoff clearance. It will include, in that order:

  1. the wind direction and speed;
  2. wind gusts, if any;
  3. warnings (like wake turbulence, rain...), if any;
  4. the runway number;
  5. the words cleared for takeoff.
  • BAW1542: El Prat Tower, Speedbird one five four two, holding short Golf one.
  • El Prat Tower: Speedbird one five four two, wind is two one zero at five, runway two five left, cleared for takeoff.
  • BAW1542: Cleared for takeoff two five left, Speedbird one five four two.
Note  If a tower controller clears an aircraft for takeoff while it is still on a taxiway, the pilot is also cleared to enter the runway – there is no need to issue a separate line up and wait instruction.

We set the transponder to On so that the controllers and other aircraft will be able to see us on radar screens and the TCAS, line up, take off and follow the SID. After the takeoff, the tower controller will hand us off to the departure controller:

  • El Prat Tower: Speedbird one five four two, contact Departure on one two six decimal five zero zero, goodbye!
  • BAW1542: Contact Departure on one two six decimal five zero zero, Speedbird one five four two.

We switch to the departure frequency and contact the controller:

  • BAW1542: El Prat Departure, Speedbird one five four two passing current altitude, OKABI three Whiskey departure.
  • El Prat Departure: Speedbird one five four two, radar contact, climb and maintain flight level two five zero.
  • BAW1542: Climb and maintain flight level two five zero, Speedbird one five four two.

We climb to FL250 and continue following the SID waypoints. When we're approaching the final fix (OKABI) the controller will tell us to follow our flightplan:

  • El Prat Departure: Speedbird one five four two, resume your own navigation, frequency change approved, goodbye!
  • BAW1542: Resuming our own navigation, frequency change approved, Speedbird one five four two, bye!

We're now free to follow our flightplan - it's a good practice to keep an eye on the multiplayer map to check for traffic and to announce altitude changes/turns on text chat if other pilots are nearby.[4]

Approaching the destination airport

We start descending on our own so as to reach FL150 approximately 100 NM from the destination airport. When we're about 80 NM from EDDF we check the ATIS for the destination airport, just like we did at LEBL - in this case the frequency is 118.02. We tune in the COM1 radio to that frequency and listen:

  • EDDF ATIS: This is Frankfurt information Echo. Landing runway zero seven right. Departure runway zero seven center. Transition level five zero. Wind zero two zero degrees, four knots. Visibility one zero km or more, few four thousand eight hundred feet. Temperature one niner[5], dewpoint zero seven. QNH one zero one eight. No significant change. On initial contact advise controller you have information Echo.

We then contact the approach controller (in this case Langen Radar, 118.45 MHz):

  • BAW1542: Langen Radar, Speedbird one five four two at flight level one five zero, we have information Echo.
  • Langen Radar: Speedbird one five four two, radar contact, Echo is current, descend and maintain five thousand feet, proceed direct UNOKO.
  • BAW1542: Descend and maintain five thousand feet, proceed direct UNOKO, Speedbird one five four two.

We proceed to the UNOKO waypoint and descend to 5000 ft, as instructed. At 5000 ft we set the altimeter to the local QNH (1018 hPa).

When we're near UNOKO the approach controller will contact us and assign us a STAR (standard arrival route):

  • Langen Radar: Speedbird one five four two, cleared UNOKO one Mike arrival.
  • BAW1542: Cleared UNOKO one Mike arrival, Speedbird one five four two.

Now we follow the altitudes and route in the STAR – in this case, we fly over UNOKO, IBVIL, MANUV, RAMOB and proceed to TAU.

We hold (circle) over TAU until the controller instructs us to continue the approach:

  • Langen Radar: Speedbird one five four two, turn right heading one four zero, descend and maintain three thousand feet, reduce speed to two five zero knots.
  • BAW1542: Turn right heading one four zero, descend and maintain three thousand feet, reducing speed to two five zero knots, Speedbird one five four two.

We now engage the autopilot's heading select mode, fly the given heading, reduce our speed and continue our descent as cleared. After a couple of minutes, the controller calls us and instructs us to use the Instrument Landing System to get towards the runway:

  • Langen Radar: Speedbird one five four two, cleared ILS approach runway zero seven right.
  • BAW1542: Cleared ILS approach runway zero seven right, Speedbird one five four two.

As soon as the localizer is alive we engage the autopilot's localizer mode and, as soon as the glideslope is alive, we switch to approach mode and descend on the glide. The controller will call us one last time to hand us over to Frankfurt Tower:

  • Langen Radar: Speedbird one five four two, contact Frankfurt Tower on one one niner decimal niner zero.
  • BAW1542: Contact Frankfurt Tower on one one niner decimal niner zero, Speedbird one five four two.

Landing

We switch to 119.90 MHz and/or join the Frankfurt Tower channel on Mumble, then contact the tower controller to get the landing clearance. It will include:

  1. the wind direction and speed;
  2. wind gusts, if any;
  3. warnings (like wake turbulence, rain...), if any;
  4. the runway number;
  5. the words cleared to land.
  • BAW1542: Frankfurt Tower, Speedbird one five four two, ILS approach runway zero niner right.
  • Frankfurt Tower: Speedbird one five four two, Frankfurt Tower, wind zero one zero degrees, five knots, runway zero seven right, cleared to land.
  • BAW1542: Cleared to land, runway zero seven right, Speedbird one five four two.

We land on 07R and vacate (exit) the runway at the earliest opportunity, making sure not to block other aircraft and not to enter a taxiway marked with a NO ENTRY sign; in this case, we vacate on the left, since the terminal is on the left. (On occasion, the controller will ask us to vacate on a specific side or to use a specific exit). We are now asked to switch to Ground:

  • Frankfurt Tower: Speedbird one five four two, contact Frankfurt Ground on one two one decimal eight zero.
  • BAW1542: Contact Frankfurt Ground on one two one decimal eight zero, Speedbird one five four two.

Taxiing to the stand and shutting down

We switch the transponder to ground mode and check the ground chart to get the name of the taxiway we are on; in our case, we have vacated the runway on taxiway M15. We then contact the ground controller:

  • BAW1542: Frankfurt Ground, Speedbird one five four two on Mike one five, runway zero seven right vacated.
  • Frankfurt Ground: Speedbird one five four two, Frankfurt Ground, taxi to holding point Mike one four via Mike, hold short of Mike one four.
  • BAW1542: Taxi to holding point Mike one four via Mike, hold short of Mike one four, Speedbird one five four two.

We taxi to holding point M14, stop and report our position to the controller, so that (s)he can coordinate with Tower and clear us to cross the active runway 07C.

  • BAW1542: Speedbird one five four two, holding short Mike one four.
  • Frankfurt Ground: Speedbird one five four two, standby. (The controller will ask Tower for crossing clearance – it might take a bit.)
  • Frankfurt Ground: Speedbird one five four two, cleared to cross zero seven center, taxi to Lima via Lima niner.
  • BAW1542: Cleared to cross zero seven center, taxi to Lima via Lima niner, Speedbird one five four two.

At this point, we resume taxiing, making sure to cross the runway expeditiously.

Since the taxiways and the apron are managed by two different controllers, the ground controller will hand us off to the apron controller:

  • Frankfurt Ground: Speedbird one five four two, contact Apron East on one two one decimal niner five.
  • BAW1542: Contact Apron East on one two one decimal niner five, Speedbird one five four two.

We switch to the new frequency and report:

  • BAW1542: Apron East, Speedbird one five four two on Lima nine, request taxi to the stand.
  • Apron South: Speedbird one five four two, Apron East, taxi to stand Delta five via Lima and November one.
  • BAW1542: Taxi to stand Delta five via Lima and November one, Speedbird one five four two.

We taxi to the stand and shut down, also switching the transponder off – there's no need to ask a clearance for that. Our flight is now finished.

This tutorial in video format

The departure and arrival presented in this tutorial have also been recorded. Some interactions were simplified, the result should however be more close to what you usually experience on the multiplayer network. Closed captions are available.

A sample VFR flight

de profundis has written a VFR tutorial that takes you for a sample flight from KRNO (Reno Tahoe) to KBIH (Eastern Sierra Regional) and covers VFR flight planning, phraseology and tips in great detail. You can get his Cross Country Tutorial from the dedicated forum thread.

Tips

  • This tutorial, for the sake of simplicity and brevity, assumed no other aircraft was present. On multiplayer servers you might be instructed to hold your position, give way to other aircraft or hold (make circles) over a point to remain separate from other aircraft; check the ATC phraseology page for the specific phraseology used in those situations.
  • Follow the guidelines detailed in ATC best practices to make the experience enjoyable for everyone.
  • When practicing controlled flying, make sure you know your aircraft well (you should be able to maintain an assigned speed, altitude and heading), go to a less trafficked airport and tell the controller it's your first time interacting via ATC.
  • Remember to read back (repeat) the clearances; it is the only way for the controller to know whether you received them correctly or not.
  • Execute the clearances while reading them back.

Notes

  1. In some areas (e.g. France) Center controllers are supplemented by Flight Service Stations (FSS), which provide useful information (weather, frequencies...) to pilots and do not offer air traffic control.
  2. European airports generally use hPa (hectopascals) for the QNH while American ones use inHg (inches of mercury). Some airplanes allow you to enter QNH values using both units; if that is not the case, you will need to use a converter.
  3. Each controller is free to use FGCom, Mumble or just the text chat as (s)he wishes; generally speaking, everyone accepts ATC via chat and, if voice communication is offered, that is announced on initial contact. Prefer voice communication if possible as it enhances realism and because speaking is quicker than typing.
  4. In real world flying, we would be handed off to center controllers and we would report our position over special points, marked as black triangles in the charts. Since center controllers are not common in FlightGear, this is not usually done.
  5. "Niner" is used instead of "nine" to avoid confusion between the similarly sounding "nine" and "nein", the German word for "no".