ATC best practices

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In case you decide to fly into an area controlled by air traffic control, please read these guidelines. Even though the FlightGear multiplayer experience is not by any means a formal environment, you should still follow them to make the experience enjoyable by everyone.

For pilots

In case multiple controllers are at the same airport, make sure to contact the appropriate one:

  • if you are flying to an airport, contact Approach (or Tower if Approach is not available);
  • if you are flying from an airport, contact Delivery; if that position is not present, contact Ground (if available) or, failing that, Tower.

Minimum list of best practices

At a minimum, you should do the following:

  1. Know your aircraft well! You should be able to take off, land (instrumentally and also visually), maintain an assigned altitude and heading without difficulty.
  2. Know basic ATC phraseology. The ATC phraseology and ATC Tutorial pages should be enough to get started; if you want to learn more, the Phraseology page on the VATEUD site is a great resource.
  3. Follow the instructions given by ATC timely and read them back. This will let the ATC know that you have received the clearance and that you understood it completely and correctly.
  4. Mention your callsign every time you contact ATC.
  5. Avoid colliding with other players.
  6. Do not start on runways - start FlightGear without connecting to the multiplayer server, taxi to an unoccupied parking position if necessary, then connect. It's not nice for other players to land and have another aircraft appear on the runway just before touchdown.
  7. Do not take off/land/cross runways/change altitude or heading unless you have ATC authorization.
  8. Do not simulate emergencies/squawk 7700 just to land earlier at a busy field.
  9. If other players are abusive, simply ignore them (open the Pilot List and click on the Ignore button next to their callsign).

Additional best practices

This is not essential, but would be really nice on your part:

  1. Get updated charts for the areas you are going to fly to and read them. If a controller is following real life procedures, it's better to get an idea of what you should expect.
  2. Use TerraSync or TerraMaster to get the latest scenery for the area you are flying from/to.
  3. Contact the controller when you're about 60 NM out from his/her airport (if in flight) or before starting the engines (on ground).
  4. If both you and the controller are able to use FGCom, use it. This will make communication easier for both of you (and adds realism). Some controllers also use TeamSpeak or Mumble as an alternative to FGCom (that is usually announced when the controller contacts you for the first time).
  5. If you are using text chat, prefix messages directed to the controller with his/her callsign; the controller will do the same for you. It's a lifesaver in busy areas.
  6. Use a multiplayer server that's not overloaded to avoid communication delays - use the Multiplayer server status page ([1], [2] or [3]) to select a server that's near you and with a low number of active clients.
  7. Respect speed restrictions. Don't taxi at more than 20/30 kts and be aware that in most parts of the world you are required not to exceed 250 kts below FL100.
  8. Disable AI Traffic (but leave AI models on).
  9. If you have planned your flight, consider using Lenny's website to file your flightplan.
  10. If you are using a recent version of FlightGear (3.2 or later), use the transponder if the controller requests it.
  11. If you're flying into an uncontrolled area, use the multiplayer chat to advise nearby traffic of your intentions.
  12. Check the wiki to get more information about the scenery existing at your destination
    1. The list of Developed Airports gives a good overview of well modelled airports published on TerraSync.
    2. Regularly controlled Airports like Amsterdam, Bergamo, Frankfurt, Leipzig/Halle or Praque are well documented here.

For controllers

  1. Offer voice communication if able; use text chat for initial contact and as a backup.
  2. Make sure you know phraseology very well.
  3. Plan your sessions on Lenny's website.
  4. Be patient and polite - not all pilots know real life procedures. On initial contact, ask them if they do; if not, just give them vectors.
  5. Get charts for the airspace you're controlling and familiarize with the standard procedures.
  6. Before asking a pilot if he's "inbound" (flying to your airport), check the heading he's flying to and his current altitude and read his flightstrip to see his destination. Contact him only if:
    1. his flightstrip mentions he's inbound;
    2. if no destination is indicated, he must be flying towards the space you're controlling and must be definitely not just overflying.
  7. Use the flightplan exchange feature as a courtesy to other controllers. At a minimum, fill in the pilot's destination and cruise altitude; if the pilot did not file a flightplan, ask him those data.
  8. Make sure you know how to handoff aircraft to other ATCs.