Hello everyone, just thought I would make a topic addressing a few things I’ve noticed pilots making a habit of doing while using an approach frequency, and what to do to prevent these habits from becoming something you do all of the time.
Lets Start With "Radar Contact"
When tuning into approach, you need to tell the controller right off the bat what you want. Don’t hesitate to do so and do NOT say check in when you’re approaching an airport. The check in message should only be used when departing an airport. If the controller sends you a radar contact, you need to tell them what you want. Many times, some pilots do not tell us approach controllers anything after sending the radar contact message, which means we now have to worry about the following things…
- Your a NORDO pilot (pilot without a radio)
- You could be deciding to flat out not respond
- What you are intending to do when not responding
It should be in your best interest to be telling us your intentions right after you get that message to reduce the chance of being ghosted for not being able to communicate with you, or for not following instructions. So for now on please make sure you tell approach your intentions as soon as possible. You can find out more about the art of radar contact which is outlined in @Brandon_Sandstrom’s great topic linked below.
Reporting Airport In Sight
Many pilots like to report airport in sight when it really isn’t needed. The only time you should be reporting airport in sight is when you are flying a visual approach and the controller specifically asks you to do so. Otherwise, you should not be using this message.
In addition to this, when a controller asks you to report airport in sight, please don’t wait forever to do so. You should be able to see the airport on a clear day when you are 12nm give or take out from the destination airport. If an approach controller asks you to report, and you can see the airport, do not wait! Report it in sight so they can clear you for the approach and hand you off to tower.
Requesting Frequency Changes During ILS/GPS Approaches And Radar Vectors
Something that is worth to mention is that the controller will hand you off when the time is right. For ILS and GPS approaches, controllers will hand you off once you have intercepted the localizer. You should not be requesting frequency changes when you haven’t even intercepted yet, as it is pointless and the controller is just going to say stay on my frequency, and keep you on their frequency until you intercept. When it comes to radar vectors, the controller will hand you off to tower when the time is right, as the controller can’t just hand you off and expect the tower controller to fit you in with the arrivals line that is already cleared. Lots of planning on the controllers part goes into radar vectors, which is why you should allow the controller to hand you off to tower and not the other way around.
When you, the pilot says unable, expect to get the please follow instructions or you will be ghosted command. Unless there is something that is absolutely not allowing you to follow the atc command such as unoticed terrain (fault of the controller) then there is no reason to use the unable message. Saying unable will not get you to the airport faster, and you risk getting a vacation to the training server for a week as well. Even if you get vectored away from the airport, that is not an excuse to use it. Follow instructions and eventually you will get there. Trust our handy dandy approach controllers on this one :)
The above is just a few things I’d thought I would bring up to help pilots be reminded of proper atc use. If you feel something should be added, I will create another section and write about it in detail. Hopefully this helps clear up any questions you have about the following things. Thanks for reading everyone!