Approach ATC

I have made this “chart” (or whatever you want to call it) as I am already IFATC, but I would like to start looking into approach frequency. I have made this to hopefully help me (and others if possible) to start using that frequency. This “chart” is all out of my head so I’m creating this topic to hear your opinion. Please tell me if I should change some numbers (or even the whole thing)

(Do note that I am really bad at drawing and that that is just a quick sketch.
If you cannot read something just tell me and I’ll write it down for you.)

Here’s my idea:

Again there is no need to say “ahh this is useless” and things like that. I want criticism that will help me (and others) improve.

Also this chart is only for a busy airspace…

If you’re wondering yes the proportions are correct. 1cm=5nm


The only thing that I could see wrong with this is that with a heavy traffic load, plans go out the window. While controlling with heavy traffic, it’s more of a read and react rather than a plan. This is a good start for light traffic though.

Also take into effect of people not responding ASAP, people who won’t follow directions… it’ll become a mess fast if you force this plan on pilots!


Thanks for the feedback!

Although I would like to know how the hell can you control without a plan. Do you just get them straight away close to the airport and at a low altitude? And when there is conflict you send one away?


Either pm me here or in IFATC and I’ll take the time to work with you. I’m also a qualified trainer so I can work with you officially as well :)!

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Hmm suppose it is a bit squeezed in since the lane to get people back in line is only at 5nm away… maybe if I space it out a bit more would that help?

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No, with heavy traffic loads it’s all about your plan. You don’t react, you simple expand on what you were doing.


I assume that is the path you want to take your aircraft on?

My personal opinion is that is way to long. Start reducing their altitude once you get them. Creating a train like that only extends flight times as you become busier.

As you gain experience you’ll be able to run multiple patterns to 1 runway, 2 runways and even 5 runways like ATL.

While that is a descent starting point, your drawing, I think it is excessive.

The less turns you have in your pattern, the less you have to track people, 5 turns with 5 planes is automatically 25 radio calls. That doesn’t include anything else. Make the aircraft number 10-40 and you can see how you will quickly become overrun.


Thanks! The orang part is totally optional it was just to give an idea. The real pat starts where it’s yell and that’s 70nm. (That’s where I usually start to descend)

When I made this I had first look at a few airports on Flightradar24.
This is an example of what I saw:

I suppose though you are right that for pilots it can be really frustrating although I was trying to find a way to avoid holding patterns. (Is that maybe not a good idea?)

The major airports all have STAR routes due to congestion. So while that is apart of their approach to the airport I wouldn’t really rely on that aspect of it.

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So would you just direct them straight to the airport and then move them if there’s conflict?
And do holding patterns of there no more room?

I would start moving them towards a base, getting ready for the intercept. As it got busier I would start an outside downwind and so forth extending and doing what gave me more space. Once that downwind got busy I would open the other side. That’s just one out of 50 different ways I would do it

Sorry for it being a late answer, but you got me thinking… how many commands are we talking about. Like I did a new “chart” and got it down to 4 at maximum. Is that something you would consider good?

Because I tried to understand how you could get fewer for someone coming the opposite way and unless you make him take sharp turns and going really far, geometrically I seriously found no way…

I also reduced the maximum distance to105 nm for people coming in the opposite way. (The average distance though is closer to 70nm)
(The maximum was at 160 and average closer to 100)

There are seriously thousands of different ways to do things, and no situation will be exactly the same. In my honest opinion you just need to be able to adapt what you’re doing to make it work for the circumstance: trying to go into it saying this is exactly how I’m gojng to do it will end in failure.


Remember, I don’t think you can contact approach until 60nm from the facility.

I was just reference your “turn instructions” as being the min. You can combine altitude transmissions with those, but often times you will issue them separately as well. There are 100 different ways you can accomplish your next question about an opposite direction arrival.

I think you’re over thinking it.

Speed adjustments and separation are the main factors.

@GHamsz can tell you he has a certain airports he does certain ways because that’s what works best for him. He is the king of approach right now, I think he logged north of 120,000+ operations for 2017


I know I have to adapt… that is just an idea for a situation that happens quite often, parallel runways. In that picture I only put one runway, but you can easily split at the end to send to 2/3/4 or even 5 runways.

Reality is obviously never like planed. There are things that come in the way. For me the idea of making this is just to get a general idea of the path I’m going to make people take. If I can make them do a short cut, then I will. If there’s a loss of separation, then I’ll adapt…

I found a way to do this, but I would only do it with the pilots I am familiar with or other IFATC.

It’s hard to explain in text. You will recognize pilots after you get experience and you’ll know who you can do weird stuff with that’ll work. Like @Brandon_Sandstrom I would try off the wall stuff with because I know he will understand what I am trying to do and we can talk real time with each other.


Splitting a single line for multiple runways at the end of your pattern is pretty inefficient. If you’ve got 2 runways, that single line is going to be twice as long as using 2 lines, one for each runway. I’ll usually form one up for a left downwind, and another for a right downwind.

As far as a strategy to handle increasing traffic density, I always start by vectoring straight to the cone. As traffic increases, I’ll bring them in more upwind, and have them fly a downwind, base and final leg. I also like to keep everyone within say a 30-40 mi radius circle from the airport. That way I can see everyone without zooming all over the place. It’s easy to lose someone if you’ve got people spread out all over the place. When it gets super busy, I’ll use an S approach, again, this keeps everyone in sight. But I see others handle a ton of traffic with different strategies. Once you get going, you’ll adapt to what works best for you. But I like that you’re strategizing now!

Here’s that S I mentioned.

I can be zoomed in tight enough to clear aircraft, and still see everyone else!


Glad to see that people are putting together plans prior to controlling, great planning that you have done there.

As a pilot before my flight, especially when flying to a new airport, I always research the charts, especially the STAR (Arrival Routing) and SID (departures). These have been put together to provide safe routes for both pilots and ATC to work to the same plan and I can recommend that both Pilots and ATC research these to help make each other’s life’s easier.

Happy flying.


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