I’ve created a tutorial explaining how to effectively, efficiently, and correctly control both Ground And Tower stations within Infinite Flight. This is a simple guide, that goes into more detail where and when necesssary, to cover all aspects of IFATC with to-the-point information, providing everything you need to know.
This should help TS1/2 controllers, as well as those preparing for IFATC recruitment tests, as this is partially based off of my experiences with both of the latter. Feel free to ask any questions/make any suggestions below, to both of which I will happily respond. Also, big thanks to Tyler for checking this over! Here it is;
Infinite Flight ATC Handbook
A complete guide to controlling Tower And Ground frequencies.
There are realistically only a very set number of scenarios you can encounter in a typical ground controlling session - Hence it arguably being the easiest facility to take control of.
Pushback is when an aircraft “reverses” away from it’s respective gate and becomes aligned with the taxiway, ready for taxi.
This of course results in aircraft entering their nearest or otherwise most appropriate taxiway, but note that taxi clearance is a completely different command and must be issued separately.
Quite a lot of the time this is able to be approved quite quickly, although from time to time it can be a little more complicated an aircraft taxiing down a taxiway that another aircraft wants to pushback onto is a problem, as well as two others in the same vicinity who both wish to pushback at the same time. In these instances, make use of the “Hold position” command to avoid a conflict. It is useful to set a reminder for any aircraft you issue this command to in order to avoid forgetfulness. Once all is clear, go ahead and issue pushback clearance. Note that give way commands are not preferred in situations such as these- Aircraft are either pushing back or they’re not.
Whenever possible, be sure to try and include what runway the pilot should expect to depart from, in order for them to be facing the correct way after completing their pushback maneuver. This is always an option available as the last section of the process when issuing pushback clearance.
Pilots will request taxi to either a specific or unspecified runway- regardless of the two latter, you should clear them to taxi to the runway(s) that Tower is using for departures.
Like pushback, this can quite often be a simple, quick, and easy task. However, there will be times when the potential for a conflict between aircraft will arise. To counteract this, utilise “Give way commands” in which you can instruct aircraft to give way to the aircraft the right, left, or directly ahead of them.
This will keep the flow of ground traffic safe and manageable for all parties.
The “Hold position” and “Continue taxi” commands can also be used in such circumstances. Although, this puts extra responsibility on the controller, as two messages have to be issued, often rather promptly in relation to each other, and there is of course the potential to forget about a certain aircraft when on a busy frequency if reminders are not set. Give way commands mean that it is the pilots duty to maintain safe separation continuously, hence it being the easier and preferred option.
That being said- Busy situations can require precision, and may require aircraft to be coordinated closely by a controller, so by no means rule out using these commands if the situation requires it.
This is fairly self explanatory- By issuing an aircraft this clearance you are giving them permission to cross the relative runway. In the vast majority of situations this is either a definitive yes or no based on incoming or outgoing traffic at the time, as of course there should be no aircraft on takeoff roll or short final when giving this command, to avoid a conflict. When you are not controlling both local frequencies at an airport, it is absolutely essential that you communicate with the Tower controller to co-ordinate any required runway crossings, if possible.
Tips and Hints;
Do not “over control”- The pilot has common sense (usually) and unless there is a real potential for a conflict, there is no need to clog up the frequency. Not every miniscule movement has to be coordinated by yourself, but just stay aware and issue commands when and where you see fit.
Be aware of aircraft taxiing after only receiving a pushback command. This tends to be a bad habit of pilots who for some reason think that “expect runway XX” is a form of taxi clearance, so it’s always good to be aware of that in crowded airports. Also, be sure to tell the pilot to check help pages, in order to avoid them doing the same next time around.
When giving clearance to an aircraft to cross a runway, only ever use the active runway (not always the green one). E.g if runway 25R is in use at KLAX, although it may appear they are “closer to 07L” this is in fact wrong. Clear them to cross 25R.
If aircraft are taxiing inappropriately, then misc commands such along the lines of “Do not cut in line”, “Do not taxi through grass”, and “This is not a taxiway” may be appropriate dependent on the situation. However, making a fuss over something they get a violation for anyway is not worth the time of day. (Specifically exceeding taxi speed limits)
Last but not least- Only issue taxi clearance when the pilot requests it, and do not use “continue taxi” as many people do. Use a proper taxi clearance command, to a specific runway.
Tower is responsible for the flow of air traffic in and out of the airfield, as well as aircraft in the pattern.
Aircraft will ordinarily switch to Ground to Tower Frequency when 1st or 2nd in cue to take off.
Take Off Clearance
There are two main scenarios that you may encounter when an aircraft requests takeoff.
The first is where an aircraft will request takeoff, along with departure, to either the North, East, South, West, or Straight Out. This means that they are departing the airport and usually intend to leave your airspace as they make their way to their next destination- which will often be shown in a users flight plan. In light of this, you can send “frequency change approved”, or hand them off to a fellow controller as soon as they are airborne. This can be done later if you wish, but must be done prior to the aircraft leaving your airspace, and/or early enough for a departure controller to deconflict them with any other departing aircraft.
The second is when an aircraft states “remaining in the pattern” when requesting takeoff. This means that they intend to fly “circuits” around the airfield, and come back in for a landing, touch and go, or stop and go. This requires you to instruct them which way to “make traffic”, which should be done on a best fit basis as explained in the tips section below.
Pattern Work Sequencing & Clearing For The Option
Once an aircraft that is remaining in the pattern performs their take off, they will progress through the upwind, crosswind, downwind, base, and final legs of the traffic pattern.
All aircraft remaining in the pattern must be sequenced then cleared.
If an aircraft is the first and only aircraft in the pattern then you can normally sequence and clear them for the option on either the crosswind or downwind leg.
All other aircraft should be cleared on their downwind leg, although they can be sequenced anytime before, including on the upwind or crosswind legs of the traffic pattern if need be, or just before the clearance itself. As well as assigning a number as part of sequencing, be sure to tell them who they need to follow in the pattern, to avoid any confusion whatsoever.
Pattern Entry And Landing Clearance
Inbound Aircraft should always be given pattern entry instructions (except from the situations stated later on in the tips section.) This should include sequencing if need be, and then should be followed by a clearance.
The art of pattern entry is essentially just finding the best area to “slot” an aircraft into the pattern, which is normally rather obvious based on their position or heading. This should be accompanied by any necessary sequencing and then followed by landing clearance (or clearance for “the option” if they are inbound for a touch and go and you are happy for them to do so)
When an aircraft requests a runway change, it is necessary to re-issue pattern entry instructions, with sequencing if need be, and a new clearance, whether it be for landing or for the option.
For example, if N172MD is on left downwind in a spitfire, for a Touch and Go runway 25R at KLAX, but he wants to change to 25L, then;
“N172MD, enter left downwind, runway 25L, number X, traffic to follow is on XXX”
Then follow that up with the appropriate clearance;
“N172MD, runway 25L, number 2, cleared for the option, make left traffic”
This is because he is technically in the pattern for 25R, not 25L, hence the need to give him pattern entry instructions and any appropriate sequencing, along with a new clearance seeing as he is landing on a completely runway.
Transition essentially means that an aircraft wants permission to fly through your airspace, in order to descend into their destination, which can be the same airport which they’re actually requesting transition through. The point in this is to make sure that they do not interfere with any other aircraft in your airspace. The standard altitude to clear an aircraft for transition at is about 3000ft- Although this can be higher if you deem it necessary, clearances at four or five thousand feet aren’t particularly rare.
Tips and Hints;
-Anticipated separation It’s in the name. If you’ve just cleared an F22 for takeoff, and it’s accelerating rapidly down the runway, then there is nothing wrong with clearing an A340 holding short. Because the F22 is much faster, and the A340 inevitably will take a little while to get in the runway and ready to go, you can be sure that the fighter will be well out of the way before the heavy even starts takeoff roll. The opposite way around, aircraft wise, would of course be a very bad idea. With common sense, this can be applied in many situations to help expedite departures.
Pattern entry instructions- If an aircraft is already in the pattern, there is no need for pattern entry instructions. On TS1/2 it is common to takeoff, remaining in the pattern, and be told to “enter left/right downwind, runway XX.” This is wrong, as the aircraft is already technically in the pattern. Only sequence and clear.
Unnecessary use of Immediate Takeoff- This one is pretty self explanatory. Only use it when it is actually needed, which is normally to expedite departures relative to any inbounds.
Working with approach- When approach is active, and inbound aircraft subsequently call inbound on the ILS, then there is no need for pattern entry or sequencing. Simply clear them to land with a number.
The option- This covers both a landing, and touch and go, or a stop and go. If you’ve cleared an aircraft for the option, but they later report their position and inform you that they will make a “full stop,” there is no need to then issue landing clearance. It’s still covered by the option.
Left and Right Traffic- Many airports have specific runways that use either left or right traffic patterns, so looking it up is perfectly acceptable. Otherwise just common sense. E.g Don’t use the left runway for right traffic and vice versa, make it easy on yourself. Do be aware of surrounding terrain and airports however.