Departure ATC

Hello everyone,
Lately, I’ve been playing a lot as ATC instead of flying and it is really starting to grow on me. I just always question what to do when I’m playing as departure. Also sometimes arriving aircrafts contact departure.
Can someone please explain to me what the departure is supposed to do.
Thank you

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Departure helps lead the aircraft out of the airspace safely by giving them vectors but can also act as approach if necessary. You’ll get a more detailed description by Tim in a second


The basics are essentially to manage departing aircraft such that they don’t conflict with other aircraft in the airspace. Most departing aircraft in IF just want to be left alone and will ask for Flight Following. For IF, that just means they can proceed as they please. But, you are able to direct them away from other traffic if the need arises.

If they ask for Radar Vectors, you give them vectors and altitude changes for their direction of travel out of the airspace. This is not necessarily a straight line. It may mean taking them on a u-turn to travel opposite runway heading or something.(Along the lines of a published SID)

Check in is a tough one. There’s what check in is supposed to be, and what it is used for in IF. In theory, the aircraft just checking in will then stop saying things, you give them initial altitudes (unless you want them passing underneath someone, usually just an altitude above your airspace) and let them on their way. (Note: if someone requests a cruising altitude which is incorrect for their direction of travel, I do not simply grant it. I give them a correct one. I give them the same correct one when they ask again thinking I misheard them as well.)

In actual practice, everyone checks in and then requests something else, which is wrong, but they’ll still do it.

If someone asks for an ILS approach from KLAX to KJFK, you facepalm hard and tell them you can’t give them an ILS approach 3000 miles away and it’s a rediculous question…or just say unable, outside of coverage area. Probably just stick with the last one.

Mostly I open departure to manage the departing traffic to keep them from running through parallel departures and any inbound traffic I have on Approach.

After they’re away from the field and other traffic, I just make sure they’re clear and leave them be.

This is for IF. Check In and FF are not exactly as they are in the real world in IF, but those nits aren’t worth picking for the essentials in IF.

When arriving aircraft contact departure, tell them to contact Approach.

Note for the ultra-serious: I write with a little sarcasm to bring some levity to the forum, not derision. It’s meant in good humor, not as derogatory toward anyone. Please take the humor as such. It extends your life span.


Thank you,
I have 1 question.
How do you determine their cruising altitude by their direction of travel?

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Remember this:

North/East ----- Odd cruising altitudes
South/West ----- Even cruising altitudes


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Thanks this actually helped quite a bit for future departure operations :P

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Not quite, as ‘North’ and ‘South’ can be misinterpreted.

180-359 heading equates to even altitude numbers. 0-179 is equal to odd altitude numbers.

Think of it as:

Over = Even
Under = Odd

(The Over/Under relating to the number 180).

I think of it as East-Odds, West-Evens.

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