First of all – a confession, I fly (IRL) props, and in the sim don’t really have much interest in the A380’s/777’s (too risky that I might fall into space at those heights).
The props don’t get much love in the sim, often forced into painful ‘no intersection departures allowed’ sequencing by ATC between a bunch of heavies that A) would never happen IRL (try taking off in a 208 immediately after a 380 departure and you’ll do somersaults in the sky) and B) is horrifically inefficient in the departure flow.
In real life:
At almost all major ports I fly to, intersection departures are the most common set-up, with anything ATR72-smaller using one intersection, 737/320 sized (generally/weight dependent) using a different one, and anything larger going for the full length. IRL – watching this setup can be beauty in motion. The controller, with an aircraft arriving at the 5nm marker, can clear me for takeoff, a 737 to line up and wait, and a triple to do the same (yep 3 aircraft on the runway at the same time!). I’ll depart and swing north (often before opposing threshold), the 737 is then cleared and swings south after reaching minimums, and the triple then departs straight out with plenty of clearance for the arriving aircraft (any combination of these SO/N/S combinations work too (airport dependant).
Usually the only exception to this departure flow is crosswinds/windshear/low visibility, but departures would be set up like this 90+% of the time.
Here is what it looks like in action:
The issue in IF:
Unfortunately when things get busy, the default for IFATC seems to be ‘no intersection departures allowed’ – and I understand the perspective, having everyone in one long line is easier to manage when you are setting up a basic, one-in, one-out principle - and you can hand out violations for queue-jumpers.
The problems are that creates a bunch of unnecessary congestion (when you could be getting 3x the departures), with an added layer of misery is as an airport switches controllers from a more confident (with intersections), to a less confident (no intersections), the ‘no intersection departures’ comes and goes. I had it the other day, holding at the intersection with a confident controller who had great flow management – the ATC switched and suddenly there was a new ATIS with no intersection departures allowed, and those of us in departure sequence either went ignored or had to pushback into the traffic flow (the controller had no interest in picking up anyone in the current departure flow).
- IFATC is actually already clear in the guides that the ‘no intersection departures’ should almost never be used unless intersections are going to block major arrival exits. It would be great to actually have this blocked at major airports where that problem is (almost) never an issue - that would stop fresh, still-learning-the-ropes IFATC from taking the easy route, but also adds realism and builds departure capability.
- Adding an ATC command ‘shortened’ to taxi/takeoff requests. This could go after selecting the runway and builds good communication between pilot/ATC. Here is how the conversation would go:
Pilot: “Request taxi to runway 23L shortened”
Ground : “Taxi to runway 23L shortened, contact tower when ready”
Pilot: “Ready at runway 23L shortened, departing north”.
Tower: “Cleared for takeoff runway 23L shortened, departure to the north is approved”
Shortened is a common global ATC term for not using the full runway length, and as far as I can tell, wouldn’t complicate many other things in the sim – it would just improve communication. IRL, you would include a taxiway hold position in those readbacks – but for IF, lets walk before we can run :) .
This is more of a story than a feature request, because, in theory, good ATC management would mean there isn’t really a need to add the feature (except to improve the status-quo/add realism). I also get that there are queue-jumpers out there, which is probably the main reason ATC put the remark into ATIS – but that’s why we have departure sequencing.
So more of a note to the world to A) share some love for us prop pilots (we are more than just a windmill that fell over), and B) make the most of intersections, they exist for a reason and would bust rather than add to a lot of the congestion we see.
What’s your thoughts on intersections? And see you in the friendly skies!