How does Approach work?

So besides the obvious (Tower, ground, etc), Approach control still confuses me. For example, does Approach (KLAX) Only handle arrivals to KLAX? (Obviously they would handle both if there wasn’t a departure). If klax approach only covers KLAX and the surrounding airports, why are people requesting ILS approaches across the map to uncovered airports? (That took off from uncovered airports, request to land in another uncovered airport). Or is it all one frequency?

Tyler will soon have a video on how to work approach, so I suggest waiting till then ;)


Hi, welcome to the forum. Check the link below:

Your question has come up before and helpful information can be found when you use the search button.

Hope I could help :-)


Welcome to ATC Playground! Here all aircraft are pumped into one frequency just to get rid of them and a poor KLAX approach controller has to handle them. An approach frequency covers only 1-3 airports and tells you to proceed on course if the airport is out side of the frequency’s coverage area.

Thanks for the responses all, very helpful. So ATC Playground is basically an ATC training server and not really guaranteed to be accurate? I haven’t played on the Advanced yet.

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Very well put 😊

Hurry up and try to get enough XP for Advanced. ATC Playground almost has no differences to Free Flight anymore sadly, there are only ATCs trying to “train” their ATCing skills with pilots doing what they want. Advanced is heaven (literally), 99% great controlling, pilots following instructions and you’ll always be vectored (directed) to your airport safely and smoothly. The best place to spend your time on IF on!

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Approach is one of the funnest places to be controlled. You’ll love it trust me, especially when the controller is specific and responsive.


How I wish this were true on the Advanced server ! I was working EGLC approach last night, there were also controllers operating the approach frequencies at Gatwick and Birmingham.
All was fine until those others quit and I was the only approach active, upon which everyone decides to join my frequency regardless of whether they should have or not.
I had aircraft departing Gatwick heading for Birmingham asking me for flight following or radar vectors, others 60 miles away headed for Gatwick asking for an ILS approach and all sorts of other requests in between. One of these was a senior advanced controller (who shall remain nameless) which surprised me. It’s all very well sending the “unable” message but when there are 9 or 10 people to do this with it all takes time and is very distracting.

This really should be finally cleared up in a detailed tutorial. Surely I’m not wrong in saying that if I’m on LONDON CITY approach then I should be helping traffic to/from LONDON CITY (and in this case Biggin Hill), nothing else. If your planned route doesn’t take you to those airports then tough luck, don’t clog up my frequency with other requests and stop me providing a good service to those who need it. Don’t just join an approach frequency “because it’s there”.