With the holiday season upon us and people renewing their subscriptions do they can brave the expert server skies, I find it only fitting to throw out some friendly reminders, and also show you the ways to get the best out of your ATC experience!
To preface this essay, please note that these are tips that will reduce our workload and make our lives easier. Help us, help you!
Ground is one of the simplest forms of ATC to understand. But either way, here are some tips to be the best pilot you can be while on ground.
Listen to and understand the ATIS. This sounds simple enough, but it will help you in the long run. This way when you are getting ready to go, you’re prepared for the runway you’ll be assigned.
File your FPL before you pushback. Please be prepared! When you pushback and then file your flight plan, you are potentially holding up multiple people. Simply file it before pushing back. You’ll be more prepared to taxi.
Use common sense. In IF, we don’t give you specific taxi routes. Even with progressive taxi, there is a lot of decision making on behalf of the pilot. Choose a taxiway that won’t block runway exits, or those trying to enter a ramp.
Just let them go first. I see so many cases of people trying to cut others off just got the sake of being first. Even if only one of them is going to the runway, they do it anyway. Just understand that you’re all in the same boat here, do you really need those extra 5 seconds?
Tower control is a bit more in depth than ground control. There will be more tips! But understanding tower is vital for understanding how to arrive in an airport with active ATC.
- Understand what a pattern is, and how to enter it. For tower in IF, we use VFR commands to bring arrivals in. You will be told to enter a leg of the pattern for your assigned runway. Check this thread for how to enter a downwind leg, a common issue seen with pilots.
Legs of a traffic pattern
Come in at the proper altitude. If you are contacting tower 25nm out, you shouldn’t be higher than 10,000 feet. As a tower controller, it’s always a challenge to see pilots fly on an extremely long downwind leg because they were too high. As a result, other pilots are forced to fly longer as a result of their sequence.
Maintain separation with the aircraft in front of you. I know it sounds basic, but it’s so common to see people coming up behind the traffic in front of them at a speed difference of 50+ knots. It’s just going to make you go around, and it saves us the hassle of fitting you back in for the approach.
Expedite means expedite. When we tell you to expedite off the runway, we don’t mean exit the runway on a high speed exit at 20 knots. We want 30 knots minimum. Chances are there’s someone behind you who wants to land just as much as you wanted to,
Immediate means immediate. No. I don’t want you to enter the runway at 5 knots. No, don’t enter at 15 and then stop on the runway. Enter at 15 knots or more and rev up immediately! We want you off the ground as much as you want to be off the ground.
The dreaded approach controller! To be qualified, extensive training is required. These controllers know what they’re doing.
Descend on time. Please, don’t contact us unless you’re below 18,000 AAL. But don’t think this means you contact us overhead at FL180. Go 50 miles out at a minimum, and be at the proper altitude. It saves you a hold or a scenic tour.
Understand how to intercept. Missing an intercept can result in a backed up line, or a missed approach. Understand how to intercept the localizer. It helps both of us.
Keep your speed in check. Yes, we can give you commands. But trust me, it makes our day if you slow down for us. It reduces our workload dramatically. Don’t be at 240 IAS on base. Just… don’t.
Understand the scenic tour. Trust me, airspace gets busy. You’ll end up being in a long line. No, the controller isn’t holding a grudge, he’s just handling 50 inbounds in 20 minutes. You’ll have to wait.
Honestly, there isn’t much that should be done here on behalf of the pilot.
Just check in. If you have an FPL, just check in! We will (normally) allow you to follow your FPL with minimal vectors.
Flight following is VFR only. Want to save the hassle? Don’t use flight following unless you’re VFR. It’s not a huge deal but it reduces the amount of messages we have to send.
There are quite a few topics on how to fly and interact on the expert server, but I wanted to tell you guys how you make the life of the controller easier. Controlling with understand and able pilots is the most fun I have while controlling. I get so happy when pilots understand what is going on and help me out in the process.
So the next time you fly with active ATC, help us out! We appreciate it, and you’ll even benefit from it.
Thanks, and happy flying!