Local flying into ATC controlled airports

Hi everyone. This topic is in regard to local flying into ATC controlled airports. During my past few ATC sessions, I have seen an increase in local flying, especially in the busiest of airports listed in the ATC schedule.

  • What is local flying?
    Local flying is where an aircraft takes off from an airport nearby to an ATC controlled airport, such as taking off from EGLC to fly into EGLL.

  • Why is local flying an issue?
    Local flying is an issue as it can become difficult to intergrate aircraft that have taken off locally into your pattern while maintaining proper seperation with your standard inbound aircraft, who is already established in your pattern.
    For example, in one recent case, I had an aircraft take off into my base, while another aircraft was on base. This put me in a difficult situation in terms of maintaining proper seperation between the aircraft, and putting the local flying aircraft into a suitable point in my pattern, while making sure that no other aircraft had their service affected due to me trying to be as efficient as possible to the locally flying aircraft.

  • What are the alternatives to local flying?
    If you would like approach services into a busy ATC controlled airport, please try to depart from an airport that’s 50-100nm away from the airport you want to land into. This allows the controller to handle you like a normal inbound and intergrate you into the pattern like they would any other aircraft, therefore improving the experience of the IFATC controller, other users, and yourself as you will receive a much more realistic service. Secondly, you could also spawn at the airport you want approach services to, take off, and fly radar patterns provided that the radar controller is happy to service these.

  • Summary
    To summarise, please do not take off from an airport which is close to a busy ATC controlled airport as this can cause problems for both local and radar controllers, other users and yourself. Try to take off from an airport 50-100nm away from the airport you want to land into, or take off from the airport you want service into and fly radar patterns, provided that the radar controller is happy to service these, as this will be greatly appreciated by the controller and it will improve the overall experience of all users who are in that particular airspace.

Thank you for reading!


Thank you for making this mini PSA! It is one of the most annoying things to deal with, especially as a radar controller. I think there is a big emphasis on “busy” airport. I usually do not mind if I have a local flyer that joins an empty frequency. However, if I have a 50nm long line of pilots wanting to get into a specific airport, and a local flyer departs straight into the middle, it makes it very difficult to manage. Thanks so much Oliver!


Awesome message! I usually can integrate if traffic is light but once approach even gets slightly busy, it really becomes a hassle. I’ve started taking local flyers on scenic tours until I can fit in.


I agree that emphasis needs to be put on busy airports. However, from my experience, users will locally to be apart of high traffic levels, so the likelihood of having local flyers at an airport with low traffic levels is lower.

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I’ve been doing the same, I also find that local flyers then despawn when they realise you’re not going to take them straight in.

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Dont you think the poeple that doing that are the ones that just stat padding, meaning they don’t wanna do a long flight because they’re just padding on their landing stats?


I do not 100% agree. I was open as OMDB approach earlier today. I maybe had 3-5 people on frequency at one given time and local flyers were quite common, so I accommodated them while OMDB. It was high on the status board in app, but it was not busy by any means on approach.

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If that is the case, doing a local flight into an extremely busy airport is not the best solution. I would go to a smaller airport with atc and do some traffic patterns or a short flight. From my experience, these pilots do the local flights because the approach controller is open and they want the atc service without having to fly the flight.

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I guess that’s true then, users just like to fly into airports on the schedule, which is understandable.

I’ll reiterate pretty much what @Marina said. If a users aim is to stat pad, flying into a busy airport is the worst thing to do.


If busy, I handle like @Drummer and send them on a tour until I can fit them in without impacting service to others. A lot of local pilots quit (or are involuntarily disconnected when they don’t follow vectors) when they realize they are going to have to fly the whole approach.

PSA - If you are flying local into a busy airspace, don’t conflict with already established approach aircraft and follow de-conflict vectors quickly. Failure to do so will likely lead to a vacation from expert.

If it is not busy, usually one or two vectors can get the pilot cleared, so I just go ahead and do that.


If you have approach it’s easier because you have more commands. But for tower commands it’s really hard and messes with the sequencing

I will not have trouble with such aircraft give them clearance as you would any other aircraft give them pattern instructions. As stated above if you have approach then that even become a non issue sorry buddy

I am an approach controller for IFATC so I made this post based off my recent experiences.

Take a recent session controlling Paris approach, I had 25 aircraft inbound in the next 20 minutes. With the dual runway configuration, its manageable, but when I then have an aircraft take off from an airport inside my pattern, it can become difficult to maintain proper separation with other aircraft.

Especially if this situation occurred:

I agree totally and thanks for the hard word. Aircraft on base is close to about 4000 feet AGL. The guy taking off can be given a heading away from your base aircraft and sequenced into other approach or STAR for the airport. It’s just additional unnecessary load for you but the guy is airborne other pole are in the frequency. So yes sometimes it is just what it is.

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