Question about how controllers choose airports

Brief question, apologies if this is not the correct format. I noticed that KMSP is listed in the ATC schedule this week and despite this it is not controlled today. I have seen this before if not all featured airports are controlled yet, but in this case it seems all of the featured airports are controlled and still KMSP does not have an ATC controller. Additionally, even Cleveland is controlled and it wasn’t even on the list of featured airports. Just curious why this could be as it impacts my own flight planning. Thanks.

Controllers will generally pick airports that are busy, have interesting scenery, or have a relation to them personally that would make them want to open. Traffic and scenery are the main attractions to both controllers and pilots.

Controllers can open any airport in the highlighted region. They may open a non-featured airport if they aren’t comfortable with the available choices, if the available airports are out of their rank, or of the reasons in the first paragraph.

Hope this helps!


Thank you this is helpful. Although I must say frustrating. There are more aircraft on the ground right now at KMSP than Cleveland, and it makes much more sense given the Delta airlines theme today. I would think controlling an airport stimulates traffic anyways. Thanks for the explanation in any case.

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@KMSPheavy KMSP is open now :)

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They have to go by the schedule that is issued every Sunday. Within that schedule, each region has a different day. Then, it’s at their discretion what airport they control, so long as it is within the highlighted area. Also, a few airports in each schedule will be denoted with a star. These denoted airports are airports that should not be opened by IFATC controllers in the check-ride phase of their training.

I don’t know why that is, but it may be because of terrain surrounding the airport that may overwhelm controllers-in-training when sequencing aircraft in for landing, or because those airports see a huge influx of traffic when their region is highlighted, that the controller-in-training may not be able to handle, or a mix of both.

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@KMSPheavy Hey man! As a Minnesotan IFATC member I was looking to open this today, the problem is for me at least the lack of traffic. It is quite difficult to keep attention when you only get a few operations per hour. Additionally, I lack a little motivation with the current regulations surrounding runway usage, as I’m sure you are aware, we are asked to use all available runways which are in contrast to the current MSP COVID configuration, which emphasizes the use of the 2 parallels. Sometimes that realism bump is enough to make me willing to open it, but to be true despite being one of Delta’s largest hubs it’s criminally underappreciated in Infinite Flight. Might hop on later today though, nice to see a fellow Minnesotan on here! :)

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this is the general answer…nothing else lol

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Thanks for the response and explanation! I recognize that its complex and that traffic drives controller choices. I am really grateful to have such a responsive community. Appreciate the Minnesota shout out too! I am hoping to do KMSP->KATL around 6 CST tonight so hopefully it picks up there. So true about it being under appreciated.

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