Realistic Controller Change for ATC

What is the current problem?

Currently, as an IFATC, when I take the frequency from a controller before me, I get the aircraft that were tuned into the previous controller’s frequency, I get their assigned runway, and when working approach I get the type of service they requested (ILS/GPS/RV/Visual/FF/…) and their destination airport. However, I do not get their communication log with the previous controller or what service they were given (whether they were cleared to taxi or not, for example). Furthermore, often when changing frequency, especially for radar positions, I am greeted with all pilots calling in with requests at the same time, which can get quite overwhelming.

How’s this done in the real world?

At London Heathrow, for example, the control desks or whatever you call them are set up with two headphone jacks, meaning that two controllers can listen in at the same time. This is common over other airports as well. The starting controller can plug in, and for a while just listen to the finishing controller and get a feel of the situation. He then signals to the finishing controller that he is ready, and the finishing controller unplugs and the starting controller takes control of the aircraft with no need for any time off-frequency, or any need for aircraft to reask for clearances.

How would this work in IF?

I suggest this feature only be available on Expert server at least at the start, as there is much more communication going on between ES controllers than there is between TS controllers. The starting controller would choose the airport, and in the frequency selection menu they would choose the frequency occupied by the current controller. The on-coming controller would receive a confirmation dialog saying something along the lines of You have selected an active frequency. Confirm that you are replacing the current controller. The current (finishing) controller would then receive a message in-game informing them of the replacement request, and could approve or deny it. Once they approved it, the starting controller would be launched into the session with a UI similar to the active controller’s view, except for a few changes. They would still see the radar screen, the aircraft strips, the comm log, and they would still be able to expand comm logs for specific aircraft. However, they would be in a view-only mode, where they can observe all this info but cannot actually send commands. There would also be a button, which the starting controller presses once they feel they know what is going on, and ready to start controlling. Once they press this button, they would be changed into the screen of an active controller, and the previous controller’s session would be terminated.

In Conclusion

This would allow for more seamless controller changes from both the pilot’s and the controller’s view. Obviously, this wouldn’t be anything easy to implement, but it would, in my opinion, significantly improve the realism, as well as the experience for both pilots and controllers. I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions on this idea down below! :)

Interesting ideas from fellow members


Extension to the previous request, this system could pave a way for an observer system:

This is a great idea, I definitely see this as being helpful for IFATC. I also would love this to be implemented, as I am an IFATC.


Its a very good and usefull idea.


Very useful idea!

You can watch how IFATC do it and learn from it!

Excellent Feature Request!


Well, I wasn’t intending it to be a tool for others to watch the operations of IFATC, rather, I intended it to be a tool for IFATCs to gain awareness of the situation around the airport before taking control, but you’re right that it could pave a way for an observer system if FDS wanted to go that way. Nice idea!


Well @jakcharvat that might make a good addition, now that I think about it.


This is a brilliant idea! The next controller can pick right up where the other left off! However it’s not like ATC is available 24/7,so this will definitely be useful! You’ve got my vote!


This is a really great idea. Personally, I think this would be really helpful and I would love for this to be incorporated.


This feature request has been bookmarked by me. I’m out of votes, but I will save this feature request for later.

Nice way to promote realism! :D


This would also be a great teaching tool for any training controllers and would serve a very practical usage.

Expert server controllers have the ability to open multiple frequencies at airports and I’ve used this feature in the same way you are describing when doing controller changes on radar. I would open a seperate radar frequency at the same airport I was taking over for; I’m able to see the data tags which include various sets of important information. When the controller was ready to switch they would simply hand off the aircraft to me.

I was unable to see the ATC logs and flight strips though, and the handoffs are a bit cumbersome so this feature would be a great! You got my vote.


This would be great, you’d essentially have a queue of controllers but only the first one can send commands, the others can just see what they’re doing to get an understanding of the situation. Once the first controller leaves, the next in line takes over. Love it!


Thanks! Yes, I aware that the multi-frequency approach is an option, however that has several issues. Firstly as you pointed out, you don’t get the full scope of the information, but also, multi-frequency isn’t available on many airports.


Yes I agree, this is a better option then the workaround I’m currently doing. :)


Would really love to see this become a reality. Especially the ability to watch a controller as an observer would be amazing for training and moderation, as a trainer, supervisor or trainee!


This is much needed!


YES we really could use this !!

1 Like

Hadn’t seen this before, but well worth a vote. Nothing worse than the spam when you take over a position. Makes there first few minutes challenging.


Such a great idea, I also love how this was formatted!