Reporting a position to ATC

Hi guys, I have been trying my best to look at YouTube and tutorials to see how on earth I can report my position correctly to ATC. I have been taking a wide birth from active ( manned ) towers because I feel like a total newbie when it comes to announcing positions. I have a picture I got from the net but can’t make sense of left and right in regards to runway positions.

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The positions are visible in the image. Determining whether you are on left or right downwind can be discerned by the direction of turns you will be making from one leg to the next. So if you are parallel to the runway, opposite runway heading, and will make one 90 degree left turn to enter base, you are on left downwind. If, instead, to go from downwind to final you will need to make two right-hand turns, you are on right downwind.

That said, you don’t need to report your position to active ATC in IF. Only on Unicom.


Here is a shot, would this be left base?

You’re turning right so that would be a right base.

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Thanks, I just need a simple guide for a simple mind lol. That makes perfect sense 👍🏼

I think the bigger question is why you would be wanting to report a position to an active ATC. When you are in range of Approach (approx 65nm straight distance) you should be requesting a GPS/ILS or visual approach to the airport, whilst if there’s no Approach but only Tower, you should be calling inbound for landing (NOT “inbound on the ILS/Visual” etc), and then thereafter following their instructions. There should not be a need to report your position in the majority of circumstances.

That’s sort of not in the pattern yet. All pattern legs are 90 degree increments from runway heading.

What you should do is request landing, and then ATC can tell you to enter the pattern on right downwind (perhaps right base). Sticking with downwind, you would the fly to a point away from the centerline and then fly a heading 180 degrees away from runway heading. That puts you on right downwind. Then one 90 degree turn to the right puts you on right base, before another puts you on final.

But again, with active ATC, you shouldn’t say “XXX is on right downwind…”, you should say “XXX…requesting permission to land on runway Y (or whatever the exact phrasing is; just use Call Inbound, not Report Position). The controller will then tell you which leg of the pattern to enter on. If told to enter right downwind, you would fly parallel to the runway once in the pattern, but opposite runway heading.

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I’m learning jg that’s all :) everything I see on here helps me get better. I’m no pilot, I work in a shop.

No, I get that, and there are times when it is perhaps legitimate to report in a position, such as when you genuinely feel like you don’t know what ATC wants you to do. It can also be useful to report positions on Unicom frequencies given you are talking to other pilots (who may not be watching their radar closely) rather than an ATC, so it is important to know your right base from your left downwind.

However, there are a lot of pilots who feel the need to report in their position to active controllers, or who do their initial call-in to Tower by reporting their position rather than calling inbound for landing, so just wanted to make sure this was clear.

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