Requesting suitable runways

Hi, I had an interesting experience just now flying into Toronto Intl using a Porter Dash 8. I came in on a regional route from the east.

This is not something where I want to question the individual controllers, but rather raise a point and perhaps get some discussion on it…

Winds at Toronto were 350/25G35 knots… The active runways were 05 and 06R, so a concern for me in a Dash 8.

I therfore planned a GPS approach to Rwy 33R, with FP filed, the safer choice. When I requested my GPS approach to 33R I was given the standard “expect vectors for ILS approach 06R”. I didn’t seem to have any communication option to let the controller know this was an issue… I had no way to know whether the controller had any awareness of my aircraft type and the reason I needed 33R.

I continued on to see what options might be available later. I had no choice really but to accept the ILS approach, which was really extremely far out for the Dash 8, especially considering I had to hand fly the approach in a strong crosswind from nearly 4000ft.

Once switching to Tower, instead of calling inbound I tried the “request runway change” option… But frustratingly I lost the mobile data connection, so I got disconnected.

I am just wondering, what would the tower controller have done with my request, and should the runway change request not be an option for asking the approach controller? Maybe if that was there the controller may have reconsidered my aircraft type and the wind? Surely with the runways available at the airport accomodation should be made for a Dash 8 in such conditions?

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Regardless of what the active (green) runways are in Infinite Flight, the ATC should have taken your arrival on the runway based on the wind.

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Hello,

The only reasonable reason I can see is Toronto Pearson is a very busy airport currently so that makes runway changes very difficult. They should still be able to make a runway change if it is very necessary like in this case. Worst case I would recommend you divert just in the interest of safety.

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I believe in fact the the 33s were green, and the runways being used were yellow. Its clear that the longer runways were chosen to suit the larger jets

Yeah it was a hub… I am just being hopeful that ATC can be reactive and flexible to situations… I wouldn’t like to think there was an automatic generic approach being adopted, because that surely would not simulate real life…?

There’s also the issue about the communication limitations…

I’m a bit disappointed and surprised there’s not more interest in this. No one from IFATC or staff has replied, but maybe they’ve had a busy weekend!

Perhaps I should try a feature request, at least for the communication aspects to be considered…

Surely everyone doesn’t only want 1 option when arriving at a busy multi runway ATC controlled airport (ie the assigned ILS intercept) when the wind favours another available runway for a smaller aircraft?

I feel that giving the possibility and having the controllers consider it and work the approach into and around the prevailing traffic would add a significant step towards realism.

Yes, it’s an option if the wind really is too unfavourable, but I can’t think how I could ask for a diversion, after being cleared for the approach I can’t carry out…? 🤔

IFATC Controllers are always taught not to look at the colors, but to look at the greens. Often the hub can get stuck in a little bit of a pickle. It’s too busy to change runways. Hopefully you’ve had a better experience with us? I can promise that we try our hardest.

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Hey, that’s fine, and I’m not trying to criticise any individual controller. I’m really trying to establish whether or not there are engrained standard practices that the controllers are not used to deviating from… (obviously I’m not trying to hide that that’s my impression so far).

The situation at Toronto was that the longer runways were in use, I presume for the bigger aircraft that were the majority. The green runway was the one I wanted. I believed that my GPS approach would not conflict with the predominate inbound pattern, and I hoped that a gap could be created in the main landing flow to allow mine on the crossing runway.

Ultimately the communication limitations didn’t allow for proper consideration of this, and I felt that’s a pity as it would have been a cool thing to be part of, and certainly a great simulation of a real world process…

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I appreciate your comment, but you may not quite be understanding my purpose here, which is to look towards some positive change and added realism. Some of your points don’t make sense in the context of my situation as I have detailed it in the posts. I don’t doubt that, as things are , when it’s busy, it’s difficult to achieve.

I asked for the GPS approach to the favoured runway for the wind, due to the crosswind limitations of the Dash 8. I knew it was not the main assigned runway, but I think in the real world they would not cancel flights due to that, they would plan to use the runways available…

The problem was that the communication limitations did not allow me to explain why it was necessary… I could not carry out my instructed approach, due to the crosswind, so it seemed that I was forced to continue the inappropriate approach, and wait until I was inbound on the ILS before I got the opportunity to ask for a runway change… And yes, I know that is way too late…

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As a controller, I try to accommodate runway requests whenever possible. In my opinion, the controllers at YYZ should have switched to the 33s by 1500Z, even if that meant a gate hold and some holding patterns.

33R is the second-longest runway at YYZ at just over 11,000 ft, and the 25G35KTS would have made it difficult to land even 777s on any of the southwest ends given their very dampened rudder inputs

(to clarify, I wasn’t controlling yesterday, I was literally out at YYZ spotting IRL and the winds were insane, also they were using 33s)

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You have some valid and good points. What I will tell you from practical experience is that it’s difficult to accommodate a single aircraft going to a different runway at the hub when you have an already established traffic pattern. “Building a gap” is much easier said than done when you have aircraft appearing from all over (not on a STAR), some at inappropriate heights, 10% not following instructions and causing increased workload, people spamming, and some calling inbound basically inside another aircraft.

The scenarios a radar controller faces at the hub are often so unrealistic they really have to just stick with their plan and the traffic pattern they established for the greater good of everyone. Stinks in your scenario.

I try my best to control radar at secondary airports so I can offer this flexibility. While I know flying to the hub is fun and is where the action is at, flying to a secondary airport with radar can actually allow you to be more realistic. The controller has more time to build a gap and support your request.

Great food for thought though.

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@mcgregni You are absolutely right to be concerned here. If winds were gusting to 35 knots, I would want to land on the runway with a headwind, not a crosswind.

I was looking back at the communications between our controllers, and a change to 33L/33R was suggested, but was turned down and they continued to use the 05/06L and 06R. Not a good decision at all.

The “IFATC members are trained and tested” thing is not valid here.

Try sending a message to your approach & tower controllers. They might have a clearer reason for not switching the runways. :)

Sorry you had to experience that!

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Thanks robert_xing, maybe things were very busy and it was hard to react, I can understand that… There were plenty of jets tunneling in to their intercept for 6R. I felt I would not have conflicted with that, my GPS approach was inside and below that pattern of traffic. It would be cool to think we could do that kind of realistic procedure!

I appreciate those points Chitown, and yes I know there’s times at the hub where its more training than expert! I’ve not helped a couple of times myself and have lost track of things when I’m supposed to be turning final 😏…

You’re right about the quieter options… I’ve had some great experiences with IFATC so far, Auckland, Queenstown, Corfu and Kathmandu all come to mind!

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Let me preface by saying that I completely understand your situation and you do make valid points. I believe the Dash has a max crosswind limit of ~ 35kts so this would’ve been a difficult landing without any doubt.

Chitown makes good points above from the controllers POV and I concur with PlaneGeek too. Like your already pointed out, there are communication limitations in-app. I would, however, like to offer you some workarounds and suggestions if you come across such a scenario again:

  • Tune into ATIS/ Read D-ATIS for the runways in use at the destination before contacting Approach. You can tune into ATIS around 80nm out by clicking on the airport icon in the map. If you feel the runways in use are not ideal for the prevailing weather and your aircraft type, consider diverting to another airport nearby. Chances are, Approach may not be able to accommodate your runway choice especially if the airspace is busy.
  • If you do however contact Approach and they aren’t able to accommodate your runway request, you can still divert by changing the destination in your flight plan to an alternate airport and ‘Request Radar Vectors’ or ‘Flight Following’ to the new destination. Please see Diversion | User Guide for the exact steps.

  • After being handed off to Tower, if you still are unsure due to winds or visibility and would like to divert, you may do so by executing a Go Around | User Guide, and after being handed off to Approach again, you may follow the steps above to request diversion by request Radar Vectors or Flight Following to an alternate destination.

  • I would not recommend asking for a runway change after being cleared for an approach procedure especially since the runway you were cleared for and your runway of choice are at 90 degrees to each other.

I understand these may not necessarily be the answers you are looking for but I hope your post and experience becomes a learning opportunity for controllers and pilots alike.

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Yeah i had a simillar isue i was flying a CRJ-900 and they alligned me to a runway with tail wind and i had to go around because of the miss comunication.

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Thanks Zuhair.Mazhar…

Yes, I read the ATIS before departing from 30 mins away… I knew what runways were in use, but I wanted to try it and put it to the test for the very purpose of this discussion.

Thanks for those diversion work arounds… Wouldn’t it be great though if we had a chance to request an alternative when first contacting approach “due to wind/aircraft limits” , to give ATC a chance to respond and make a considered decision… The sort of approach option I was looking for would have been very fun and cool to play out!

Hi IF. Maks, welcome to IFC 😊. Stay posted on this topic, I’m thinking about making a feature request for some communication options, which I hope might lead to a more flexible response in terms of runways…

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Hi, I’m an IFATC controller and I totally understand your points! We used to get a lot of Dash 8 Q400’s here in the UK and I understand that they don’t like the wind at all! I agree that they should add that as a communication option. Do you know who had the ATIS (the tower or the approach controller)? That may have played a part in deciding whether to switch runways. I hope to see you flying soon!

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