In almost every ATC session, my fellow controllers and I encounter some of the most painful messages. You may be wondering what those are – maybe people who call in at 1000 knts? Or maybe people who switch to ground after being told to hold short of a runway and stay on tower? You will be happy to know that it is neither of these, but these messages seem to increase in frequency almost every time I open. These three sets of messages seem to be a part of some handbook which I can’t access , because almost every pilot sends them and many times in the wrong scenario.
Starting off with radar, in most cases, on the expert server, there is no need for you to request descent. IFATC will usually have their eye on you throughout your approach and are probably keeping you at your present altitude to avoid a potential conflict whether it be with terrain or other aircraft. Once you are clear of the conflict, I assure you, you will be allowed to descend.
If you absolutely need to request an altitude (you shouldn’t), please know the terrain of the area before doing so. The other day at Las Vegas, I had many people request descent to 3000 ft, which obviously would lead to a crash and burn into a hill.
It is a fairly common procedure to take arrivals over the airport, so do not panic if you are vectored over an airport at 6000 ft, we have not forgotten about you, I promise.
Note: Altitude Requests explained under one sub heading of the post.
Another pet peeve of mine and other controllers is almost every pilots’ tendency to check in with the radar frequency, and then request a different service. Using check in is fine if you’re using it as an equivalent to flight following, but just saying it to let the controller know you’re there is not helpful – we’d much prefer you simply request the service in question, saving both you, and the controller time and clicks.
Moving on to the tower frequency, you already state the direction of your departure when you request takeoff clearance. Soon after you lift off, you will receive “Frequency change approved” from the controller. From this point, there really isn’t any need for you to make contact with the controller. When you get cleared for takeoff, your departure direction is automatically approved, so there isn’t any reason to request it again.
Why it matters
Some of you may be wondering why any of this matters, it’s just one extra command, right? However, when it is busy and there are 30+ planes inbound or a long takeoff queue, an extra command for each plane takes a large toll on efficiency. Needing to zoom out and find each plane twice does take a lot of time for the controller, slowing down airport operations.
I sincerely do hope that people learn from this post and that I won’t see this as much on the server. While I do know not everyone will see it, all it takes is one person at a time to figure this pretty simple stuff out and apply it for everyone to have a more efficient and positive experience on the expert server.