Understanding Controllers: Technique v. Actual Issues

Evening, ladies and gentlemen.

This topic covers the issue of technique versus fundamental faults while controlling.
We all know that misunderstandings between pilots and ATCs alike can happen, and a few words can certainly be tossed left to right on the issue(s) in question. What’s really important, however, is taking a step back and looking at the “big picture” on traffic conditions around the airport.

Before people start finger-pointing at each other on what’s right and wrong, take in mind of the use of technique while controlling and the fundamentally wrong way(s) of doing it. It is possible to get ahead and accuse somebody of wrongdoing without asking or checking the situation beforehand; keep an open mind and look at the scenario first.

Fundamental Wrongs v. Technique

There’s a difference between utilizing technique and doing things that are fundamentally wrong while controlling. Giving incorrect sequences and letting aircraft crash into each other is fundamentally incorrect, of course. Technique, however, when used properly, can allow you to effectively organize and manage your airspace.

Examples of Technique

N1TJ is doing patterns in a F-16 at Sarasota Bradenton. He is flying super tight Spitfire-like laps on Runway 22. An A320 is coming in for landing on Runway 32, an intersecting runway. The Airbus has now reached a point on final in which action needs to be taken in order to ensure safety between the two aircraft.

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  • Option #1- Change N1TJ to Runway 32 and sequence him behind the A320 on final.
  • Option #2- Allow N1TJ to continue his patterns on Runway 22 and call his base in order to squeeze the Airbus in first.
  • Option #3- Tell N1TJ to turn base within a short pattern and have the Airbus slow down to let him squeeze in with clearance on the intersecting runway.
  • Option #4, 5, etc…

As you can see from above, there are multiple ways to handle the situation; each and every one of those scenarios are acceptable. Dozens of controllers will handle it in dozens of different ways- that’s the beauty of it!

Examples of Fundamental Wrongs

  • 1- Making someone turn base in front of traffic with only ½ of a mile of separation.
  • 2- Not bothering to give a 360, speed command, or go around, depending on context of the situation, when separation is lost between two aircraft, causing them to collide.
  • 3- Clearing someone to land when he’s doing touch and goes.
    Etc…

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As a controller, you are given and/or trained to use tools that makes countless types of techniques possible in a specific situation. Take in what you know and check out the methods of other people when they’re handling a similar issue; you may learn something from it and decide to apply it, if you want.

So, guys, when you’re flying around or controlling, keep an open mind! We all grow and thrive on constructive criticism and should be willing to take it in. Even the best of the best change, adapt, and listen to what others have to say. Don’t be afraid to explore and critique the ever-expanding possibilities of ATC within Infinite Flight.

Most of all, there is more than one way to do things. Everyone has their own style, comfort, and flair. Remember that!

As usual, if anyone has any questions about anything, don’t hesitate to ask!

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Well said.

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Well said Josh! I have a particular comment about point 3 of clearing someone to land when they want to do touch and go pattern work.

Sometimes I use the exact command after announcing no pattern work to let the pilot know that if he wishes to land, he can, but I am no longer accepting touch and go patterns.

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Interesting point you bring up. It’s definitely something to think about. Thanks for sharing! ;)

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