Unicom Etiquette When Both Runways Are Green

As I’ve said before, there is more to traffic flow than the color of the runway number in IF. So how is one to know which direction to use?

For starters, one might simply ask, by using Request Traffic Advisories.

But if for some reason, five people telling you to use the other end isn’t sufficient, there are other ways. Take these two examples:


In the first, Approach had just signed on, so the pilot headed to 02L was not vectored there. Rather, he made his flight plan 150 nm away, and despite being told 5 times to use the other side, refuses to divert from it, traffic flow be damned.

But it’s clear from looking at the map, something I suggest everyone do, though it seems some are unaware of its existence, that:

  1. Departing traffic is queuing up at the 20s
  2. Vectored traffic is headed to the 20s
  3. There was a pilot on final for that very runway, except 20R instead of 02L

Despite all of this, and the fact that he has more than enough time to adjust, enter downwind for 20R, and behave appropriately, he chooses to continue inbound, eventually creating a situation where two planes are on opposing 5 mile finals.

That is extremely poor etiquette.

Same for the second image, where all of the same circumstances are in play, yet the pilot chose to force the growing queue holding short of 20C to simply sit and wait for him because he has no concern whatsoever for their experience.

But, some may say, both runways are green.

It does not matter. Color is not the only thing to consider. When both are green, then traffic flow dictates. Green is not a license to take off directly in the face of inbound traffic (doubly so if Approach is actively vectoring them). It is not okay to force departing traffic to wait out your approach because, unlike you, they have some situational awareness and common courtesy. It is not okay to force someone following instructions and/or traffic flow to go around.

Traffic flow is not dictated by the shortest taxi from your spawn point. It is not determined by the flight plan you made 150 miles ago.

Green, red, yellow. These are visual aids, nothing more. Don’t land 09 at KSAN against 10 inbound to 27 because there’s a slight 5 knot crosswind and it’s just easier for you. Have a little courtesy. Have a little respect for the traffic around you.

If you don’t want to concern yourself with others, FDS has been so kind as to offer a Solo Mode. But Unicom is not a license to ignore other traffic. (Yes, PIC is the decision maker, but I defy you to find a real-world pilot who would behave like this, who would intentionally fly directly into the face another aircraft, so that’s not a cop-out.)

Note: This is intended to be informational. You’ll note that I have not included call signs or names. Please do likewise and refrain from turning this into a call-out thread by posting images of other pilots by name or callsign. Just let it remain an informational guide on etiquette and utilizing the tools available as you approach an airport which might have two green runways. (Or even a red runway in use in certain situations [e.g. 5 knot crosswind at KSAN, SOP at KASE or PHTO, etc.])


This is a great guide for when ATC isn’t present, thank you @Tim_B


I happened to be one of those aircraft pictured above. Mind you, I too saw the aircraft inbound for the 02’s and couldn’t believe that he was going to do it. Its a shame that once ATC is off frequency, everyone thinks its a opportunity to go all TS1 on the expert server. Thank you for for making this post, and I truly hope those that take the time to ready this thread understand the point that Tim is trying to convey.


As part of my TOD checklist I check my arrival airport so that I can adjust my flight plan in case there has been a wind shift or to enter a traffic pattern for either ATC or a dependant on what current traffic are using.


As someone who flies VFR alot where it is rare to fly into places that even have a tower, let alone it be manned, it is frustrating seeing people on both sides of the pattern flying different ways and sending traffic adviosires to only suit them, it is nice to see someone clarify this


Hopefully everyone will get this; have been in a situation like this quite often.

More PPL should use the report button in situations like this…

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This is why ATIS would be nice, being able to tune in and hearing what runway is the calm winds runway.

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Forgive me for the bump, but please, when on Unicom, if both runways are green, use a little conscious effort in deciding from which end you will be taking off [or landing, in the absence of active approach].

If approach is active and vectoring everyone to 27, and there’s a takeoff queue of 3 planes at 27, don’t takeoff from 09. It’s really not that complicated.

Also, consider that color is not wind. The METAR indicates wind direction. If the wind is 280@4kts, what’s more likely, a change to 090@17kts or 290@6kts? Obviously the latter. Just because the 09s are green doesn’t mean you don’t consider wind direction along with other traffic.

Either way, taking off into a plane on short final? No Bueno.


MaxSez: Good Summary for Unicom on any server. Now let’s consider ATIS
in Controlled Airspace. Suggest you all read the Topic “Where’s ATIS”. Don’t ever forget that term particularly when your facing multi legged Global routes.
ATIS can often be the keys to the kingdom… Regards All


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Just a reminder

Pardon the old images.

When utilizing Unicom, you are still responsible to follow the flow of traffic.

For example (oh…out of the blue), if the controller just closed at WMKK and 33/32s were in use, with active patterns on 33 and multiple inbounds to the others, it is not okay to takeoff from the southbound runways just because it’s a shorter taxi time.

This is especially true if multiple people are sending you traffic advisories.

The main point, however, is that you, yourself, sending competing traffic advisories does not change the flow of traffic.

The flow of traffic is already established. Traffic advisories are meant to notify you of the situation that already exists. Traffic advisories are not a way for you to single-handedly change the flow of traffic to suit your desires.

Taking off against inbound traffic is never okay.


Did this happen just after I closed? 🤦‍♂️

No, not you

Good to see things are consistent, even with the advent of new maps and live instruments…

But seriously, you wanting to taxi to the opposite end of the runway does not override traffic flow just because you send traffic advisories that suit your needs when 5 others who have been at the field for a long time are pleading the opposite.

Everyone needs to see this ! The amount of times I’ve seen aircraft coming into land on the same runway at different ends when a controller logs off is quite ridiculous and unprofessional. Thanks for this Tim!

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What about for intersecting runways and/or intersection go-around paths? The other day me and someone else landed at KIAH on runways with intersecting go-around paths. What’s proper etiquette in this case (ie. are we supposed to land at the same time?)

I assume it was one of the 33s and the 26s/27?

Yeah. They are not intersecting on the ground which is why I’m asking. I’ve since a VASAviation vid where something like this happened and lead to a loss of separation so that’s why I’m asking.
Also we didn’t actually land at like the same time so there wasn’t actually a conflict in my case.

My idea:

To enforce better etiquette on Expert Server when no ATC is on - is to have a mod spawn in when ATC logs off to enforce traffic until ATC comes online again.

I dunno, just my personal idea