What is flow control?

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What is flow control?

Flow control is a technique employed in traffic management to adjust the influx of aircraft into congested areas, such as airport airspace, ensuring that the rate of entry does not exceed the capacity of the available resources. This information can be incorporated into the ATIS remarks at any given time. You should expect this to be used at airports close to an IFATC featured hub, such as Geneva today.

How does flow control work?

Departures from origin airports may be delayed. Delays primarily occur at the gate, influencing the arrival schedule of affected flights. When ‘Flow Control’ is active in the ATIS, you can expect to be given a ‘Hold Position’ command at the gate.

What should I do?

Simply request pushback as usual but expect a delay. Controllers will use a timer to slow your departure.

What should I not do?

Do not re-request pushback. Controllers will have given you a timer and sending a duplicate request will remove this reminder to the controller. As this reminder is then reset, it can often put you further back in the queue for pushback. In addition, duplicate requests frequently result in reports at these airports, so please be patient and trust you are already in the queue.

How is this different from a gate hold?

It is important to distinguish flow control from a gate hold; the latter does not serve as a traffic flow management technique. A gate hold involves the complete restriction of traffic at the gate, preventing any aircraft from pushing back and is typically used when the origin airport cannot accommodate any further traffic on its taxiways. This is why you may see some aircraft receiving a pushback immediately: their destination airport will not be the airport for which flow control is active.

So, when you see flow control in effect at Geneva today, please be patient, expect delays, but remember you are still in a queue for departure!

Have an awesome Christmas! :)

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Very nice topic!

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Really nice informative topic.

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Actually just had a real scenario with flow control yesterday. I was at PDX taxiing with a destination of Seattle , and the captain called out a flow control announcement. We held short of the runway then departed.

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Nice walk-through of flow control, this command can definitely confuse some pilots. Have a great Christmas :)

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Very nice topic, Sean! This will certainly help many people :)

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Thanks all! This is my first ever topic 😂😂😂

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Dang, bro is not joking!

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Wait, so if we land at some airport that’s featured with an ATC controller, will they plan a gate for us

I think you misunderstood the purpose of flow control. It’s not a thing for ATC to plan a gate for pilots in their frequency.

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Congratulations on your first ever topic & it’s a great piece! @CompetitiveDivide320
There are occasions when I have request pushback only to hold and after waiting forever I felt forgotten, so it just make me feel tempted to resent the request message button again. I bear that in mind in the future where there’s an active flow control 😎

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Awesome work mate!!!

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Good to know. Thanks alot

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Definitely will hep!

Just came across this topic now and just wanted to say, fantastic work! The topic clearly and concisely explains flow control and what pilots can expect when flow control is active.

Nice job once again!

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Thanks my old recruiter! Appreciate it! 💚

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