When using Flight of....

When you’re using flight of 2 or 3 or however many of you are flying together, make sure it’s clear who the lead aircraft is! I just had a flight of 2 on JFK app, and they were so close I couldn’t distinguish one from the other. The tags on the map overlap, so it’s impossible to determine who is who. Try to keep reasonable separation, so it’s clear who the lead aircraft is.


After seeing this post, some noob is going to do a Flight of 2 with a 5 mile seperation. #atcstruggle


The point I’m making is don’t fly on top of the lead aircraft! Here’s what happens… I have to zoom all the way in on the map to identify the aircraft. If the tags are overlapping, I then have to bring up the command window for each aircraft till I find the lead. Now I can give a vector, but I’m zoomed in so far it’s not going to be very accurate!


Does it matter as you treat them as one, so couldn’t you just vector one?

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Sort of, But, you’re supposed to only vector the lead aircraft


The lead aircraft is responsible for the handling of all communications with ATC.

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The issue is we can’t physically pick out the lead aircraft because they’re atop each other on the map.

Edit: Yes, we can vector just one, but it has to be the right one. The one who’s handling the comms. So if they’re right on top, we could send them to the wrong plane.


Great point there @GHamsz. Had a flight of 3 at KSAN over the weekend and boy was it a hassle figuring out who’s the lease aircraft, also if you’re not the lead aircraft please don’t contact the ATC.


Quick question: do you have to use the same callsign?
Ex Speedbird 1
Speedbird 1 flight of 2

or Ex Speedbird 1
Speedbird 2 flight of 2

which one is correct?

Pretty sure you use different callsigns and both people use flight of… not just 1

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Ok thanks, that makes sense.


Our Flight of 3 out of TFFJ The other day was flawless. @Alec_Vincent_Morea

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You only vector the one who is calling ATC. The other guy will follow.

If, for some odd reason they’re both calling ATC, they’re doing it wrong.

Believe me, Gary knows how to vector. Everyone is missing the point.

On approach, if two planes are flying literally on top of each other, your finger cannot physically pick out the lead plane to use the drag vector. Also, since we’re giving commands to only one, it’s important that the one stay the one. If they keep flip-flopping or flying on top of each other, the correct vector can change and the drag vector becomes impossible to use unless you have fingers the size of toothpicks.

He isn’t asking how he should control. He’s asking for those that are in formation to stay in formation.


Just to put a real world perspective on this, aircraft on a transit outside of 1nm will be treated as 2 separate elements, inside 1nm military aircraft (those that normally fly in formation) declare MAR (Military acceptance of separation responsibility). only the flight lead should communicate with ATC, it should be that element only that wears the “flight of” callsign.

A good 3 ship formation will all be inside of 1nm, co level or seperated by upto 1kft and be in comms with each other. So if you issue a command to the wrong aircraft you could expect the lead to reply anyway. Within IF this obviously isn’t the case but you could still expect the aircraft to initiate and take the turn, and if I was the lead then I’d request something so you have my flight strip on your display.

cant remember I last saw a airliners flying as a single group IRL…Normally this call sign should be reserved for Military Aircraft and maybe GAs?

Military would use 11 “one one” and 12 “one two”…

So speedbird11/12/13 etc.

I do group flight within my va all the time, but I was just using speed bird as an example.

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The best solution for the issue I was having would have been to restrict my comms to the flight strip. We do have one (maybe more) radar controller that doesn’t use the IF feature of dragging a vector from the aircraft in the map view. He uses the flight strip to bring up a menu containing a number of vectors to choose from and assigns headings from that list. That way it’s easier to select the lead aircraft. I may play around with manual vector assignments when it’s not too busy next time. But even that method will be problematic if it’s busy. If you’ve got 20 or 30 on frequency, it could take a while to find the lead! There’s no simple answer.

The best solution would require a software change. It is possible to swipe a flight off the controllers flight strip, giving that aircraft a different appearance on the map. Unfortunately, in the current design it is possible to drag and send a vector to one of those “swiped” aircraft. If the drag vector function was changed so that only aircraft that are on your flight strip would receive the drag vector, that would solve it.