We all know the story. IFATC have opened in your favorite airport, your home airport, the one you know best. You eagerly spawn there amongst the fifty other planes on the ground at the time, with the exact gate and callsign of the flight you are mirroring. But what’s this? ATC is telling you to taxi to the runway you’re closest to, rather than the one the real-life flight is going to? What is this madness?
Bottom line: IFATC can’t always use realistic airport operating procedures. I’ve seen this a lot recently, people asking why the controller is using runway XX instead of what is being used in real life. It’s not because we don’t care, I promise. Simply put, the amount of traffic airports in IF receive is nowhere near as much as the amount in the corresponding real-life airport.
Here’s a commonly used example. EGLL, London Heathrow, uses one runway for takeoff, and the other for landing for much of the day due to noise abatement procedures. While I do understand that it is a very busy airport, the amount of traffic in IF is not comparable at some times.
Image credits to @Tony_Zhan
Here’s an example of the amount of traffic Heathrow regularly receives when it is opened on the expert server. In this scenario, the controller has to utilize both runways to have a remote chance of expeditiously operating the airport. Having all of those planes head to the same runway would delay the pilots and confuse them. Factor in the inbound aircraft and the airport becomes madness, quickly.
Still not convinced? Let’s look at another airport – CYVR. At the later hours of operation, the airport closes one runway and becomes one way in-one way out (8R for arrivals and 26L for departures). Operating in this way in IF would likely result in a disaster, with planes crashing into each other left and right. I don’t have an example picture for this one, but YVR is frequently one of the busiest airports when the Canadian region is featured on the schedule and trying to operate the airport in this way would not result in a good outcome.
Lastly, there are many airports around the world which use secondary runways as taxiways for the most part. Notable examples include EGKK and KSDF. Currently, we have no means by which to communicate this to the pilots flying to these airports who may not be well versed with the procedures. Pilots may get confused by why they are being instructed to taxi to the other end of the airport when there appears to be a perfectly viable runway selection option right next to their gate if we used the real world operation procedures of these airports. Overall, it simply makes logical sense to utilize every runway available at the airports, since that will be more efficient for traffic flow.
I have tailored this post based on a number of scenarios I have received in dms or from what I have observed on the community. Some real world procedues may be efficient for airport operation, and in fact, most are. That’s why most airports are operated at least similarly to how they are in the real world. The airports about which I most often see complaints are special cases, like those above. Obviously, there are many more airports that do fit into the above categories, and similar discretion applies to controlling them.
I also do want to note, that as always, I don’t want to call people out here. That is, and will never be my intention. I want to educate people so they understand the choices the controller makes and how it can benefit the airport flow in the simulator. I know it can be frustrating, but it makes a serious difference in the airport operations. Feel free to post your questions below if you have any, and I or someone else qualified will answer them as soon as possible.