Why can't ATC use realistic (®) procedures?

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.


Also, credit goes to @TwinsRock88 for enlightening me about the Vancouver scenario and you can blame him for any inaccuracies in that part of the post ;)


But… but… realism.

In all seriousness, this topic needed to be made. Nice job!


Mainly because we have unrealistic amount of aircraft


What a great topic! Puts everything into perspective and explains our “unrealistic” procedures very well. Great job @BluePanda900 :)


Well written and explained. I have to say that while Infinite Flight is meant to be as realistic as possible, there’s just certain things we can’t make as realistic. In this Heathrow case, it’d cause severe delays on the ground had the noise control procedures been in use and make for an overall not fun experience for some pilots. I’ve seen some of the worst behavior from impatient pilots which in turn cause a bad experience for other pilots. The loop only goes on.

Additionally, not every IFATC controller is familiar with each and every procedure at every airport and while some try, it’s not always viable.


Interesting topic. I’ve understood the reason why when JFK was opened and I couldn’t execute a realistic departure. It just makes more sense to efficiently move traffic, especially when an airport has an excessive amount of aircraft :)


Thanks for this info, really important to note.


Panda you are bringing back the time when I made a topic about KBWI…

Great topic Panda! This should really clarify realism vs reality on Infinite Flight and Expert Server’s IFATC. Well said!


Im with Tom on this… The amount of traffic Infinite Flight gets is incomparable to the ones in real life. That’s because their system is far more organized, having arrival / departure slots, more ATC on duty, and its not just the airport, in infinite flight, we cant consider how many planes fly through or within a controlled sector without overloading the controller using real world procedures… Also because we don’t have CTOT as @BluePanda900 mentioned with the one runway for arrival and one for departure.


Tbh I don’t even remember your topic ;). I just saw an increase in people asking questions similar to those answered in this post recently.


I have too. Great call to make this much needed topic! Go Pandas!


Pretty understandable. „Realism“, the word used the most right behind the phrase „I want A350 now!1!!1!!1“ is an important part of a simulator for sure, but at some point on your mobile device realism comes to an end.


Exactly, our goal is to service everyone. Some don’t have time to/don’t want to research every airport’s procedures before his or her flight, and we don’t want to require them to do so.


I was thinking the same thing

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Fantastic topic. Much needed.


Thanks for providing your feedback. Hopefully it will clear some things up


I’d like to commend your efforts on this post, Panda. Great work! Love to see your dedication and respect for the team! I’m sure many will find this post to be super informative! I’d just like to add my input.

I’m an IFATC controller as well, however, I do strive to be as realistic as possible even though it may not be that practical or efficient for those in the air or on the ground.

This is obviously airport dependent. TNCM, for example, is quite a popular airport in Infinite Flight when it’s being controlled. There’s always 30+ arrivals coming into the airport at any given moment. This isn’t the case in real life. The airport probably gets a maximum of 5 or 6 arrivals and departures in a given hour.

Think of much busier airports though, like your example of LHR. I see nothing wrong with that image. Heathrow is one of the busiest airports on the planet with hundreds, of planes coming in and out each day. The traffic in Infinite Flight reflects that perfectly! The issue though are the controllers at the airport and also lack of knowledge from the pilots.

At LHR, there are procedures in place for heavy traffic. This includes the four famous holding stacks near Heathrow. Are these ever used? Not really. I’ve only seen them used once or twice since global was released. Other airports also have charts with various holding areas on STARs. These can be VORs or fixes/waypoints.

We (IFATC) have received many upgrades to the ATC platform in Infinite Flight. Now we can control multiple frequencies, we have new ATIS commands to help traffic flow on the ground (gate hold), and we have had the “hold” features for quite some time. All of these features ease the stress for us controllers.

From my experience, it seems like a lot of guys don’t like to use these commands though. You guys are all about “quality over quantity”, and that is commendable. It slows things down and delays pilots in the air and on the ground. Remember though, this is a simulator – something meant to emulate real life. Do you think all airport operations are sunshine and roses? Of course not. Even on the best of days, there are still many delays pilots face everyday. Why shouldn’t we experience the same thing in IF while still using realistic procedures?

How could this cause a disaster? Aren’t controllers supposed to avoid disasters like this? This could be pulled off well if the controllers plan this out. You guys are capable of doing this.

Also, why would you do that if there was a lot of traffic in the first place? That could be used if there was light traffic (which there often is as there are multiple featured airports).

This is our fault. We need more ways of communicating with pilots in order for operations like this, to be pulled off successfully. This can be accomplished if the developers focus more on the ATC aspect of things.

I also want to note that it sounds like IFATC will never use realistic operations in times of heavy traffic. You guys have been throwing around this “excuse” (for lack of a better term), “we have unrealistic amount of aircraft.” Do you guys expect this to get any better? The community is growing bigger and bigger everyday. With that, more and more airports will be crowded with people, especially controlled ones. This simulator emulates realism in all aspects (so far), but ATC is slightly lagging behind. IFATC is always trying to make things easier for themselves and people on the ground. Remember, in the real world, not everything is sunshine and roses for controllers and/or pilots! It’s not “fun” to sit in a long line of planes, but it sure as hell is realistic and should be expected!

You guys have been preaching that even before global (due to lack of space in the regions; understandable of course). Now, I can’t only blame you guys. We’re only humans and obviously our controlling abilities are lacking because we don’t have enough commands/communication for the pilots. But if you keep throwing around the “traffic is unrealistic” argument, others will believe that controllers will never be realistic even if we get more commands/frequencies to do so simpler.

Can we at least make a valiant effort to be as realistic as possible even if it may not be the most practical and efficient thing in the world for you or for pilots. There’s ways of making things easier now, compared to before.

Now this is what we need to make everything better. Slot controls, clearance delivery frequencies, bring back center frequencies, and the like.

Additionally, we need better visibility of the VORs and fixes (and airways if they come back). Right now, there is only a small draw distance when they’re in view. We need to be able to zoom out further and still see VORs and fixes. These are important for controllers to accurately and realistically control their airspace’s. Radar sketching would be beneficial as well. If we can’t import and STAR charts into our ATC radar, we should at least be able to sketch them.

ATC is one of the most crucial and most successful features in Infinite Flight but I think it needs more love and attention to really make it something almost as good as those on a PC platform.

(Developers and Tyler, make it happen!)

This is for another topic though.

TL;DR just read it.

Nothing but good respect though! I appreciate all of the work IFATC does. You guys are absolute workhorses and I’m glad I’ve been a part of the team for a long time! 🙂



Exactly. Pilots are so eager to depart fast and get off the ground quickly causes inpatient pilots, they don’t realise how much time is spent on the ground before they can takeoff, this includes flow control, (which pilots still ignore) and gate hold (which some pilots still request pushback multiple times). A lot more effort is put into the ground before they can depart.


But they don’t have the ability to utilize both runways, whereas there aren’t angry virtual people to complain on IF when too many planes fly overhead.

In theory yes, but in these hours, often times, it is not very busy, but in IF, there is usually a steady flow of high traffic if an airport is kept open all day.

But it’s not only that, it’s also that we have many uneducated pilots. Where real life pilots are well versed on the procedures for the airport where they are flying, pilots on IF often just set up the flight in 10 minutes and leave. We can’t expect them to know the SIDs/STARs if they aren’t directly integrated into the app.

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