Circle-to-land Maneuver

September, 24, 2020

Circle-to-land is a maneuver initiated by the pilot to align the aircraft with a runway when a standard straight-in landing from an instrument approach is not possible or desirable. Circle-to-land maneuvers must only be executed after ATC authorization has been obtained and the pilot has established the required visual reference to the airport. Note that the visual reference must be established and maintained.

A circle-to-land maneuver is an alternative to a straight-in landing, used when a runway is not aligned within 30 degrees of the final approach course of the instrument approach procedure or the final approach requires 400 feet (or more) of descent per nautical mile.

When circling, the pilot must maintain a low altitude and speed while maneuvering in a confined airspace. The margin for error is slight, often calling for more advanced pilots.

Here are common methods used for circling. These are not exact maneuvers; As long as the aircraft is kept within the protected airspace, terrain and obstacle clearance is assured.

References: Wikipedia, rapp.org, CFI Notebook

Should I Stay or Should I Go, Diverting

September, 23, 2020

“So if you want me off your back. Well, come on and let me know. Should I stay or should I go?”

That’s relatable from The Clash. That’s the dialogue one has when deciding whether or not to divert.

There’s three scenarios.

  1. Approach closes, and leaves Tower to suffer in anything but silence for a bit.
  2. Tower closes and it gets a bit spicy on the ground.
  3. The entire airport closes and, you know the rest.

It’s a thing you will run into on the expert server because the controllers do eventually have to leave and there is not always going to be a willing participant to replace them.

So, do you make like The Clash or stick it out? Personally, I’d go. This is where planning comes in, having an alternative before you takeoff is key. Know where your exits are. Have a plan B, C, and D.

If it’s clear who to follow, go for it and try to make it in, if you’re uncomfortable though with how disorganized it is then leave. Trust your gut.

Exhausting All Resources Before Asking a Question

September, 22, 2020

Questions are encouraged. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. But go in with as much knowledge as possible.

There are no dumb questions but there are lazy questions. Especially in an environment where you may be being evaluated for your knowledge level, it’s important to go in with as much information about the subject you’re asking about. Asking a question is a transaction. You get an answer, the other person gets the gratification of solving your problem for you.

Once you’ve exhausted all your resources, you then can ask the question. Don’t ask without checking several places. Make the transaction worth the while for the person you are asking.

The majority of the questions you ask, if haven’t used this level of checks and balances before, can be answered yourself by searching.

Ground should control ATIS

September, 21, 2020

I don’t understand why Tower is controlling ATIS so frequently, lately. It is a new phenomenon that has become the new normal within controlling on expert and was not normal at all previously.

4.1.3 — […] As a MINIMUM, the ATIS must be updated at least once an hour. In addition, a broadcast must be made on Ground/Tower/Radar to ensure pilots check the new ATIS.”

All controllers need the updated information so they can send a broadcast message to let the pilots know to tune to ATIS to get the new information. That’s not up for interpretation, it’s required.

As you may or may not know, the ATIS controller will communicate these changes to the other controllers via a text chat, then each controller will broadcast on each frequency the information change so then every pilot and controller has the same information.

Ground, out of all the frequencies, is the most important frequency for this new information to be broadcasted. Not only because the entire airport is tuned to that frequency, but also for several other reasons. The ATIS information a pilot may receive at the gate may be drastically different once they reach the hold short line for departure. Getting that information to them as quickly as possible is crucial. If you add a remark like straight out departures, no pattern work, flight plan required, severe weather, gate hold, etc. and don’t let Ground know, the pilots don’t have telekinesis, they’ll need to know so they can adjust beforehand. Plus, it will save you, Tower, headaches at the hold short line.

Without Ground in control you won’t be able to quickly perform gate holds. You can’t hold people at the gate unnecessarily without letting the pilots know there is a gate hold. Think of how completely frustrating that would be as a pilot. Gate holds are meant to be turned off and on quickly, they don’t go on for 10 minutes or more usually. You have to badger tower, who during a period where a gate hold would be needed, is normally incredibly task saturated.

With each pushback or taxi request, ground needs to ensure the pilot has the correct ATIS information. It is more work for Ground to keep track of that as a third party, pestering a busy tower controller for such information? seems unnecessary. I say that because ATIS should update every 30 minutes and will need update at minimum every 60 minutes, due to METAR changes and in quick events that require remarkable remarks (i.e. gate hold).

Tower is an extremely task saturated position in general as compared to Ground. As I mentioned, we communicate via messaging, so to think that Tower who is already quite busy will be able to effectively type out ATIS changes on demand every 30 to 60 minutes or less is asking a lot. While Ground, who is not nearly as task saturated, sits and waits. Effective and efficient communication is key.

Finally, yes, Tower and the radar frequencies need to also broadcast the latest ATIS information. But there is rarely anyone on the Tower frequencies, and for those that are, the new information provided is rarely pertinent to them specifically. The only exception really being rolling departures. Do they need to have the latest information, yes. Is it going to effect what they will be doing, it almost never will.

Why is Tower controlling ATIS the most efficient way to run an airport? Why is it something one would find productive? I’m not entirely sure. As a wise man said who also happens to be the Infinite Flight ATC Manager, and I’m paraphrasing, “if it’s working fine there’s no need to stop them”.

I’m not stopping you but I’m just trying to show you and try to make you understand why it’s not working as well as it could if it’s working at all.

How to Taxi in the Cockpit View

September, 20, 2020

Taxiing in the cockpit view can be hard to master, but with some easy tips it can become a lot easier.

First of all, if you go into the Systems Popup, you have the option to turn on only certain part of the HUD. Navigating the airport is much easier if you have the min-map open to view the taxiways.

Next, a good pilot makes sure he’s sitting on the taxi lines. In real life, this ensure minimal damage to the taxiway lights, but also is a good way to ensure you’re on the taxiway.

Finally, if you get stuck, the tail view and nose wheel views are both useful for ground movements and are used in real life to help pilots taxi, as these camera can be brought up on the Multi-Function Display.

One way to contact an expert controller

September, 19, 2020

Whether the pilot was issued a violation or simply thought a controller did a great job, knowing how to contact expert server controllers is a must.

If the pilot was reported and wants to contact the controller who issued them the violation, they should:

  1. Access their User Profile and tap on the i next to their grade level.
  2. Tap on “Show Violation History”.
  3. Locate the respective violation and the controller’s display name.
  4. Go to the IFATC Directory and search for the controller’s IF Name.
  5. Click the link on the right to be redirected to the forum.
  6. Click the blue box that says “Message”.

If the pilot was not reported and wants to message a controller, they should check the controller’s display name before exiting the game. Then, the pilot can follow steps 4 – 5 above.

Every expert controller has an Infinite Flight Community Forum account as that’s a requirement to join the IFATC. You can join the team here.

Note: When v20.2 comes out, display names will directly correlate to the user’s forum username. More information can be found here.

Creating an ATC Tracking Thread

September, 18, 2020

ATC Tracking Threads can be highly useful to newer controllers looking to join IFATC. In a nutshell, the controller announces on the Infinite Flight Community Forum when they open an airport. Community members will show up and provide feedback, helping the controller grow.

Step One – Title

The title is a very important aspect of a tracking thread. Titles should be formatted like so:

Name’s ATC Tracking Thread – [Status] @ N/A

The controller should replace “Name” with their own name. “Status” should be replaced with “Open” or “Closed” depending on if the owner of the thread is actively controlling or not. “N/A” should be replaced with the ICAO of the controlled airport.

Step Two – Choosing a Suitable Airport

A perfect airport for training looks like a quiet, small airport with parallel runways. Here are a few great airports:

  • PGUA
  • PGUM
  • KFAT
  • EDDT
  • KLCK
  • RODN

Step Three – Feedback

After the session, pilots that flew for the controller will most likely provide feedback. A great way to absorb it is to read it while watching the session’s replay. If the controller has any questions, they can ask the pilots, direct them to their trainer, or receive feedback from the Education Group (if they do not have a trainer).

References: Will A

Tower in the Absence of Ground

September, 17, 2020

Some airports, often smaller ones, do not have a ground frequency. Not much changes from the controller’s point of view, but pilots must take extra caution when taxiing to and from their runway.

The pilot should pushback and taxi to a runway at their discretion, announcing all intentions over Unicom. No communication with Tower is needed until the pilot is ready for takeoff. If Tower on guards the aircraft, it is most likely because progressive taxi instructions are necessary. The pilot should follow all instruction from Tower, regardless of where they are and what the are doing.

References: Infinite Flight Pilot Communications Manual

Controller Change in Progress

September, 16, 2020

Controller changes occur on the expert server often. During this time, there will be a brief period where no controller is present. The pilot should fly as normal and treat all clearances as relevant while still staying vigilant of any potential conflicts with the surrounding aircraft. When the new controller opens, the pilot should not request or report things again, as the controller can see their communication history.

As an example, let’s say the pilot is on final with a landing clearance. ATC goes offline. The pilot, cautious of their surroundings, will continue straight-in for Runway XX. When ATC comes online again, the pilot is authorized to land under their original clearance. Tower may or may not provide the pilot with an exit instruction. If not, the pilot should exit at their discretion and contact Ground when off the runway.

From the Infinite Flight Pilot Communications Manual

The Copy and Paste Strategy

September, 15, 2020

The frequency is available for the taking, but you haven’t prepared to open the airport. Should you open the airport or take your time?

Often controllers adopt the copy and paste method of preparation. Spawn in, what has the last person used for altitude choices or ATIS remarks.

You need to come to your own conclusion, formulate your own plan that makes sense, then execute that plan.

What if the person before you had it wrong? Don’t take that chance. Prepare before opening.