When to request descent via STAR

November, 18, 2021 by AviationChampion

You’re on a flight from Los Angeles on your way to San Francisco, and Center opens for the Oakland FIR. How should you know when to request descent via STAR?

First things first, STAR is an abbreviation for Standard Terminal Arrival Route. As for the departure side of things, this is what’s known as “SID’s”. This abbreviation is short for Standard Instrument Departure. When someone is planning a flight, it’s very likely to see a SID and STAR on their route.

Now that you’ve read the definitions of those two abbreviations, it’s time to discuss the descent part of your route. According to the Flying Guide | Pilot to Radar Controller Communication Table, a pilot should only request descent via STAR when they are within 1 minute of their top of descent.

If you’re not good at calculating the top of descent, a very useful strategy according to Calculating Top of Descent – Flying Magazine, “A quick and easy way to figure it out is to start with your altitude above field elevation and multiply that number by three. This will give you the approximate distance in nautical miles from the airport to start a 500-foot-per-minute descent in the typical light general aviation airplane and reach pattern altitude.”

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more!

AviationChampion is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He lives in the United States currently residing in Ohio. He loves to control busy airports in his free time and work on things to keep himself busy. His favorite things to do include dirt biking, ATV riding, going to the beach, spotting airplanes at his local airport (KCMH), zip-lining and flying on Infinite Flight.

Tips to help you for radar training

November, 11, 2021 by AviationChampion

Are you in radar training and would love to know how you can prepare better for sessions?

The first step of preparation is to gather your MSA’s (Minimum Safe Altitudes) as most of your sessions will contain terrain. Without those, how will you know how high an aircraft should climb to avoid a bust with terrain? The second step is to draw out a plan. This includes drawing out ILS intercept headings, MSA’s, climb altitudes for the downwind, and anything else you may need to keep the pilots safe, separated, and to help you be more efficient.

Last but not least, FOLLOW YOUR PLAN! If you make a plan, it would be highly beneficial to you if you kept following your plan instead of just going with the flow as things can get pretty disorganized.

AviationChampion is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He lives in the United States currently residing in Ohio. He loves to control busy airports in his free time and work on things to keep himself busy. His favorite things to do include dirt biking, ATV riding, going to the beach, spotting airplanes at his local airport (KCMH), zip-lining and flying on Infinite Flight.

Accepting mistakes and learning from them

November, 4, 2021 by AviationChampion

I’m sure we’ve all made mistakes, and I’m sure a great amount of us have grown from them. As we are human beings, we can only do so much, mistakes happen.

For example, I was a newly promoted Specialist operating Tower at KLAX. I accidentally created a conflict between two aircraft on final when there didn’t need to be one. This was entirely caused by me as I forgot about them while handling a situation on the Ground frequency. A plan is important to have and what I was missing.

In that circumstance where I was super busy, I panicked. Splitting frequencies would’ve helped me in that case.

No matter how many times you fail, you must learn from it and keep trying!

AviationChampion is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He lives in the United States currently residing in Ohio. He loves to control busy airports in his free time and work on things to keep himself busy. His favorite things to do include dirt biking, ATV riding, going to the beach, spotting airplanes at his local airport (KCMH), zip-lining and flying on Infinite Flight.

Cruising Altitudes & Airspaces: Explained

October, 29, 2021 by AviationChampion

According to the Flying Guide | Step Climbs and Cruising Altitudes, a cruising altitude is the en-route phase of flight where an aircraft usually spends the majority of any flight. The altitude can vary due to a variety of factors including:

  • Direction of flight (what heading)
  • Length of flight (short flights will tend to cruise lower)
  • Airspace or airway restrictions
  • Traffic
  • Technical defects

In order to know if you’re in an RVSM airspace, you must actually know what it is first. It’s airspace is defined as FL290 to FL410. When you’re IFR in an RVSM airspace, if your heading is 360 – 179 degrees, you should be flying at an odd altitude. Some examples include FL330, FL350, FL370 etc. If your heading is 180 – 359 degrees, you should be flying at an even altitude such as FL320, FL340, FL360 etc.

As for the VFR side of things, the requirements must be met first in order to fly VFR. According to 14 CFR § 91.155 – Basic VFR weather minimums, under 10,000 feet you must have at least 3 statute miles of visibility. To fly VFR above 10,000 feet, you must have at least 5 statute miles of visibility. To determine what altitude you should be flying at, if your heading is 360 – 179 degrees, you should be flying at odd altitudes with an extra 500 ft added. Some examples include 1500, 3500, 5500, etc. If you’re flying a heading of 180 – 359 degrees, you should be flying at an even altitude with an extra 500 ft. Some example for these would be 2500, 4500, 6500, etc.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for more!

AviationChampion is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He lives in the United States currently residing in Ohio. He loves to control busy airports in his free time and work on things to keep himself busy. His favorite things to do include dirt biking, ATV riding, going to the beach, spotting airplanes at his local airport (KCMH), zip-lining and flying on Infinite Flight.

Visibility and it’s use in determining if non-instrument approaches can be allowed

October, 21, 2021 by AviationChampion

Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) is a flight category in which visual flight rules (VFR) flight is permitted—that is, conditions in which pilots have sufficient visibility to fly the aircraft maintaining visual separation from terrain and other aircraft.

In Infinite Flight the definition that we apply to controlling is simplified to only visibility and we do not factor in cloud ceilings.

> For Infinite Flight only purposes, this is a MINIMUM of 3 statute miles (approx. 5000 meters) visibility.

If those conditions aren’t met then pattern work or non-instrument approaches would not be allowed.

If an aircraft is receiving radar vectors:

> [6.11.3](https://infiniteflight.com/guide/atc-manual/6.-radar/6.11-radar-vectors#6.11.3) — If the weather at the airport in question is below VMC (see 3.4 above), then aircraft must be vectored towards the instrument approach for the airport (ILS or GPS), and then handed over to Tower/Unicom at an altitude and position that allows for the aircraft to independently set up for an instrument approach to landing. In this case, descent to pattern altitude is not required, but a suitable altitude should be issued to take into account the position in relation to the airport and G/S.

AviationChampion is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He lives in the United States currently residing in Ohio. He loves to control busy airports in his free time and work on things to keep himself busy. His favorite things to do include dirt biking, ATV riding, going to the beach, spotting airplanes at his local airport (KCMH), zip-lining and flying on Infinite Flight.

Knowing the difference between departure and remaining in the pattern

September, 28, 2021 by AviationChampion

Not sure if you should request to remain in the pattern or depart to the north/south/east/west?

If you would like to take off and remain in the traffic pattern, that is what’s known as pattern work. That would be the only time when it would be appropriate to request departure “remaining in the pattern”. here

If you do not want to remain in the pattern, then you would request departure and choose the direction you’d be departing Tower’s airspace.

Tower’s airspace is defined by it’s vertical jurisdiction, lateral boundaries and frequency range for the facility being operated. So vertical jurisdiction is SFC – 5000ft AAL and lateral boundary is the most immediate ring/boundary surrounding the airport.

So when you request departure you would determine which direction you’d be departing Tower’s airspace north, south, east or west.

AviationChampion is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He lives in the United States currently residing in Ohio. He loves to control busy airports in his free time and work on things to keep himself busy. His favorite things to do include dirt biking, ATV riding, going to the beach, spotting airplanes at his local airport (KCMH), zip-lining and flying on Infinite Flight.