A trick to always keep quality high

As an IFATC controller, keeping quality high. My advise would be to control at secondary airports for a little bit, get some good feedback from other controllers and ATC Supervisors, then go for the airports with a lot of inbounds..

Every time an ATC supervisor or controller flies in, ask them immediately or whenever for feedback on the service they recieved. If you get good feedback, great, if you do not, keep reevaluating and improving.

Even I when I take a week break or whenever, I try the heavier traffic, but if I got bad feedback or feel I did poorly I’d do one or two sessions at an airport with less traffic. For example today, I opened a less busy airport because I hadn’t controlled for two days, then tomorrow I may go for a busy airport.

Reacting to Instrument Procedures Coming To Infinite Flight

You heard right, real world Instrument Procedures will be coming to Infinite Flight. Approaches, SIDs, STARs with more advanced flight planning that includes the addition of VNAV. With the addition of all of this also comes some exciting ATC features. We’re going to react to all of that in this post.

Coming in the next app update will be a global database of real-world nav data including all SIDs, STARs, and approaches.

This is significant because with real-world global data means that we’ll be able to plan in and execute a real-world approach without any additional flight planning, all within the app. It’s amazing that it’s global because that means that as ATC, we’ll be able to use these procedures at almost every airport we control.

Infinite Flight pilots will now be able to add a STAR and/or approach to their flight plan. Waypoints contained in those procedures will show minimum altitudes over which the aircraft will fly them. This is where VNAV comes in. Enabling the VNAV feature will allow the aircraft to start a comfortable descent to comply with procedure requirements.

Pilots will also be able to manually set altitudes for waypoints.

The fact VNAV for descent is being added is important. You’ll be able to focus on other more important thing in the more complex aircraft which will lighten your workload as a pilot. Being able to add a STAR to your flight plan is going to open so many doors for ATC. The IFATC team will receive several briefings before the release to ensure everyone is on the same page for how it will work, but it seems from what we’re reading that a lot will change for ATC. It has already been confirmed that there will be many new ATC features.

An important thing to note is that it will still be entirely up to the pilot to ensure proper speeds are flown during each phase of flight, even in the descent with VNAV enabled.

Translation seems to be that speed will not be included in this iteration of VNAV, only descent guidance was announced. We’ll see if that changes before the release.

Reference: Instrument Procedures Coming To Infinite Flight, Jason Rosewell, Infinite Flight

Attitude of gratitude

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” – Brian Tracy

How to keep your head straight as approach

For me, the most important thing to do to keep your workload down and keep calm is by being consistent with heading and altitude choices. It becomes automatic, while still remaining flexible at the same time.

For example, radar patterns at KAPA. To be consistent use the same heading and altitude. Aircraft takes off runway 35R, turn heading 140 climb to 10000ft, heading 170, heading 260 to 9000ft, clear heading 320 at 9000ft. Then repeat for each pattern, each aircraft.

Makes it easier to react to specific situations, like missed approaches or trying to fit an inbound in. If you’re consistent with the heading and altitude you’ll know exactly where they are without even having to look at the screen.

More predictable situations. Try to send the least commands as possible.

Just because approach is open does not mean no pattern work

The airport is quiet but approach is open. Some controllers think this a free pass to not allow pattern work. Don’t think that!

Pattern work must stay with tower, we don’t do radar patterns. Allowing pattern traffic while approach is open is actually an amazing time to allow pattern work because your workload will dramatically decrease.

Take the challenge, don’t shy away from it! If the pattern is full or you’re overwhelmed, either ask for help or turn off pattern work in the ATIS.

And remember that pilots do not have the ability to request pattern work if “no pattern work” is included in the ATIS.

The New 20.1 Violations System

Since the introduction of ATC to Infinite Flight’s Live Servers, moderation of the Expert Server has been an ongoing issue. Expert Server ATC have the power to Report pilots who are not following their instructions or otherwise not flying appropriately. Controllers are strictly instructed that Reports are a last resort, and must warn pilots first in almost all situations. In the next Infinite Flight update, 20.1, violations and reports will be merged into a new Three-Tier system. What we currently know as Violations (overspeeds, aerobatics, etc) will become Level 1 Violations. If a pilot receives 3 or more of these in a flight, they will be disconnected from the live servers. What is currently known as Ghostings/Reports will be renamed to Violations and split into 2 Tiers – Level 2 Violations and Level 3 Violations. Level 2 Violations disconnect a pilot from the server, but give pilots the option to continue their flight offline. These violations will not cause pilots to loose access from the Expert Server unless their amount of Level 2 Violations exceeds the limit. Level 3 Violations are similar to Level 2, but more serious and cause the pilot to be removed from the Expert Server for 1 week. Read more here.

Should Tower handle crossing or Ground

A recent trend I’m seeing a lot recently is that Tower is asking Ground to send all runway crossings to Tower, which is backing up the airport unnecessarily.

  1. That’s fine in certain situations but in most it’s unnecessary.
  2. Be flexible and if you see an opening just message Tower saying “cross runway blah?” “cross”

At an airport like KLAX with aircraft landing on 25L, perfectly normal and fine for Tower to be in charge of crossing. That’s kind of rare that it’s normal, but it is at airports like KLAX. With aircraft landing on 24R and 24L and CYUL, not so much, should stay with ground. This is the more normal scenario.

Sure, is it easier on the controller to have Tower do all the work, yes. You have to realize though a few things.

It’s significantly more work for the pilot. With Tower only issuing crossing, they have to ask to cross on Ground, get handed off to Tower, ask for cross again, respond to the cross, then handoff again as they are exiting the runway, to hen continue taxiing. As opposed to Ground handling crossing where they simply just need to ask to cross, cross, then continue.

To add on to that, in between those handoffs they have to watch for the conflicts Ground is missing so they don’t get reported because ground isn’t getting them, because they are with Tower. Tower can’t issue give way commands.

In my mind this is a really lazy approach that looks good on paper, but in practice it’s really in efficient and adds to the pilot’s workload. I’ve seen it on several occasions completely back up an airport.

As a ground controller, all you have to do when tagging with a tower controller is to tag the controller saying “can I cross”, a few seconds after they’ll say “cross”. Simple, clear. No work for the pilot for two seconds of communication between Tower and Ground. Plus, you have a second tool, your eyes. Use your eyes and just cross them when there is a clear window to cross.

Tower should not be focused on crossing runways. They’re responsible for aircraft landing and taking off. Ground should be worried about what’s happening on the ground, go figure.

If it’s slowing down the airport for Tower to handle crossings and causing issues on the ground like blocked exits and unnecessary delays, then it’s not working and it needs to be changed. If the airport is fine then fine, but it’s added work for the pilot for the sake of the controller.

Do you need explicit instructions to enter a runway

Yes, you need an explicit instruction to taxi on any runway.

Note that it doesn’t really matter if the runway is “active” or not. In the eyes of ATC, a runway is always a runway. Don’t expect the controller to say something like “cleared to enter runway xx” – because it is not a clearance, but an instruction. The phraseology used will be along the lines of “back taxi runway xx”, “cross runway xx”, etc. – never “cleared”. The only time you will hear “cleared” and “runway” in the same sentence is in a takeoff clearance or landing clearance.

The only exceptions to this are airports like EGKK that currently have a TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) stating that runway 08L/26R is to be used a taxiway, for which you would not need a crossing instruction to enter the runway. Stuff like that you need to look out for, but otherwise you need instructions to enter the runway so that you can enter the runway.

An LFPG example for newer specialists

I would just like to share something with all our newer specialists that recently joined, regarding tower and a big wave of inbounds. I just got off from a session at LFPG as tower, ground and ATIS, and it was extremely fun without approach.

When you are controlling tower and see a big wave of inbounds, don’t panic and start thinking no I can’t handle it, I have to close otherwise I’ll get overwhelmed. Breathe, you can do it. Prioritise, start at the inside out, look at where the aircraft are and assign them the best suited runway depending on their position. Sequence them and clear, then you’re done, move on to the next and repeat. When you look again you’ll see that you’re done! If the pilot fail to comply ghost him.

After you have done that continue to monitor the situation, if you see a spot where the seperation is a bit tight, help the pilot out and assign them a runway that will give them better spacing.

Remember, if you don’t push yourself you won’t get better. So next time things start to get hot in the tower, take a deep breath and execute. The wave will pass and you’ll come out as a better controller on the other side.

Coping with increased traffic during the coronavirus pandemic

There’s been a lot of controllers opening the main hub over the past few weeks who aren’t fully equipped with the skills to handle those larger loads of traffic. Due to COVID-19, traffic volumes are higher than ever and the hubs are bustling day in and day out.

Please, be proactive. Don’t open up just to realize 10 minutes later you can’t handle it. You end up providing poor quality service and give the team a negative look.

If you’re worried about traffic amounts, open at a secondary airport! They will often get a steady stream of traffic and can prove lots of fun to control.

If you’re considering opening the hub, run these through your mind:

  • Can I handle it without approach?
  • Can I handle the frequency by myself?
  • Can I handle this traffic volume for the next hour?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, don’t open. Leave it to the senior specialists, officers, trainers, and sups.

Please, we’ve seen this happen so much, especially due to the mass influx of controllers recently.

It reflects better on you if you open the secondary airport and provide quality service rather than open the hub and struggle for an hour.