Runway requests and understanding the ATC’s perspective

August, 18, 2021 by

It’s your first day on the Expert Server and you decide to conduct a routine flight from New York to London. You spawn in at the gate, file a file plan, and complete all necessary pre-checks before pushback. Fast forward to when you are ready to request taxi clearance. You request runway 13R but ground denies your request and assigns a different runway.

I am going to help you understand, from the controller’s perspective, what goes through our mind, so the next time you encounter a situation like this you will be able to recognize what is actually happening behind the scenes.

The truth is, we don’t want to disrupt your plans. We are there to service the pilots and will do everything we can to accommodate requests.

When in this situation where you aren’t getting your preferred runway, you have to know that the controller sees things you can’t see.

IFATC, those who control on the expert server, work together as a team, a unit. Not as individuals. No one is working alone and decisions are not made alone. We communicate with each other and coordinate traffic in a way that will best suit the traffic flow for all the controllers at that airport and in some cases, other airports.

We have information, you the pilot, will not have.

If one controller is not performing then all the other controllers at the airport will follow. Everything is planned. Everyone has a job and until a new plan is formed, they will simply continue to follow that plan.

No matter what situation you are in, try to be flexible for that controller you are working with, and not think of us as a hinderance, rather your friend. Everyone has their own job to do, and their own tasks, working together to achieve the same goal.

When you work against us, that will not help, neither will it help us. When you create a conflict that draws a significant amount of the controller’s attention, it affects your fellow pilots at the airport. That can have a domino effect on the entire airport’s operations.

Getting to know, from the controller’s perspective, what goes on in the background may temper your frustrations and if you ever have a question as to why a controller made a specific decision, ask. We have a directory, feel free to contact the controller for further clarification.

AviatorMan is a contributor for the IFATC Education Group. He is the Founder and current standing Chairman of Fly Global Virtual Airlines. He is an IFATC Specialist, an IFAET Editor, and a real-life pilot in training.