With the addition of real world STARs into the simulator, we now have the ability to actual allow aircraft to follow STARs as ATC.
A point of contention within the IFATC community that has brought up discussions is what is the best way to work ATIS. ATIS plays a very vital role in how the airport operates when it comes to STARs. If STARs are required, the controller controlling ATIS will need to include “ATC preferred STARs”. The question is, which works better, one, restricting STARs to just a few, or two, allowing all STARs for the runways that are in use? I personally am in the camp that restricting the STARs is not beneficial, I would use them all. When you remove a few of the STARs associated with the runways in use, the flow of traffic is incredibly unnatural. I’ll use my sessions at LEPA as an example.
I took over for another controller, they were only using 4 of all of the STARs listed for runway 24L/24R, and the traffic flow was incredibly congested. It was like trying to fit a watermelon into a straw. Center’s workload was unnecessarily overloaded it felt, and so was mine.
I took over and immediately switched to using all the availble STARs for the runways in use. We instructed the ATIS to be changed and alerted all of the controllers of the change. Here is a list of all of the STARs used for runway 24L/24R only, courtesy of airports.ifatceg.com.
The controller controlling ATIS asked me “I have to input them all?”, “yup”. If you didn’t know, for context, the ATIS controller has to manually add all of the STARs to the ATIS. Eventually after about 30 minutes or so, new traffic started coming inbound and they started using the newly added STARs. ATIS read like War and Peace, but it opened way more opportunities for conflict resolution.
By restricting their choices before, they were all being funneled into one entry point for each direction, which doesn’t seem like a complete nightmare in the moment to control, but when you use all available STARs for the runways in use and realize the alternative to include all available STARs, you will quickly realize which is more beneficial.
It over simplifies the process to limit the choices for both the pilot and controller, in my opinion. With more angles and entry points comes more opportunities to resolve conflicts. Instead of having one possible option when restricting what was being used, I then gained two or three extra ways to fix any issues that came up.