20 Things a good ATCO should know:
Within our network, we can find several immersion breakers: Either communications or procedures that hinder other members virtual experience.
Most of these are due to non-written assumptions imitated by generation after generation of members and are not based on real procedures. Some of them make no sense or stopped making sense a long time ago. Or just apply to particular placces. We can also find practices that confuse being strict with professionality and go against common sense.
This article aims to provide some tips for you to get closer to the way things are done and avoid Ivao mannerisms.
Directly from IVAO R&R: when you connect as an ATC, check for adjacent ATCs and send them a chat with Good morning, XXXX_APP online, runway XX, 9L transitions. Or even just a hello. Bear in mind not all sectorfiles or positions have coloured areas lighting up when someone connects.
Never Force-Act aircraft under control of another ATC. Coordinate its transfer.
Does your airport actually have an ATIS? Check local charts to find out, if there is no ATIS will have to provide this information to pilots. Take into account that ATIS information ≠ METAR. You should pass the following information: Wind, runway in use, QNH, significant weather fenomena and relevant operational information.
3.- IVAC/AURORA Configuration
Know Aurora´s functions and customization options so you work together with Aurora, not against it.
It is not the nicest if you are flying and constantly receive text strings and radio clicks for transmissions that are not even for you. We recommend limiting text messages to No-Voice traffics. Set you Aurora client so that frequency changes via text are only sent to Pilot´s tagged as No-Voice.
Send Handoff message -→ No Voice
Do you know how to connect and change the frequency in case it is not defined in the Sectorfile? Or if you need to change it for another reason?
4.- SSR Codes:
Although Aurora handles SSR code 1000 as a cheat code for every situation, bear in mind this code is only usable by aircraft equipped with an S mode. Only in airfields and routes that are equipped to correlate flight plans to aircraft IDs instead of 4 digit SSR codes. So don´t mindlessly use SSR 1000 for everything.
If you don´t like pilots going minimum effort with you as an ATC, don´t assign code 1000 when you shouldn´t.
5.- Useless reports:
Does it make sense to request a 40 tonne aircraft taking off 200m in front of your tower to report airborne or runway vacated? Limit these requests to LVP (Low visibility procedures), blind spots in the airport or nighttime. Remember aerodrome control is a visual business.
Additionally, no traffic should stop on rapid exit taxiways so be proactive and provide taxi in instructions (When applicable) as soon as possible.
5.- Report on blocks:
What for? Are we in a blind spot from the tower?
Don´t request aircraft to report on blocks. Unless local or SpecOps procedures clearly indicate so.
Don´t provide uncesseraily long and detailed taxi instructions on a single taxiway airfield with no chance to get lost (Uless LVP, Low Visibility Procedures, are in place). At the same time, there is no such thing as taxi as number 2: Use phraseo “give way” if necessary. No traffic will collide with each other and pilots are not blind.
What do you send pilots to 122.8 at the end of their flight? They have nothing to say there. They might want to listen or fly another sector. Just say your good byes.
Don´t use the VHF/TS2 traffic list to see who is transmitting: Last station calling, say callsign.
Don´t provide traffic information using callsigns as a reference. The same way you can´t see everyone´s names on top of their head in the street like if we were in “The Sims”, not all pilots have labels on. Nor is it realistic.
10.- Commitment issues?
Do you wait until the aircraft is 1NM before their IAF to issue the approach clearance? Why?
Do you say things like expect ILS Z 30 instead of cleared for ILS Z 30?
Preprare/program a hold over X instead of hold over X?
Don´t be a last minute clearer. You can always cancel approach clearances or issue different instructions. Buy yourself and the cre time by issuing instructions well in advance.
You don´t need to wait until traffic has runway in sight to provide a landing clearance. If visibility was 400m and arrival is on CAT III ILS, will you wait until the last second for that clearance?
11. Trust issues?
According to its ICAO definition, (Local regulations might differ) traffics don´t need to have airfield in sight to start a visual approach. Nor to be instructed into a leg of the traffic pattern. Pilots know how to navigate and will ask for help if needed.
Do know the difference between approving flight plans and providing ATC clearances. ARO office vs. ATC unit.
Do know the mission of ATC: Facilitation. Remember you as an ATC are not the PIC of the aircraft.
11.- Where am I?
Know your airspace: lateral, vertical limits and classification: Are traffics limited to 250 KIAS below 10.000 AGL in your airspace or not? Are you responsible for separating those two or just for traffic information? Should you really Force-Act that helicopter on this airspace that does not require 2-way comms?…