Crossing restrictions in NOTAMs

The thing about NOTAMs is that the person writing it can specify whatever speed they want. You must have the performance in able to follow it. If it says you need to cross at 280knts, you need to cross at 280knts. There’s no ambiguity.

Crossing restriction — A directive issued or published by air traffic control that instructs the pilot to cross a given waypoint at a specified altitude, and sometimes at a specified airspeed.

Resources:
1. “Crossing restriction” on Aviation Glossary

One of my goals for the website

It’s my goal to one day be able to run this site fully for free, as you may or may not know, this ain’t free to run. I’ve always agreed that we will never plaster ugly Ads all over the site. That ruins the experience.

What I want to do instead is only show you products or services that I or anyone on our team would use or join.

Month-long sponsorships are available for the ATC Education Group. It’s a great way to show off to our engaged and loyal community of Infinite Flight and Aviation enthusiasts.

If you’d like to become a sponsor, learn more.

OROCA

An off-route obstruction clearance altitude (OROCA) is an off-route altitude that provides obstruction clearance with a 1,000-foot buffer in non-mountainous terrain areas, and a 2,000-foot buffer in designated mountainous areas.

It can be found on US IFR low charts and VFR sectionals, as seen here.

References:
1. “You Should Know These 10 Minimum IFR Altitudes” by BoldMethod

Don’t be oblivious to late clearances

When controlling approach, if you know they’re going to be late on the intercept, use a ten or twenty degree intercept if needed. If you know they can’t make it even with a ten or twenty degree intercept, use some whippage.

You don’t have to intercept at thirty degrees, every time. Is it preferred, yes very much so. Is it required, no. You should intercept as close to
thirty degrees as possible.

Don’t be oblivious and allow late clearances if they can be avoided, be aware.

References:
1. “10.7.4” of the ATC Manual.

Everything is a learning experience

If you’re in training, you’ll make mistakes. It’s expected. It would actually be super weird if you were perfect. If you were perfect you probably wouldn’t be in training in the first place.

The problem is that you’ll never be perfect. No one is. You never stop learning no matter how long you’ve been controlling, and that can apply to almost anything in life, but especially controlling.

Ask Me Anything with Tom Hogrefe

We had an AMA “Ask Me Anything” with Tom Hogrefe on Saturday 14th. Lots of great questions and answers!

Tom is a Certified Flight Instructor – Glider, Commercial Glider Pilot and for Infinite Flight he is an ATC Supervisor and Trainer. Here is the some of the questions and answers from the AMA.


Question: How did you get into Infinite Flight?

I can’t remember exactly when I downloaded it first, maybe in 2013 or 2014. I played a little on solo, but Live didn’t really appeal to me and I stopped using it in favor of other apps.

Fast forward to fall 2016, I wanted to find a flight sim app to use a little in my free time. I downloaded Infinite Flight, played around, and bought a month of Live and the C-130J-30. I joined the forum shortly after and loved the community of it all. IFATC was about 6 months later, and it’s been a consistent hobby ever since!

Question: Why did you get a Commercial Glider Pilot License?

So I could get paid! My club offers commercial rides to tourists, normally via volunteers on the weekends. During the summer there’s a paid crew (tow pilot, CFIG, and commercial pilot) there during the week. Getting my commercial glider license not only allowed me to help out and fly rides on weekends, but also to have the coolest summer job I’ll ever have.

Question: What is your scariest gliding experience if you have had one?

I was flying a traffic pattern in a glider, and a tow plane coming in from the opposite pattern didn’t see me. I extended my downwind a little bit to accommodate him, and ended up flying final a bit behind and above him. There aren’t any good landing spots on near where I was flying base, so my only option was to land at the airfield. The realization that I needed to land while dodging a propeller was definitely the most scared I’ve been, but it shows the importance of thinking a few steps ahead. Having a little extra energy and being able to fly a longer pattern helped me a ton.

Question: How do you measure success with the controllers you supervise?

That’s a tough question. Whenever I fly into controlled airspace, I’m not looking for controllers to do exactly what I would do, but rather that they control their airspace, communicate with their airplanes, and avoid conflicts before they can happen. Proactivity is much better than reactivity.

The other metric is how they respond to feedback. It’s not always easy, but taking feedback as an opportunity to grow instead of criticism shows a lot.

Question: What are some traits you see in real world pilots and controllers that are separate themselves from others?

Something that makes a real life pilot, or a pilot/controller in Infinite Flight stand out is a willingness to learn. Just because you have a license or are part of IFATC doesn’t mean you know everything, just that you’re able to do things on your own. There are always new things to learn and challenge yourself with. Know your limits, push them, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Question: What do you have to do with tanks?

Back in elementary school, I had a YMCA soccer coach who would cheer me on by yelling “Tom the tank!!!” I always thought it was funny, and just picked it when I started flying here on live!

Question: What have you learned from training Infinite Flight controllers that you could use in training future glider pilots?

How easy it is to communicate the wrong idea. Whether over text here, or sitting behind someone in a glider, its easy to tell someone one thing, and have them understand something completely different.

Before a training session on Infinite Flight, and before flights in real life, I make a point to talk with students and outline, as clearly as possible, what I’m looking for them to do.

Normally I “start” the training session about 15 minutes or a half hour before. Sometimes we’ll have a guided discussion about what our lesson will cover (sequencing early on, maybe intersecting runways later in the process), other times I’ll talk about something completely different (like ATIS).

If we can’t hold a session when one is scheduled, I try to spend that time talking about things like ATIS, runway selection, progressive taxi, etc. with the trainees.

Question: How much overlap do you find between real life and Infinite Flight?

I’d find more if Infinite Flight added gliders!

To be serious, not a ton. My friends and family know I like to play an airplane game, but I don’t go into a ton of specifics with them.

There’s not a lot of overlap between gliding and Infinite Flight either. I like flying the XCub at my home airport because I’m familiar with the area and it gives me a good frame of reference, but that’s it. I can definitely understand how it would be useful for power pilots to scout out routes and practice though!


Thank you to Tom for taking the time to answer all those questions in detail!

If you’d like the opportunity to join in on these AMAs in the future, talk about controlling, flying, or simply learn more, I’d encourage you to join our ATC Education Group Workshop. You can sign up for free, we hand pick those who apply.

Departure queues and who is at fault

There’s a 11 aircraft long queue for runway 27L and 4 aircraft long queue for runway 27R. Who’s at fault?

Is tower not using the separation given to them by approach and failing to fire out departures? Are they taking anticipated separation into account, maximizing opportunities. Or is it ground’s fault for not evenly spacing out the traffic on each runway.

The problem is that it almost always ground’s issue. By focusing on one runway, whether that be due to aircraft spawning on one side of the airport or an unnecessary focus on one runway.

Then you look to Tower, then Approach.

It’s easy to fault Tower for not maximizing opportunities and gaps, or approach for giving Tower minimal spacing. If the aircraft aren’t evenly distributed and the flow is not being managed from the gate, then it has a domino effect that will effect every frequency at the airport.

References:
1. “6.2.2” of the Infinite Flight ATC Manual

Mind over matter

“Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.'” – Unknown

You can do anything you set your mind to, have confidence in yourself.

Threshold markings and their significance

For runways built, refurbished or repainted after January 2008, the number of bars on the Threshold Markings indicates the width of the runway, as is described in Section 3 of the AIM. Older runways may still use an outdated scheme.

Runway threshold markings come in two configurations. They either consist of eight longitudinal stripes of uniform dimensions disposed symmetrically about the runway centerline, as shown in FIG 2-3-1, or the number of stripes is related to the runway width as indicated in TBL 2-3-2. A threshold marking helps identify the beginning of the runway that is available for landing. In some instances the landing threshold may be relocated or displaced.

You can see a picture here of the two configurations.

For configuration two, each stripe signifies what the width of the runway is.

  • 60 feet (18 m), 4 stripes
  • 75 feet (23 m), 6 stripes
  • 100 feet (30 m), 8 stripes
  • 150 feet (45 m), 12 stripes
  • 200 feet (60 m), 16 stripes

Resources:
1. Section 3 of the AIM