Pitch for airspeed, power for altitude

Being high on final is often caused from using too much power, and being too low is caused by too little power. Too high, reduce some power and allow the plane to pitch down to maintain your approach speed. Too low, lower the nose slightly to regain airspeed. Once you’re back on glide path, return the power to your “home” setting.

References:
1. “9 Bad Approaches To Landing, And How To Recover From Each One” by BoldMethod, pulled from the original.

Chatter

The less unnecessary chatter on frequency, less workload for the controller. Work with the controller so they don’t have as much work to do.

Controlling at Fisk, the town

The famous Fisk VFR Approach into Oshkosh, used during EAA Airventure, is the most interesting procedure used at the event and maybe even anywhere. I’d encourage you to read page 7 through 11 of the EAA NOTAM, before going any further.

Fisk is a town 5 miles southwest of Oshkosh, along the “railroad tracks” that run from the town of Ripon to Oshkosh, and air traffic controllers located at Fisk. They don’t work in a control tower though, they work out of a portable trailer using binoculars and radio to visually identify and communicate with pilots.

Controllers will identify aircraft by type, color or any unique features available to distinguish between aircraft. The Fisk arrival procedure segregates aircraft single-file prior to reaching the airport. It all starts 15 miles southwest of Oshkosh at a town called Ripon. Arriving at Ripon, pilots follow railroad tracks leading northeast. Approaching Fisk, aircraft are required to be single-file at least 1/2 — mile in-trail, no side-by-sides. All aircraft should be at an altitude of 1,800 feet MSL and 90 knots airspeed. If unable to meet this speed requirement, then higher performance aircraft may join the line at 2,300 feet and 135 knots.

Back to the point about them working out of a trailer, though. Here’s a video of the controllers at work at Fisk, it’s really a site to see. The view they have is remarkable, hands down one of the most interesting controlling experiences one can have, for those lucky enough to be picked to control during Oshkosh.

References:
1. “Before You Can Get To KOSH, You Have Got To Go Fisk” by Darren Gaines, from the original.
2. EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2019 NOTAM, from the original.
3. “Fisk Approach from the controllers eyes” video, from the original.

How high do I want to fly today?

In the real world, ATC will assign you an altitude, taking into account your requested altitude, traffic conditions, and of course the FAR.

The aircraft designer for each aircraft will use a formula to calculate typical values, which will be included in the aircraft’s operating handbook.

At each combination there will be performance values such as:

  • Average N1 (for a turbine)
  • Max TAT for thrust rating
  • IAS Knots
  • Mach number
  • ISA fuel flow LB/HR/ENG
  • ISA TAS Knots

The flight distance will determine the approximate gross weight, which corresponds to an altitude and cruise speed that provide the best efficiency. Here is an example from a virtual 737 handbook, with the values listed. The optimum performance is in blue. Higher gross weights have been removed for clarity.

Airlines may have their own performance tables, choosing a custom balance of efficiency and speed. Dispatchers for the airline will take the flight information and decide on a cruising altitude for filing the flight plan, which the pilot will then receive. As you can see, as the aircraft burns fuel and gets lighter, it will be more efficient at higher altitudes. This is a step climb, where the aircraft will climb to higher altitudes as the flight progresses when they are cleared by ATC.

Modern planning systems can take into account weather factors such as winds aloft and turbulence to pick the most efficient route.

If you were going to try to replicate what cruising altitude to use on Infinite Flight, then you’d have to look at the above things on your own to before taking off. My answer is; whatever is the most efficient.

References:
1. Aviation Stack Exchange

Behind the Scenes with Oshkosh Air Traffic Control

As you may know, EAA Air Adventure is fully underway at Oshkosh. Here’s some information about the portion that I find the most interesting, the controlling. By Megan Esau, EAA Assitant Editor:

With more than 10,000 airplanes in attendance, the 65 air traffic controllers who sign up to work at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh every year are instrumental in making the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration a safe and successful event.

The controllers are divided into 16 teams of four people each, and every team has one veteran team lead who has worked AirVenture for three years or more, one AirVenture rookie, and two limited members, with one to two years of AirVenture experience.

Air traffic staff from across the FAA’s 17-state Central Terminal Service Area and from the Eastern Service Area, including controllers, supervisors, and managers, compete in an application process to work at AirVenture. Veterans bid against other veterans, limited bid against other limited, and rookies bid against other rookies for a spot at what they call the “Super Bowl” of air traffic control.

The 16 teams rotate in shifts through the Oshkosh control tower, the Fond du Lac tower, the Fisk approach control site, and the mobile departure platforms scattered around the grounds called MOOCOWs, or mobile operating and communications workstations.

The controllers’ job is an important one, not just because they are relied on to make sure AirVenture is a safe and efficient operation, but because they are also the first voice to welcome incoming pilots to Oshkosh.

I listened to the Fisk VFR Approach and Tower frequencies, yesterday, and will continue to turn in for the rest of the week. It really is an amazing site to see and one I’d like to learn more about. Tune in and listen on LiveATC.

References:
1. “Behind the Scenes With Oshkosh Air Traffic Control” by Megan Esau on July 25, 2018, from the original.

Expect progressive taxi instructions

What does that mean? In Infinite Flight’s latest update, progressive taxi instructions were introduced for the first time into the controllers’ lexicon. From 5.2.2 of the ATC Manual:

‘Taxi to RWYXX, contact tower when ready’ and ‘Taxi to Parking’ are the default commands that must be used by controllers for the purposes of departing/arriving aircraft. In addition to this, controllers have Progressive Taxi Instructions to assist with ground movement including one way systems, potential conflicts and intersection departures. Controllers should take note that VERY CLOSE MONITORING is required when using this tool and therefore should only use it when absolutely necessary. Before it’s used, controllers should send ‘Expect Progressive Taxi Instructions’ to the aircraft in question (although this
may not always be possible), once this is done the following commands are available:
– Cross runway XX
– Turn left/right next taxiway
– Continue straight ahead
– Make 180 (controllers must ensure that the aircraft has the space required to make a 180 degree turn on the taxiway)
– Already cleared to cross

Progressive taxi will become super useful at airports that require these specific instructions, to create a good flow of traffic.

Once the Progressive Taxi Instructions are no longer required, the controller must send ‘Continue Taxi at your discretion’.

Airport in sight, wait

When an aircraft is on a visual approach, you do not need to immediately clear for the visual if you want them to maintain the heading and altitude you previously assigned. The pilot must be visual before the controller can clear the aircraft for the visual approach, but once you clear them for the visual you give them the ability to turn. If you don’t clear them, even if they report the airport in sight, they can’t turn, so just keep that in mind as keeping them can prove to be helpful in certain situations.

References:
1. 10.10.1 of the Infinite Flight ATC Manual, pulled from the original.

How do you calculate TOD?

That is the age old question. It’s never a fun experience for the controller or pilot to miss when a pilot misses their TOD (Top of Decent).

The goal is to contact approach when you are at or below 18,000ft AGL, 50nm away from the airport, at or below 260knts IAS. Here’s an example I’ll use from a flight I did a week ago, from NZWN to NZAA, cruise at FL240.

  1. First step is to open up a precision descent profile calculator. Google “descent calculator” and you’ll get a bunch of results.
  2. I’d like to do a gentle descent of 1500ft VS (f/m) to 18,000ft AGL from my cruising altitude of 24,000ft MSL, at 280knts IAS.
  3. So open up the descent calculator. To achieve that 1500ft VS descent, I’d need to start my descent 76nm out (50nm + 26nm = 76nm). So that’s my TOD, 76nm.
  4. As I get closer to the 50nm mark, I’ll continue to decrease my IAS to 260knts or below, change my VS if I’m too high or too low, then contact Approach when I’m below 18,000ft AGL, 50nm out.

Perfectionists

You can’t learn anything if you never do anything wrong, and no one will ever be perfect.