How are airline callsigns assigned?

Three things are to be considered when assignig an airline a new ICAO three letter code.

  • The three letter code must be unique to the aircraft operator
  • The R/T designator (callsign) must not cause confusion with other operators flying in the same area, preferably at most three syllables long and it must be pronounceable in at least one of the following languages; English, French, Spanish or Russian.
  • Since there are many operators that have “airline” or “airways” in their name, that word is usually avoided in the R/T designator as it easily causes confusion.

One airport, two different approaches

Efficiency is one of the most important parts of being a controller. Each controller will have their own strategy, no two approaches are a like.

That is particularly try for this session I had with two radar controllers, both using different strategies. I’d encourage you to watch this video of a time-lapse if that session for context.

The first strategy can be seen depicted here, and in the video. The workload for me, final approach was quite high, maintaining spacing mostly via speed commands. I had room on the 5000ft leg and 4000ft leg to slot people in if they needed slotted in. That can be seen on occasions in the video, with go arounds.

The second strategy was very nice looking. Depicted here and in the video, the spin cycle was very pleasing on the eye. Lower workload for final approach, but less margin for error and only one leg to create space for go arounds and inbound aircraft from all directions.

After reviewing the replay and doing some math, I’ve determined that the first strategy was more efficient. As most of the traffic came from the East and South, I compared the two. For the first strategy; it took aircraft 32 minutes to fly the entire approach from the South and 36 minutes from the West. For the second strategy; it took aircraft 43 minutes to fly the entire approach from the South and 52 minutes from the West. Large differences, I’d prefer the first strategy but both are great options in comparison to any others. Whatever works!

ATC Zero

ATC Zero is an official term by the FAA that means the FAA is unable to safely provide the published ATC services within the airspace managed by a specific facility. In this video by VASAviation you can see this in action when Miami International lost all power.

SODPROPS

SODPROPS is an acronym for Simultaneous opposite direction parallel runway operations, used as a method of coordinating the arrival and departure of aircraft on parallel runways in opposite directions. Controlling is all about finding the best traffic flow to maximize efficiency, and in some cases SODPROPS is the best and most efficient strategy to push tin.

You will see airports across the globe from KLAX, YSSY, URSS, ect. using SODPROPS. Watch on FlightRadar24 or if you’re lucky enough, in person, it’s a site to see in action.

Who is following who?

Sequencing can be a hard concept to grasp as a new pilot or controller, in Infinite Flight. Sometimes it’s best to try to visualize this. Use a pen and paper if needed to draw out these scenarios, here is two examples of how you would re-sequence aircraft remaining in the pattern. For both examples, all aircraft have already been sequenced.

First example:

  • N1T3 is number 1 for 27L on left base
  • V-AA is number 2 for 27L on left downwind
  • G-KWY is number 3 for 27L on left crosswind
  • No one is on 27R

V-AA asks for a runway change to 27R

  1. Give V-AA a pattern entry and clearance for 27R.
  2. You sequence G-KWY number 2, traffic to follow is on left base

Second scenario:

  • N1T3 is number 1 for 27L on left base
  • V-AA is number 2 for 27L on left downwind

  • N1KB is number 3 for 27L on left crosswind
  • B-M23 is number 1 for 27R on right base
  • G-KWY is number 2 for 27R on right crosswind

V-AA asks for a runway change for 27R, V-AA is on left downwind.

  1. You give V-AA a combined pattern entry to enter left base for 27R and sequence number 2, behind G-KWY. Then a clearance for the option make right traffic for 27R.
  2. You re-sequence G-KWY to be number 3 traffic to follow is on left downwind
  3. You re-sequence N1KB number 2, traffic to follow is on left base

Ident

“Ident” is used to help a controller identify an aircraft’s secondary radar (transponder) return.

Scenario one. It is a method to allow a controller to identify an aircraft on radar, per section 5-3-3 of FAA Order 7110.65:

When using only Mode 3/A radar beacon to identify a target, use one of the following methods:

a. Request the aircraft to activate the “IDENT” feature of the transponder and then observe the identification display.

Scenario two. For lost communication, per section 10-4-4 of 7110.65:

Take the following actions, as appropriate, if two-way radio communications are lost with an aircraft:

c. Attempt to re-establish communication by having the aircraft use its transponder or make turns to acknowledge clearances and answer questions. Request any of the following in using the transponder:

1. Request the aircraft to reply Mode 3/A “IDENT.”

Lost connection, MON it is

As technology advanced, the old had to make way for the new, GPS. With operators using primarily the GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System, i.e. GPS) to navigate, VORs have become less of a necessity. A large number of VOR stations are scheduled to be decommissioned. However, the FAA is retaining a limited network of VORs, called the Minimum Operational Network (MON). The MON will enable aircraft to navigate through the affected area or to a safe landing at a MON airport without reliance on GNSS.

Sometimes the best technology is the most reliable, when in a dire situation.

Perfection

The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement. – Ty Warner

Lift

The vertical component of lift is what keeps the aircraft flying, it opposes gravity.

The horizontal component of lift is what fights inertia, causing the aircraft to turn; it is directed toward the center of rotation, and called the centripetal force.