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Dankovic

ATC flying and FMC configuration

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Hello, Here are few things that are bothering me for a while. I'm using Radar contact for ATC but it doesn't matter because I think problem/procedure is the same in real. On departure I have ATIS so I know active runway and can select runway and SID for departure. But what with arrival airport? I have last route point but can't select STAR and runway because I don't know active one, or what will ATC assign me. Same goes If I don't want to use STAR but want that ATC vector me to final. What to enter in FMC so I don't have end of route if I don't get landing runway form ATC before crossing my last route point.? I would really like to know correct procedure. Best regards,Danko Crnkovic

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What I do is write down a STAR for both possible directions of approach (example in LIML: I write down the STAR and approaches for both runways 18 and 36, and select them as soon as I know where RC wants me to land). If you want to use vectors, you could just put the destination ICAO as last waypoint, so the route will go on to the destination airport and not stop on the last route waypoint. When you know the runway you can insert the runway in the FMC so it can give you the ILS frequency, and so on.


Fabrizio Sassi

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Yes, that is what I do most of the time.But, all calculations depends on STAR as I understand. STAR can be very long (ex LOWW STARs can add lots of nm to the route) diference in TOD position are large. Danko

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Yes...that is a bit of a problem. If I happen to run into a long STAR I usually choose vectors and then short final if possible.


Fabrizio Sassi

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It would be great if we could get info from the real pilot about correct procedures. With NGX everything not realistic is so wrong :) Danko

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In the real world the runway in use can change frequently obviously due to the wind direction which can change frequently depending on approaching weather fronts as well as micro climates (weather patterns associated with a particular airport due to its geographical location). In the event of parallel runways airports may also have procedures in place to change the departure and arrival runways for noise abatement, this is commonly implemented at set times of the day. If a true (not magnetic true but runway orientated true cross wind) is the situation then ATC will more than likely elect to use the most suitable runway direction for traffic expedition (arrivals and departures taking into consideration the airfield layout for ground movements).If an aircraft is; on a VFR visual approach, being vectored for an ILS or is established on the ILS (IFR) AND the cross wind changes to the point where the aircrafts maximum tail wind limit is reached ATC will break off the approach for that particular runway and position for the reciprocal runway. The captain has the responsibility to ensure his/her aircraft is operated within the flight envelope for the phase of flight so they may even request a runway change. As part of the pre-flight weather for the whole route is obtained including METAR & TAF’s for destination and alternate arrival airports. Although this is solid information there is one thing for sure in aviation … things change. If you’re flying a short route (about an hour) the chances are that the weather will not change that much at your destination BUT it will monitored as the flight progresses. When an aircraft is handed to the Approach Controller the controller will inform the aircraft what runway is in use and what STAR to fly (if vectors are not initially used). This information is normally passed to the aircraft before it reaches the first point of any STAR’s so the aircraft can fly the correct route. If your flying long-haul then expect anything … ok again you have the information but things can change. Part of the weather brief will be to look at the pressure charts along the route so any pilot whose meteorology is up-to-scratch should not get any surprises! A flight plan entered into the FMC via the CDU can be edited while it is use and frequently is. Noting entered into the FMC is set in stone so it is essential that we know how to do this to input information promptly and correctly. So how does this answer your question? .. No current ATC program is capable of the variables that exist in the real world or operate real world procedures specific for UK or ICAO. I use VOXATC and Radar Contact (not together obviously) and they both do a reasonable job. I fly and work in ATC and their good enough for me .. I just work/go along with them rather than fight them. As far as the sim goes tune into the ATIS at your destination while you’re on rote as soon as you can get it. From that info you will get the runway in use and from that you can narrow down the STARS that you can be expected to fly. The chances are that there may only be one for your particular routing but there could be more than one, you need to be ready for that. If you use real weather that is constantly being downloaded and updated and you’re on a long flight then you really do need to plan ahead and be ready for anything. I’ve gone on a bit here and I’m not sure I’ve answered any questions but I hope this helps a bit. The info I have stated is applicable for UK & ICAO but remember this is aviation and things can change. One thing I forgot to mention is that Radar Controllers will normally opt to vector an aircraft rather than use STARS. STARS are used initially to get an aircraft going in “the right direction” but as soon as they are able (through possible airspace restrictions) they will normally vector the aircraft. This because vectoring puts THE CONTROLLER in control and they know the aircraft is doing what they want, also they are able to get the aircraft on the ground quicker (commercial aircraft don’t like to be in the air longer than they have to, it costs money). Also not all STARS end up on the end of an ILS, it is common for then to end at a specific point (normally a VOR or NDB) from where they enter a hold. STARS are used more frequently in busy airspace where the controllers have a high workload or if a controller is experiencing high workloads through an emergency.


Richard Russell

Flight simming since 1985

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In RW ops, look at the TAF to get the expected wind on arrival and plan for that. ATC will tell you what the active runway is and give you a STAR once you get close to the STAR entry waypoint. If they do need to change runways, you're sent to the hold for 3 mins, the remaining traffic on approach will be cleared and they'll start bringing the remaining airborne traffic in for approach. If it's a quick change they'll usually just give you a direct to for the IAF and you can enter the hold there while you look up your preformance for the new runway before being vectored to the approach. Furthermore, STARs are usually only used [at most medium to small airports] when traffic is at high volumes, alot of the time, especially at my base DUB, you can get a direct FAF and abandon the STAR at most times other than from say 1-3 pm and 6-11 pm.


Rónán O Cadhain.

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I too have a question along this line: when using ATC, it will decide when and to what altitude you can descent. So at that point, VNAV descent is no longer an option. How does this work in real life? Jos DenisEBBR

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So if I get it right. Please correct invalid parts (hope it is not all of it :) ) We plan for best scenario according to METAR / TAF. In FMC we enter arrival planed runway and planed STAR. FMC will calculate VNAV.We use VNAV for departure but usually everything changes as soon as we get altitude changes from ATC. If TOD is sooner than ATC descents us we can request altitude change and follow VNAV.If we get new altitude before TOD, from that moment in most cases VNAV is useles for descend as we will get step descent from ATC (we use LVL Change). It is possible that we will catch first point of STAR at correct altitude so we can continue with VNAV and request IAP approach (Radar contact). Or we forget about everything and follow atc instructions to final and use fmc just for setting ILS approach. Changing arrival runway fits to this scenario i think. Only if it changes to a much longer/shorter route than we should slow down descent and cactch altitude on new first point in new star. So? Am I right? Whew.gif Danko

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So if I get it right. Please correct invalid parts (hope it is not all of it :) ) We plan for best scenario according to METAR / TAF. In FMC we enter arrival planed runway and planed STAR. FMC will calculate VNAV.We use VNAV for departure but usually everything changes as soon as we get altitude changes from ATC. If TOD is sooner than ATC descents us we can request altitude change and follow VNAV.If we get new altitude before TOD, from that moment in most cases VNAV is useles for descend as we will get step descent from ATC (we use LVL Change). It is possible that we will catch first point of STAR at correct altitude so we can continue with VNAV and request IAP approach (Radar contact). Or we forget about everything and follow atc instructions to final and use fmc just for setting ILS approach. Changing arrival runway fits to this scenario i think. Only if it changes to a much longer/shorter route than we should slow down descent and cactch altitude on new first point in new star. So? Am I right? Whew.gif Danko
If ATC tells you to start your decent before TOD you can use the Descent Now option from the decent page of the FMC. The plane will still be in VNAV but start a decent of 1000 fpm. and it will continue like that until it catch up with the decent path.You could try VoxATC, is controled by voice, its very nice and what i like it the most is, if you last waypoint on you route is the first waypoint from a STAR, it will assign you a STAR, a transition (if applicable) and a runway based on the active runway of the airport. It uses the Navigraph AIRAC so it will always by updated.

Matias Sorcinelli
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Matias, But ATC will tell you that you have to be leveled at some altitude in ex. 40nm. At 1000fpm I can't catch that.Yes I know that VoxATC has some features better, but I simply cant stand that digital single voice. And I use UT2 for traffic with current schedules and VOX is managing AI by it self as I understand. Danko

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Matias, But ATC will tell you that you have to be leveled at some altitude in ex. 40nm. At 1000fpm I can't catch that.Yes I know that VoxATC has some features better, but I simply cant stand that digital single voice. And I use UT2 for traffic with current schedules and VOX is managing AI by it self as I understand. Danko
Yes, you are right, if ATC tells you to be at an altitud you will have to expedite.And i think you are right about VoxATC controling the AI

Matias Sorcinelli
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When I fly on the VATSIM network, I enjoy looking up real world flight plans on flightaware.com. They often show the optimal cruise altitude an aircraft will use in addition to the current routing based on both on wind operations and weather along the way (that is if you don'd mind adding a 20 minute extension to your route to avoid some nasty weather during cruise.) You can always plug in the standard STAR used in conjunction with your approach to the airport (most airports use specific STARs depending on what direction you're coming from). Once ATC assigns you an approach, in the DEP/ARR section of the FMC, you can add the approach (ILS, RNAV or simply the runway itself for a visual approach) and execute it into the flight plan. Just make sure you double check your the LEGS page of the FMC to avoid any flight plan discontinuities. Finally, as a controller myself, I can let you know that if things get complicated in an airport, the en route or approach controller will take the time to re-clear your flight plan to your destination airport using a different STAR so you can easily amend it in the DEP/ARR page. Hope this helps!


Julio Elizalde

ZOA Oakland ARTCC on VATSIM - Training Administrator & Senior Instructor

Proud PMDG 737NGX Owner

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