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Top Down ATC Coverage Question


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I was sitting at KCOS (Colorado Springs, CO) and the only VATSIM ATC controller in radio range was Forth Worth Center. I was surprised he was in range, but it made me think. If I needed an IFR clearance, would I call FTW Center to get it even though KCOS is outside of the FTW Center coverage area?

Thx,

Al

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I could give you the answer, but it's better you learn how to check it first, so you won't come across this problem again.

 

The best thing you can do is to first look in his Controller info (vPilot: right click controller's callsign in the left side tree trunk > Get ATIS information - XSquawkBox shows it when you Connect to that voice frequency in the magenta text).

 

Some Controllers have their covered airports in there, some do not. If they don't - send him a private Message like this:

.msg [callsign][message]

, example

.msg FTW_46_CTR Hello sir, do you cover KCOS?

.

Mats Edvin Aarø
Assistant to the Vice President - Supervisors
VATSIM General Manager: Member Engagement
[email protected]

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Al,

I think you had the right idea. COS is covered by Denver Center and therefore you should not be speaking with Fort Worth. At COS, you would speak with Springs Ground/Tower, then Springs Approach/Departure, and then Denver Center if they were online. See the "ARTCC" and "Airport Communications" sections on the AirNav page for COS.

 

Check resources on your own before reaching out to the controller. In places like COS, it's very straight forward to figure out who controls it based off its AirNav page. At places like New York, Norcal, and Socal, it may be a bit more ambiguous as to who controls the airport so reaching out first makes sense.

Josh Glottmann
Deputy Air Traffic Manager
Oakland ARTCC
[email protected]

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Thanks for the replies. To be clear, I know KCOS is in the Denver Center FIR. The intended context of my question had to do with what is the acceptable or expected VATSIM procedure given that I was able to connect to VATSIM's FTW Center from KCOS.

 

So then, since there was no other VATSIM ATC available for KCOS at the time, if I were flying to an airport in IMC I would be expected to take off on my filed IFR flight plan 'on my own', monitor 122.8 and then when reaching the boarder of an operating ARTCC (or the destination Approach control, etc., if no ARTCC was available) report where I was and what previously filed flight plan I was using -- correct?

Thx,

Al

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Al, you're 100% correct.

 

Although you may be able to connect to a frequency, if you know that you are in airspace that isn't within the coverage area, there is no requirement for you to contact the controller. Frequency range and coverage area are not the same.

 

So then, since there was no other VATSIM ATC available for KCOS at the time, if I were flying to an airport in IMC I would be expected to take off on my filed IFR flight plan 'on my own', monitor 122.8 and then when reaching the boarder of an operating ARTCC (or the destination Approach control, etc., if no ARTCC was available) report where I was and what previously filed flight plan I was using -- correct?

Yes, exactly. Generally, it's best to call 1-2 minutes before reaching the controller's boundary, and to provide us with enough information. On an initial call, especially if you are already at high level and IFR, I would recommend your callsign, position (with reference to a nearby VOR or a fix that's actually in your flight plan (not just on/along an airway), and then of course your altitude.

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Evan Reiter
Boston Virtual ARTCC/ZBW Community Manager

 

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A few more VATSIM procedural issues occurred to me. If, as discussed above, I'm flying a filed flight plan in IMC 'on my own' because there is no VATSIM ATC in range, I [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume I should fly IFR altitudes (vice VFR +500ft type altitudes). But what squawk code should I use? If I make up my own code (other than 1200), it could conflict with another already [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned, but perhaps that doesn't matter since no ATC is in range? And should I have mode C on?

Thanks,

Al

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Yes, you should always squawk normal (mode C) when airborne:

 

Except while on the ground prior to making initial contact with ATC or upon request of ATC, a pilot should not squawk standby. A pilot should not squawk standby while flying to his destination, even when there is no appropriate Enroute air traffic control available.

Tomas Hansson

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In the US the standard code is 1200. Elsewhere (or at least in most other areas) use SQ 2000.

OK, but just to be sure, you are saying in the US I should use a 1200 squawk code even though I'm on an IFR flight plan.

And what about using mode C?

Thx,

Al

In the US, at least, the "normal" VATSIM convention for IFR but in unstaffed space tends to be 2200. But, if you are not in anyone's control, what you're squawking doesn't really make much of a difference.

Cheers,

-R.

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Oh, indeed, thanks for correcting it. I only read through here https://www.vatsim.net/pilot-resource-centre/general-lessons/transponder-and-squawk-codes and it only states the standard VFR-code for the US. Maybe somebody would be able to amend the page with the standard IFR transponder code.

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As far as I know, 2200 has never been any kind of official code. It is simply a (clever) technical workaround to avoid loads of people flying around with 1200, which back in the days of ASRC (a controller client that we used in the stone age) was hard-coded to show as a VFR target.

 

Once you loaded MSFS at Meigs Field and relocated to wherever you were flying from, as you took off on an IFR flight plan, Squawkbox would change the code to 2200. I'm not sure if this still happens automatically or if people just set 2200 themselves these days because they think it's an official code.

Martin Loxbo

Director Sweden FIR

VATSIM Scandinavia

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Once you loaded MSFS at Meigs Field and relocated to wherever you were flying from, as you took off on an IFR flight plan, Squawkbox would change the code to 2200. I'm not sure if this still happens automatically or if people just set 2200 themselves these days because they think it's an official code.

For one, vSTARS/vERAM display untracked aircraft as a different symbol when they are squawking 1200. It's useful ([Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming people are only squawking 1200 when they truly are VFR) to differentiate from someone who's just doing their own thing outside of controlled airspace and an IFR aircraft that isn't speaking with you. While it may not be official, setting anything other than 1200 in the US is preferred.

Josh Glottmann
Deputy Air Traffic Manager
Oakland ARTCC
[email protected]

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While we are at it, I do encounter a lot of pilots without ATC who are tuned to frequency 128.300 instead of 122.800 for Unicom. Do you know what program or client defines this frequency? There must be a pattern.

If I remember correctly, a bunch of ATC stations in Brazil (or somewhere in South America) use 122.800. As a workaround, pilots flying in the area are supposed to use 128.300 as UNICOM. I know the exact details are buried somewhere in VATSIM's training resources.

 

Cheers!

 

[Edit] I just did a little research and apparently 123.450 is the UNCOM frequency in Brazil and 124.800 is for South Africa. So I don't know why pilots are on 128.300.

Josh Jenk

CZVR C1 controller

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For one, vSTARS/vERAM display untracked aircraft as a different symbol when they are squawking 1200. It's useful ([Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming people are only squawking 1200 when they truly are VFR) to differentiate from someone who's just doing their own thing outside of controlled airspace and an IFR aircraft that isn't speaking with you. While it may not be official, setting anything other than 1200 in the US is preferred.

 

I agree it's useful, and my post was just to highlight that the specific code 2200 is not an official code for anything. In ICAO land, code 2000 is used when an IFR flight has not been [Mod - Happy Thoughts]igned a discrete code (such as in oceanic airspace). At my airline 2000 is what we set on the transponder before turning it to standby after parking, and it's in line with the transponder operating instructions at many airports.

 

For me personally when controlling on VATSIM, 2000 vs 2200 is just one of those minor things that hint at whether or not a pilot has done his homework.

Martin Loxbo

Director Sweden FIR

VATSIM Scandinavia

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While we are at it, I do encounter a lot of pilots without ATC who are tuned to frequency 128.300 instead of 122.800 for Unicom. Do you know what program or client defines this frequency? There must be a pattern.

 

Many addon aircraft set their "default" frequency. I believe Majestic uses 118.600, and it's either Aerosoft or PMDG that uses the 128.300.

0

Anchorage Deputy Air Traffic Manager

VATSIM Senior Supervisor (Team 1)

Have a question or concern? Email me at [email protected].

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