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Hi, I'm looking at getting into Vatsim but I'm a bit worried about remembering all the ATC info for readback especially taxi ways. Is it normal to feel like this? I do have a bad short term memory.

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A pencil and paper are good friends to have.  I always write down my taxi instructions when taxiing on the network, and in real life.  They reinforce it in your head -- write it down, read it back, and then execute -- and help you not to have to rely on your memory.

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Don Desfosse
Vice President, Membership

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Experts call this "write-o-matic" 😄 Even us real commercial/airline pilots scribble down (almost) everything, although we have a lot of routine in listening to and processing instructions via radio. We do it, because we know that we can make mistakes all the time and to remove any doubt an instruction, you better put it on paper.

Depending on your type of aircraft, you could even use the scratchpad of your FMC to make temporary notes for ground operations. When I used to fly a type of aircraft with an FMC that allowed this type of texting, I did it all the time. On my current type it is not convenient to do this and we just make notes on our flighplan.

For example, if you get told "taxi holding runway A1 runway 32R via A and T, hold short runway 24", you would enter the following into your scratchpad: 32R A1.AT//24. You can write whatever you like, as long as you will be able to decipher later on.

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Funnily enough I had this dilemma when I was told to write it down it made it much better especially on my first run. After that I start noting down the expected SID and Runway so that's already noted, and the only time I'd probably ask to repeat the SID is if I was given one I wasn't expecting.

Also I find the more you do certain aiport's the easier it gets, for instance I've done plenty of departures from Edinburgh (EGPH) from the South ramp, and without looking at a chart now I know for Runway 24 the taxiway will be G, L, A. I don't write it down as I know it off by heart. Even my local airport Bristol is easy as there is only one taxiway, albeit split into two letters but 9 times out of 10 you'll only get the gate number.

I do still however get stuck with Dublin, only been there twice, and just as I've vacated the runway I get bombarded with letters, I'm trying to straighten up and not got the pen ready! 😂

Oh and I use a spiral bound notebook for making notes, only a £1 in most shops

Edited by James Underwood
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I also give courses for real life student pilots on radio phraseology and guide them to obtain the German BZF -> radio telephony certification.
Your question comes up everytime and by everyone at least once, so here are my 2 cents:

1) What @Andreas Fuchs said. Use short-hand notation whereever possible. There are some guides out there online that give examples, but ultimately you need to find one and adjust it to your purposes, so you know it by heart. Most of them don't differ much and Andreas' example of 32R A1.AT//24 would have been how I denote it as well.

2) Expectations. You are VFR at the GAT and call up the GND controller for the first time? What do you expect? You should expect: A runway, A barometer setting, a taxi route at the very minimum. Prepare mentally for what is ahead and you will be better prepared to remember or write it down fast enough. You are IFR and just called up for IFR clearance? Well, expect a SID routing, a Squawk, an initial climb altitude maybe, depending on where you fly? Mental preparation is key!

3) Be ahead of your flight by 1-3 min. You received above clearance to taxi to 32R intersection A1 via Alpha and Tango, hold short of RWY24? Okay, prepare mentally to be ahead of your current situation, you will have to report holding short of runway 24 in 1-3 min and either expect a crossing clearance or ... something else.

4) Write it down, read it back and then think about what you were given. If it doesnt make sense to you, ask for clarification. Today I was controlled my center airspace and gave a pilot this instruction: "AFTER DOMUX, FLY HEADING 230, DESCEND ALTITUDE 3000FT, QNH 1004, CLEARED ILS APPROACH RUNWAY 23L". The problem is that I wanted to give Heading 270 and heading 230 is parallel to the runway, so he would have never intercepted the localizer. The pilot read back the instructions first... and then 30 seconds later asked for clarification on the heading. You cannot receive a clearance and process it at the same time in all its' complexity, especially not if you are new. Receive, Read back, Reprocess.

I hope this helps! 🙂

VATSIM Germany

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Google TOLD Card.... thats the old paper way to write things down, they would come on pads like sticky notes. (TOLD = Take off landing data)

However as stated, the clients have a notes tab where you can type anything.

 

11 hours ago, Adam Trzcinski said:

DESCEND ALTITUDE 3000FT, QNH 1004, CLEARED ILS APPROACH RUNWAY 23L

This is annoying, you have effectively been given two descent instructions, one cancels the other.

Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

956763

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17 minutes ago, Kirk Christie said:

This is annoying, you have effectively been given two descent instructions, one cancels the other.

The way I have been instructed, this is only partially true. The instruction to descend to 3000ft is valid as long as you are not established on the localizer. Only once established, you can descend to the published glideslope capture altitude.

EDIT: I am just reading up on this in the official controller manual and verifying. Will get back on this.

Edited by Adam Trzcinski
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VATSIM Germany

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Kirk, in mainland Europe things are done differently. You always get cleared to an altitude from where you will commence the vertical portion of an IFR approach. Normally, ATC will send you down to the published final approach altitude and then clear you for the approach. But sometimes ATC will keep you 1000ft or 2000ft higher for traffic separation and you are supposed to maintain this altitude until intercepting the vertical path of the approach. In some places ATC will instruct you more precisely: "maintain 4000ft until established on the glideslope" to stop you from descending to the final approach altitude of e.g. 3000ft.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/26/2020 at 10:22 PM, James Underwood said:

for Runway 24 the taxiway will be G, L, A.

G, M, A, surely?

And speaking from a real world perspective, the actual holding point of G1 would be mentioned, so as not to be confused with going out via G3. Also no need to say A as there's no other way to go.

So, really, the clearance would be, "Taxi Holding point D1 via GOLF 1 and MIKE".

Edited by Chris Lawrence
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