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Should I contact ATC when I reach/cross the first waypoint for an ILS approach, if they haven't contacted me yet?


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Hi.  I am new to VATSIM.  When I fly an ILS approach according to the navigational/Jeppesen  charts, there is always a starting waypoint/fix for the ILS approach on that chart. When I cross that starting waypoint/fix and ATC hasn't contacted me, should I get proactive and contact ATC instead?

I would think reaching/crossing the initial waypoint/fix for an ILS approach is a pretty significant event so my intuition tells me that I should contact ATC if they haven't contacted me yet.  But I'm not sure as to proper procedure so I would like to ask here.  Thank you.

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If you do not have an Approach or Center controller online, then you should contact the tower a mile or 2 prior to the final approach fix or about a 5 mile final. If you do have Approach or Center online, you should be with them already.

Matt Bartels
VP: Marketing & Communication
## vpmkt (at) vatsim.net
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Unless otherwise stated, opinions are my own and not representative of the official opinion of the VATSIM Board of Governors

 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Matthew Bartels said:

If you do not have an Approach or Center controller online, then you should contact the tower a mile or 2 prior to the final approach fix or about a 5 mile final. If you do have Approach or Center online, you should be with them already.

Sorry, I should have said, I was in communications with a center controller the whole time, even prior to starting the ILS approach.  There was no other controller below the center controller so the center controller had complete control of my entire flight. When I say "contact me," I guess what I really mean is for the center controller to give me further instructions or further clearance (I was already communicating with the center controller prior to my ILS approach).  In my case, I was passing the first waypoint for the ILS approach on the navigational chart.  I waited for the center controller to contact me (ie. give me further instructions), but the center controller did not.  I assume the center controller was busy monitoring other traffic at the time and didn't notice that I had reached the first waypoint/fix for the formal ILS approach.

Intuitively, I would think that if I am passing the first waypoint/fix for an ILS approach, that is a pretty significant event, because that formally marks the beginning of my ILS approach.  It's possible that the center controller would have eventually contacted me.  But in my case, I did not wait for the center controller to contact me and I opted to contact the center controller instead and let the center controller know that I had reached the first waypoint/fix for the ILS approach, according to the navigational charts.  So I would like to know if what I did was good or bad etiquette and whether I followed the proper procedures. 

Alternatively, I could have stayed silent and continued on the ILS approach and waited for the center controller to give me further instructions.  For me, that seems really weird though since I would think when you reach the first waypoint/fix of the ILS approach, the center controller should know about it (because it means I have formally started the ILS approach).

Edited by Richard Lee
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Still a lot of unknowns here.

Did the Center Controller clear you for the Approach? If so, continue onto the Final Approach fix and he should clear you for landing or handed you off to the tower if online around there. If not, ask him if you're cleared to land, he may have been busy with other aircraft and forgot.

If not, then ask the center controller if you are cleared for the approach.

Matt Bartels
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## vpmkt (at) vatsim.net
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Unless otherwise stated, opinions are my own and not representative of the official opinion of the VATSIM Board of Governors

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

Still a lot of unknowns here.

Did the Center Controller clear you for the Approach? If so, continue onto the Final Approach fix and he should clear you for landing or handed you off to the tower if online around there. If not, ask him if you're cleared to land, he may have been busy with other aircraft and forgot.

If not, then ask the center controller if you are cleared for the approach.

So there was no tower controller on, so it was the center controller that was controlling everything, including the airspace and the airport.

I don't exactly recall if I was cleared for the approach before I reached the first waypoint/fix of the ILS approach.  But as you said, "If not, then ask the center controller if you are cleared for the approach," I guess it should be okay if I let the center controller know that I have arrived at the first waypoint/fix for the ILS approach and then ask if I am cleared to start the ILS approach.

Here is another question.  Is it common for the ATC controller to give you clearance to start the ILS approach before you have reached the first waypoint/fix for the ILS approach?  If ATC gives you clearance to start the ILS approach before you have reached the first waypoint/fix for the ILS approach, usually how far from the first waypoint/fix for the ILS approach would they give you clearance?

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From a UKs propesctive:

The controller will give you a heading in order to intercept the LOC, this could be anywhere between 6miles - 20miles within the same instruction you will be told your are cleared for the ILS :

RT:

ATC: Turn right heading 245 to establish Localiser RWY 27R, When established descend glidepath

or

ATC: Turn right heading 245. Cleared ILS approach rwy 27R.

If there's no TWR online and it's busy on frequency the controller may not speak to you until he gives you your landing clearance which can be very late (from a pilots perspective!). If you feel ATC has forgotton about you, call them up passing 3 miles.

Hope this helps

 

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Shaun Anderson

BAW526

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Hi, Richard -- you're asking a general question about a specific situation.  Without specifics as to (a) exactly what route, STAR, Instrument Approach Procedure you were flying, and (b) a verbatim transcript from ATC of the clearances and instructions you were given, we're probably not going to be able to answer your question satisfactorily.

In reading your scenario my biggest question is whether you should have even been at the Initial Fix in the first place.  If you were on a STAR that dumps off directly into an Approach, then, fine.  If you were on a STAR that terminates in an instruction like "after {WAYPT}, maintain {heading} until vectored by ATC," then you should still have been on that heading.

In either case, though, here's the answer:
ANYTIME you think you've been forgotten, i.e. you're expecting an instruction that hasn't come, it's appropriate to ask the controller.  Either (a) they'll "wake up"(*) and issue you the instruction you're waiting on, or, (b) they'll let you know approximately how much longer before you can expect it.  Worst-case, (c), they're very busy and they simply respond in the negative, meaning that you should keep on as you were.

(*) (meaning, they'll temporarily shed whatever attention-stealer it was that led to them forgetting about you, whether it was being too busy with other traffic or some other outside distraction.)

EDIT: or, (d), they already issued you that command and you didn't hear it (for whatever technical or human-factors reason) and they were too busy or distracted to notice you never read it back -- in which case the controller will say, "yeah, I already gave you that, but, {repeats instruction / clearance.}"

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr

Cheers,

-R.

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If you're under ATC control the whole time, do what you've been cleared to do, don't do what you haven't been cleared for, and call in if you suspect that you should have gotten a clearance but haven't.

This is why STARs tend to have clearance limits marked on them, and why these clearance limits have holds defined for them: if you reach the clearance limit without any further clearance, then you need to enter the hold.

Eventually, one of three things should happen: either the controller clears you for a specific approach procedure ("cleared for the ILS 27L approach"), or they start vectoring you.

In the first case, you are authorized to fly the procedure as published, down to minimums, at which point you must have received a landing clearance or go around. In the second case, just fly by those vectors and trust ATC to get you onto the ILS, or into whatever position you need to be for a non-precision approach; at any point, you are authorized to maintain the cleared heading, altitude, and speed, until further advice.

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1 hour ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

Hi, Richard -- you're asking a general question about a specific situation.  Without specifics as to (a) exactly what route, STAR, Instrument Approach Procedure you were flying, and (b) a verbatim transcript from ATC of the clearances and instructions you were given, we're probably not going to be able to answer your question satisfactorily.

In reading your scenario my biggest question is whether you should have even been at the Initial Fix in the first place.  If you were on a STAR that dumps off directly into an Approach, then, fine.  If you were on a STAR that terminates in an instruction like "after {WAYPT}, maintain {heading} until vectored by ATC," then you should still have been on that heading.

In either case, though, here's the answer:
ANYTIME you think you've been forgotten, i.e. you're expecting an instruction that hasn't come, it's appropriate to ask the controller.  Either (a) they'll "wake up"(*) and issue you the instruction you're waiting on, or, (b) they'll let you know approximately how much longer before you can expect it.  Worst-case, (c), they're very busy and they simply respond in the negative, meaning that you should keep on as you were.

(*) (meaning, they'll temporarily shed whatever attention-stealer it was that led to them forgetting about you, whether it was being too busy with other traffic or some other outside distraction.)

EDIT: or, (d), they already issued you that command and you didn't hear it (for whatever technical or human-factors reason) and they were too busy or distracted to notice you never read it back -- in which case the controller will say, "yeah, I already gave you that, but, {repeats instruction / clearance.}"

Oh, the center controller knew my flight plan and had given me clearance earlier to approach the first fix/waypoint of the ILS approach.  But when I reached the first fix/waypoint  of the ILS approach, nothing was said from the center controller, possibly due to the fact that the center controller was busy monitoring other traffic. 

The flight was a super short 15 to 20 minute flight between 2 close airports so technically, I didn't have to enter a STAR before the ILS approach.  The first waypoint/fix of the ILS approach was more or less, the next waypoint for me after I took off from the departing airport.

I really don't mind contacting the center controller to let them know that I have reached the first fix/waypoint  of the ILS approach if I think I have been forgotten.  But I also don't want to be a nuisance and go overboard in updating the center controller every time I reach a waypoint/fix, because they are busy with other traffic and I will just clog up the radio.  So I am just trying to get a better idea of what the typical procedure is so next time I fly, I know roughly what is expected of me so things go smoother between me and ATC, and I am following the procedures and etiquette better on VATSIM.

Edited by Richard Lee
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6 minutes ago, Tobias Dammers said:

If you're under ATC control the whole time, do what you've been cleared to do, don't do what you haven't been cleared for, and call in if you suspect that you should have gotten a clearance but haven't.

Thanks!  I think this is a good rule set to have in mind!  It's easy to remember and gives me guidance on how to interact with ATC!

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6 hours ago, Tobias Dammers said:

you are authorized to fly the procedure as published, down to minimums, at which point you must have received a landing clearance or go around.

Just for clarity; you do not need a landing clearance by the DA. You need to be able to see the runway but that point.

The landing clearance can come at virtually any point up to crossing the threshold. You are certainly not obligated to go around if you do not have a landing clearance by DH, and if you were then nobody would ever land at places like Heathrow!

Vice President, Pilot Training

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