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Do I need to contact ATC


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In both scenario's, below, I have filed a flight plan. 1= Filed VFR. 2= Filed IFR.

Scenario 1: I'm flying VFR from a non-towered airport to a non-towered airport and ATC, over these two airports, is online. Do I need to contact ATC. Real world I would not. For safety I may call for Flight Following.

Scenario 2: ATC is online. I'm going from a towered airport to a towered airport under ATC online area. Tower is not online. Do I contact ATC as if they were Tower, Clearance delivery, Ground?

Is there a section on VATSIM's website that explains when to make contact without certain controllers online?

Thank you

N313GM, P0: XP11.51, Windows 10, Intel I7-5939K 3.5 GHZ, NVIDIA GTX980 4GB, 16GB DDR4 2400 RAM,

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Good evening John,

I’m learning the same procedures, glad to have some company. For question 2, it relies on the top-down philosophy I believe and center can issue a ground clearance. I had that happen Tuesday when Boston Center cleared me for takeoff at a towered airport that wasn’t staffed. He actually did clearance, ground, tower and departure and then was center that I would never talk to in real life. Here’s the page on the VATSIM that I referenced https://www.vatsim.net/pilot-resource-centre/general-lessons/airport-atc-procedures-cd-gnd-twr

As for question 1, I’ll leave that for others but I did have a ground controller ask if I wanted flight following and gave me a squawk code and off I went on Unicom as there was no other ATC. It was very strange to call Unicom at Logan, 🤣😂🤣

All the best,

Fred

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  • Board of Governors

Scenario 1: Yes and no. If you are going to remain clear of Class D,C,B airspace then you do not need to contact ATC. If you will be entering said airspace, then you need to make contact with the appropriate controller in accordance with the local rules of the country. 

Scenario 2: You will contact the lowest online controller for the applicable position. For instance, if you are departing from XYZ Airport and the DEL/GND/TWR is not online, but XYZ Approach and Center are online, then you would call XYZ approach for clearance, taxi, etc.

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Matt Bartels
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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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11 hours ago, Fred Olsen said:

{...} I did have a ground controller ask if I wanted flight following and gave me a squawk code and off I went on Unicom as there was no other ATC. {...}

LOL.  Yeah, it does seem kinda pointless for GND to offer Flight Following if there are no APP or CTR controllers online with which to exercise it.  🙂

But, it has a purpose.  In fact, I can think of two:
1) an APP or CTR controller could pop in at any time, unannounced, and would then see from your flightplan notes that you had requested flight following.
2) the GND controller is practicing what he/she was taught, because he/she would follow that same progression regardless of what other controllers are or aren't online.

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Cheers,

-R.

fvJfs7z.png

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  • 4 weeks later...

 

Hi guys...  I am about to venture into using VATSIM but had a question or two to improve my understanding of how it is meant to work.

Given Vatsim doesn't replicate the real world ATC/Airspace structure 100%, is there any guidance on what airspace an APP or TWR controller is controlling and what type of service they provide (class of airspace)?    I was curious if the green circles on VAT-spy are a generic airspace TWR controllers are controlling and like wise for the blue lined FIRs which APP controllers are controlling?  [I haven't been able to find guidance on VATSIM airspace vs controller responsibility]

Thanks

Screenshot 2021-01-26 13.51.33.png

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Hi Baz,

VatSpy and most (or all?) other programs that show you VATSIM's current activities, do show more or less correct airspace sizes for CTR (blue lines in your screenshot), but for APPs you only get a generic green circle. In "Qutescoop" it is the same thing. TWR controllers are either shown with an icon only (VatSpy has a red "T") or by other means.

For some places it is a bit of a guessing game. Let's say you want to depart from KBED (Bedford, a few miles west of Boston), I'd first check if Boston APP was responsible, because of its proximity to Boston airport which is controlled by BOS APP. If that ATCO says that he's not providing service for KBED, then BOS CTR would be the station to call. The APP controllers will probably tell you anyway. All this, of course, in the absence of a local GND and TWR. And when you are a bit further away from BOS, e.g. in KBGR, then CTR would be the obvious choice.

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18 hours ago, Baz Nichols said:

Given Vatsim doesn't replicate the real world ATC/Airspace structure 100%, is there any guidance on what airspace an APP or TWR controller is controlling and what type of service they provide (class of airspace)?    I was curious if the green circles on VAT-spy are a generic airspace TWR controllers are controlling and like wise for the blue lined FIRs which APP controllers are controlling?  [I haven't been able to find guidance on VATSIM airspace vs controller responsibility]

VATSIM's Learning Center has a chapter on this very subject. Step 1 isn't as important if you already know where you are (i.e. if you're on the ground at a specific airport). Step 2, however, is crucial because it recommends looking at the airport charts for guidance. If there was any one piece of advice that is underrated on the network, it's to check the charts. Skyvector.com is one of the best (free) resources for this information for US airports.

In the US, there are a lot of airports served by overlying approach controls that are infrequently staffed on the network, so sometimes the chart won't give you a straight answer. Take KRPJ, for example.

image.png.f541f0265ab49c1f72dee33282525e22.png

This is an excerpt from Skyvector.com and says Rockford Approach is the overlying radar facility. However, if Rockford isn't open, the airspace belongs to the overlying ARTCC, so you'd contact Chicago Center. One other important thing to note is that the frequency depicted on the chart may or may not be in use by the controller, so it's best to check the controller info, listen to the ATIS (if applicable), or, in the absence of any other indication, use your pilot client to find the appropriate frequency.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's a question.

Let's say I'm on the ground at a towered airport. Orlando Center is online, but no ATC below that.

Do I tune to their channel and address them as Orlando Center despite my request or would I address them as, say, "Kimmessee Ground" if I'm looking for taxi?

If that's documented, I have missed it.

I get the top down approach, I just don't know if we change how we address the hooman behind the screen depending on our current situation.

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26 minutes ago, Marc Richter said:

I get the top down approach, I just don't know if we change how we address the hooman behind the screen depending on our current situation

You would address the hooman as per the top position controlled, so even if you want Delivery Clearance, if you are under the control of Orlando Center you would address them as Orlando Center, eg, "Orlando Center, BloggsAir Three request clearance."

28 minutes ago, Marc Richter said:

If that's documented, I have missed it.

It isn't currently in the New Members Orientation course, but it will be! :)

Alistair Thomson

===

Definition: a gentleman is a flying instructor in a Piper Cherokee who can change tanks without getting his face slapped.

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Thanks to both Alistair and Andreas.

I'm in the "nerve wracking new" phase right now. So while I appreciate folk being kind because "it's just a game" I do want to do things the proper way since that's a big part of the experience.

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Hi,

yet another newbie here trying to figure out the "whom to call" system. I get the top-down approach, but a follow-up question on a specific scenario I recently encountered: I want to fly from class D to another class D airport (thought to better stay away from the big airports for the start). No tower or ground staffed but center is available. However, center has a remark he is only handling FL 18 and above (I assume busy with all the big airliners flying high). So what do I do as little GA plane? Basically handle this as "uncontrolled area", tune to UNICOM and depart from my class D airport without asking center, assuming he is not interested in the little low guys? It's a slightly confusing situation, either risk violating class D airspace or risk pestering the center controller who clearly said he only wants to do the "top" part of the top-down approach.

Apologies if this has already been covered elsewhere. My head spins trying to digest all the various pieces of information.

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Was the remark something you saw on the controller's info or did they tell you they were only covering FL180 and above? If it was in the info, that may have just been information left over from an event where that controller was working a center split that only covered higher altitudes and the controller forgot to update the info afterwards. I'm assuming there was only one center controller online at the time you were flying? If there are multiple center controllers on, they will sometimes split the airspace vertically so one covers the airports and the other primarily has the enroute aircraft. 

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Saw the remark in the controllers Info. I don't know if there was an ongoing event, I did not check the divisions webpage. Meanwhile I learned checking the controller info is a good idea as they sometimes write which airports they cover.

Anyways, after a nights sleep, I suppose I worry too much about this. Just call them and ask. Cannot get worse than "I do not handle you, go away", can it? I guess typical newbie issue, too afraid of doing a mistake. :-)

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