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ATC Question - Monitor


Morgan Davies
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I have been listening to some US ATC feeds from liveatc.net and noticed that some ground controllers will say "Monitor tower on 123.45" (I have a bit of a clue, but I wanted to confirm what I am thinking).

 

I was wondering what does that mean and if we should use this in the VATSIM ATC environment or if this is dictated by local procedure.

 

Please note that I am not an ATC professional, thus why I am asking this question.

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"Monitor" means to tune the frequency but just listen. Don't call us, we'll call you. Use it to keep the number of transmissions to a minimum.

 

It is used on VATSIM when called for but usually traffic levels don't require it.

Steven Perry

VATSIM Supervisor

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In the real-world, at least at most airports, pilots are expected to contact or monitor tower on their own. At most GA airports aircraft are expected to switch to TWR when their run-up is complete, and call him up. At a lot of other airports (like BWI) pilots are expected to monitor TWR when they're ready and TWR will call them up.

 

JM

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However, sometimes when told to monitor tower, you are still expected to call up when ready for takeoff. I experienced this at Midway a few weeks back in a C172... Called up ground and was given, "Cessna xxx, runway 22R, taxi via F Y P, h/s 22L." After leaving the south apron and making my way up to the turn onto Y, I was given, "Cessna xxx, cross 22L, monitor tower." There was a lull in traffic and 118.7 was silent, but coming up on 22R they still expect a call to request takeoff clearance. I could have held short of 22R all day long and they wouldn't call me until I called them (even though we didn't need extra time as runups are completed near the parking area).

 

I think a good rule of thumb when told to monitor a frequency is to switch over but remain silent until you think something else should be happening (and if the controller isn't swamped w/ other things). On VATSIM I rarely wait for a frequency handoff from ground as I don't think it is needed. If I'm coming up on the h/s line and want to keep rolling, I'll switch over and call up tower for takeoff (most of the time this seems fine, but I have had one ground controller a while back private message me, whining that I didn't call him up requesting a frequency change).

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On VATSIM I rarely wait for a frequency handoff from ground as I don't think it is needed. If I'm coming up on the h/s line and want to keep rolling, I'll switch over and call up tower for takeoff (most of the time this seems fine, but I have had one ground controller a while back private message me, whining that I didn't call him up requesting a frequency change).

 

It's not whining. The ground controller needs to have positive control of you until he hands you over. There may be a (good) reason for waiting. IMHO your best bet, if you think you've been forgotten by a ground controller (and you probably have) is to ask, "Ground, do you want xxxxxxx over to Tower?"

 

If you leave on your own, think of all the radio time that's used, and the distraction from other traffic, on the part of the Ground Controller who may have tried to contact you 4 seconds after you left his frequency.....

Don Desfosse
Vice President, Membership

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So if it is the pilot's decision, I can just switch to tower immediately after receiving taxi instructions with a final clearance being the H/S line for my runway?

 

If I'm coming up on the h/s line and want to keep rolling, I'll switch over and call up tower for takeoff

 

Just when you're ready for takeoff (or in line for takeoff). There shouldn't be wasted radio time as Don implied... If the ground controller doesn't receive a response, he can [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume the pilot has switched over (though he shouldn't need to call up at all... That's a purely VATSIM phenomenon that came about because pilot's don't know when to switch over).

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No. The way I was tought in private pilot training was to switch to TWR when you're ready. This means after your run-up and holding short. It doesn't mean as soon as you your taxi instructions you can switch.

 

So when you're IFR inbound to an airport with the Approach control -- can you switch to Tower when you're ready to land?

Nick Bartolotta - ZSE Instructor, pilot at large

 

"Just fly it on down to within a inch of the runway and let it drop in from there."

- Capt. Don Lanham, ATA Airlines

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In reply to Nick:

 

They'll tell you to contact tower on final....

 

A real basic rule of thumb.... Change/ monitor on the ground, contact in the air. Meaning: You tell an aircraft on the ground to CHANGE to X freq. Monitor can be used in lieu of change. Contact is for aircraft in the air.

 

As far as the switch goes, and here's the difference between VATSIM and the RW. We are standing next to the controller the pilot should be or will be talking to. I can ask my local controller, "Hey, is this guy up with you?" We can also safely [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume that a pilot at the runway is going to call us for take-off after he called us to taxi for take-off. He wants something from me, I.E. a take-off clearance. I don't really care when he calls me to do that. Unlike VATSIM, you will not find a pilot just out meandering about in his aircraft. And, Situational Awareness in the RW is at a completely different level. If it's really busy, the pilot generally knows to listen to the controller for his instructions. When it's slow, a pilot may switch w/o telling ground he's switched.

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In reply to Nick:

 

They'll tell you to contact tower on final....

 

A real basic rule of thumb.... Change/ monitor on the ground, contact in the air. Meaning: You tell an aircraft on the ground to CHANGE to X freq. Monitor can be used in lieu of change. Contact is for aircraft in the air.

 

I've heard the following at LAX from the Downey sector to pilots on final for 25L constantly:

 

XXX123, monitor tower 120.95, report LIMMA inbound.

 

So monitor can be used in the air, not just on the ground. If not, SCT is in error, and they use that phraseology on a daily basis..

 

BL.

Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

27

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On VATSIM I rarely wait for a frequency handoff from ground as I don't think it is needed. If I'm coming up on the h/s line and want to keep rolling, I'll switch over and call up tower for takeoff (most of the time this seems fine, but I have had one ground controller a while back private message me, whining that I didn't call him up requesting a frequency change).

 

It's not whining. The ground controller needs to have positive control of you until he hands you over. There may be a (good) reason for waiting. IMHO your best bet, if you think you've been forgotten by a ground controller (and you probably have) is to ask, "Ground, do you want xxxxxxx over to Tower?"

 

If you leave on your own, think of all the radio time that's used, and the distraction from other traffic, on the part of the Ground Controller who may have tried to contact you 4 seconds after you left his frequency.....

 

Ground controllers very rarely say contact the tower I'm not saying they don't but that's mostly a vatsimism that should be corrected...pilots are expected to switch to tower by reaching the end or often once you get in the congo line and ground hasn't said othewise I'm over to tower otherwise your going to be the FNG sitting at the end of the runway still on ground freq and "well ground never told me isn't going to work". Controllers are one step ahead of us on this though so ground will often add at the end of his transmission "remain this frequency" and when he's ready "monitor tower" or "monitor tower p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ing xyz" obviously once he's said remain this freq you would be waiting for more specific instructions on when and how it is acceptable to switch to tower.

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Hi Wyatt,

 

Yes, you are correct as to what is expected in the real world. But, as you and a few other people have pointed out, it is a "VATSIMism". It has come about simply because 80-90% of the pilots on VATSIM won't be aware that you should do this. You can be guaranteed that if you don't say anything to them, your frequency is going to be clogged up with "GND, we're holding short RwyXX. Ready for take off".

 

VATSIM, although very realistic, will always have limitations in relation to the real world. Bo has pointed out one of the biggest. We're not sitting beside the Tower controller and can't just have a quick word with him. The second biggest is that the majority of pilots won't be aware of every real world responsibility they have. My controlling style and phraseology (95% accurate) has developed simply because of these VATSIMisms. Sometimes though, you have to say it plain to understand English rather than aviation jargon, especially with the new guys.

 

If this happens to me at these positions (local) it's not a show stopper for me, as I'm aware that the pilot will have probably switched. But, I'm still going to keep telling them to monitor/contact/change simply because I'm on VATSIM and there is a good chance they won't be aware of this and may still be on my frequency.

 

Cheers!

Paul.

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Hi Wyatt,

 

Yes, you are correct as to what is expected in the real world. But, as you and a few other people have pointed out, it is a "VATSIMism". It has come about simply because 80-90% of the pilots on VATSIM won't be aware that you should do this. You can be guaranteed that if you don't say anything to them, your frequency is going to be clogged up with "GND, we're holding short RwyXX. Ready for take off".

 

VATSIM, although very realistic, will always have limitations in relation to the real world. Bo has pointed out one of the biggest. We're not sitting beside the Tower controller and can't just have a quick word with him. The second biggest is that the majority of pilots won't be aware of every real world responsibility they have. My controlling style and phraseology (95% accurate) has developed simply because of these VATSIMisms. Sometimes though, you have to say it plain to understand English rather than aviation jargon, especially with the new guys.

 

If this happens to me at these positions (local) it's not a show stopper for me, as I'm aware that the pilot will have probably switched. But, I'm still going to keep telling them to monitor/contact/change simply because I'm on VATSIM and there is a good chance they won't be aware of this and may still be on my frequency.

 

Cheers!

Paul.

 

Don't get me wrong I guess I did say it should be corrected but I didn't mean I have a solution lol it's vatsim after all.

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Yes, you are correct as to what is expected in the real world. But, as you and a few other people have pointed out, it is a "VATSIMism". It has come about simply because 80-90% of the pilots on VATSIM won't be aware that you should do this. You can be guaranteed that if you don't say anything to them, your frequency is going to be clogged up with "GND, we're holding short RwyXX. Ready for take off".

 

Why can't we change this? This is something that is sooo easy to fix and will get rid of this "VATSIMism". All we got to do is to have our ground controllers not tell aircraft to switch over to tower. Sure they WILL call us and ask to switch over, and when they do we simply inform them that "you may switch to tower when you are ready to go at the runway, I don't have to tell you to switch".

 

Couple months ago, we (we being vZTL) decided to simulate having Mode C on while on all taxiways and runways and wouldn't give a taxi instruction until you were squawking normal. In the beginning we were telling EVERY aircraft to do it as no one knew they needed to do it (even though the ATIS, which they said they had, told them they needed to). We just kept on it and soon, it was becoming a rarity to tell planes to have to squawk normal as people now knew what they had to do.

 

So can we fix this? Absolutely. It will take a couple weeks or so of constantlty reminding pilots but after that, you will only have to be telling the new pilots that just joined as everyone else knows whats going on.

There is an art . . . to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

 

Benton Wilmes

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I agree with Benton, to some extent. I don't feel that this NEEDS to be changed. The way it is now is not completely incorrect, and I hear it at busy airports like ATL, JFK etc. However, if I hear GND give a tower frequency, 8 times out of 10 it's "Monitor TWR on 119.1, he'll call you" or "...wait for his call". So, do I think if we worked hard at it we could get pilots to do it? Absolutely. Do I think it's that important? Not really...

 

JM

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I've heard the following at LAX from the Downey sector to pilots on final for 25L constantly:

 

XXX123, monitor tower 120.95, report LIMMA inbound.

 

So monitor can be used in the air, not just on the ground. If not, SCT is in error, and they use that phraseology on a daily basis..

 

BL.

 

My only guess is that there is a local agreement that allows for this. Being that the SCT facility is in San Diego, and they're coordinating w/ LAX, it would only make sense. But it would also make sense because it's uncommon for a the arriving local controller to do much looking out the windows. They're mostly watching DBrite, and ASDE, and the aircraft are lined up for the local controller, so they know who is next in line, and who they need to clear.

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