Pilot Discussion With a Global Perspective
By Aharon Dayan 1090798
#529148 Shalom and greetings all my pals,

I have been flying on Vatsim for 10 years without problems and have been observing all rules and regulations without problems particularly the one regarding use of runway based in wind direction.

Unfortunately lately this month, I had seen bizarre unicom announcements indicating pilots' desire to land on runways that are contrary to winds' directions.

For two examples:

First example: the winds were 180 degrees for KDCA so I chose runway 19 using famous River 19 approach. However I saw on unicom other pilots indicating their intention to use runway 01. So I said on unicom "??? Winds are 180 degrees so rwy 19is choice??". Their replies were "I am using website that tells me real world approach and landings of specific runways" OKAYYYYY I changed to rwy 01.

Second example: the winds were 110 for KSFO so I picked 10L and some Vatsim pilots also indicated same runway selection BUT other Vatsim pilots said runway 28R or 27L because they said "I am using website that tells me real life approach and landings of specific runways" and that erupted into arguments among Vatsim pilots on unicom (not me as I just shut my mouth up and changed to rwy 28R to keep everybody happy because pilots were screaming "follow real world runway selections" ).

So my question is what in the heck is the website that tells people which runways planes are using in real world that seem to be contrary to wind direction?

Thanks,

Aharon
By Markus Vitzethum 815055
#529150 Hello Aharon,

this topic seem to become more frequent now...

Just to answer your question first, the websites are probably flight tracking websites like flightradar24.com or planefinder.net (there are many more) which show the current real world flows into many airports.

There is already comprehensive discussion on this topic, see e.g.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=77186&p=527551 ("Vatsim ATIS vs. flight radar 24")
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=77386 ("People using active runways when there is no ATC online")

Markus
By Josh Glottmann 1275389
#529151
Aharon Dayan 1090798 wrote:Second example: the winds were 110 for KSFO so I picked 10L and some Vatsim pilots also indicated same runway selection BUT other Vatsim pilots said runway 28R or 27L because they said "I am using website that tells me real life approach and landings of specific runways" and that erupted into arguments among Vatsim pilots on unicom (not me as I just shut my mouth up and changed to rwy 28R to keep everybody happy because pilots were screaming "follow real world runway selections" ).

Tl;dr it's going to matter on local procedures heavily. San Fransisco is an airport that doesn't follow normal conventions. Their configuration makes it very undesirable to use the 10s. They'll use the 28s with up to a 25 knot crosswind or 10 knot tailwind. They'll use the 1s for departures with roughly the same rules. It's preferable to use 28s for arrival over 19s almost any day. SFO almost never uses 10s/1s for arrivals. Simply put, use the 28s for arrival until you absolutely can't, then use the 19s. Use the 1s for departure if you're not too large and not heading towards the ocean, otherwise use the 28s. If the 19s are in use, use 10s for departure otherwise use 19s.

There isn't a website to my knowledge that gives any accurate runway usage for SFO other than flightradar.
By Simon Kelsey 810049
#529153 In short - as has been mentioned in some other threads, the first thing to say is that there is no "right" and "wrong" runway to use when there is no ATC. Just use the runway which:

1) Fits in with what the majority of other traffic is doing and/or
2) Is suitable for your operation.

VATSIM, mostly, is a very big sky and 90% of the time in an uncontrolled situation there is more enough room for everyone to use the runway they want. The problems come when people try and insist that they runway they are using is the "right" one and want everybody else to do the same.

Places to look to see the preferred configurations:

1) The aerodrome charts (specifically the textual data sections).
2) The local VATSIM VACC/ARTCC Web page (who should have this sort of stuff easily accessible to pilots, really)
3) Flightradar24 but this comes with a very big BUT....

...there are MANY reasons why the most appropriate runway on VATSIM may not always be the runway in use in real life.

In real life, at a major airport, changing the runway in use (especially from one end to the other) is a pretty major deal which involves lots of coordination and often delays to inbound and/or outbound aircraft in order to do it safely.

On VATSIM, as mentioned above, it is generally a very big sky and when there are no inbounds for 15 minutes changing ends is trivial.

Plus, there are often other factors involved than JUST the current surface wind reported in the METAR - the 2000ft wind, as well as the forecast or other significant weather may often be just as important.

Further, VATSIM pilots have in my experience quite a low tolerance for tailwind and will generally gravitate toward the most in-to-wind runway even when there is a preference for a particular direction. In the interest of ease of integration it is usually better to 'follow the herd'.

Finally - the VATSIM METARs are only updated periodically and there is no guarantee that a particular pilot is using or seeing that weather depicted in their sim, either deliberately or due to technical issues (especially if they are not using a good third-party weather engine).

So in short: read the charts and briefing material provided as a guide to what you might expect to see, but be prepared to change if you need to fit in with others doing something different.
By Mats Edvin Aaro 1227980
#529186 I agree With what's being said above - it's strange how this has become such a big problem lately.

You have gotten a really good explanation of how to figure this out, but let me just clarify one thing:

When you are in uncontrolled airspace, there is no right or wrong runway. Some airports have preferred runway configurations and special procedures - but you are not required to know or abide by this what so ever. However, communicating on unicom is an essential role in this. This is also why if you see someone arguing or chatting on unicom, you should Call for a supervisor using the .wallop command. :D
By Richard Gerrish 1029296
#529202
Mats Edvin Aaro 1227980 wrote:This is also why if you see someone arguing or chatting on unicom, you should Call for a supervisor using the .wallop command. :D


and if possible take a screenshot of the chat for the supervisors.
By Aharon Dayan 1090798
#529215 Thanks all for kind answers.

Yeah I use flightaware or flightradar24 website BUT I do not see such info on those 2 websites telling me which runway a plane landed UNLESS all of you are telling me the only way I will know is to look at those websites' LIVE satillette maps showing LIVE action of planes' movements toward runways.

Regards,

Aharon
By Richard Gerrish 1029296
#529224 I haven't seen anything yet while digging through Flightaware for runways in use. What you can do is find the airport diagram/s and see if they list the local number for the FSS / ATIS and give the number a call and listen in.

You'll still need to coordinate on unicomm but it'll at least give you some quick information if you want it and ATC isn't online :-)
By Simon Kelsey 810049
#529225
Aharon Dayan 1090798 wrote: Yeah I use flightaware or flightradar24 website BUT I do not see such info on those 2 websites telling me which runway a plane landed UNLESS all of you are telling me the only way I will know is to look at those websites' LIVE satillette maps showing LIVE action of planes' movements toward runways.


That is exactly what people do -- look at the live feed.