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ATC question

Pro Member Trainee
Grim Trainee

hello, i was just wondering when im coming in to land, and im talking to ATC, how do i know what runway is which? like there are 4 runways, land on 16L how do i know the names of the runways without being on the ground? And its not on the map.

Thanks for any help

Pro Member Chief Captain
Drew B (belgeode) Chief Captain

Good question. There are a couple of ways to figure it out, but all involve looking something up.

http://www.airnav.com/airports/

My favorite site for finding airport maps. Only good for the US though...

If you are flying any kind of approach though and have a GPS... that can be a lifesaver.

WHen tower calls you vectors and makes you aware what runway you are landing at... go to your GPS and hit the PROC (procedure) button. It should ask you if you want to select an approach. Hit ENTER. Next page you see a list of different runways... use the bottom knob to tab over and highlight the one you want then press enter again. press enter two more times and it will add approach to that runway on your flight plan.

Press flight plan once to get back to the map. Now you can fly direct to there using autopilot.

One thing about GPS though, as you get close to the approach you have to go back into PROC one more time and press enter to activate vectors.

Additionally if you are flying ILS, you will want to have the frequency and heading of the runway you are landing at dialed in already. you can find these on the FS9 MAP... look for those nifty green arrows leading to the runways around most airports.

Pro Member Chief Captain
CRJCapt Chief Captain

Runways are numbered based on their magnetic direction. Runway 12 would be approximately a 120 degrees heading on the compass. Runway 31 would be 310 degrees. The L, C or R refers to parallel runways(Left, Center or Right). Knowing the direction of the runway allows you to mentally project the extended centerline, helping you to judge runway alignment.

Pro Member Chief Captain
Chris Morris (morris91) Chief Captain

CRJCapt wrote:

Runways are numbered based on their magnetic direction. Runway 12 would be approximately a 120 degrees heading on the compass. Runway 31 would be 310 degrees. The L, C or R refers to parallel runways(Left, Center or Right). Knowing the direction of the runway allows you to mentally project the extended centerline, helping you to judge runway alignment.

Really i never knew that 😳 😳 😳

I never knew that the number on the runway is the degrees its heading 😂 Thanks CRJ Nice INFO

Pro Member Chief Captain
Drew B (belgeode) Chief Captain

See you learn something new each day Morris.

Pro Member Chief Captain
Chris Morris (morris91) Chief Captain

belgeode wrote:

See you learn something new each day Morris.

Thats true, so very true. 😀

Pro Member First Officer
rowcoach First Officer

Just to expand on this a little. Runways are numbered as per their magnetic direction. The [L]erft, [R]ight, and Centre are from the pilot's point of view. If there is a 16L and a 16R and you are given 16L to land on - land on the runway to your left.

What I usually do if I am trying to figure out which runway to land on is go to the map. Once you zoom in a little you can either drag the pointer over the green ILS arrows to figure out which runway you should be guiding your plane towards, or you can find the information on the airport and figure it out from there.

As a last resort you can fly over the airport and look down to see the number on the runway. You'll probably have to radio in for a go around, but at least you'll know.

Hope that helps.

Pro Member Trainee
renesis Trainee

The runway numbering/lettering system described is spot on. However, this alone doesn't ensure that a pilot automatically flys to the correct runway. There exist two more ways to ensure you're aligned with the correct runway:

1. Instrument Landing System, or ILS, sends out a radio "beam" from the landing runway so that, provided you have tuned to the correct frequency (each runway has a different frequency) you will capture the beam and fly along it to the coreect runway. Testament to the accuracy of these is that landings can be made effectively "blind".

2. Charts (up to date ones at that) are essential on the flight deck for just this reason. Most national IFR aviation regulations state that before attempting an instrument approach the pilot should have at least the textual description of the procedure - including the missed approach procedure! What these charts do, amongst other things, is help the pilots "orientate" themselves at unfamiliar airports.

In good weather conditions you may choose to fly a visual approach. The irony here is that sometimes a visual approach can be more confusing than an IFR one. For this reason the pilot must confirm a good "visual with the runway". I've been flying since the early '90's and it's amazing to me how many pilots call "visual with the field/field in sight", which without being pedantic, is open to error. In real life I call "runway in sight" which lets ATC know that I have positively identified, not just the square-mileage of airport but that I can make out your asigned runway. Of course, the exception to this rule would be the case of not having been assigned a runway at the point you become visual with the airfield.

What if you can't make out the runway? Well, that is why there are instrument procedures to get us to a point of being visual or to carry out an auto-land.

To digress slightly, in real life, ATC like to issue visual approaches, when able, to facilitate the traffic flows (increase the flow essentially - the airport owners like this because they rack up more "movements per hour"). From the flight deck though it can be anything but visual. The pilot has FINAL AUTHORITY on which approach to accept. ATC CANNOT force an approach on you if you are unable or unwilling, for good reason, to comply. State that you are "UNABLE to comply" with any procedure that you are unhappy with and specify the reason. It is not a legal requirement that you accept "all" ATC instructions but it is a legal requirement for you to comply once you have accepted unless you state "unable to comply".

Vectors are the pilots best friend when given properly. Vectors are given for two reasons:

1. Traffic avoidance/spacing.
2. Navigational Guidance/Assistance

Provided you are not getting vectored all around the sky (can be quite disorientating) a series of good vectors are nealry as accurate as an IFR procedure itself. Infact, there are "talk-down" procedures which are called ASR or Airport Surveillance Radar and PAR or Precision Approach Radar, both of these are used in the US. The UK equivalent is called an SRA or Surveillance Radar Approach.

Probably a bit of overkill of the subject but the question is a good one and highlights an ongoing and embarrassing problem.[/b]

Pro Member Captain
vlad (tiger7881) Captain

I will tell you this. As in real life I am a VFR pilot, I dont use anyGPS and kinda stuff, I use map and thats it. Just folowe the procedure the ATC tells you, and if you are looking forthe rnwa,y look at your heading indicator, The RWY number will tel you the heading. I.e. "Toronto tower, C-YKZ you are 23 miles northwest, decend and maintain 3000 turn let heading 310, clear to land RWY 33R." In this case, you would turn 310 and just o it visualy, if you are lost ask your ATC for airport diretion, and this will make your life easier.

Pro Member First Officer
Mohit (Mc_GaNgStA) First Officer

These runway numbers could be quite confusing when travelling in regions between Magnetic North and Geographical North. I mean if you're directly between the line that joins both (the meridian), the tower could say "Clear to land RW36" whereas you would be landing on the RW18 (opposite) with respect to the Geographical North. Isn't this so? I'm not sure seeing as I'm still doing my ATPL theory but I assume this would be a case to take into concern flying in those regions.

Pro Member Chief Captain
CRJCapt Chief Captain

Airports in the above described regions are few and remote. Runways would be marked in reference to true north. In such a region, aircraft would not use the magnetic compass for navigation.

Pro Member First Officer
Mohit (Mc_GaNgStA) First Officer

Ah right, Ok. Thanks for the info CRJCapt.

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