|TIP 1: Callsigns:
- Airline call signs should be in the form XXX1234, where XXX is the airline code. If your airline does not have an official XXX code, make one up that is reasonable and is not being used by another airline if possible. If you make one up, please put call sign=xxxxxxxx in your remarks where xxxxxx is what your verbal call sign is.
- Civilian call signs follow specific formats. For US registered airplanes most start with N, NC, NX, NR, or NL (Only N is used today, the remainder are leftovers from older aircraft (pre 1940 usually)). After the N either numbers or letters may be used, the exception is that the letters O and I are not used. A call sign may first consist of 1-5 numbers. The first number may never be 0 and these numbers come directly after the N. After the numbers you may have 0, 1, or 2 letters. You may never have a number after a letter and a call sign can be between 3 and 5 digits after the N. 1 and 2 Digit N numbers (like N1) are reserved for the FAA.
N123A1 (number after a letter)
NABCD (no numbers)
N123IO (I and O arenâ€™t allowed)
N0123A (0 can't be the first digit)
N123#$ (You can only have letters and numbers)
N1ABC (more then 2 letters)
Foreign aircraft call signs follow different formats.
|TIP 2: What runways are active?
|This is an important question for flight planning. Every airport has different rules for when to switch runways. Remember that some arrivals and departures depend on the use of specific runway configurations. Below are the rules for the class Bravo airports in ZLA airspace.
Normally runways 24R and 25L are used for landings with 24L and 25R for departures. You can expect to be assigned the closest runway for takeoff. Aircraft on the far south ramp may be given 25L for takeoff.
When the winds are consistently out of the east from more then 10kts then we will switch to â€œeast operationsâ€. In east operations runway 6L and 7R are used for landings and 6R and 7L are used for takeoffs. Once again aircraft on the far south side may be given 7R for takeoff. Remember that in east ops different charts must be used.
Between the hours of 0000-0700 Local Pacific Time, LAX will switch to noise abatement rules and run what is called â€œsuicide operationsâ€. In suicide ops runway 6L is used for arrivals and runway 25L for departures. All other runways are not used, and are not active. You do not need to ask for permission to cross a non-active runway.
Normally runways 25R and 19L are used for departures and 25L and 19R are used for arrivals. If the winds are out of the east at more then 10 kts then runway 7L is used for departures, and 7R for arrivals. Runwayâ€™s 1L and 1R may be used also at the discretion of the controller for winds out of the north.
Runway 27 is used for all arrivals and departures unless one of the following occurs:
If winds are out of the east at more then 15kts then runway 9 is used for arrivals and departures.
If visibility is less then 1 SM or the ceiling is less than 660' then runway 9 is used for arrivals
If visibility is less then 1 SM or the ceiling is less than 300' then runway 27 is used for departures.
|TIP 3: Advanced Chart Reading
|This section assumes that you can navigate along a chart. If not please see the beginner section on chart reading (under basics).
Read the notes. They have very important restrictions. These include runway restrictions, aircraft equipment required, and time restrictions. If there is nothing stated for a specific runway on a chart, then you canâ€™t use that runway with the chart. Combine this with the current runway configuration to figure out the right charts to use.
For example the GABRE5 departure is useless until LAX goes into east ops. The following charts can not be used at KLAX during normal ops for a variety of reasons:
BASET3, MOONPARK3, OCEAN2, RDEYE2, CATALINA5, CHATY2, SEBBY4, GABRE5, DOWNE4, and REEDR3.
Please pay close attention to initial headings/heading changes. A common pilot mistake is to not make a heading change after departure when required. This can be deadly at an airport like KLAS. At KLAX alone the following charts have heading changes or initial headings after takeoff.
CHATY2, GARBE5, GORMAN4, LAXX5, LOOP4, PERCH9, SANDIEGO5, SEALBEACH5, SEBBY4, VENTURA5.
A complete list of used charts and most chart restrictions to every ZLA airport can be found here. http://www.laartcc.org/airports.php.
Understand the difference between â€œexpect to cross at 12000â€, and â€œcross at 12000â€. The first means that you should plan on it happening (and if no controller is online you should do it), but donâ€™t do it until actually told. The second one means you must do it if told to â€œdescend via the XXX arrivalâ€. For example on the KEPEC1 arrival into KLAS, if you are told to â€œdescend via the KEPEC 1 arrivalâ€ you must cross MISEN at or above FL240, CLARR at 13000ft and 250kts, KEPEC at 12000, IPUMY at 11000ft, NIPZO at 9000ft, SUNST at 8000ft and 210 kts. KIMME at 210 kts, and CHIPZ at 170kts. You must follow the speed restrictions regardless if you were told to descend via the arrival unless you are told otherwise.
There are 3 types of SID/STAR procedures. These are PILOT NAV, RNAV, and vectored (vectored only applies to SIDâ€™s)
Pilot Nav are the most common. A good example is the CLARR2 into KLAS. The chart is here http://www.laartcc.org/arrivals/STAR-CLARR.pdf. To fly this from DAG you should fly outbound on the DAG031R and/or inbound on the LAS211R to SKEBR. Once you hit SKEBR you should fly heading 345 towards ISSAR. At ISSAR you should intercept the BLD260R inbound (heading 080) to BLD. At BLD you should expect vectors for the approach.
RNAV are becoming more and more popular with the FAA. These work exactly like a pilot nav except you must have RNAV equipment to fly them (GPS/FMS/INS/LORAN/OMEGA). Lets look at the KEPEC1 into KLAS. The chart is here http://www.laartcc.org/arrivals/STAR-KEPEC.pdf. To fly this from DAG you should fly direct MISEN direct CLARR direct SKEEBR direct KEPEC direct IPUMY direct NIPZO direct SUNST direct KIMME direct CHIPZ direct POKRR direct PRINO. PRINO is the IAF for the ILS runway 25L approach, so you can expect approach clearance at that point.
Finally we have vectored DPâ€™s. There are no â€œpureâ€ vectored DPâ€™s in ZLA. The closest we have is the LAXX5 departure out of KLAX which has some vectored departures in it (and some regular transitions). The chart is available here http://www.laartcc.org/charts/DP-LAXX.pdf. Lets say you filed LAXX5.TRM which is one of the vector options for the LAXX5 (The other main one is MZB, however you could in â€œtheoryâ€ file SXC, CARDI, PDZ, OCN, and SLI as vectored departures). Upon takeoff (we will assume runway 25R), you will fly heading 250 until you cross the Santa Monica 160 Radial. Then you will turn to a heading of 220. At this point you should expect vectors to your fix. If going to thermal you can expect to be vectored south for noise reasons, then given â€œdirect TRMâ€ at some point.
- Approach Charts and Full Approaches:
A very good basic overview of approach charts is available at the PRC.It will be assumed you are familiar with how to read an approach chart and the basics of flying an approach. If you need a refresher on VOR navigation see lesson 311 in the PRC.
Most pilots are used to getting vectors to final or having a route that allows an easy transition to an approach (such as the CIVET5 arrival to runway 25L at KLAX). However at times it may be in the controllerâ€™s best interests to give you a full approach. Letâ€™s look over some of the scenarios you can run into with a full approach. For this discussion we will use the VOR Rwy 9 approach into KRAL, available here. http://www.laartcc.org/charts/KRAL-VG9.pdf
This approach can be done either using a GPS or VOR receiver. For our purposes we will assume you with to do it via a VOR receiver. The ideal situation from a pilot standpoint would be to be vectored onto the RAL 277 Radial inbound and be cleared for the approach a few miles before NORCO. However there are specific requirements for a controller to be able to vector you for an approach. To save discussion on the details, this and a lot of other non-precision approaches donâ€™t qualify for vectors. So what options do we have?
Well a look over the approach gives several options. We could go direct PETIS (SB) then on the 200 bearing out from it (for details on NDB navigation see the advanced navigation section), direct to RAL. We could also do the same from EDITS. Either way we will end up at RAL VOR at 5000ft. Ok we are over RAL at 5000ft, now what?
If youâ€™re observant you will notice an arrow pointing away from RAL at NORCO intersection. So thatâ€™s what you will do fly outbound on the final approach course (or outbound on the RAL 277 Radial), and go down to 4000ft direct to NORCO which is 3.7 Miles from RAL or the intersection of the PDZ355 Radial. Now unless you have GPS you will not be able to tell 3.7 miles from RAL, because RAL isnâ€™t a VORTAC or VOR/DME, itâ€™s just a regular VOR and has no DME. Ok thatâ€™s pretty complicated so letâ€™s go into some detail:
We will assume you are over RAL at 5000 and have no GPS, just 2 VOR receivers, just established outbound on the 277 Radial. Once youâ€™re established you can descend down to 4000 ft. direct to NORCO. You need to know where NORCO is so that you can descend to 3000 ft. At this point VOR 1 should have RAL in it and be centered on a course of 277 with a from flag. Now you need to set VOR 2 to PDZ and set the course to 355 which will also give a from flag. This allows you to see the crossing radial. When your number 2 VOR centers you are over NORCO.
After Norco you can go down to 3000 according to the profile view. But youâ€™ll note the profile seems to make a U-turn, which makes sense, after all you are going outbound and need to turn around somehow. This is called a procedure turn and there are a lot of ways to do one. The symbol to indicate you need to do one is a barb going from the final approach course at a 45 degree angle (this is just past upland intersection). The rules for a procedure turn (or PT) are as follows:
You have to stay on the side of the final approach course indicated by the barb (left if you are outbound)
-You have to stay within 10 miles of NORCO (Youâ€™ll note that restriction on the profile view)
-You never do one if you are being vectored to final, or the route you are on says NO PT (like if you were coming from PRADO for example)
Thatâ€™s it. Now if youâ€™re observant youâ€™ll note 1 minor problem, how do we know how far from NORCO we are. The answer is you donâ€™t directly, but you should have a rough idea of your ground speed and the ability to do some math. So we will assume you are in a C172 doing about 90kts ground speed. Thatâ€™s 1.5 miles a minute. Now to stay within 10 miles for the entire turn we want to start the turn around 5 miles from NORCO. So thatâ€™s about 3 minutes from NORCO. So start a timer at NORCO and at 3 minutes you start the turn. Be sure to keep a constant airspeed during this.
As for the turn itself, there are a couple of methods. A common one is the 45-180. The best part of this is the headings you have to fly are already on the barb to make it easy on you. So your 3 minutes expires and you turn 45 degrees LEFT (remember the barb is to the left) to a heading of 232. At this point you need to start a timer, and remember to reverse your VOR 1 to show 097 and a TO flag, that way you donâ€™t get reverse sensing. For the forgetful ones use the 6 Tâ€™s as a helpful aid for whenever you cross a fix on approach, or in a hold, or start a procedure turn. The 6Tâ€™s are Time (Start a timer), Turn (Turn if needed), Twist (turn your VOR course to the next one you need), Throttles (Check speed), Tires (Gear if needed), Talk (Make a report if needed).
Fly on your 232 heading for 1 minute then make a right 180 (away from NORCO to give you time to get stabilized inbound when the times comes, this is why you start around 5 miles away instead of 8 or 9) to a heading of 052. Fly that inbound till the VOR comes alive, and re intercept inbound.
Congratulations, thatâ€™s a procedure turn. Now that you are established inbound its just like any other approach, follow the guidance and descend with the chart.
Another way you can do this approach is from PRADO to upland, there is no procedure turn required here, and you just fly the SLI 043 Radial to the RAL 277 Radial inbound.
Final note: If you see a holding pattern where you expect a procedure turn. Then you should fly a hold entry (usually it works to be a parallel entry), instead of a procedure turn.
|TIP 4: Holding
|There are usually 2 scenarios in which you are holding. First is if needed for an approach/missed approach (Look at the VOR-B approach into KRAL for an example.Note how there is a hold where you should expect a procedure turn if you were coming from PDZ), or if the controller is very busy. In that situation it is not a good time to ask how to fly a hold. The basics of flying a hold can are described here. http://www.stoenworks.com/Hold%20it.html
Letâ€™s talk about holding clearances and the nuances involved. There are 2 kinds of holding clearances, published and non-published. Published holds are the most common. Take a look at the CIVET5 Arrival into KLAX available here: http://www.laartcc.org/arrivals/STAR-CIVET.pdf
Youâ€™ll note there are holds at ETINE, GRAMM, and RUSTT. These are published holds (makes sense). So a hold clearance for a published hold will sound like this.
â€œCleared to RUSTT, hold North East as published, expect further clearance 0100Z time now 0030Zâ€
Ok Cleared to RUSTT, a hold changes your clearance limit, so thatâ€™s just saying how far youâ€™re allowed to fly now. Youâ€™ll need a new clearance to leave the hold.
â€œHold North East as publishedâ€ This just means hold as depicted on the chart. If you donâ€™t see a published hold ask for the full hold instructions, donâ€™t guess.
â€œExpect further clearance 0100Zâ€ When you can expect to leave the hold. This is a guess on the controllerâ€™s part, if it starts to get close to this time without a clearance (5 minutes), ask about it, youâ€™ll either get cleared or a new time.
â€œTime now 0030Zâ€ the current time, self explanatory.
Now letâ€™s say the controller wants you to hold at HEC. You could get instructions like this.
â€œCleared to HEC, hold East on the Hector 090 Radial, left turns, 2 mile legs, expect further clearance 0100Z time now 0030Zâ€
â€œCleared to HEC"
Same as before, just officially changing your clearance limit
â€œhold East on the Hector 090 Radialâ€
Ok this is new. This is saying how to hold, and the controller wants you to hold East of HEC on the 090 Radial from Hector. This means your outbound course should be on a heading of 090 (assuming no wind), and inbound you should be heading 270 inbound on the 090 Radial.
This is self explanatory, turn left in the hold. If this is not specified you should turn RIGHT.
â€œ2 Mile Legsâ€
Your holding legs should be 2 miles. If this is not stated your inbound leg should be 1 minute if at or below 14000ft and 1.5 minutes above 14000ft.
â€œexpect further clearance 0100Z time now 0030Zâ€
Same as before, just when you expect to leave the hold.
|TIP 5: Beyond the Basic METAR:
|This section assumes that you know the basics of Metar reading. I also recommend http://www.laartcc.org/article_page/16 which has a lot of good information that wonâ€™t be repeated here.
- Letâ€™s take a look at a complicated metar.
KPRC 110853Z AUTO 22015G22KT 9SM FEW038 BKN060 OVC090 00/M05 A2966 RMK AO2 SNB0758E49 SLP027 P0000 T00001050 53002 FZRANO
You should be able to decode everything up to RMK, if not take a look at the article above.
So letâ€™s start with RMK that just means Remarks, and signifies where the remarks start.
A02. This is a code to tell the reader some information about the station if itâ€™s an automated station (noted by the AUTO after the time). There can be 2 things here.
A01: Station without an automated precipitation discriminator (the ability to tell between frozen and liquid precipitation)
A02: Station with an automated precipitation discriminator
This is a code used to tell the reader information about weather trends. We will break this down part by part
SNB: Snow Began at. This can also be RAB for Rain and TSB for thunderstorms
0758: This is a time; in this case Snow began at 0758Z (the first 2 digits are omitted if in the same hour as the metar)
E: E for ended.
49: The time it ended 0849Z.
This is more for our European friends and is the altimeter setting in millibars. Add a decimal between the second and third digit and add either 10 or 9 to the beginning (whichever will bring the number closest to 1000). In this case its 1002.7 mb. Note that in extreme low pressure situation that rule will not work (such as a hurricane).
Precipitation in the last hour. 0000 means trace. This is in tens/ones/tenths/hundredths
More precise temperature and dew point. The first four digits are temperature, the last 4 dew point. The first digit indicates a positive (0) or negative (1) value. The last 3 are tens, ones, and tenths. In this case the exact temperature is 00.0C and the dew point is -05.0C
3 Hour pressure tendency. Donâ€™t worry about this one as you need a table to decode what it means.
Station canâ€™t tell freezing rain. This can be several other things like TSNO for thunderstorms.
- Ok letâ€™s take a look at 1 more Metar.
KPHX 080042Z 32016G24KT 10SM -TSRA BKN065CB BKN085 BKN120 BKN150 BKN210 BKN250 30/16 A2975 RMK AO2 PK WND 15046/0014 WSHFT 0028 TSB2355RAB14 OCNL LTGCGICCC ALQDS TS ALQDS MOV N P0000 $
Once again you should be able to read everything up to RMK on your own.
A02: Already covered this in the last metar
PK WND 15046/0014
Peak wind was 150@46kts at 0014Z. This is included when above 25 kts.
Wind Shift at 0028Z. Self explanatory, must be more then 45 degrees in less than 15 minutes. If FROPA is at the end it means â€œdue to frontal passageâ€
TSB2355RAB14 Similar to the SNB0758E49 from the last Metar.
OCNL LTGCGICCC ALQDS
Ok, this is a weird one. OCNL means occasional (less then 1 flash per minute), you can also have FRQ (1-6 per minute) and CONS (6+ per minute)
CG: Cloud to Ground
CC: Cloud to Cloud
You can also have CA: Cloud to air
ALQDS: All quadrants.
TS ALQDS MOV N
Thunderstorms all quadrants moving North.
Trace rain in the last hour.
Station needs maintenance.