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Tower — Use of Runways Last updated: 2017-12-02

1. Selecting Runways in Use

The local controller has the primary responsibility for selecting runways in use. Normally, when the surface wind of 5 knots or more exists, runways most nearly aligned with the wind should be used. When the surface wind is less than 5 knots, “calm wind” runway should be used. “Calm wind” runways, when they exist, will be specifically designated in the vZLA SOP for the airport. At airports without a designated “calm wind” runway, local controllers should select the most operationally advantageous runway when the wind is less than 5 knots.

Busier airports have individually developed “runway use” programs aimed to best facilitate the airport’s efficiency and/or noise abatement. Such “runway use” programs may exceed the standard wind alignment requirements before a runway change occurs. The vZLA airports with “runway use” programs will specify the conditions for selecting active runways in the SOP for the airport.

At any time, you may use a different runway regardless of the wind or runway use program if it will be operationally advantageous, or is requested by the pilot. Such requests should be facilitated whenever possible.

When conducting aircraft operations on other than the advertised active runway, state the runway in use.

1. If a pilot prefers to use a runway different from that specified, the pilot is expected to advise ATC.
2. At airports where a “runway use” program is established, ATC will assign runways deemed to have the least noise impact. If in the interest of safety a runway different from that specified is preferred, the pilot is expected to advise ATC accordingly. ATC will honor such requests and advise pilots when the requested runway is noise sensitive.

Local controllers should keep in mind that the process of changing active runways’ direction takes time, as some aircraft on ground controller’s and approach controller’s frequencies may already be taxiing to / joining final approach for a runway previously designated as active. Hence, local controllers should use advanced coordination with ground, departure, and approach controllers when changing the runways in use; and only effectively change the active runways after the last arrival and the last departure for the runways previously designated as active lands/takes-off.

{Reference: FAAO 7110.65 3-5-1 “Selection.”}

2. Closed Runways

Usually, when in the real-world a runway at one of the ZLA airports is closed for an extended period of time, the vZLA closes this runway on VATSIM as well, which is announced by the vZLA ATM in the appropriate NOTAM on the main page and vZLA Forum. (Note that vZLA do not normally simulate short-term runway closures from the real-world. The vZLA controllers should reference the vZLA NOTAMs directly when determining runway closures on VATSIM.)

Controllers must not direct aircraft to operate on closed runways except for crossing those runways (if crossing of a closed runway is not authorized, it will be referenced in the relevant NOTAM.) If a pilot specifically requests takeoff, land, or touch-and-go on a closed runway ATC should first inform the pilot the runway is closed, quoting the pilot the appropriate parts of the NOTAM applying to the runway and inform him/her that a clearance cannot be issued. Then, if the pilot insists and in your opinion the intended operation would not adversely affect other traffic, inform him/her that the operation will be at his/her own risk.

RUNWAY (runway number) CLOSED/UNSAFE.
If appropriate, (quote NOTAM information),

{Reference: FAAO 7110.65 3-3-2 “Closed/unsafe runway information.”}

3. Coordination between Local and Ground Controllers for Use of Active Runways

The local controller has primary responsibility for operations conducted on the active runway and must
control the use of those runways. Ground control may conduct certain aircraft operations on active runways through positive coordination with local controller as follows:

a. Ground control must obtain approval from local control before authorizing an aircraft or a vehicle to cross or use any portion of an active runway. The coordination shall include the point/intersection at the runway where the operation will occur preceded by the word “cross.”

CROSS (runway) AT (point/intersection).

The ground controller shall advise the local controller when the coordinated runway operation is complete.

b. Authorization for aircraft to taxi on or along an active runway, for purposes other than crossing, shall be provided via direct communications on the local control frequency. (An example of this would be backtracking an active runway.)

c. The local controller shall coordinate with the ground controller, as well as the departure and approach controllers before using a runway not previously designated as active.

d. When the runways in use for landing/departing aircraft are not visible from the tower or the aircraft using them are not visible on radar, advise the local/ground controller of the aircraft's location before releasing the aircraft to the other controller.

{Reference: 7110.65 3-1-3 “Use of Active Runways;” 3-1-4 “Coordination between Local and Ground Controllers.”}