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Thread: Why Is ATC so sleepy?

  1. Question Why Is ATC so sleepy?

    I have long doubted whether FSX (and now P3D) accurately reflects the distance at which the tower becomes available to give pattern entry instructions. Sometimes you have to get about 10 miles away before your destination appears in the "Nearest Airports" list -- even when you are flying a big jet to a major airport.

    And on a few recent occasions, I was unable to raise the tower at all! The other day, I approached KORD in a 747, and the airport NEVER showed up. I don't think it likely IRL that a major hub would let a 747 just wing it.

    A related Q: FSX (and P3D) gives us the frequencies for contacting towers. But what's the point of tuning the tower if you can't initiate communication?

    Is there something I don't know about getting the tower's attention?

    Thanks all,


    PS -- I have pretty much switched over to the miracle of 64 bits and P3D v. 4, but I believe the architecture is the same, and I've had the question for years before P3D. I experience the problem in both sims.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    San Francisco, California


    Why not fly IFR like in real life? You will have constant contact with all sorts of different ATC. I highly doubt that a 747 will just sneak up on an unsuspecting airport.
    Mr Zippy Sent from my keyboard using "Whackamole", NudgeAKey + 2 Fingers

    Emachines T3418 AMD 3400+ processor 2GHZ/256KB L2 Cashe 2Gig Ram 160Gig HDD NVidia GEForce 6100 GPU Running WinXP Home Can't believe it still works! Running FSX Standard with SP1 and SP2

  3. Default

    I would like to be able to hear from & respond to other NPC aircraft to add a touch of realism. Maybe someday in FS2020 or future editions. Should be easy for Microsoft to add a handful of AI & player responses to NPC aircraft these days.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Westminster, CO


    To add to Zippy's comments, in real life, tower is just the first and the final link in the ATC chain (disregarding Ground Control) when going from one large airport to another, if you're IFR (Instrument Flight Rules - that's RULES, not conditions). Typically after takeoff an aircraft will be handed off to departure control and then, if the flight is very far, to Center (major enroute facilities), then at the far end there's a handoff to approach control. Only in the last 5-10 miles (or when established on an instrument approach) does approach control hand you off to tower.

    So your experience is probably fairly accurate if you're just traveling VFR (Visual Flight Rules) leaving one tower controlled airport and going to another. And if you didn't specifically file an IFR flight plan then, as far as the sim is concerned, you are VFR.

    I highly doubt that a 747 will just sneak up on an unsuspecting airport.
    If the 747 wanted to stay below 18,000 feet and avoid certain other types of airspace, there is no reason* why a (generic) 747 can't fly VFR and "sneak up???" on an airport, but the approved operating rules for a specific airline (or other operator) MAY preclude straight VFR, especially with a load of passengers.

    * Of course fuel burn will be very high and there may be more problems with weather sometimes, but there's no actual regulation requiring a Part 91 flight (not operating as an air carrier) to file IFR or, except in class A, B, C or D airspace to even talk to anyone, same as if it were a Cub.

    Larry N.

    As Skylab would say:
    Remember: Aviation is NOT an exact Science!

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by mrzippy View Post
    I highly doubt that a 747 will just sneak up on an unsuspecting airport.
    You know in the old cartoons when someone would be on their tip-toes trying not to let anyone know they were around? That's the mental picture I got reading this line.

  6. Default

    I fly VFR in the Raptor F-22 all the time and with the WAAS gauge installed I have observed that when you are at 30 miles out right to the mile from the runway it is then when that tower will show up. If it's 30.03 or 30.09 miles out it won't show up. It has to be exactly 30 miles or less from the runway.
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