Air Traffic Services
VirtualFlight.Online is beginning to explore the possibility of offering sessions with ATC coverage, where members can join #atc voice channels in Discord to communicate with Air Traffic Control (when staffed). We're still in the early stages of working out how everything should work, so watch this space.
While we figure things out, we have provided some homework and resources below to keep those interested busy...
Getting Started with Voice Communications
Many people are intimidated by the idea of communicating with Air Traffic Control - worried about saying the wrong thing, saying something in the wrong way, or not understanding instructions. The first thing to keep in mind is Air Traffic Control is there to help you. With that in mind, over the coming days and weeks we will put together informational sections on callsigns, and example conversations.
The CAA in the UK provides a freely available radio-telephony manual, describing every facet of communication between both pilots and air traffic control. While we will not be adhering strictly to the guidelines, it provides a useful and somewhat readable reference guide.
Air Traffic Services Resources
Voice Channels in the VirtualFlight.Online Discord Server
A number of voice channels are available in the VirtualFlight.Online discord server - three are reserved to simulate air traffic communication:
#ground - if staffed, use to request radio check, engine start (Bigjet) , taxi to runway, take-off clearance, and taxi to parking
#tower - if staffed, use to request take-off and landing. If #ground is not staffed but #tower is, use it for ground communication too.
#radar - used to simulate wider controlled airspace coverage when needed - providing vectors and traffic information services as required.
#unicom - while outside of controlled airspace, or while #ground or #tower are not staffed, use #unicom.
When a channel is staffed, the controller will typically change their username to be prefixed by "ATC" so it is obvious to others.
For VirtualFlight.Online, it's all about keeping things simple. Please remember general conversation is not encouraged in the ATC voice channels - although guidance and tuition with regard to procedure and phraseology is absolutely fine if requested. There's nothing to stop you jumping over to other voice channels to have a conversation away from ATC.
If you're just starting out, #unicom is a great way to get started with no pressure or expectations - see the example unicom transmissions further on for a beginner's guide.