Ground Movement controllers are responsible for issuing information and instructions to aircraft under their control to achieve a safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic and to assist pilots in preventing collisions between aircraft moving on the apron and aircraft and vehicles, obstructions and other aircraft on the manoeuvring area (excluding the runways and their access points).
Apron – The part of an aerodrome provided for the stationing of aircraft for the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers, for loading and unloading of cargo and for parking.
Manoeuvring Area – The part of an aerodrome provided for the take-off and landing of aircraft and for the movement of aircraft on the surface excluding the apron and any part of the aerodrome provided for the maintenance of aircraft.
Ground controllers will also issue IFR clearances when Delivery is not open, or doesn’t exist at the airport.
In short the job of a Ground controller is to get aircraft from the aprons to the runways and back safely, with minimal delay. In conditions of low visibility they may be called upon to provide guided taxi, though one must be very careful as some scenery won’t match perfectly with your sector file.
What you need to know
In addition to the general guidelines an Apron or Ground controller must:
- Be familiar with the Clearance delivery SOP;
- Be able to provide taxi clearances in accordance with ICAO phraseology documentation;
- Be familiar with the taxiway layout of the given airport;
- When applicable be familiar with which airlines/aircraft use which gates.
Firstly you’ll need the following information:
- The sector file for the given airport;
- As a minimum the SID and ground movement charts for the given airport, though we recommend you download the complete collection.
The movements of aircraft, persons or vehicles on the menoeuvring area and the movement of aircraft on the apron are at all times subject to permission from the Ground Movement Controller. Responsibility on the apron is limited to providing advice and instructions to assist prevention of collisions between moving aircraft.
Vehicles that are moving along a taxiway shall give way at all times to aircraft taxying except emergency services vehicles providing assistance to an aircraft in distress.
Aircraft will contact for pushback. This action will have to be approved, with supplementary instructions if required (e.g. “Push facing south after Tunisair 737 crosses left to right”). In Tunisia, a pushback is always “Approved” and not “Cleared”.
“Ground, LBT3270 stand P17, request start and pushback”
“LBT3270, after the Tunisair A320 on your left hand side, start and pushback approved, facing North, Call for taxi””
“After the A320 on our left, push approved facing North, will call for taxi, LBT3270”
When the pilot of an aircraft requests start-up or taxi, the following information shall be given:
The items which are known to have been received (except the QNH) may be omitted.
(If the pilot calls up and says he has “information Alpha”, we can assume he already knows the runway in use, surface wind, air temperature and significant met conditions because they are on the ATIS).
The QNH should always be given again in a taxi clearance.
It is important that taxi instructions are clear and concise. The visibility from a flight deck is limited so the pilot is dependant to a large degree upon Ground control to assist him in determining the correct taxi route to be followed.
Heavy aircraft are not to be given instructions that would require the use of more than normal power for taxying.
In the interests of safety, use of the active runway for taxying purposes is to be kept to a minimum. If this can not be avoided, then a clearance to cross should normally be withheld until no conflict exists. A Conditional clearance may be used to achieve greater efficiency of operation:
“After the landing Nouvel Air A320, cross 19, report vacated”
When a clearance to cross has been given, a report vacated instruction shall also be included.
It is important that the Ground controller has permission from the Tower controller to allow an aircraft to cross. It is only the Tower Controller that can issue a crossing clearance. There are 2 ways to do this:
GND – LBT296 at holding point 19 (TWY F), request crossing runway 19
TWR – LBT296, at holding point 19 (TWY F), let me know when he calls vacated
GND – LBT296, at holding point 19 (TWY F), cleared to cross 19, will let you know when he calls vacated
GND – LBT296 called vacated runway 19
TWR – Rgr
“LBT296, for crossing, contact Tower 118.1”
“Tower, LBT296, at holding point 19 (TWY F), request Crossing 19”
“LBT296, cross runway 19, report vacated”
“Via F, cross 19, will report vacated, LBT296”
“LBT296, Runway 19vacated”
“LBT296, Roger, contact ground 121.9” or “LBT296 roger, continue on F, holding point runway 29”
Ground doesn’t need to ask permission for an aircraft to cross a runway not in use. A clearance to cross a runway not in use can be included in the taxi clearance:
“LBT296, Taxi holding point Runway 29 via B, E, F cross runway 29, F, QNH 1017”
Just like with clearance delivery, a taxi clearance should also contain:
Some taxi clearance examples:
TAR546 is an Airbus A320, just pushed back from stand P7 at Tunis, runway 01 is in use.
“Tunis Ground, TAR546, request taxi”
“TAR546, Tunis Ground, behind the company aircraft just pushing from stand P5, taxi holding point runway 01, via A, QNH1015”
“Behind the company aircraft pushing from P5, taxi taxi holding point runway 01, via A, QNH1015, TAR546”
Aircraft should be handed off to the tower frequency, as they are approaching the holding point of the runway.
“TAR546, Contact Tunis Tower, 118.100”
TAR721 is an Airbus A320, just landed runway 01 at Tunis, vacated via D.
“Tunis Ground, TAR721, vacated 01 on D, Request taxi to stand”
“TAR721, Tunis Ground, taxi holding point Runway 29 via D and E”
“Via D, E, hold on holding point Runway 29, TAR721”
“TAR721, holding point Runway 29”
“TAR721, after the company 737 crosses left to right, left turn, taxi stand P57 via C”
“After the company 737 crosses left to right, continue taxi stand P57, TAR721”
“TAR721, Stand P57, shutting down”
“TAR721, Roger, Thanks for flying”
Note – ATC doesn’t clear aircraft for shutdown, that is the pilots responsibility. Flight plans are also not closed by ATC – this is done automatically.
With the release of IvAi, which enables you to use your flight simulator to control visually, ground control can become extremely realistic, especially as you will most likely see exactly where the aircraft is located as there are no sector errors. On the other hand FS scenery becomes an issue, so always interpret what you see with a pinch of salt. If tower is also using IvAi there is no need to relay runway vacating messages.
As a ground controller, we recommend you set your altitude filter to 000 <-> 030
Set your IN/OUT box to only display traffic arriving and departing the airport you are covering (e.g. DTTA). Set your ATC list to show all facilities of the airport you are covering as well as the appropriate area sector.
- Runway in use
- Surface wind direction and speed
- Outside Air Temperature (Turbine-engine aircraft only)
- Significant Meteorological Conditions (E.G, RVR, Marked Temperature Inversion)
- Ground can ask Tower over a private chat window for the crossing clearance;
- Ground can send the Aircraft over to the tower frequency for the crossing. Once he has vacated, tower sends him back to the ground frequency (if practable);
- Aircraft Identification
- Clearance Limit
- Levels of flight and chages of levels (not so much in the case of ground movement)
- Squawk (If Applicable)