Pilot FAQs … with answers
- Do you control Tampa, St. Petersburg, or MacDill AFB ?
The short answer is yes. Tampa International Airport actually lies underneath Jacksonville Center’s airspace, however, the Tampa TRACON (which includes KPIE, KMCF, KLAL, and many others) belongs to the Miami ARTCC. The ceiling of the Tampa TRACON is 12,000ft.
- Do you control Orlando or Melbourne?
No. While portions of Orlando International Airport physically lie beneath the Miami Center airspace, the Orlando TRACON belongs to the Jacksonville ARTCC.
- Why did the center controller seem short with me when I asked what runway I would be assigned?
Because the center controller doesn’t know what runway you’ll be assigned. In the real world, the job of assigning you a runway is the approach controller’s job. Even when the center controller is working the approach position, he/she will not likely know what runway you’ll be assigned until you reach the approach sector (about 35 to 50 miles from the airport). It’s also important to know that when told to “expect” a certain runway, that the controller could change this based on any number of factors. Keep your charts handy in case this happens. Under normal circumstances, there will be plenty of time to set up for your approach (which should take you less than 2 minutes).
- Why was I assigned a ridiculously low altitude when departing KFLL?
This was done to keep you separated from arriving and departing traffic from Miami International (KMIA). Our standard operating procedures (which mirror those of the real world) dictate that we initially assign departures from KFLL an altitude of 3000 ft. We will do our best to get you to a higher altitude as soon as possible, but depending upon traffic levels arriving and departing KMIA, there may be a short delay.
- I was told to expect the visual approach, and then later told to intercept the localizer. Why is this?
This is often done to get everyone lined up in a nice line and saves the controller from having to issue vectors and corrections. This often happens when conducting parallel approaches into a busy airport such as Miami. It’s important to remember that a “Visual Approach” is still an instrument procedure conducted under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). You should always tune the localizer (if available) even when the approach controller issues you a visual approach. If nothing else, this provides you with some additional verification that you’re in the right place.
- Why did the clearance delivery controller change my filed route?
Each major airport within the Miami ARTCC has a series of “Departure gates” that are used for all departing aircraft. This is done to separate departing traffic from arriving traffic and traffic patterns associated with nearby airports. Pilots who are unfamiliar with departing our major airports and who do not file a SID or DP often incorrectly file a first fix which is either on an “inbound” route, or conflicts with other airport routing/traffic. To solve this problem on a permanent basis, the Miami ARTCC has adopted a policy of routing these aircraft to one of the departure gateway fixes. Controllers will appreciate it if you file a SID or DP as this saves everyone time. To learn more about this, see our Tips to Flying in Miami.
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