Tips For Flying
While basic pilot procedures are beyond the scope of this document, we have compiled a number of tips which are aimed at not only answering questions about our airspace, but pointing out the most common mistakes that pilots make when interacting with our controllers.
We hope that you find this to be a valuable and useful resource, and welcome any feedback you may have.
Class Bravo Airspace
Runways 8R & 9 (8L & 12 until 22:00 ET)
Runways 1R & 1L
Runways 10L & 10R
Runways 10L & 10R
East Operations (Until 22:00 ET)
Runway 6 (until 22:00 ET)
If you are confused as to which departure gate to use, you might try looking on FlightAware to see if there is a pre-made route for your flight. FlightAware is good for finding a route anytime your departure and destination are within the United States.
The order of clearances is beyond the scope of this document, however we’ve identified an excellent resource for learning how to do this here.
Once instructed to taxi, be sure to read back all hold-short instructions. If you don’t read back the part about “Hold short of runway xx”, we will have to ask you to read it back. This is true in the real world, and is true here at the Miami ARTCC.
Also during your taxi, you must squawk “Mode C” at some airports. This includes KMIA, KFLL, and KTPA. These three airports use a technology called “Airport Surveillance Detection Equipment”, and squawking Mode C during taxiing is required.
When you approach the departure end of the runway, you need not wait for the ground controller to “hand you off” to the tower controller. You just call tower. There is no need to say goodbye to the ground controller.
This is one of the very few instances where you simply switch frequencies without an explicit instruction to do so. If you happen to see an aircraft close to landing on the runway you are planning to depart from, it does no good to call the controller and tell him you are ready to go. This will only result in the controller having to tell you to hold short. In this case, wait until the aircraft passes over the numbers and then call. You’ll likely be told to “Line up and wait“.
One item that bears mentioning is that jets and turboprops are expected to be ready for immediate departure at the end of the runway. If you aren’t ready, you will almost certainly disrupt the flow of traffic.
When given clearance for takeoff, you are expected to enter the runway and begin your takeoff roll immediately. Any delay may result in a cancellation of your takeoff clearance, or worse, a landing aircraft will be required to go around.
Once airborne, fly runway heading or ATC-assigned heading until given further instructions. The only exceptions to this are:
- The controller gives you a different heading to fly prior to your takeoff roll, or
- If your SID or DP gives a different heading to fly, or
- You are on an RNAV DP that does NOT require vectors to the first fix. In this case, you simply fly the RNAV DP from wheels-up (since you’ve already been cleared on the DP)
When departing in a turbojet aircraft, you should not put the throttle to the firewall. Most jets depart using an N1 setting of 92% or thereabouts. We often see very large aircraft which are airborne after 1000ft of runway and have achieved their intermediate altitude in a matter of a few seconds. This is completely unrealistic.
In the United States, the maximum indicated airspeed under 10,000ft is 250kts. You are expected to adhere to this regulation.
When possible, file and fly a Standard Instrument Arrival Route (STAR). This really makes the controller’s job easier. Sometimes, we see aircraft whose last known fix is actually outside of our airspace and they are simply proceeding direct to the airport. The controller must now “manually” descend the aircraft and provide vectors to the approach sector entry points. This really does put an extra burden on him, and for no good reason.
When flying a visual approach, you should still tune the localizer if available, as you may be told to intercept it. It is important to remember that a visual approach is an Instrument (IFR) procedure conducted in visual conditions. Tuning the localizer gives you some backup that you’re in the right place.
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that the approach sector is dynamic. We might change runways on you if it will serve to get you and/or others down quicker. It’s good to keep your charts handy, and even tune the localizer for other runways in your backup NAV radio, just in case. The approach controller will really appreciate it if you are prepared for such eventualities.
If you are flying with your VA and you have more than one aircraft flying together, we ask that you enter our airspace (if from uncontrolled airspace) with 10 miles separation between you and your company traffic. This will really help, and keeps us from having to issue speed restrictions or change your altitudes.
Our Enroute controllers encounter quite a number of “AFK” pilots when they first sign on. This is to be expected and we will usually give you several minutes before we attempt to contact you a second time. Please remember that the VATSIM code of conduct gives you a maximum of 30 minutes during your enroute phase to be away. This is an absolute maximum and we ask that you monitor your flight more often that this.
Finally, if you are arriving at a Miami ARTCC airport, we ask that you do not call the CTR controller and ask what runway you’ll be assigned. As states in our pilot FAQ and in several other places in this document, the approach sector does not belong to the CTR controller. He will not likely know what runway you’ll be assigned. You will get this information when you arrive at the approach sector, which is normally about 35 to 50 miles from the airport. You can get a good idea of what runways are active though, if there’s an ATIS posted. Failing that, try typing “.metar KMIA” into your radio box. You can get the winds from this and determine in what general direction aircraft will be landing and departing.