On VATSIM, Ground control is set up on 121.900 at Tribhuvan. To ensure that our ground controllers provide the highest quality of service, they need to be aware of the airspace structure and procedures to an extent that allows them to do their job on the VATSIM network. This allows them to be aware if a pilot is using an invalid routing before they issue them an IFR clearance, hence ensuring that there are no risks of collision between arrivals and departure traffic and that the pilot fully understands their departure route as per the IFR clearance.
Setup, Configure and Connect to the network
To connect to the VATSIM Network, you will need an approved air traffic control radar client, which would be Euroscope, that can be installed from here. When Euroscope is downloaded and installed, please visit and read the Training process to get started within VATSIM Nepal vACC.
When training has been started, the student will need to set up Euroscope as described in the manual for best operation.
Air Traffic Control Service Role
The objectives of the air traffic services shall be to:
- prevent collisions between aircraft;
- prevent collisions between aircraft on the maneuvering area and obstructions on that area;
- expedite and maintain an orderly flow of air traffic;
- provide advice and information useful for the safe and efficient conduct of flights;
- notify appropriate organizations regarding aircraft in need of search and rescue aid, and assist such organizations as required.
Ground Control Duties
To make sure all departures get the service they need, and since there is no Clearance delivery in Kathmandu-Tribhuvan International airport, Ground controllers are expected to handle everything related to a flight from IFR clearances to push and start, as well as taxi to the holding point of the runway.
For arrivals, ground control is responsible for taxiing aircraft from the runway vacating point to the gate (if assigned by TWR).
The order of priority for transmission of messages in the aeronautical service is:
- Distress communications.
- Urgency communications.
- Communications relating to radio direction-finding.
- Flight safety messages.
- Meteorological messages.
- Flight regularity messages.
- Messages relating to the application of the United Nations Charter.
- Government messages for which priority has been expressly requested.
- Service communications relating to the workings of the telecommunication service or to communications previously exchanged.
- All other aeronautical communications.
To ease the understanding of an IFR clearance by the pilots, they are issued in the following format:
- Aircraft Identification
- Clearance limit and route instruction
- Level assignment
- Departure instructions (when necessary)
- Approach instructions (when necessary)
- Clearance Expiry time (when necessary)
- Any special instructions and information
To expand on that, route and departure instructions will vary between those that file a flight plan with a valid SID and those that file a flight plan with no valid SID. Of course, not all pilots are able to fly a SID, pilots that are not able to fly a SID will be provided the departure instructions as per their flight plan at the time they are issued an IFR clearance.
Approving and Amending Flight Plans
Many pilots use an old version of the AIRACs, which is fine as long as the route remains in the same direction. However, if the route filed by the pilot is incorrect or creates a risk with other flights in the airspace, the controller will amend the flight plan the pilot filed, and relay the new route over to the pilot and then ask if he can accept the new amendment.
Now with that said, approving flight plans are easier to handle from a controller’s side. To open and view a flight plan, on the tag of the aircraft, click on their destination ICAO and a dialog box should open like this:
The common areas that you as a ground controller should focus on would be:
- Flight Rules – the reason why is because many pilots accidentally overlook the selection box on their end, or they change flight rules in flight. Make sure if it’s an international departure to always be IFR if the cruise level is to be above 13,500 feet (Transition Altitude).
- Origin and Destination – the reason why is because many pilots accidentally file wrong ICAO codes, or want to do flights to airports that are unknown to the system. (We’ll hopefully add new airports to the ICAO airports database so the name shows up properly)
- TAS – Well not as critical, but if a pilot files a flight plan without airspeed indication, ask another controller for advice.
- Cruise FL – this is most critical part of a flight plan, Always remember that if a pilot is flying to the north or east it will be an odd flight level, however, if a pilot is flying to the south or west, it would be an even flight level.
- Routing – Also, if a pilot does not have a route, ask if he could accept help or a route from you (as the controller) to file on his behalf. However, if he has a route and it is deemed to be valid for use, provide him the IFR clearance.
Managing Flight Strips
To access flight strips, press F6 and select the aircraft you are providing service to, or if you wish, you can download programs like vStrips from https://vstrips.co.uk (will be helpful if you have more than one monitor)
At Kathmandu-Tribhuvan, there are two terminals: Domestic and International Terminal. At the domestic terminal, General Aviation flights and domestic flights within Nepal are situated. However, international departures are situated at the International Terminal. The ground controller needs to master the ground layout at the airport to ensure that all planes are provided the service in an efficient and timely manner, ensuring that the flight departure is on time.
Aircraft Pushback and Engine Startup
To ensure that all aircraft pushback safely, they will need to get permission from Ground Control as follows:
- proposed flight level and alternate flight level (if applicable)
- parking position, and,
- ready for pushback in 5 minutes
Aircraft that pushed back is expected to have all engines running and ready for taxi clearance unless instructed otherwise by ATC.