Can Controllers Give Arrival Instructions That Don't Reference A Runway?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Sinistar, Oct 6, 2019.

  1. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    This is for arrivals only, not departures.

    Can the tower controllers give heading/course instructions that don't reference a runway? Of course, duuhhhh the goal is to land on a runway. But during a recent arrival I felt if the tower had plane to fly a specific course and then enter downwind it would have avoided some hassles between other planes arriving at the same time. But that hypothetical instruction probably would not have referenced a runway.

    I'm trying to think back and it seems that every instruction given for arrivals always reference a runway. Is this a requirement? Can a class Delta tower controller tell an arriving aircraft to fly a specific course? Can they instruct them to do 360's that aren't specific to downwind or base?. Can they instruct you to fly to some other part of their airspace and do turns, etc?

    Or are they required to always reference the runway(s)?
     
  2. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    Are you asking if a tower controller can issue vectors?
     
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  3. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    Yes I guess so along with any other stuff like "Hold over XXX" or do 360's over XXX where XXX is not the runway or that other thing :)
     
  4. asicer

    asicer En-Route

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    I've gotten "right 360 abeam 29 numbers", so I guess the answer is that they have. I also suppose that it's a different answer as to whether they can. :)
     
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  5. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller Final Approach

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    Coming in to KHPN (Class D) on runway 11 I was given a right 360 when my altitude was 700 agl. As an alternative the controller could have issued me a LAHSO clearance on that runway.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  6. ChrisK

    ChrisK En-Route

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    I was once given a left 270 to enter right base from right downwind at night for spacing. The KCAK controller was so happy that everyone followed his instructions he paused to emotionally thank everyone on frequency haha
     
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  7. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    It seems like all the examples so far are still relative to a runway?

    I was once given a right 270 just as I was turning base to final. But the instruction was like ("Right 270 on R18 left base and then proceed back on final R18"). Glad I had a CFI on board, it was early in my training, some flaps out, and already descending toward 500AGL for the base to final turn. I could do it now but was way to overloaded and low for a newbie.
     
  8. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Sure they can. I get those instructions all the time at my airport.

    “remain outside class Delta”

    “Report over Deer Park VOR”

    “suggest heading XXX to avoid traffic”
     
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  9. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Sure but it all depends on the tower. In Cs and Bs they have controllers who are either approach rated or they’ve gone thru an approved certified tower radar display (CTRD) class. In that case, with appropriate LOAs, they can use the display for all radar functions.

    If it’s a D, either a certified or non certified display, it’s generally just used for suggested headings or giving a direction (north, south, etc). Don’t know if any Ds that allow all the radar functions of an approach control position. And yes they can tell you told hold over a visual point on the ground.
     
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  10. asicer

    asicer En-Route

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    Oh, that. I've also gotten a "fly direct <landmark>" from a D tower while inbound.
     
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  11. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    Not specific to the question but related in that the tower was not talking to approach....I was inbound to Tuscaloosa and approach told me to make straight in for runway 22 and handed me off. I contacted tower "straight in 22" and got "No, No, No, you're the third one, go to base runway 12." All I could say was roger turning right to base 12. When I rolled out I told him that Birmingham was setting everyone up for the 22 straight in. He said that was only for jets.
     
  12. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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  13. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks everyone, I figured the tower can issue arrival instructions and not reference the runway...just never heard one yet.
     
  14. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Sure. I've been asked to circle over some ground reference, both inside and outside the Class D boundary more than once when they were trying to fit me into the traffic flow.
     
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  15. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

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    Go to www.faa.gov and search for FAA Order 7110.65V. Drill down to chapter 3, traffic control, terminal, to see what controllers can say. They seldom go beyond the restrictions in their manual.

    Bob Gardner
     
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  16. jimhorner

    jimhorner Line Up and Wait

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    Well, it’s not a Class D, but when there are lots of airline arrivals at San Jose, a class C, I’ve sometimes been instructed to “proceed direct to the Pruneyard and make 360’s there” until the tower can fit me in. Sometimes they just tell me to make 360’s whereever I happen to be. And when I want to warm the oil up for an oil change they’ll usually grant my request for 360’s to the West of the field.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019 at 8:39 AM
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  17. Gerhardt

    Gerhardt En-Route

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    To answer the original question: They don't have to reference a runway....but there's no better landmark reference for a pilot than a runway.
     
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  18. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    I don't think it's particularly unusual for a delta tower to have you hold or maneuver with respect to a ground reference. As a rather extreme example, if you fly into KLAL, a class D, during SNF you'll often be put into a hold circling Lake Parker.
     
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  19. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    Y is current now
     
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  20. masloki

    masloki Line Up and Wait

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    Many times you call with the ATIS which will have the expected runways. "D-Tower, Bugsmasher 12345, 10 miles South, 2-500, to land with Hotel." "Bugsmasher 345, D-Tower, report 5 miles out."
     
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