Which Tower Frequency on Initial Contact?

Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by New WA Pilot, Feb 19, 2019.

  1. New WA Pilot

    New WA Pilot Filing Flight Plan

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    I have a question about initial contact with the tower at a controlled airport with multiple runway frequencies. I looked, but I didn’t find an answer in the AIM or the chart supplement for the airport I’m thinking of.

    The airport in question has two parallel runways. The large runway is used mostly used for large aircraft and business/commercial traffic. The smaller runway is used by GA aircraft and for training.

    Which frequency should I make initial contact with?

    • Should I call on the frequency for the runway I intend to use?

    • Should I call on the frequency of the large/main runway, and then request the other runway if that’s the one I want?

    • Should I call on the frequency of the runway that’s closest to me from my direction of approach? (I’m coming in from the east, so use the frequency for the runway that’s farthest east on the airport.)

    • Or is there some other standard way to choose?

    And what about airports with runways going all directions, like Boston for example?
    [​IMG]
     
  2. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Approach will tell you which tower frequency to use. You will not be talking to tower initially. You will be talking to approach control.
     
  3. New WA Pilot

    New WA Pilot Filing Flight Plan

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    That makes sense if I'm already in contact with approach control. But what about for a Class D towered airport where am not in contact with approach?
     
  4. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    You have to look at the airport diagram. It will show which runways use which frequencies if applicable. Most airports only have one tower frequency.
     
  5. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller En-Route

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    If you are approaching a Class D just call the frequency noted on the sectional. If that's wrong, the tower will give you the correct freq.

    Note that there are few Class D towers that have you call Approach first. They will let you know what freq to call the tower. It is not hard, don't overthink this.

    -Skip
     
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  6. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    @New WA Pilot - which airport (code)? I didn't realize any Deltas had this setup? Or is it a Charlie? If you can share the airport code I figure I'll learn something new today.
     
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  7. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    @New WA Pilot ... as Sinistar asked, which airport are you referring to when you said "for the airport I’m thinking of"?

    Some of what you are asking about, "which frequency for which side of the airport", is in the Chart Supplement (formerly the AF/D).

    For example, this is an excerpt from the Chart Supplement for KDFW, a very large airport with lots of runways.

    You will notice that under the Communications section, DFW tower has frequencies for the East Side and the West Side of the airport (I highlighted these for you).

    So if you were taking off or landing on Runway 18L or 18R, which is on the west side of the airport property, you'd be tuned to 124.15.

    Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 5.10.03 PM.png

    Make sense?
     
  8. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    You should be working approach,they will give you the freq.on the hand off to tower.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
  9. New WA Pilot

    New WA Pilot Filing Flight Plan

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    I’m looking at Boeing Field (KBFI). I see that the airport diagram shows which freq goes with which runway. In the chart supplement, it doesn’t specify directions like DFW.
     
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  10. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    FTFY.
     
  11. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    I think you're mixing up the concept of "compass directions" and the runway you will either be assigned by Seattle Approach, or is being announced as "In Use" on the ATIS.

    If the ATIS says both runways are in use and you, in your small piston power airplane want to land on 14L/32R, then it's to you to dial up the correct frequency.

    Screen shots of KBFI from ForeFlight and the digital version of the Chart supplement for the NW. These clearly show which tower frequency you will talking on based on which runway you are taking off from or landing on.

    So if you were a small piston airplane arriving from the east in VMC and were advised to land on 14L or 32R, you would be talking to tower on 118.30. If you are in this same airplane arriving at KBFI from the North or the South or the West in VMC and were told to land on 14L or 32R, you would be talking to tower on 118.30

    But if you were a large jet, or in your piston airplane arriving from any direction in IMC, you are likely going to be landing on 14R/32L and be talking on 120.60.


    Did this help?



    Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 8.08.43 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 8.17.21 PM.png


    Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 8.17.50 PM.png
     
  12. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    And @New WA Pilot ... if you truly are from the Greater Seattle area, there is an author of some really good aviation books you need to connect with. Maybe buy him a cup of coffee and get him to sign a copy of "Say Again Please..." or "The Complete Private Pilot".
    @bobmrg
     
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  13. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    RHV has delta airspace, and it has two tower frequencies on the chart. The A/FD section of the Chart Supplement tells which frequency is for which runway, but in reality, the ATIS usually specifies which frequency to use.
     
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  14. New WA Pilot

    New WA Pilot Filing Flight Plan

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    AggieMike88 & Palmpilot, that makes sense. So it's either A) assigned by Approach Control if I'm already in contact with them, or B) based on the runway I'm planning on using depending on my aircraft and IFR/VFR. Thanks for the help!
     
  15. 4CornerFlyer

    4CornerFlyer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The ATIS broadcast should specify how arriving aircraft should make contact.
    Jon
     
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  16. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    Very few people are flying VFR into the very large airports you describe. For IFR the frequencies are given on the approach charts. https://aeronav.faa.gov/d-tpp/1902/00166I10CSAC1.PDF
     
  17. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    I'd go with the ATIS recommendation, and if none provided, the frequency appearing on the sectional chart, which in this case is 120.6. Actually for me this would likely be moot, as I'd be either IFR or VFR with flight following, so I'd switch to whichever frequency the approach controller sent me to.
     
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  18. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Just an aside. DFW has three towers. East and West are used during traffic periods but in the wee hours they close and everything runs from the center tower. I was surprised the supplement didn't have E,C, and W hours of operation specified. Probably means that the biological unit in the center tower works one freq, or the other, or both.
     
  19. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    At the end of the day, if for some reason you are hurtling toward the airport, not talking to approach, and unsure of which frequency to call, pick one and call. If it's the wrong one they will give you the correct one.

    In reality, when VFR, flight following is a big help when operating around airports like this. If you can't figure out which frequency you can ask them.
     
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  20. rsleeds

    rsleeds Pre-takeoff checklist

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    KDWH is a Delta with parallel runways under the Houston Bravo and has two tower frequencies listed with West and East designations. In 20 years around it, I can only recall a handful of extremely busy Saturdays that the second frequency was used and it was noted on ATIS. In practice, anyone calling the primary frequency and then assigned the smaller (east side) runway was simply told to switch frequencies if both were in use. I assume they have the second frequency on for monitoring in case someone comes in from the east and follows the published freqs.
     
  21. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks for sharing the airport code(s). Clearly this isn't just one case as @rsleeds and @Palmpilot have given a couple more examples.

    So why specifically does there need to be 2 tower frequencies at these Deltas? Is it peak workload? A ATC requirement due to approaches? Are there 2 towers? Curious...???

    The multiple frequencies on the VFR sectional sounds like a great PPL oral exam question :)
     
  22. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I didn't look, but are there IAP's to these runways?

    If the design is for simultaneous instrument approaches it would make sense to have the comm segregated. Hard to guess.
     
  23. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Division of workload. To see how common this is, ATIS, CLNC, GND and TWR are really nothing more than a division of tower workload. That's why, even at busy Class Ds and some Class Cs, you'll sometimes hear "all Tower services on..." on the ATIS during very quiet times. Most also have multiple Tower frequencies, although not always published. They use them when they need them.

    I don't think I've come across one which didn't publish separate TWR and GND frequencies, but CLNC and ATIS are optional and I've been to airports without them. For example, see KLEE, Leesburg, FL. No ATIS. No Clearance Delivery.

    upload_2019-2-20_12-50-21.png upload_2019-2-20_12-51-17.png
     
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  24. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Have you tried 121.5 first?

    Seem like what all the regional guys use
     
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  25. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    :ohsnap:
     
  26. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The following answers apply to RHV (Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose, CA).

    Probably peak workload. Most of the time they just use the one frequency, but it's very busy on weekends, so they might use both frequencies then.

    Unlikely, as the instrument approaches there are not heavily used.

    Just one tower.
     
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  27. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

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    If you are going to land on the short runway, call on 118.3; if for some reason you want the long runway, use
    For BFI, use 118.3 if you plan to use the short runway and 120.6 if you plan to use the long runway. Visit the tower if you get a chance...they have handouts with all the details. As a VFR pilot you will not be talking to approach control, so the well-meaning advice about that is misleading.

    You will be doing pattern work at Kitsap, so when you are on the way back, call on 120.6 over the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock and state your intentions: "Boeing Tower, BuzzBomb 1234X over the ferry docks with information Zulu (or whatever)." The local controller will clear you to cross over to the east side and tell you when to switch to 118.3. If you are coming from Renton, of course, you will just use 118.3.

    Bob Gardner
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019
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  28. rsleeds

    rsleeds Pre-takeoff checklist

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    At KDWH, it would be for workload. The smaller parallel is used for T&G's and the larger is for most full stop arrivals and anything larger than the standard 2/4 seat trainer. Was a time it wasn't uncommon for the training pattern to be full working a pattern east of the airport and for all other operations to be going on the big runway with a west side pattern. One controller would take on the second frequency and handle the training traffic. Still a busy enough airport, but nothing to keep two spots operating in a long time.
     
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  29. Martin Pauly

    Martin Pauly Pre-Flight

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    Best answer yet.

    If the airport is big and busy enough to have multiple tower frequencies, get flight following from approach. If you are flying straight towards a busy Class D, letting ATC know early what your plan is will be most helpful - for them, and in the end probably for you as well.
     
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  30. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Are there Class D airports out there with multiple tower frequencies?
     
  31. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

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    Yes. KBFI (mentioned in this thread) is one.

    Bob
     
  32. arnoha

    arnoha Cleared for Takeoff

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    In my area, KRHV, KCCR, and KLVK use two frequencies at times. KSUU has two UHF frequencies. Basically, every Delta with parallel runways in the area. So it's not that uncommon. Generally, ATIS has instructions.

    One problem I have with the advice to call up the runway you intend to use: with a towered airport, you don't know which runway you'll be landing on. You can guess. You can request. You can refuse. But you can't land on a runway without a clearance. As a result, I've always just used the runways marked to indicate the side of the airport controlled. If I'm coming from that side, I'll call that frequency. If they want something else, they can always pass me to the next frequency. That makes sense to me: like any other ATC function, these have zones of control.

    It also matches experience. If I'm call up the far-side runway, I generally get bounced to the near-side frequency first on the way over. Although a Charlie, KOAK is a good example of this, though, admittedly, it actually has two physical towers. I always land north field there, but will always go through south tower when coming from the south and west.
     
  33. IK04

    IK04 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I learned to fly at KRHV and they used 126.2 for arrivals on the West runway only. Departures were 119.8 on the East runway. It is described in the ATIS.

    Here is what Airnav shows:

    CTAF: 119.8
    UNICOM: 122.95
    ATIS: 125.2
    REID-HILLVIEW GROUND: 121.65 [0700-2200]
    REID-HILLVIEW TOWER: 119.8(RWY 13L/31R) 126.1(RWY 13R/31L) [0700-2200]
    NORCAL APPROACH: 120.1 133.95 134.5
    NORCAL DEPARTURE: 121.3
    IC: 120.1
    WX ASOS at SJC (5 nm W): 126.95 (408-969-0838)
    WX ASOS at NUQ (12 nm NW): 124.175 (650-604-1529)
    WX AWOS-3P at E16 (18 nm SE): 118.350 (408-918-7724)

    Note that you can reliably contact approach control on the ground for your IFR clearance!

    There was seldom any confusion that can remember. I guess pilots were just smarter back then ;>)
     
  34. N1120A

    N1120A Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If you are itinerant, just get FF, unless you are somehow just going a very short distance. If you are in the pattern, you'll be directed anyway. This is even more true when going into an airport that is under a busy Class B with a bunch of Class Ds around it. Seattle Approach isn't going to somehow let you completely screw up, but flying around not talking to anyone - just cause you can - could lead to both regulatory and deadly consequences.

    Lots. In addition to those mentioned, KMYF also has a secondary tower frequency that they use for 28R when they have a lot of people in the pattern. It is interesting as they use the secondary frequency for the main runway and the only one with instrument approaches to it, but you are talking to SoCal on an instrument approach anyway. They also will tell you on the radio to switch.
     
  35. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Chandler just South of Phoenix is one and sometimes, Phoenix approach will give you the correct frequency. Last couple of times I flew there, they gave me the other frequency which annoyed the tower controller. Not enough time to explain it wasn't my fault.
     
  36. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yeah, you go to KBOS, taint getting close without talking to an approach freq or two. Before they send you to tower, you will have already negotiated a runway.

    If for some reason an airport has two frequencies and no one said what one, a few seconds monitoring would sort it out.

    Lastly, if calling & no joy, try the other.