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  • Walkthrough Tutorial: IFR Melbourne to Sydney

    We will follow you as you fly a jet, PAC456, on an IFR flight from Melbourne to Sydney completely within a Class C & A radar environment. The flight time is approximately 70 minutes. It is assumed that you are familiar with your aircraft's systems and that you are able to fly in a controlled manner. You may fly this tutorial with basically any jet passenger or freight aircraft.

    The flight strip details are: PAC456, T/B763/F, YMML, YSSY, IFR, FL330, DCT ML H129 DOSEL Y59 TESAT DCT

    Note 1: Your company callsign is PAC456. Using the preferred 'group format' it is spoken as "Pacific Four-Fifty-Six".

    Note 2: You have filed an IFR flight plan so you will use IFR waypoints such as VORs (ML) and Intersections (or Fixes) such as DOSEL rather than VFR waypoints such as airports, roads and townships .

    Note 3: Your flight-planned route is essentially the three straight lines linking ML-DOSEL-RIVET-TESAT (TESAT is a waypoint positioned directly overhead Sydney Airport), and if approved, this is what you will be expected to take up and fly once airborne, unless you are otherwise instructed.

    Note 4: Unlike some other parts of the world, in Australia, Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs) and Standard Arrival Routes (STARs) are issued by ATC and the pilot does not enter them as part of the route details.  SIDs and STARs change names and designators from time to time. At the time of publication the SIDs and STARs used below were current.

    Set your FS radio to Melbourne clearance delivery 127.2, and wait for the voice channel to connect. It is quite rare in the online environment to find all ATC stations manned.  If clearance delivery, ground, tower or approach is not online, you should contact the next highest available station in the following order.

    • Melbourne Delivery (ML_DEL) 127.2
    • Melbourne Ground (ML_GND) 121.7
    • Melbourne Tower (ML_TWR) 120.5
    • Melbourne Approach (ML_APP) 132.0
    • Melbourne Centre (ML-SNO_CTR) 124.0

    If you are unsure of who to contact, a quick private message to any one of the controllers will often clear that up.

    [PILOT] "Clearance Delivery, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six, for Sydney request clearance"
    [MEL_DEL] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, stand-by."

    Note: The correct response to the term "stand-by" is silence. Do not acknowledge an instruction to stand-by.

    [ML_DEL] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, Clearance Delivery, .... Cleared to Sydney via DOSEL, Flight Planned Route, climb via the sid 5000, DOSEL ONE departure, Squawk 4125, Departures 132.0"
    [PILOT] "Cleared to Sydney via DOSEL, Planned Route, climb via the sid 5000, DOSEL ONE departure, Squawk 4125, Departures 132.0, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"
    [MEL_DEL] "Pacific Four Fifty Six."

    Note 1: The basic airways clearance covers the route described by the pilot in the flight plan, and is referred to as the 'flight planned route'. The term 'flight planned route' is the only abbreviation permitted in any clearance and means after conducting the DOSEL ONE departure you can expect to fly via the route your entered in your flight plan.

    Note 2: You have planned FL330 but your clearance contains the instruction to "climb via the sid 5000". This is the altitude you will climb & maintain once cleared for take-off.  It is important that you do not exceed this clearance as there may be traffic passing above you and ensure you follow any altitude restrictions given by the SID.

    Note 3: You have been instructed to fly in accordance with the DOSEL ONE between ML and DOSEL rather than the planned straight line. If you are unable to navigate the route or comply with any part of this clearance, then advise ATC NOW and/or ask for a different clearance. It is ALWAYS better to advise the controller if you can't accept a specific part of the clearance, rather than attempt something you are not comfortable with.  Charts for all airports in Australia and much more information can be found in our Pilot Assist system accessible through the VATPAC website.

    Note 4: ATC and Pilot general acknowledgments are given by transmission of the aircraft callsign. This is illustrated above in the [ML_DEL] acknowledgment of correct readback. The phrase, "Readback correct" is not used.

    Continue to prepare your aircraft for the flight by selecting your squawk code 4125 in the transponder, set your flight director with your initial heading (263 for runway 27) and altitude of 5000ft. It's also a good idea at this stage to preset the next few radio frequencies you will need in your radios. Before you make your first contact with Ground you will need the current Melbourne ATIS. It is a good idea to write it down as you receive it.

    [ATIS: YMML]
    RWY: 16 FOR ARR. RWY 27 FOR DEP. 
    WND: 210/10-15 
    QNH: 1019. 
    TMP: 11. 
    CLD: BKN 2500. 

    Switch your FS radio to Ground 121.7 to request pushback from the gate.  Note, pushback is not always required.  Some smaller aircraft and aircraft at stand-off gates may be able to "power out" from their parking position. Where you do require pushback though, you require approval to do so. Remember to switch your transponder to mode C to allow ATC to be able to see and track you on the ground and airborne.

    [PILOT] "Melbourne Ground, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six is at Bay C3, with information XRAY, .... request pushback." 
    [ML_GND] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, Melbourne Ground, .... pushback approved.""
    [PILOT] "Pushback approved, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    During pushback, you may start engines without further approval.  Call ground again when pushback is complete, and you are ready to begin taxi.

    [PILOT] "Pacific Four Fifty Six is ready for taxi"
    [ML_GND] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... taxi via TANGO to holding point PAPA, Runway 27."
    [PILOT] "Via TANGO, holding point PAPA, Runway 27, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"


    Commence taxi via the nominated taxiways, and remain on Ground frequency. When you are at the holding point AND ready for takeoff, switch your FS radio to Tower 120.5, and call ready.

    [PILOT] "Melbourne Tower, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six, ready at PAPA, Runway 27" 
    [ML_TWR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... Hold short."
    [PILOT] "Hold short, Pacific Four Fifty Six."

    [ML_TWR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... Runway 27, line up and wait" 
    [PILOT] "Line up and wait Runway 27, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    [ML_TWR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... contact Departures airborne, Runway 27, cleared for takeoff" 
    [PILOT] "Departures airborne, Runway 27, cleared for takeoff, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note 1: From your clearance you have already received instructions and know what to do in relation to tracking on the SID, climbing to 5000FT, and changing to DEP frequency 132.0.  In this case we will actually be talking to Melbourne Approach but we can still call them Departures.

    Note 2: When departure instructions have already been issued then it is only necessary for TWR to give a simple takeoff clearance, and this greatly reduces TWR workload. Runway occupancy times are also reduced, and this increases traffic density.

    Remember: The priorities are; AviateNavigateCommunicate. In this instance it means, once airborne; Make sure you have cleaned up and trimmed the aircraft for climb to 5000FT; Check that you are tracking correctly on the SID;

    After 1 & 2 are complete, switch your FS radio to Departures 132.0 and contact Departures with your assigned altitude (5,000ft) and your current altitude.

    [PILOT] "Melbourne Departures, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six is passing 2300, climbing to 5000" 
    [ML_DEP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, ..... identified, cancel SID, turn right heading 310, climb and maintain 9000"
    [PILOT] "Cancel SID, Right 310, and 9000, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note: Your SID has been cancelled and you are being radar vectored. This typically happens where traffic allows and ATC are able to provide you with considerable track shortening. You should now expect to be radar vectored until you are able to rejoin your flight planned route.


    During the turn; 
    [ML_DEP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... turn further right heading 350, climb to Flight Level 240". 
    [PILOT] "Right 350, Flight Level 240, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    [ML_DEP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, ....resume own navigation, direct to DOSEL, planned route""
    [PILOT] "Direct DOSEL, planned route .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    [PILOT] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... request diversion 10 miles left of track due weather"
    [ML_DEP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... 10nm left of track approved, advise when clear of weather"
    [PILOT] "Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    When clear of the weather: 
    [PILOT] "Pacific Four Fifty Six clear of weather, request direct DOSEL"
    [ML_DEP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... track shortening direct EBONY is available, .... advise"

    Note: "Advise" means let me know what you want to do.

    [PILOT] "We'll take that thanks, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"
    [ML_DEP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... from present position, track direct EBONY, flight planned route"
    [PILOT] "Direct EBONY then planned route, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note: Correct phraseology is intended to provide a standardised structure that will keep transmissions as brief as possible whilst ensuring that there is no ambiguity. However, this doesn't mean that you have to get exactly the right words all the time. Variation is often introduced by both pilots and ATC, but this is acceptable as long as there is complete understanding and exchanges are kept brief.


    After around 5 minutes...

    [ML_DEP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... contact Melbourne Centre on 124.0, .... g'day"
    [PILOT] "124.0, .... g'day, ....Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Switch your FS radio to 124.000MHz and call Melbourne Centre.

    [PILOT] "Melbourne Centre, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six climbing Flight Level 240, tracking direct EBONY"
    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, Melbourne Centre, .... climb to Flight Level 330"
    [PILOT] "Climb to Flight Level 330, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note: Because our current track is not along our planned route, it is good airmanship to advise Centre that we are tracking direct EBONY.  Normally we would only advise our last assigned level, "climbing FL240".


    Just before you fly over Canberra you will be asked to switch your FS radio to 125.000MHz and call Melbourne Centre (ML-WOL_CTR).

    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, contact Melbourne Centre on 125.0, ... g'day"
    [PILOT] "125.0, .... g'day, ....Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    You can now switch to 125.000 and call Melbourne Centre

    [PILOT] "Melbourne Centre, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six climbing Flight Level 330"
    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, Melbourne Centre, ... g'day"

    Note: Often the person on 124.000 will be the same controller as on 125.000 however due to VHF limitations you must change frequencies to maintain coverage. 

    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... STAR clearance available?" 
    [PILOT] "Pacific Four Fifty Six"
    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... STAR clearance RIVET THREE ARRIVAL, Runway 16R, Flight Level 330"
    [PILOT] "RIVET THREE, Runway 16R, Flight Level 330, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note 1: A STAR clearance contains 3 items in order; Arrival Procedure comprising Transition/STAR; ... Runway to be used; ... Current altitude instruction.

    Note 2: The STAR clearance begins at RIVET which is on your flight-planned route. You will join and follow the STAR from RIVET. Any speed or altitude restriction stated in the STAR must be observed unless you have that restriction 'waived'. Keep this in mind later when you are on the STAR. During cruise there may be long periods when no contact is required. This is a good time to get out all the things you will need for the arrival. After your arrival planning is complete, those of you with cabin staff may request in-flight meal service. If ATC or the pilot need to contact each other, then it is usual to give a 'heads-up' before passing details.


    There have been reports of bad weather...

    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... Melbourne Centre"
    [PILOT] "Pacific Four Fifty Six"
    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... traffic 50 miles ahead reports moderate turbulence at Flight Level 290" 
    [PILOT] "Thanks, Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note 1: This was simply information being passed to assist the pilot and was not an 'instruction'. There is no requirement to readback this information and a basic callsign acknowledgement is sufficient. A little while later... While "Thanks" is not required phraseology, when radio traffic is light, it's nice to be courteous.  Who knows, you might get some priority treatment later in the flight because of it!

    Note 2: You may not always get this heads up from ATC if the instruction is being given at a time when the pilot might reasonably expect it.  For example, within about 150nm of the destination, the pilot should be expecting and ready to receive a descent instruction.

    [PILOT] "Melbourne Centre, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"
    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, Melbourne Centre, .... go ahead"
    [PILOT] "We're experiencing moderate turbulence at Flight Level 330, request Flight Level 370, ..... Pacific Four Fifty Six" 
    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, ..... standby"

    Note: ATC may need time to check other traffic before re-clearing the aircraft to a different level.

    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... climb to Flight Level 370. Requirement to reach Flight Level 350 by ARRAN." 
    [PILOT] "Flight Level 370, requirement Flight Level 350 by ARRAN, we're leaving Flight Level 330 now, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six" 
    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note 1: The controller has issued a requirement to reach an intermediate level by a certain point.  This may be a waypoint or some distance from a waypoint.  This is generally used to provide separation from other traffic and in this instance may be due to crossing traffic at Flight Level 340.

    Note 2: A pilot must report leaving a maintained level such as FL330, and ATC should acknowledge with the aircraft callsign as shown here.

    Note 3: ATC will amend your flight planned to indicate the new cruising level.

    Level off the climb at FL370, and continue to maintain accurate tracking.

    Some time later you can expect an initial descent clearance. If traffic allows then you could be advised to make a descent at your own discretion by ATC prefixing the instruction with the term, "When ready". If this happens it allows you to set your own 'top of descent' (TOD) and advise ATC when descent has been commenced.

    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... when ready descend to Flight Level 210" 
    [PILOT] "Flight Level 210 when ready, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note 1: You are cleared down to FL210 but "when ready" means the descent is pilot initiated so you don't have to descend immediately. Continue at FL370 until you reach the TOD for YOUR planned descent profile.

    Note 2: At all other times a climb or descent instruction must be carried out immediately it is issued unless otherwise stated. eg, At CULIN descend to ....

    [PILOT] "Pacific Four Fifty Six leaving Flight Level 370." 
    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note: A pilot must report leaving a maintained level such as FL370 and ATC should acknowledge with the aircraft callsign as shown here.

    Once the descent for arrival has been initiated you will want to get the current Sydney ATIS. 
    Again it is a good idea to write it down as you receive it.

    WND: 120 DEG, 10KT GUSTS 20KT
    XW MAX 14 KTS, RWY 16.
    CLD: SCT 1500 BKN 2000.
    QNH: 1014. 
    TMP: 17. 

    This is also a good time to study the RIVET THREE ARRIVAL for Runway 16R. Check the route waypoints and pay special attention to any speed or altitude restrictions. Rehearse the procedure in your mind, and be ready to start navigating it after passing RIVET during the descent.

    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... descend to Flight Level 10,000 QNH 1014."
    [PILOT] "10,000 on QNH 1014 .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... for separation turn right heading 080, expect vectors to RIVET for RIVET THREE ARRIVAL"
    [PILOT] "Right 080, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note 1: You have been radar vectored off your track away from RIVET, but you have been advised to expect a vector back to RIVET where you will commence the STAR.

    Note 2: You only readback key items of an 'instruction' and do not readback any item prefixed with an 'expect' term, or any details passed as information only.

    Note 3: In this case ATC has advised you why you are required to turn by saying‚ "for separation".  Remember to Aviate, Navigate Communicate. Begin the turn to the right, ensure you are aware of where you are, and where you are going with the assigned heading and your position relative to your planned track to RIVET and then readback the instruction.

    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... Position 30nm Southwest of RIVET, resume own navigation, turn left, track direct RIVET and resume RIVET THREE ARRIVAL, maintain 10,000"
    [PILOT] "Left, resume own navigation direct RIVET for the STAR, maintain 10,000, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"
    [ML_CTR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... contact Sydney Approach 124.4, ..... g'day"
    [PILOT] "Approach 124.4, ..... cya, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    RememberAviate, Navigate, Communicate 
    You will be descending through the transition layer down to 10,000 so you will have to set QNH 1014 on the altimeter, and there is a speed restriction of 250 knots below 10,000ft. There's also a requirement to cross TAMMI at or below 9000ft, so make sure your descent profile will get you down to 9000ft by TAMMI remembering that you need a few miles of near level flight to slow down at 10,000ft.

    Note: If you have difficulty accommodating a restriction then discuss it with ATC and see if you can get a 'waiver'. If you have any doubt, discuss it, .... and do it NOW, don't wait until it's too late.

    [PILOT] "Sydney Approach, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six is descending 10000, on top with information PAPA"
    [SY_APP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, Sydney Approach, runway 16R expect vectors for right circuit ILS approach, 55 track miles to run."

    Note: ATC has reinforced that fact that you are for runway 16R and given you expect information regarding the type of approach and circuit direction.  ATC has also advised you of your track miles to run.  It is standard practice in Sydney that you will be vectored between the STAR and final approach.  ATC will advise track miles so you can maintain your descent throughout the vectoring phase.  You do not need to read back "expect" information.

    [PILOT] "Runway 16R, .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Timing becomes much more critical the closer you get so make sure you execute any turns or descents promptly and smoothly.

    RememberAviateNavigateCommunicate means:

    Keep the aircraft flying at proper trim and airspeed at all times. 
    Commence heading and/or altitude changes immediately when instructed. 
    Readback after the first two.

    Note: Regardless of the type of arrival, as soon as you know what is expected of you make sure that you have all the information you need. If you are not sure at any time then ASK, .... and do it NOW, don't wait.


    Shortly after...

    [SY_APP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, .... descend to 5000."
    [PILOT] "5000 .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    [SY_APP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six .... for sequencing reduce speed to 210 knots." 
    [PILOT] "Speed 210 knots .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note 1: In this case you are being asked to slow down for sequencing. This is different to the above case where you were vectored off course for separation.

    Note 2: There are a number of forms of speed restriction. In the above case you are required to maintain 210kts. Other forms are "maintain not below 210kts" meaning you must not fly slower than 210kts but you can fly faster if you wish (up to the 250kt speed restriction) or "maintain not above 210kts meaning you can fly slower than 210kts if you want to. In the first two cases you may need to request permission to slow down later in the approach.


    after passing around 5000ft...

    [SY_APP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six .... cancel STAR turn left heading 340 descend to 4000 vector for downwind 16R localiser frequency 109.5."
    [PILOT] "Left 340 and down to 4000 .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    The localiser frequency is given as a reminder and to ensure you will line up with the correct runway‚ you should already have this frequency dialed in ready for the approach.

    [SY_APP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six .... resume profile speed" 
    [PILOT] "Profile speed .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    You are now allowed to alter your speed from 210kts meaning when it comes time to slow down for finals you can do so without further instruction from ATC.

    [SY_APP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six .... turn right heading 070 descend to 3000"
    [PILOT] "Right 070 and down to 3000 .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    [SY_APP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six .... Position 3 miles left of the 16R Localiser. .... Turn right heading 130 for pilot intercept. Cleared ILS Runway 16R approach, report established."
    [PILOT] "Right 130,... Cleared ILS 16R, Pacific Four Fifty Six.

    Note: To acknowledge 'report established' the pilot must use Wilco (I will comply) rather than repeating the report requirement which might introduce confusion. In this instance the pilot will only use the phrase "Established" when they call and report being established.

    [PILOT] "Pacific Four Fifty Six is established ILS 16R"
    [SY_APP] "Pacific Four Fifty Six .... contact Tower on 120.5 .... g'day" 
    [PILOT] "120.5 ...... g'day .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note: On-line due to LAG and the longer time taken to change frequency you may get the hand-off to Tower just prior to becoming established. Switch to Tower 120.5.

    [PILOT] "Sydney Tower .... Pacific Four Fifty Six" 
    [SY_TWR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six, Sydney Tower .... expect late landing clearance" 
    [PILOT] "Late landing clearance,... Pacific Four Fifty Six."

    Note: ATC are unable to give a landing clearance right now due to traffic on or crossing the runway. Their 'expect' advice is to alert you and let you know that you have not been forgotten and you can still expect to land. ATC can wait until you are quite close to the runway before giving you a landing clearance.

    Remember: It is entirely your responsibility as to whether or not you land.

    [SY_TWR] "Pacific Four Fifty Six .... Runway 16R cleared to land. Wind is 140 at 15kts." 
    [PILOT] "Runway 16R cleared to land .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Note: Only key items in instructions are readback and not the wind advice which is for pilot information only. Vacate the runway without delay switch to Ground 121.7. Domestic operators are not required to advise tower when they are clear (the tower operator can see that out the window) and the frequency change to Ground is made as soon as you are vacated.


    After exiting the runway...

    [PILOT] "Sydney Ground .... Pacific Four Fifty Six on B10 for Bay 6"
    [SY_GND] "Pacific Four Fifty Six Sydney Ground .... taxi via Bravo, hold short 07."
    [PILOT] "taxi via Bravo, hold short 07." 

    Note: You can get the ATC attention if you want to avoid a stop at the hold point.

    [PILOT] "Pacific Four Fifty Six is approaching Runway 07" 
    [SY_GND] "Pacific Four Fifty Six .... on BRAVO cross Runway 07, taxi via GOLF to the bay" 
    [PILOT] "Cross 07, via GOLF .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"

    Taxi to your gate via the nominated taxiways and remain on Ground frequency 121.7. As soon as you are in position at the gate and the engines are no longer required you can shut them down and have the passengers disembark.

    Note: A clearance is not required to shut down engines since it is an action that has no affect on other aircraft. In the real world your flight plan is closed with your arrival and requires no further action from you.  Since your controller has given up his time to make your flight more realistic, if you haven't done so already, a thank-you call is generally the right thing to do unless they sound really busy.


    After arriving at the gate...

    [PILOT] "At the gate and shut down thanks for the ATC .... Pacific Four Fifty Six"
    [SY_GND] "Pacific Four Fifty Six .... not a problem thanks g'day"


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