“Cleared into the City Control Zone”

IMG_1337.JPGI took my girlfriend and her sister on a city tour last Sunday. Logged 0.8 hours in the book.

Sara has been up a few times with me already, but this was Kates first time. The flight was at 830 in the morning, so the air was still smooth and the visibility was decent. This was my first flight over the city since the airspace changes were made last month.

The only difference I noticed was that I was given a squawk code right away before taking off. I was advised to report over the 401 and 404, when I did, was told to flip over to city centre. Piece of cake.

I have a questions to any controllers out there. When a VFR aircraft calls up and mentions their squawk code, can you just punch the code on your radar and the target will be highlighted? Similar to if I just pushed the ident button on my transponder?

We flew around the city a few times and noticed a huge bike racing going on downtown. It was pretty cool seeing the streets closed and all the bikers riding around.

All in all it was a great day for a flight, the passengers had a great time!

IMG_1347.JPGI’m going to be creating a passenger briefing hand out that I can email to my passengers before the flight that will cover all the legal requirements. I will of course still go over everything in person, that way they will know what to expect and can ask me any questions they might think of by reading the printed hand out.

I’ll be sure to post it here when I’m done.

(All photos courtesy of Kate)

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4 thoughts on ““Cleared into the City Control Zone”

  1. Im assuming that your question is primarily for IFR (that is center) controllers. Tower controllers do have what we call a NARDS display, but it has very limited functionality. (and what you mentioned is not an option)
    On our radar system (Csit) we have what is called a RBL (Range bearing line) function, that draws a line from point A to B, so, for example you could input an a/c ident, and a fix, to see what sending an aircraft direct would look like. You can also enter any active transponder code, and it will draw a line from the center of your display to that code. So, thats a long way of saying yes.
    However, this is not a method of radar identification, so whether or not we ‘think’ that we are looking at the correct aircraft, we would still ask for an ident to legally identify it. (unless some other form of identification was used that I wont elaborate on now)
    However, having said all that, checking in with your code isn’t a bad idea, because then the controller wont make the mistake of giving you a new code, when you are already on a good code.. if that makes any sense. In other words, if you check on with a code, I know to look for you already ‘tagged up’ however, if you check in ident only, then I would usually give a quick look, but especially if its busy, I might just assign a new code.

  2. Joe,
    Thanks for the info!
    I’m trying to figure out what the advantage of checking in with a code is. Correct me if I’m wrong but, you can use the code to quickly identify the aircraft on your display then you use whatever methods you need to legally radar identify the aircraft?
    I’ve been on a tour of Toronto Centre a few years ago and know what you’re talking about when you mention the RBL as we were demoed that.
    I just think saying an extra 4 digits on the radio is worth the 0.25 extra seconds of air time.

  3. I agree saying the code is useful… If you have a code, chances are pretty good that you are already tagged (ident) on my radar display, but on a busy day there can be literally dozens of aircraft flying around vfr with idents that they tower tags up, that we aren’t talking to. However we also tag up quite a few ourselves (for example, pilots who depart from airports without towers) So, if you check in ident only, I can take a wild guess as to who and where you are (we recognize a lot of idents) and do quick look to see if you are already tagged, or if I’m busy, I will just give you a new code. So, if you check in with your discreet code, it tells me that you ARE tagged already, I just need to find you (or simply say squawk ident, if I’m busy)
    So, long story short.. check in with your code, especially if its a busy day (so all summer)

  4. I have myself a passenger briefing and safety information as well (for C172). If you want to have a look at mine, let me know and I can send mine to you..

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