Requesting clearances can be quite a daunting prospect especially when you are a new pilot, with lots of people talking on the same frequency, and lots of confusing information being given. So we thought we would take the time to help you understand how to request clearance a bit easier and some things to make your life that little bit easier. Please note that this guide is not for real-world use. This blog will cover standard clearances.
Things to do before requesting clearance
Controllers require some information from you before they can issue you your clearance.
The controller needs to know your aircraft type so that they can make sure that you are not excluded from any departure routes (as some are prop only or jet only). They also need to make sure that your aircraft is coupled with the correct wake turbulence category (will be explained at a later date) as there is a difference between the performance of a Cessna 172 and an A380.
It is important for ATC to know what position your aircraft is at. This is because in real life aircraft might move positions and the ATC tags may not have been updated accordingly which could lead to a crash. It also means that ATC can tell if the radar return on their system represents your aircraft, or whether it has detected a random flock of birds.
Before you depart you should listen to the ATIS so that you can get the up to date weather information and can also learn if there are any special procedures in place at the airport, for example if any taxiways are closed or frequencies are not in use. The ATIS information has a letter associated with it, and it is this letter that you should report.
The controller needs to ensure that you have the right QNH, which allows them to see your altitude on their radar screens.
What to expect from the controller
The controller will then give you your clearance, this will consist of your clearance limit, departure route, squawk code, and sometimes a slot time as well. You will then need to read this back to the controller so that he knows you have all of the information.
Below we will see an example of a pilot requesting a clearance:
TOM4575: Gatwick Delivery good evening, TOM4575, B788, stand 112, request clearance to Bourgas, Information A onboard, QNH1013
KK DEL: TOM4575, Gatwick Delivery good evening, cleared to Bourgas via the MIMFO1M departure, squawk 3621
TOM4575: Cleared to Bourgas, MIMFO1M departure, squawk 3621