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Air Traffic Chatter Vetting? (NRT-LAX route, departures--taxiing, really.)
tezuka - lonely flower - default
aiwritingfic wrote in little_details
Hi all! I come bearing questions for anyone familiar with air paths and air traffic control (ATC) chatter. (If you are an ATC person I would LOVE to pick your brains!) I wrote a fic with some ATC chatter recently, and if you are familiar with Narita at all, could you please take a look and let me know whether the following makes any sense?

Context: NRT-LAX route, departures--taxiing, really, specifically ground ATC, but I also have side-questions about general in-flight ATC/comm chatter. The fic in its entirety is here, for anyone who would like more context (I didn't want to spam you guys with ALL of it in here.) Research is being done for additions (including possible BA Flight 5390-like air trouble with ATC helping the FO land the plane, but I haven't done the research for the air-trouble yet so please ignore that.)

Search terms I have already tried:
- "air traffic transcripts narita" got me nothing specific to Narita takeoff ATC
- "air traffic chatter"
- "air traffic squawk"
- "air traffic control script"
- "air traffic control narita" - where I picked up a lot of information on various random things sprinkled throughout the fic
Wikied: "Separation (air traffic control)", "air traffic controller", "Category:Air Traffic Control", "Flight Service Station", "Transponder (aviation)"
http://www.wikihow.com/Communicate-with-an-Air-Traffic-Control-Tower is a pretty good example of the sort of thing I was turning up, which is all well and good, but I kind of want to know NRT-specific stuff! T_T

In particular, three lines I'd love input on:

"Narita Clearance, this is Juliet Lima Sixty Two, requesting clearance and radar departure."
Question 1: Do flights request clearance/radar departure at NRT? Is that a suitable/appropriate way to do it?


"Juliet Lima Sixty Two, you are cleared to Los Angeles via CUPID, Flight Planned Route, Maintain 5000, Radar Departure, Departures 121."
Question 2: WTH am I saying here? *doesn't understand at all, just copied from a VATPAC transcript and moved some numbers around* I dropped the Squawk information because I didn't want to bombard the reader with too much technical detail, but unsure how squawk/signs assigned too especially with regards to Narita (do they even do that?)

Question 3: I'm assuming this flight plan, but even then, I'm not exactly sure what CUPID and all the other codes mean! T_T Can someone give a quick rundown of what's contained in the "route" information?


"Juliet Lima Sixty Two, this is Narita Ground. Taxi via Charlie to holding point Alpha Three, Runway Bravo."
Question 4: Clearly I made all that up! T_T Is this even anywhere close to what would actually be said at Narita?


Question 5 and 6 are more general.

Question 5: Do pilots who do the same route and hear each other on the air chat with each other a bit on the ground? I remember hearing some back in the 90s when passengers were allowed to hang out in the jumpseat for a little while to visit before take-off, but I don't know if that is still the case any more.

Question 6: Once you're done and you've cleared Narita airspace, who do you get handed off to? Is non-flight chatter allowed, like trucker CB radio conversations if they're nearby and kind of doing the "hey how's the kids" routine?

Thank you in advance for any light you can shed! ♥

[ETA: MUCH thanks and appreciation to lindenfoxcub first for patiently explaining to an avionics newbie what exactly ATC is saying, and secondly, for giving me enough rope to hang myself enough information to stumble across this jackpot (even if I barely understand any of it).]

I'm not sure about Japan, but I know a little bit about Canadian air regulations so I can answer some of question 8.
Non-flight chatter is not allowed because, if someone else on your frequency needs to talk about something important they legaly can't interupt you(unless it's an emergancy).
I hope it helps.

Thank you! That makes sense--I'd forgotten that the frequencies are one-way only so if you're talking no one can cut in.

Edited at 2014-02-17 06:12 pm (UTC)

YouTube has videos!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG8dzLhvKx0 Australian Air landing at Narita with cockpit chatter
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJom8LKUU9U Might be the best match? Go a bit of the way in and you can see the female air traffic controller directing a NW907 flight for takeoff. (If you want me to translate the Japanese narrator, let me know: they're waiting for another NW flight to land (26 minutes late) and a Luftansa flight also departing, so the runway will be clear for takeoff.)

I remember you, hello! ^_^ (Though you won't remember me, since I was using a different username at the time.) Thank you for the videos, but all the videos I've seen are Tower (Runway)/Air ATC chatter, and I am looking for ground/taxi/gate ATC chatter! <3

I'm not IFR rated yet, but I can give you some of it:

"Narita Clearance, this is Juliet Lima Sixty Two, requesting clearance and radar departure."
Question 1: Do flights request clearance/radar departure at NRT? Is that a suitable/appropriate way to do it? -- When ATC is involved, pilots pretty much request everything.


"Juliet Lima Sixty Two, (plane's registration or flight number) you are cleared to Los Angeles via CUPID (Not sure about CUPID, but likely a description of an airway or air route), Flight Planned Route (pilot files a flight plan before takeoff, saying where he's planning to go, at what altitude, via what route - this just means "we're not making any changes to your flight plan, fly it like you sent it to us), Maintain 5000 (enroute altitude - stay at this altitude until you get to your destination or are told otherwise), Radar Departure (Not sure about this one - something I'm pretty sure I would know if I was IFR rated, but I think it's referring to instrument departure procedures, following certain turns that will keep traffic separated and planes from flying into obtacles), Departures 121." (This is the handoff - you now switch frequencies to 121.0 to contact departures and they will give you further instructions.)
Question 2: WTH am I saying here? *doesn't understand at all, just copied from a VATPAC transcript and moved some numbers around* I dropped the Squawk information because I didn't want to bombard the reader with too much technical detail, but unsure how squawk/signs assigned too especially with regards to Narita (do they even do that?) --answers in brackets. As for the squawk info - do you know what squawk means, in aviation? When you write squawk/signs it sounds like you think a squawk is the same thing as a call sign.

Question 3: I'm assuming this flight plan, but even then, I'm not exactly sure what CUPID and all the other codes mean! T_T Can someone give a quick rundown of what's contained in the "route" information?


"Juliet Lima Sixty Two, this is Narita Ground. Taxi via Charlie to holding point Alpha Three, Runway Bravo."
Question 4: Clearly I made all that up! T_T Is this even anywhere close to what would actually be said at Narita? -- Yep, you clearly made that up. :P No such thing as runway bravo. Taxiways are named after letters. Runways are named after the direction of takeoff. Every runway has two names, depending on which direction you're taking off from. They're named after the degrees in a circle, based on magnetic north, rounded to the nearest 10 degrees, and the trailing zero removed. ie: runway Three Six is a runway that runs north/south, and you're taking off towards the north. If you're taking off to the south (or landing), you refer to it as One Eight. (Not Thirty-six or Eighteen, we don't say it that way.) A glance at this link: http://www.ourairports.com/airports/RJAA/pilot-info.html tells us Narita has two parallel runways, in which case they're referred to as "left" or "right". So ATC might say "Juliet Lima Sixty Two, Narita ground, Taxi charlie, hold short one six left." Assuming Taxiway charlie connects with runway one six left - I couldn't find a map with the taxiways labeled. ATC typically skips connecting words like "via". But things might be different in Japan.

(This got long - continued in another comment due to LJ comment length restrictions)

Question 5 and 6 are more general.

Question 5: Do pilots who do the same route and hear each other on the air chat with each other a bit on the ground? I remember hearing some back in the 90s when passengers were allowed to hang out in the jumpseat for a little while to visit before take-off, but I don't know if that is still the case any more. -- Not over the radio. In a small airport, where there's less people using the frequency, it's possible they might sneak in a couple sentences, but that's technically not allowed, and they could be fined for it. At an international airport? *Hell* no.

Question 6: Once you're done and you've cleared Narita airspace, who do you get handed off to? (not sure - still working on my commercial license, but I know there are spots in the middle of the ocean where radio contact is spotty, and the pilots may just be completely on their own.) Is non-flight chatter allowed, like trucker CB radio conversations if they're nearby and kind of doing the "hey how's the kids" routine? (Absolutely not. There are fines for non-essential frequency use - it creates congestion. If a pilot is in trouble and making a mayday call, you don't want them competing for airtime with someone chatting about their kids.)

Another thing that I noticed was that "maintain 5000" - were they planning on making the entire trip at 5000 feet above sea level? Because a trip from NRT to LAX at 5000 ASL will make any pilot go O.o. What kind of plane is this?

First of all, thank you so much for the detailed help! I have zero IFR/ATC/aviation and all I wrote was pieced together from research on the Internet. T_T

Q1/2/3 - THANK YOU. *sheepish* JL82 is the flight number, and CUPID was the first string I saw in this flight plan.

I didn't realize "Departures 121" was the handoff and frequency instruction! I'll change it to "Ground 121" because the handoff is to ground ATC. The link you posted is USEFUL--they have all the frequencies! ♥

New line: "Juliet Lima Sixty Two, you are cleared to Los Angeles via CUPID, Flight Planned Route, Maintain 42,000, Radar Departure. Contact Ground 121-point-95."

From what I understand in my Google searches, I think that "squawk" is like a temporary assigned number/callsign of some sort that ATC gives the flight to be able to track it--maybe if the flight has a long and convoluted registration/number? I have never heard it in major airport context, but I got it off the VATPAC transcript I was copying (linked in OP) and figured since I didn't quite get the "squawk" thing I would just drop it in order to not confuse readers... *sheepish*

Q4 - I had no idea runways had naming sequences that worked like that! I will make corrections now and just take what you gave me because that sounds perfect.

Thank you for the information about non-essential chatter! JL82 is the daily Japan Air Lines NRT-LAX flight, and the pilot (FO, actually, but captain told him to handle it) and ATC Ground are supposed to be old friends, and the FO likes to see what he can get away with (like saying he'll bring souvenirs for ATC) while ATC keeps trying to keep him on track and cut the non-essential chatter. I even had NH6 (the daily All Nippon Airways NRT-LAX flight) tell JL62 to shut up. I will take some poetic license here and pretend no one fined JAL for that, since the entire scene revolves around JL62's FO pushing NRT Ground's boundaries... ^_^;;;;;;;;;;

I guess mid-air chatting is VERY sporadic and not shooting-the-breeze but more the radio equivalent of flashing headlights at each other?

I didn't even realize 5000 would be the constant cruising altitude--I had assumed it was a departure corridor altitude that was much lower. I guess the VATPAQ transcript was for a smaller plane at much lower altitudes! I'll switch it to something like 35,000--that's in the flight plan and also seems realistic for a Boeing 777-300ER (twinjet) which is what is listed on the flight plan in FlightAware.

Edited at 2014-02-17 06:36 pm (UTC)

Pilots being fined, is, as I understand it, fairly rare, so I don't think what you're talking about is implausible. It's common for the pilots or ATC to say something like "have a good night" or some such, at my home airport. The rules are fairly loosely defined, and pilots and ATC kind of know what they can get away with on various frequencies. Another thing to keep in mind, is radio transmissions are very much not private. Anyone on that frequency will hear everything they say.

Radio conversation is not just communications with ATC - pilots can and should be talking to one another, it's just supposed to be for the purpose of making sure two planes know where one another are and don't collide with one another.

I glanced over the transcript, and yeah, it looks like that's likely a much smaller plane than you're dealing with, and a much shorter flight. 5000 feet ASL would be a perfectly normal altitude for a flight from sydney australia to melbourne australia, but across the pacifc, you're good with the 35 000 feet.

THANK YOU so very much for all the help! ♥ I really, really, REALLY appreciate it.

Oh, another little thing to be careful of, because I noticed in your new line: "Juliet Lima Sixty Two, you are cleared to Los Angeles via CUPID, Flight Planned Route, Maintain 42,000, Radar Departure. Contact Ground 121-point-95."

Cruising altitudes can't be substituted willy nilly. The rules are different in different countries, but in NA, you fly at odd altitudes flying east headings, and even altitudes on west bound headings. In countries where more of their traffic is north-south, they may split the headings north-south, but over the ocean, the split will be east-west.

Ack, sorry, that was more a typo in the comment (I fixed it later and forgot to fix the comment.) The actual line says 35k as per flight plan.

but in NA, you fly at odd altitudes flying east headings, and even altitudes on west bound headings.

Also true in the USA, for what it's worth, but IFR traffic is offset by 500 feet.

And these rules are irrelevant here as any transpacific capable aircraft will rapidly enter Class A, and then transoceanic. Corridors will be based on weather on that particular day and have nothing to do with standard altitudes.

There's no east-west split over the ocean; transcontinental corridors are rigidly controlled and (nowadays) easily searchable. Tracks are driven entirely by weather.

Yeah, but there's not VFR traffic over 18000 ASL, so I didn't bother going into that. In Canada, it's the other way around - VFR traffic is offset 500 feet. I thought maybe it would be different over the ocean, but I wasn't sure.

Good point.

Ocean tracks are weird just because it's impractical to have permanent airways over such large distances; the winds aloft can have such a huge effect on endurance the tracks change every day. For the north Pacific and Atlantic tracks the eastbound routes are pretty close to great circle routes, often tweaked a bit to catch the jetstream, while the westbound routes are always well south of a great circle route, to avoid the jetstream.

OOOH! I get it.

No, the callsign for JAL is Japan Airlines. (At least in English.) They identify as "Japan Airlines Eight Two." Not "Juliet Lima Eight Two."

"Ground 121" doesn't make sense; 121 is just a portion of the frequency for Ground. After landing the Tower might say "Japan Airlines Eight Two contact Ground one two one point eight five." It's a transfer to a different air traffic controller and the frequency for that ATC.

Maintain 42,000, Radar Departure

No. They wouldn't be cleared to cruise altitude at this stage. If they were, altitudes above 10,000 feet are in flight levels. This is Flight Level 420. And "maintain" means they're already at FL420, which is quite impossible that early in the flight.

From what I understand in my Google searches, I think that "squawk" is like a temporary assigned number/callsign of some sort

No, it's just the transponder ID the aircraft is asked to set. It's 4 digits, each digit from 0-7. Typically assigned prior to pushoff, from dispatch. Squawk would almost never be asked/mentioned at all during aircraft/ATC comms with a scheduled airline flight.

I guess mid-air chatting is VERY sporadic and not shooting-the-breeze but more the radio equivalent of flashing headlights at each other?

One aircraft speaking directly to another aircraft on an ATC frequency is forbidden and pretty much never happens ever. Even in an extreme emergency, where one pilot sees a serious emergency developing on another aircaft, he/she speaks to the ATC regarding the flight in danger, with the understanding the flight in danger is on comms and will respond.

Search youtube for "Boston John" for ATC recordings of ATC-pilot actions that are hilarious (to certain folk) and probably approach the limit of acceptable chatter in Class B airspace.


No, the callsign for JAL is Japan Airlines. (At least in English.) They identify as "Japan Airlines Eight Two." Not "Juliet Lima Eight Two."

Oops. See, this is why I come here, for this sort of information! *changes fic* I suppose that means the ANA flight would refer to itself as Air Nippon 6 and not NH6.

No. They wouldn't be cleared to cruise altitude at this stage. If they were, altitudes above 10,000 feet are in flight levels. This is Flight Level 420. And "maintain" means they're already at FL420, which is quite impossible that early in the flight.

Oops. What would they be told to climb to, if not the cruise altitude? Can they be told to "climb to Flight Level 350" (cruising altitude 35,000)? Or would it be more like a stepped kind of instruction?

Boston John is AWESOME. ♥ The dialogue in the scene is firmly in that spirit (the male/female exchange with the "see you on the 22nd had me grinning, same spirit) and I feel a little better about what I'm writing.

ANA is All Nippon, not Air Nippon.

Oops. What would they be told to climb to, if not the cruise altitude?

I know next to nothing about the route. I don't think airliners even speak to clearance delivery except perhaps for final confirmation; route clearance is usually obtained by dispatch and relayed via company. I'm more familiar with the technical aspects than the the specifics ...

Or would it be more like a stepped kind of instruction?

Step climbs would be the norm for long-range aircraft like this. But climb instructions wouldn't happen until after the SID, likely after switching to Departure, as the SID covers all that.

Boston John is AWESOME

Indeed. MOCHA HAGTDI :)

That is my cue to stop stressing over this. XD Seriously, it's just a sub-800 word fic and I am not trying to win a prize or anything. Maybe a few pilots will roll their eyes, but I guess in the end, as long as people enjoy it, that's the whole point! <3

Thank you for all the help and correction!

(consolidated into one comment, and my sincerest apologies for the edit-comment spam you just got. T_T)

Edited at 2014-02-17 06:36 pm (UTC)

It's okay, aviation seems to be one of those things that it's hard to get information on the internet that makes any sense to a layman. Lots of resources if you already know a certain amount, but if you're not already a pilot or controller, good luck making sense of it.

I've never heard of a frequency called "clearance deliveries". It definitely looks like Narita has one such, but I have no clue what they would handle, or if they would handle this plane. If the plane is taking off though, generally ground would hand it off to either the tower frequency, or to departures, depending on what's being manned at that time of day. Usually the clearance to taxi is given by ground, who tells the plane to hold short of the runway, then hands it off to the tower or departures, and when the plane is ready to take off, sitting at the end of the taxiway (before taxiing onto the runway - you never taxi onto or across a runway without being told it is safe) then they call up either the tower frequency or departures, whatever they were told, and that controller will give them the clearance for takeoff. The instruction "Line up and wait" means taxi onto the runway and be ready to take off immediately, because the clearance to take off is coming.

Another little thing - in radio protocol it's "one two one decimal niner five". Though, ATC will often drop the "decimal" entirely and say "one two one niner five." In canada at least, we're also supposed to say "over" at the end of every transmission, but *nobody* ever does. Every once in a while someone does, and we all just giggle in our cockpits at him.

A squawk code is lingo for a transponder code. When ATC says "squawk (4 digit number)" they're telling the pilot to dial that four digit number into the transponder so that that number shows up on the radar and ATC can keep track of who's who on the radar. And just to pre-empt a potential mistake - it's always 4 digits long, and contains numbers from 0 to 7. There are newer transponders - mode S, but I'm not sure if they have more numbers allowed - I kind of doubt it.

aviation seems to be one of those things that it's hard to get information on the internet that makes any sense to a layman
Oh boy, and how. T_T A lot of the time I read things and I go, "Well, that's great, I'm sure if I took any classes in this I'd understand, but layman-me is missing a lot of additional industry information to fill this in and I am missing some dots to make the connection. T_T Which is why I am SO GRATEFUL for all your help and explanation! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

I didn't know about line up and wait! *files away mentally*

And LOL at the "over" thing, I noticed no one used that ever. XD

Is squawk instruction necessary for commercial airliners? Should I stick that into the sentence with clearance?

A working transponder is required for flight in certain classes of airspace, namely airspace around major airports, and above 18 000 feet. In other words, anywhere your airliner is likely to be. It would definitely be given, in real life, though I doubt anyone would fuss over it being skipped in a work of fiction. In fiction, sometimes bits get glossed over, and that's okay. You don't need to beat your reader to death with all the research you've done. You're going to skip a lot anyway as it is.

♥ Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.

ETA: For the record, found your Wordpress, I am greedily gobbling up EVERYTHING you have written on aviation and flight lessons. My father was a pilot (he's grounded now, medical issues) and I wanted to be one until I was told I was both female (it was an issue in the 80s) and had terrible vision (unfortunately true even then and definitely true by the time I was old enough to think about flight school. I'm way too myopic and am blind without corrective lenses). I am living vicariously through your stories and LOVE THEM.

Edited at 2014-02-17 08:27 pm (UTC)

You might want to look into a sport licence or a licence to fly ultralights - you might still qualify for that; the standards are much more relaxed. And welcome to my humble blog, I'm always happy to have followers excited about aviation :)

I might for ultralights/sport in the future! Flight school is on my list of things to do some day. (I don't live far an airport, and Centennial airport is supposed to be one of the busiest small airports in the USA.) ^_^

Seriously, though, for me it was more the whole airlines thing (what can I say, those were heady days and the glamour was real to a less-than-10-year-old who saw Daddy in his AWESOME uniform every time he went to work and came home again!) I love the idea of flying, but I am not sure I am detail-oriented enough to survive the licensing. (To be fair, if I had any hope of making it as a commercial pilot, I might have stayed in love with it even after I got into high school and beyond, and perhaps things would have been different... but life is too short for that sort of what-if!)

In the meantime, I will just be all excited about living vicariously through your posts. ^_^

If you're physically able of manipulating controls, have 20/20 vision and color distinction with correction, and don't have any medical issues impeding your abilities, it's not difficult at all to get a class 3 medical license. I got mine in college and I wore glasses (still do) and wasn't in terribly good shape.

Wow, things sure have changed since I gave up way back in high school. O_o I might have to think about this semi-seriously. Thank you for bringing that to my attention!

(Not sure about CUPID, but likely a description of an airway or air route)

Sounds like a waypoint, which is odd, as you'd expect the departure to be to the standard instrument departure (SID) which would maybe be something like CUPID.7.

Radar Departure (Not sure about this one - something I'm pretty sure I would know if I was IFR rated, but I think it's referring to instrument departure procedures, following certain turns that will keep traffic separated and planes from flying into obtacles),

Radar Departure means Radar Vectored Departure; ATC will use its radar to issue headings and direct you to some point. As opposed to an SID where the pilot is responsible for navigation.

No such thing as runway bravo.

Ah! Yes, I didn't even notice that.

(For the record, I have zero training in aviation, air traffic control, aerospace, or avionics... I am trying to make this not completely unbelievable for people who DO know much more about the subject, while not losing complete laymen! ♥ )

I noticed in the booklet I found online (the Jeppesen one I linked to in the ETA) that there was something like CUPID.7 as a departure route. You sound like you might be able to explain the following to me, so if you could (you don't need to explain in full, but I have zero clue what I'm looking at):

CUPID Y808 ONION OTR5 ADNAP R591 ADGOR R591 AAMYY R451 WALLT R451 CHIKI 5100N 17000W 4900N 16000W 4700N 15000W 4500N 14000W 4200N 13000W VESPA ENI AVE J1 FIM SADDE6
(Source)


Also, if a commercial airliner takes off from NRT, would they be more likely to use SID instead of radar? How would I modify the following exchange?

"Narita Clearance, this is Juliet Lima Sixty Two, requesting clearance and radar departure."

"Juliet Lima Sixty Two, you are cleared to Los Angeles via CUPID, Flight Planned Route, Maintain 35,000, Radar Departure. Contact Ground at one two one niner five."



You sound like you might be able to explain the following to me, so if you could (you don't need to explain in full, but I have zero clue what I'm looking at)

This a route from (I'm guessing NRT) to LAX via an eastbound PACOTS track. It lists only positions, not altitudes or airspeeds. The list says:

Proceed to waypoint CUPID. (West of Tokyo)
Proceed via airway Y808 to waypoint ONION.
Proceed via airway OTR5 to waypoint ADNAP.
Proceed via airway R591 through waypoints ADGOR, AAMYY, and WALLT. (To the tip of the Alaskan island chain.)
Proceed via airway R451 to waypoint CHIKI.
Proceed to latitude/longitude waypoints 51N170W, 49N160W, 47N150W, 45N140W, and 42N130W. (Curving downward toward California.)
Proceed to waypoint VESPA (Entering continental US airspace near-ish to Sacramento.)
Proceed to VOR station ENI
Proceed to VOR station AVE
Proceed via airway J1 to VOR station FIM
Proceed to LAX via the Standard Terminal Arrival SADDE6

It's actually fairly easy to read.
*Waypoints are always 5 letters. Waypoints are predefined points on the globe that are used so often in navigation that it's easier to name them instead of just calling them by latitude/longitude. Many waypoints are just intersections of airways.
*VOR stations are always 3 letters. VOR stations are ground-based transmitters used by aircraft to determine position.
*Airways are always 1 letter and 1-3 numbers, although OTR airways are oddballs. They're predefined lines between useful places for an aircraft to be. :)

All this stuff, plus speeds and altitudes, will be in the airliner's flight management system, set up and verified by the crew before taking off.

OH. Waypoints vs airways, and station instructions! Okay, that FINALLY makes sense to me. THANK YOU!

I'm skipping over the items that you already got really good answers for.

Is this supposed to be a scheduled airline flight? Airliners conducting revenue flights operate under flight numbers and almost without exception use that as their radio identification, not their tail number.

Additionally, when identifying with a tail number, the callsign is typically the make and number, e.g. Learjet November One Two Three Four.

Question 1: Do flights request clearance/radar departure at NRT? Is that a suitable/appropriate way to do it?

When leaving any controlled ICAO aerodrome under IFR, the flight needs to get both permission from the airport to taxi to the runway and take off, and permission from the wider air traffic control system to activate and execute their prearranged flight plan. The call to Clearance Delivery is to get the approval for the route between the aerodrome and the destination (or more usually, to some distance nearer to the destination, with further clearances being given as the flight proceeds). Once that is secured the pilot requests taxi clearance to the runway from Ground, and then gets switched to Tower upon entering the runway until just taking off. The pilot is then transferred to a Departure controller and eventually to whatever the local equivalent of National Airspace is.

With an airliner you have additional issues because the pilot and dispatcher are both involved in obtaining and receiving clearances, and because there are tons of logistical aspects of getting an aircraft backed out into the non-movement area to allow the airliner to be in a position to contact Ground for taxi clearance.

Which is all to say that tons and tons of events are happening here and I'm glossing over things terribly.

"Juliet Lima Sixty Two, you are cleared to Los Angeles

Someone at NRT couldn't possibly clear a flight to enter another country; at very most the flight would be, at this juncture, cleared to the entry for the transoceanic track. Far more likely the clearance would only extend to some intermediate point.


"Juliet Lima Sixty Two, this is Narita Ground. Taxi via Charlie to holding point Alpha Three, Runway Bravo."

Ground wouldn't identify itself as Ground on the frequency for Ground.

Taxi instructions would be extremely lengthy for such a large airport.

Question 6: Once you're done and you've cleared Narita airspace, who do you get handed off to?

Oceanic control. You'd enter a Pacific Track via Fukoka Control. You give (probably automated) position reports at particular time periods. No radar so separation is totally by airspeed and time of entry. Once you get near the US, Oakland controls your entry into US National Airspace.

Oh, excellent, the voice of experience; just reading your comments I can tell you know the route! <3 <3 <3 <3

Is this supposed to be a scheduled airline flight?
Yes, this is supposed to be JL 62 (NRT-LAX usually scheduled at 1705 daily) with fictional pilots. Thank you for the lovely explanation of how a commercial flight gets from gate to airspace! <3 And whoa, you're right, that is a TON of events.

Someone at NRT couldn't possibly clear a flight to enter another country; at very most the flight would be, at this juncture, cleared to the entry for the transoceanic track. Far more likely the clearance would only extend to some intermediate point.

I hadn't realized the national borders would mean separate clearances (it makes sense in hindsight, of course.) How would I find an intermediate point to use instead of Los Angeles? Or should I just say "cleared for departure" since I don't have to write more than taxiing? (The scene stops before the runway, just past handoff from Ground to Tower without actually contacting Tower.)

Ground wouldn't identify itself as Ground on the frequency for Ground.
Oops. What would they say?

Taxi instructions would be extremely lengthy for such a large airport.
Does it come as a rapid-fire list of instructions in one go, or does it Ping-Pong back and forth as the plane reaches "waypoints"? Should I attempt to make something up based on the departure routes in this? (Found after I learned that NRT is referred to as RJAA...)

Oceanic control. You'd enter a Pacific Track via Fukoka Control. You give (probably automated) position reports at particular time periods. No radar so separation is totally by airspeed and time of entry. Once you get near the US, Oakland controls your entry into US National Airspace.

Who runs Oceanic control--I'm assuming some international organization like ICAO? *is starting to get stuffed-brain syndrome* I found this on Wiki but I am assuming that there are multiple sections of Oceanic Control JL62 would need to go through to get to LAX...

Edited at 2014-02-18 05:06 am (UTC)

I hadn't realized the national borders would mean separate clearances (it makes sense in hindsight, of course.) How would I find an intermediate point to use instead of Los Angeles?

Perhaps ONION? I really don't know. I don't think much clearance information is shared between ATC and the pilot; most of it goes to the dispatcher and then to the pilot some time prior to pushoff. There's a lot of information being transferred to and from dispatch.

Or should I just say "cleared for departure" since I don't have to write more than taxiing?

I'd perhaps ignore the IFR clearance entirely. The crew gets pushed back. They get the engines started and ready to taxi from the ramp to the taxiway, where they can't go without permission from Ground. They request taxi clearance from Ground. They get it. And off they go.

Does it come as a rapid-fire list of instructions in one go, or does it Ping-Pong back and forth as the plane reaches "waypoints"?

Rapid fire. Step-by-step taxi instructions are called "progressive taxi" instructions and, while allowed, are frowned upon as they slow down operations. Barely tolerated with a PPL holder. Eyebrow-raising for an airliner operating at one of the busiest airports on Earth.

Oops. What would they say?

Airplane: Cactus 123, requesting a thing.
Ground: Cactus 123, do that thing.

Aircraft identify themselves by name and then say their business and/or agrees with instructions.
ATC addresses the aircraft by name and answers/and or issues instructions.
No "roger" no "over and out" or any of that. Aircraft preface with their ident and controllers preface with the ident of the aircraft they are addressing.

Who runs Oceanic control--I'm assuming some international organization like ICAO?

Pretty much; ICAO makes the general rules and delegates authority. The routes are through PACOTS, the Pacific Organized Track System. North Pacific routes - between Japan and the USA - are delegated by ICAO to be shared between Japan and the USA. Each day, Fukuoka decides what the eastbound routes are, and Oakland decides the westbound routes.

http://zak.vatusa.net/tutor/pacots_tutorial.htm

there are multiple sections of Oceanic Control JL62 would need to go through to get to LAX...

Just Fukuoka and then position reports via HF or (more likely) ACARS until they hit the US continental National Airspace ADIZ. Then they quickly enter SOCAL airspace and things get busy very quick.

Took your advice, tossed that stuff out (it's hard enough just managing Ground and taxiways, and I'm not even doing this in real time!) I have gotten sucked into the world of ATC recordings--there are some FUN things out there! <3

Oh, excellent, the voice of experience; just reading your comments I can tell you know the route! <3 <3 <3 <3

Haha no, but thanks. I'm not an ATP, not even a pilot. Just an engineer and aviation hobbyist. :) lindenfoxcub is probably the only expert here. :)