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Understanding Arrivals Process  
User currently offlineKgb25 From Canada, joined Jan 2001, 22 posts, RR: 0
Posted (15 years 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 1887 times:

I often listen to the ATC for YYZ Arrivals and was wondering if someone could help me understand a little better rhe terminology that I hear.

Typically a plane will check in with its call sign and report altitude and will usually say something like, :We have whisky...or we have x-ray." What does this mean exactly. How far is a plane typically from the airport at 13000ft or so.

As they are brought in their cleared to different altitudes and have their speed reduced. What is a base leg?

Finally at about 3000 to 4000ft ATC will say, "AC868 cleared for ILS on rwy 24L contact tower at..."
At this point is the aircraft flying on the localizer on final approach. And at what point do they hit the outer marker?

Thanks for any help you can offer.

7 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineNwa_mech From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (15 years 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 1837 times:

Alpha, bravo, x-ray are names given to atis updates. Atis updates provide airport information such as wind and weather conditions, runways being used, and other worthwhile info for pilots. Atis updates usually get updated every hour thus the changing of the names. As for your question of the location of aircraft at FL130 (13000 feet), this is hard to say because every airport has different approach conditions. But usually they are 10-15 minutes out. The last two questions are probably best answered by a pilot.

User currently offlineMit From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 166 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (15 years 3 days ago) and read 1830 times:

X-Ray, Whiskey, etc: Most large airports have an ATIS (Automated Terminal Information System, I think). This is a repeating recording that gives basic weather info, the active runway and approach and any other pertinent information like equipment outages or construction. This recording is generally changed once an hour and each new recording is named with the phonetic alphabet. For example, the 0800 recording will be Alpha, 0900 will be Bravo, etc. It is good piloting practice to listen to ATIS before contacting the tower, and if you call in with Whiskey/X-ray/etc. the controller does not have to relay that info over the active frequency.

Distance @ 13,000 feet: This will vary with the elevation of the airport and the path the plane is taking into the area. But ... a 3 degree glidepath extended up to 13,000 feet would be about 70 nautical miles. This would be the absolute max distance.

Base Leg A standard VFR traffic pattern around a runway has several legs, each with a name. The base leg is the leg right before final. This can be a "right base" or a "left base" depending on the direction you turn onto final.

In General Look on eBay for a Jeppesen IFR textbook. An older edition will work fine, and it will be a good reference for these type of questions in the future.

User currently offlineIainhol From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (15 years 3 days ago) and read 1818 times:

The outer marker is normally around 10-15 miles

User currently offlineMit From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 166 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (15 years 3 days ago) and read 1816 times:

Actually, the outer markers are usually 4-6 miles.

DCA ILS 1 4.6 nm
IAD ILS 12 5.6 nm
IAD ILS 19L 3.9 nm
IAD ILS 19R 3.6 nm
ROA ILS 33 4.1 nm
ORF ILS 5 3.6 nm
BWI ILS 15L 4.6 nm
BWI ILS 15R 3.8 nm
EWR ILS 4L 5.9 nm
EWR ILS 4R 4.8 nm
CRW ILS 5 4.7 nm

User currently offlineBuff From Australia, joined Mar 2007, 0 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (15 years 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 1799 times:

As Mit states, OM's are usually co-located at the FAF and are about 4 miles to threshold.

A nominal 3 degree descent from 39 n.m would start at about 43 nautical miles on a flat earth, slightly higher (very slightly) due to curvature.

As far as arrivals go at CYYZ, I'm surprised those are your only questions! I would expect that if you listen to it for awhile, you'll be asking "why do they tell the airplanes they're landing on one runway, then when they're all set up, they change it?"!!!

Best Regards,


User currently offlineMit From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 166 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (15 years 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 1798 times:

Buff's right about the 3 degree descent distance from 13,000 feet. It's about 40 nm. Used 3% instead of 3 degrees for the first calculation. Whoops  Smile

User currently offlineCYLW From Canada, joined Apr 2000, 455 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (15 years 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 1798 times:

As for the last question. You're probably refering to something like "Contact the Tower 118.7 over Xray" Xray is an NDB on the Localizer for 23 at CYYZ. It's exactly 3.7nm from the runway. Other ones you'll hear are:

NOAHA (not and NDB, just a fix) - 4.8nm from 24L
Juliett (NDB) - 4.1nm from 06R
Tango (NDB) - 4nm from 05

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