bio15
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Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2001 8:10 am

How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Tue Sep 16, 2003 4:56 am

Hi everyone. I have wondered this for a long time now, how do pilots find their wat through the taxiway labyrinth to the exact gate where they should park? The only thing I know (from the unreliable Fsim experience  Smile) is that the ground controllers give the pilot the taxiways to get to the gate. But do they indicate the gate number and how to get to it precisely? Thanks in advance!

-Alfredo
 
Ikarus
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Tue Sep 16, 2003 4:58 am

Commercial pilots usually have airfield maps with them. Controllers advise on the route (taxiways are identified by letters, numbers etc.) and gate they need to taxi to.

It's not too difficult really. Unless, of course, they get lost  Big grin

Regards

Ikarus
 
OPNLguy
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Tue Sep 16, 2003 5:06 am

Here's an example of one such map: (There are others).

http://www.naco.faa.gov/content/naco/online/airportdiagrams/00253AD.pdf

There are also maps (Jeppesen produces some) that show various terminals and gate locations in greater detail, including lat/lon info. Gates are also marked with their numbers, either on the terminal building itself, the jetway, or in some places, painted on the ramp.

ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
jhooper
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Tue Sep 16, 2003 5:07 am

I hear ORD is pretty complicated. Navigating through the correct taxiways to the parking area can indeed sometimes prove to be a challenge for those unfamiliar with the airport.
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
 
aloges
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Tue Sep 16, 2003 5:07 am

I imagine that taxiing at smaller airports is not a problem, while hubs like JFK, ATL, ORD, DFW, LHR etc. may easily give pilots a hard time finding their gate.

Sorry for getting off topic, but this reminds me of some joke:

Those German controllers at Frankfurt Airport tend to be a
short-tempered lot. They not only expect pilots to know their
parking location but how to get there without any assistance.

So it was with some amusement that we (PanAm 747) listened
to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground and a
British Airways 747 (radio call Speedbird 206) after landing.

Speedbird 206: "Good morning Frankfurt. Speedbird 206 clear
to active."

Ground: "Good Morning. Taxi to your gate."

The British Airways 747 pulls onto the main taxiway and stops.

Ground: "Speedbird, do you know where you are going?"

Speedbird 206: "Stand by, ground. I'm looking up the gate
location now."

Ground (impatiently): "Speedbird 206, have you never flown to
Frankfurt before?"

Speedbird 206 (coolly), "Yes, in 1944. But I didn't stop."
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
bio15
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Tue Sep 16, 2003 8:31 am

Hi again, thanks for the replies guys!

I am familiar with the airport maps, they seem to show everything one needs to go to the gate. Do all airlines provide their pilots with the terminal & gate maps as well?

-Alfredo
 
OPNLguy
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Joined: Tue Jun 15, 1999 11:29 am

RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Tue Sep 16, 2003 9:28 am

>>>Do all airlines provide their pilots with the terminal & gate maps as well?

Most, if not all, I'd say. That said, once they get familar with the airport and their airline's gate areas after a few flights, the terminal/gate diagrams are mainly used for looking up lat/lon data when needed. Sometimes, airlines change terminal wings and/or gates at an airport, and the diagrams get used more, but after the new learning curve, that tapers off.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
cancidas
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Tue Sep 16, 2003 9:33 am

...prove to be a challenge for those unfamiliar with the airport.

that's why you ask for progressive taxi instructions. this was a contoller will tell you exactly where to go turn by turn.
"...cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home."
 
OPNLguy
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Tue Sep 16, 2003 10:01 am

>>>that's why you ask for progressive taxi instructions.

Air carrier crews are expected to have all relevant nav data/charts (including taxi charts) for use at large airports like ORD, etc. Use of progressive taxi instructions (especially if it was avoidable) would really tie-up the frequency.

Not to say it never happens, just not routinely.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
bio15
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Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2001 8:10 am

RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Tue Sep 16, 2003 11:24 am

That's great information, thank you again guys.  Smile Now I'm real clear on the subject!

-Alfredo

[Edited 2003-09-16 04:26:35]
 
CX Flyboy
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Tue Sep 16, 2003 1:07 pm

Some airports are very good like Heathrow or Singapore in that they can light the taxiway lights specific to the taxi route of each aircraft. They simply tell you to "Follow the greens" and that's it. You go where the lights lead. Simple.
 
N6376M
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Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2003 12:54 am

RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Wed Sep 17, 2003 4:51 am

I guess I'd like to expand on this a bit; how does the pilot know what gate he's going to (as opposed to how to get there)? For example when my flight lands at ATL, how does the pilot know that he's going to park at A4 or B9 etc . . .

Also, when does he know this and does ATC have this information as well and does it factor into their clearances? It seems that if we're parking on the North side, we land on the northern runways.

Thanks in advance.

-76M

 
CX Flyboy
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Wed Sep 17, 2003 9:18 am

ATC knows well in advance which gate your plane is going to park at and will endeavour to land your aircraft nearest, or at least know the part of the terminal where that airline normally parks their planes.

From a pilot's point of view, if we have time we call the local ground services agent on the company frequency and give them an ETA, and they respond with the expected bay number. Going into some ports, we automatically get the bay number through ACARS from our company. If we have not had time to call, it's no problem, as ATC will always tell you which gate you are taxying to and include that in your taxiway instructions.
 
AAR90
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Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2000 11:51 am

RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Wed Sep 17, 2003 10:04 am

...how does the pilot know what gate he's going to (as opposed to how to get there)? For example when my flight lands at ATL, how does the pilot know that he's going to park at A4 or B9 etc . . .

At AA we request "changeover" information via ACARS. Used to provide a bunch of data, but now just your arrival gate, crew connections and pax connections. If ACARS is not available, a quick radio call to the station will provide the gate. After clearing all runways, a quick radio call to the station to confirm gate availability is the norm.

...does ATC have this information as well...

Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends upon the airport & airline. i.e. AA at DFW/ORD/MIA there is no way ATC wants to know what gate I'm going to. First call to Ground Control includes your gate assignment.

...does it factor into their clearances?

Yes, but only when time, traffic and work load permits. Landed a few hours ago at LAX and even though all AA gates are on the south side, we were required to land on the north side to balance the arrival traffic flow.

*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
 
N6376M
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Wed Sep 17, 2003 10:45 am

Gentlemen thank you for your responses.

One more follow up - What's ACARS?

Regards,

-76M
 
AAR90
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Wed Sep 17, 2003 11:02 am

What's ACARS?

"Airline Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) is a communications data link system..."

*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
 
Goldenshield
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Wed Sep 17, 2003 5:15 pm

The actual gate assignment is done by the airlines SOC. Rarely does a controller know the actual gate assignment. Of course, One exception may be SNA, since each half of the terminal is not assigned, and its first come first serve, but even then the controllers do not know the exact assignment. The airlines operations would most likely get that from airport ops.
Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
 
AAR90
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Wed Sep 17, 2003 6:47 pm

Gate assignments at SNA are assigned by AA SNA operations. If AA operations does not contact the airline, the gate assignment has not changed from the monthly plan --it usually does not change much. When last minute changes are necessary, AA ops will contact the individual airline(s) involved with appropriate gate change(s).
*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
 
CX Flyboy
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Joined: Sun Dec 26, 1999 6:10 pm

RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Wed Sep 17, 2003 10:46 pm

Gate assignment by airlines seems to be something peculiar to the US. All other major international airports I have been to, the gates are assigned by the controllers, and the individual airlines have nothing to do with it.

People should specify in their replies that the US does things a certain way, otherwise people might be inclined to think the whole world is the same, and more often than not, it isn't.
 
UAL747
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Thu Sep 18, 2003 3:39 am

How do you get from the runway to the gate?

Press 1 for progressive taxi instructions and the pink like magically appears on the taxiway...

"Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy. Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy.....Okay, fine, we'll just turn 190 and Visual Our Way
 
bio15
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RE: How Do Pilots Know How To Get To The Gate?

Thu Sep 18, 2003 11:53 am

Funny Ual747 lol
I usually try following the airport diagrams I have while on the Flight Simulator, and when I'm at the last taxiway on the route and have no idea where the gate is, press 1 and follow the pink.

I wish the flight sim was a realistic thing. Quite honestly, I prefer getting the money someday to start my flight lessons! But for the moment, enjoy Airliners.net and drive 737's with my keyboard  Smile

-Alfredo

[Edited 2003-09-18 04:55:01]

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