TRAFFIC ADVISORY PRACTICES AT AIRPORTS WITHOUT OPERATING CONTROL TOWERS

USING CTAF

 

a. Airport Operations Without Operating Control Tower

1. There is no substitute for alertness while in the vicinity of an airport. It is essential that pilots be alert and look for other traffic and exchange traffic information when approaching or departing an airport without an operating control tower. This is of particular importance since other aircraft may not have communication capability or, in some cases, pilots may not communicate their presence or intentions when operating into or out of such airports. To achieve the greatest degree of safety, it is essential that all radio-equipped aircraft transmit/receive on a common frequency identified for the purpose of airport advisories.

2. An airport may have a full or part-time tower or FSS located on the airport, a full or part-time UNICOM station or no aeronautical station at all. There are three ways for pilots to communicate their intention and obtain airport/traffic information when operating at an airport that does not have an operating tower: by communicating with an FSS, a UNICOM operator, or by making a self-announce broadcast.

3. Many airports are now providing completely automated weather, radio check capability and airport advisory information on an automated UNICOM system. These systems offer a variety of features, typically selectable by microphone clicks, on the UNICOM frequency. Availability of the automated UNICOM will be published in the Airport/Facility Directory and approach charts.

b. Communicating on a Common Frequency

1. The key to communicating at an airport without an operating control tower is selection of the correct common frequency. The acronym CTAF which stands for Common Traffic Advisory Frequency, is synonymous with this program. A CTAF is a frequency designated for the purpose of carrying out airport advisory practices while operating to or from an airport without an operating control tower. The CTAF may be a UNICOM, MULTICOM, FSS, or tower frequency and is identified in appropriate aeronautical publications.

TBL 4-1-1

Summary of Recommended Communication Procedures
     

Communication/Broadcast Procedures

 


Facility at Airport


Frequency Use


Outbound


Inbound

Practice Instrument
Approach

1.

UNICOM (No Tower or FSS)

Communicate with UNICOM station on published CTAF frequency (122.7; 122.8; 122.725; 122.975; or 123.0). If unable to contact UNICOM station, use self-announce procedures on CTAF.

Before taxiing and before taxiing on the runway for departure.

10 miles out. Entering downwind, base, and final. Leaving the runway.

 

2.

No Tower, FSS, or UNICOM

Self-announce on MULTICOM frequency 122.9.

Before taxiing and before taxiing on the runway for departure.

10 miles out. Entering downwind, base, and final. Leaving the runway.

Departing final approach fix (name) or on final approach segment inbound.

3.

No Tower in operation, FSS open

Communicate with FSS on CTAF frequency.

Before taxiing and before taxiing on the runway for departure.

10 miles out. Entering downwind, base, and final. Leaving the runway.

Approach completed/ terminated.

4.

FSS Closed (No Tower)

Self-announce on CTAF.

Before taxiing and before taxiing on the runway for departure.

10 miles out. Entering downwind, base, and final. Leaving the runway.

 

5.

Tower or FSS not in operation

Self-announce on CTAF.

Before taxiing and before taxiing on the runway for departure.

10 miles out. Entering downwind, base, and final. Leaving the runway.

 



2. The CTAF frequency for a particular airport is contained in the A/FD (Airport Facilities Directory), Alaska Supplement, Alaska Terminal Publication, Instrument Approach Procedure Charts, and Instrument Departure Procedure (DP) Charts. Also, the CTAF frequency can be obtained by contacting any FSS. Use of the appropriate CTAF, combined with a visual alertness and application of the following recommended good operating practices, will enhance safety of flight into and out of all uncontrolled airports.

c. Recommended Traffic Advisory Practices

1. Pilots of inbound traffic should monitor and communicate as appropriate on the designated CTAF from 10 miles to landing. Pilots of departing aircraft should monitor/communicate on the appropriate frequency from start-up, during taxi, and until 10 miles from the airport unless the CFR's or local procedures require otherwise.

2. Pilots of aircraft conducting other than arriving or departing operations at altitudes normally used by arriving and departing aircraft should monitor/communicate on the appropriate frequency while within 10 miles of the airport unless required to do otherwise by the CFR's or local procedures. Such operations include parachute jumping/dropping, en route, practicing maneuvers, etc.

 

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