ATC Department

Arrival/Approach (APP)



The role of the Arrival controller is to channel inbound traffics towards the active runway of destination airport. The duty is to keep a constant flow of arrivals avoiding the risk of under separation of descend below minima safe altitude.

When DEP is offline, ARR takes the duties of Departure controller too.


Basic Knowledge Requirements

A DEP controller must be perfectly familiar with:

  • All the Basic Knowledge Required to control DEL position, GND positionTWR position and DEP position
  • VFR, SVFR & CVFR handling
  • Y and Z flight plan
  • Vectoring
  • STAR/Approach chart interpretation
  • Missed Approach (MAP)
  • Emergencies
  • Procedural control


Controller in Action

The first step for the virtual controller that wants to act as ARR would be to be sure he/she is in line with the knowledge requirements highlighted above.

As this is done, the controller should load the sector file for the airport in which he/she wants to control. The sector file can be found in the welcome-site under the quicklinks.

The second step is to check the latest Handy Sheet, available on the airport page, where all the necessary information are summarised in a single document.

In the IVAC's COMM Box the controller has to set his primary frequency in line with GND frequency for that airport. In order to do so just type //199.999  where 199.999 stands for the frequency one wants to set up.

The next step is the setup of the altitude filter. As the ARR controller is responsible for arriving traffic, as well for departing traffic when DEP offline, but not for movement on the ground, the filter should be set up in such a way that he excludes all the traffics that are on the ground as well the ones above its vertical limit. In order to do so under the menu "PVD" (top left) select "PVD Options..." the controller will set Primary filter from 100 ft above ground to 2000 ft above TMA upper limit. This is for example 1'500 ft to 14'000ft at Zurich.

Once IVAC is ready, it is time to connect.

As soon as the controller is online the first priority is to create the TS channel followed by the filing of a correct ATIS. Please remember, the Tower is responsible (always) for runway selection so ARR ATIS must be in line with TWR.

The station name and frequency have to be in line with guidelines from ATC Department and can be found here: LSAZ and LSAG. The remarks box must be left empty unless a special situation requires to be communicated to pilots. This is the case for "LOW VISIBILITY PROCEDURE ACTIVE" or "ALL RWYS CLOSED DUE TO EMERGENCY" or also "ALL RWYS CLOSED DO TO SNOW CLEARING". Personal message or greetings to pilots are not allowed.

Always inform nearby controllers of your presence online.

Traffics will join ARR frequency from CTR when approaching hand/off fix or altitude/Flight Level. The duty of Arrival controller is to give a constant descend profile to arrivals and point them towards active runway. The Arrival will position the inbound traffic to approach the runway in a stable profile with enough margin to decelerate and setup the aircraft for landing.

The Arrival controller has 2 different direction tools to implement in order to achieve his/her goal. The first one is the clearance to a specific STAR or DCT (direct) to a specific FIX, VOR or NDB. The second, mostly used for the final segment of approach, is the use of Vectors. Together with directional instructions, the Arrival controller issues altitudes clearances (Descend and Climb instructions) as well as speed instruction or restrictions. Contrary to the widely assumed on IVAO, a speed restriction can be either a maximum speed to fly at as well a minimum speed to fly at. This tools altogether allows the controller to keep separation and get all the inbound to their destination in time. Lastly, the controller can issue holding instructions when the amount of traffic, or special situations, require that.

The Arrival controller is responsible for Missed Approach procedures as well. When a traffic goes around, TWR hands it off back to Arrival that will instruct the pilot in such a way to join the arrival flow again.

Lastly, Arrival controller is in charge of all VFR traffics inside the TMA of the airport. As such a good understanding of airspace classification and knowledge of airport TMA space is mandatory.


Phraseology Examples


From Hand/Off to ILS Approach

 Pilot  ATC

Zurich Arrival good afternoon, Swiss 108U, descending to FL130 inbound BERSU, an Airbus 321 with information X-Ray


Swiss 108U Arrival good day, identified, descend to FL90, BERSU 1G arrival for ILS RWY 14

BERSU 1G arrival, descend to FL90, RWY 14 Swiss 108U


Traffic follows instructions and starts the BERSU 1G arrival


Swiss 108U direct GIPOL, descend to FL80

Direct GIPOL, down to FL80, Swiss 108U


Traffic is about to reach GIPOL


Swiss 108U hold at GIPOL, [expect maximum 1 holding]

Holding at GIPOL, Swiss 108U


Traffic performs holding


Swiss 108U [cancel the Hold], turn right heading 020 vectoring for ILS approach RWY 14, descend to 6'000 ft, QNH 1006

[Cancel the hold] heading 020 ILS RWY 14 and descending 6'000 ft, QNH 1006, Swiss 108U


Traffic follows instructions


Swiss 108U turn left heading 170, intercept localizer RWY 14

turn left heading 170 intercept localizer RWY 14, Swiss 108U


Traffic establishes on localizer 14 at 6'000ft and crosses minima limit


Swiss 108U descend to 4'000ft, cleared to ILS RWY 14

Descend to 4'000 ft, cleared ILS RWY 14, Swiss 108U


Traffic full establishes on ILS 14


Swiss 108U contact tower 118.100

Tower 118.100, good day, Swiss 108U