ATC Department

Apron/Ground (GND)



The Apron controller, identified as GND (for Ground controller) is responsible for all the movement of planes from gate/stand to runway's holding point and vice versa. The Apron controller cannot clear a traffic to enter or cross a runway as this is under Tower control.

The GND position receive hand-off traffics from DEL controller and TWR controller. Thus this position sits in the middle of those two ATCs.

The time spent on the ground as no value for airlines and thus the aim of the Apron controller is to minimize it by guaranteeing a constant flow of traffic to the runway from gates and to gates from the runway.


Basic Knowledge Requirements

A GND controller must be perfectly familiar with:

  • All the Basic Knowledge Required to control DEL position
  • Taxiways configuration of the airport and preferred ground movement routes
  • Phraseology for push back, start up and taxi clearances
  • VFR handling (please note VFR will contact GND ready for taxi without going through DEL)
  • Understanding of gate assignment based on airline and aircraft category
  • Ground priority management
  • Low visibility procedure


Controller in Action

The first step for the virtual controller that wants to act as GND 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 here.

The second step is to check the latest Handy Sheet, available on the airport page, where all the necessary informations 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 GND controller is responsible for movement on the ground, the filter should be set up in such a way that he excludes all the traffics that are airbone. In order to do so under the menu "PVD" (top left) select "PVD Options..." the controller will set Primary filter from 0 to 100 ft above ground level. This is for example 1'500ft 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 and thus the GND ATIS would be exactly the same as TWR ATIS. 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.

There are two kind of traffic that joins the frequency of an Apron controller: outbound and inbound.

Outbound. Once a pilot reports to DEL that is ready for engine start and push back (if needed) the Delivery controller hands off the traffic to the Apron controller. The Apron controller will clear the traffic to start the engines and push back from the gate. In some cases the push back won't be required. In order to let the traffic to push back from its gate, the controller has to check that the taxiway in which the traffic will end up is free from other planes. To ease the operation, the Apron controller can instruct the traffic to push back in way that it will face a specific direction (i.e. north, south, east, west). When the push back and engine operation will be concluded and the pilot completed the checklist required with the co-pilot, they will contact the Apron to inform they are ready to taxi. Apron controller will clear the traffic to taxi to the holding point of the runway for its departure. A common mistake is to hand off the traffic to the TWR only when stop at the holding point. This is not the best way to guarantee a constant flow of traffic. If the traffic is clear from potential conflicts Apron controller can transfer the traffic to Tower to let the plane to continue rolling without need of stopping and restarting. In case of a sequence of departures, GND will transfer the traffic to TWR asking the pilot to monitor only the frequency.

Inbound. After a traffic has landed when is about to vacate it is transferred to Apron from Tower. In some cases the pilot switches to Apron frequency without request from TWR. Apron instructs the traffic to taxi to its gate. The gate is assigned according to Airline and Aircraft category


Phraseology Examples


Push Back, Start Up and Taxi to the Runway

 Pilot  ATC

Zurich Apron good morning, Swiss 57PU, Airbus 320, stand A06, request push [back] and [engines] start [up] 


Swiss 57PU Apron hello, push [back] and [engines] start [up] approved [facing to the east]


Push [back] and [engines] start [up] approved [facing to the east], Swiss 57PU


  Zurich Apron, Swiss 57PU is ready to taxi


  Swiss 57PU taxi to holding point A1 via INNER  and A, [report when ready for departure]

Taxi to holding point A1 via INNER and A,  [report when ready]


Swiss 57PU, monitor/contact Tower 118.100, Good day

118.100 Swiss 57PU




Arrival from Runway to Gate with an Active Runway Crossing

Pilot ATC

Zurich Apron Grüezi, Swiss 215, vacated RWY 14 on H2


Swiss 215 Apron hello, continue taxi via J hold short runway 28 for crossing

Via J holding short 28, Swiss 215


 Traffic reaches holding point 


Swiss 215 contact the Tower on 118.100 for runway crossing

Tower 118.100, Swiss 215



Runway crossing is cleared by Tower


Apron, Swiss 215, back with you runway 28 crossed on J


Swiss 215, Apron, Hello, taxi to gate A42 via A F and N

taxi to Gate 42 via A F and N, Swiss 215