ATC Strategy When Frequencies are Busy


There’s always my favorite heart-attack-inducing event at KMIA as Tower and Ground. [Credit for video goes to @Chris_S, I believe)

It can be done:


Yikes! Hats off, that’s amazing ATC!


Well said, I go by this as well.


There are some good suggestions already. But if you really have loads of flashing tabs just swipe right and the tab will disappear. The plane will still show up in white but and can still contact atc again. It will give you some breathing space. Also when a plane has departed swipe the tab right and again the tab will disappear and the plane will turn white. This allows you to concentrate on blue flights. Hope this helps. Of course use this facility wisely otherwise you will have no control.

Another tip. If a pilot is behaving badly and won’t follow instruction just swipe him off.

  1. Don’t control multiple frequencies on busy airports/airspaces. It could get really busy

  2. Trust yourself and your knowledge about ATC

  3. Trust the pilot as IFATC operates in a very professional server

  4. Don’t be nervous when communicating to aircraft. We all make mistakes. NO ONE IS PERFECT

  5. Lastly, have a good time and may we meet in the servers.


Hopefully you’re referring to the tabs that aren’t flashing.


One of the first things I do once a pilot is airborne is request the frequency change if they are not doing pattern work. One less plane on the tower frequency…

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I appreciate them all so much. ATC is so much fun but can be so overwhelming…those that said the equivalent of ‘just breathe’ are right. In my head I want to take care of every pilot all at once which i think leads to the panic mode setting in. But realistically, I need to ignore the non stop ATC voice, ignore the flashing lights and take that extra second or two to evaluate then execute the plan.


Also if “maintain slowest practical speed” is given to every pilot it won’t increase the separation in distance but it will in time; and if you have just too many people (mostly on 1 runway airports), shut the airport until some people have departed


Both as pilot and ATC, the voice is just background noise. As a pilot, I’m looking for the green command across the top so I can react as fast as I can to my command, because the voice will be delayed if it’s busy [hint, hint, those on busy approach frequemcies].

As ATC, I do it visually. The planes flash too. Get your flashing planes on tower from tower outward along the radius. Take care of ground to clear traffic of the runways, then pushbacks, etc.

If you actually listen to the voice, and try and do everything based on what it’s saying, you’ll go mad.


I don’t listen for the voice but I also don’t mute it. Perhaps muting it while doing ATC will reduce some of the panic I would feel.


I don’t mute it. Hard to explain, but I kind of just listen for key words.

“Remaining in Pattern”

I don’t listen to every word, but I let certain words kind of trigger where I direct my attention.

There’s no way to really translate that into anything helpful, I suppose, other than it just comes from doing it a lot. Kind of like in a crowded room and you hear your name. It focuses you on a particular area.

But I certainly don’t make any attempt to actually listen to every word. And by this time, I know every sentence that the voice can ever say, so I don’t really need to pay attention to it to know what I need to do.

That all comes in time. Just don’t try to listen to the voice and wait for her to finish her sentence. That severely delays response time.


I do not exactly the same, I listen to key words… much harder to control on mute.


How did you get your departures out???


That reminds me:

Don’t be afraid to send these guys to the back of the line. There’s no rule that says taking off from Tijuana is a skip-the-line pass. Or EGLC-EGLL.


That was definitely a challenge. But 3-4 nautical miles separation is enough, if barely, but enough time for someone to quickly line up and wait then immediately takeoff. Worst case senecio was a go around, in which case I had someone slow down and provide room, or they had to go to the back. But like I said that was near the beginning where I was just figuring it out, I eventually provided more room. :)


The B772 on the left side of my picture ended up being ghosted for skipping in line and refusing to follow instructions several times. Must’ve thought he was more important than everyone else.


Yup, there’s always one. “…requesting runway 09…”.

“Oh, sure, hold on. Everyone else hold in place, this guy wants to land on 09.”


I wish there was a method to message those ones your own personalize message just for situations like that. But I guess ghosting does that trick. A personalized message would really package nicely with the ghosting though.


Probably best that’s not an option. :)

They don’t want my un-filtered thoughts in that scenario.

Anyway, sorry. Didn’t mean to take off track. But, as it relates to the OP, you are free to move people around if you need to. If you lose separation, a go-around is perfectly fine to give yourself time. [If IF pilots in this situation knew the proper way to enter the right-traffic pattern from that location, that would be the option to use, but I fear most would not execute that pattern entry correctly.]


If a pilot had repeatedly ignored my instructions, then yes I would. I don’t see why I should spend effort on time wasters or trolls.