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Unlisted reporting points

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General Aviation

I wondered if anyone had a good method for getting reporting points airport controllers use that aren't listed on on the TAC.  I know you can always respond with, "I'm not familiar with that location," but it would be nice to be more prepared when visiting a new airport.



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3 Answers

  1. Mark Kolber on Jan 04, 2014

    The problem is that local reporting points are, well, local. They are local landmarks that pilots and controllers use because the fit common arrival patterns and they are familiar. You wouldn’t know what they are unless you asked in advance and even then, unless you spent an hour or more figuring out where all the shopping centers, towers, developments, reservoirs, etc are, you still wouldn’t have the confidence you would have with a simple “unfamiliar.”

    For example, here is KAPA in the Denver area on the TAC. I’ll tell you that coming in from the southeast, you may well be asked to “Report KOA” and from the east, to “Report Parker & Arapahoe.” With those big big hints (and both are highly visible), can you tell me where you will report? And if yo figured it out, how long did it take?

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  2. Matt C on Jan 06, 2014

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the reply. I found Parker on the TAC pretty quickly. Arapahoe I would guess is the fairgrounds just NW of the reservoir, though that required a quick Google Maps search I couldn’t do while preparing to land. I don’t know about KOA.

    I wouldn’t feel good about agreeing with ATC to report at any of these if I didn’t know about them beforehand, but that’s kind of my point. If I could, for example, get a list of the local reporting points and put them into WingX before my flight, it would be helpful. If WingX maintained a database of these that you could turn on or off for various airports, that would be better.

    Is the common practice for experienced pilots when in a new area to just reply they’re unfamiliar with reporting points ATC tosses out? What is the most common way for controllers to revise their instructions (e.g. report 3 mi NW, or do they use other points on the TAC)?


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  3. Mark Kolber on Jan 07, 2014

    The common and IMO correct practice is for the pilot to reply that he or she is unfamiliar. Pretending you know where it is is unprofessional, potentially dangerous, and could even lead to a FAR violation. When ATC hears it, you will be provided with a more standardized instruction.

    For example, after reporting “unfamiliar” with KOA, you may well be instructed to simply report over Parker (the published checkpoint; “Parker and Arapahoe” is not even close to it) or “5 southeast” (KOA is the radio tower just outside the Class D ring).

    To illustrate the point, your limited guesses were incorrect. Not even close.

    Trying to put together a list of local, unpublished checkpoints would be a daunting task. What do you do when they build that new Walmart 8 miles west of an airport and everyone starts using it. Unpublished reporting points are not official in any way. They only work because they are large, easily visible locations that locals and regular transients recognize. With many of them, even knowing generally where they are done sent help much. For example, I gave you clues to their location by telling you the direction you were arriving and you still couldn’t find them.

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