ATC operations

tripleseven

Well-Known Member
Hi everyone....I recently bought a PRO-82 scanner from Radio Shack (it works great!). Anyway, I live near a small airport and have recently heard the controller say to a landing aircraft "cleared for the option Rwy. 30". I was wondering what does the "option" mean exactly? My second question is, since the airport I live next to is a small facility the tower closes down at 8:00pm. Past 8:00 there are three more SkyWest flights that come in. Who controlls the airport during the time the tower is closed? Thanks for your help!
 

hammer

New Member
Cleared for the option means the flight is cleared for a full stop landing, stop-and-go, or a touch-and-go. The controller has given the pilot the "option" for the type of landing he wants. You'll see it in training flights.

When the tower closes, the airspace becomes Class E and the approach controllers will clear the flight for an approach, advise the pilot of any traffic they see on radar, and then tell him to switch him over to the CTAF frequency. The pilot will then announce his intentions over the CTAF to any other pilots that are in the pattern. Pretty common occurance as the vast majority of airports in the US that have control towers don't operate their tower 24/7. Great example is John Wayne .... 1,000+ flights a day between general and commercial aviation but their tower shuts down at 11PM. Boeing 757's will be talking to Cessna's as both come in to land.
 

SkyGirl

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
what does CTAF stand for.

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It means Common Traffic Advisory Frequency.

I have also seen some controlled airports become Class E, which translates to an airport with more stringent weather minimums than an uncontrolled field, but still has no one in the tower. Likewise, if there is a Flight Service Station at the airport, they would provide local advisories while the tower was not operating.
 

hammer

New Member
[ QUOTE ]


I have also seen some controlled airports become Class E, which translates to an airport with more stringent weather minimums than an uncontrolled field


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Not exactly .... E airspace means it's still controlled airspace. Weather minimums, while accurate, are secondary. The airspace defaults to E (as opposed to G) when the tower closes so that control can still be had in the airspace for instrument approaches. That leads to another good question .... are there any airports in the US that have a control tower but no published instrument approaches?? If there are and the tower closes overnight, does the airspace default to G?
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
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.. are there any airports in the US that have a control tower but no published instrument approaches?? If there are and the tower closes overnight, does the airspace default to G?

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Phoenix-Goodyear (KGYR) and Glendale (KGEU) are two I can think of if they haven't recently had GPS IAPs installed. I do know that Gila Bend (KGBN) reverts to Class G when the tower closes.
 

SkyGirl

New Member
Hammer - Sorry, I guess I missed your initial post, but I was trying to deliver the practical results and not get bogged down with technicalities.
[ QUOTE ]

The airspace defaults to E (as opposed to G) when the tower closes so that control can still be had in the airspace for instrument approaches.

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Several controlled airports around here have instrument approach procedures and default to class G. I was taught to always check the AFD, since the default airspace for part-time towers is inconsistent and situational. I was trying to communicate that several possible scenarios can exist when a tower is not operating. I should have said that Ive been to airports that default to class G, which now seems to be more of the exception than the rule but is what I have more experience with.
 

SkyGirl

New Member
After some investigating, Ive learned the rule of thumb is that the overlying airspace governs whether an airport will become Class E or G while the tower is not operating. There is no specific regulation, so its a general trend and obviously there are lots of exceptions.
 

hammer

New Member
You know what, SkyGirl, you're right .... I just checked the AFD and John Wayne's Class C airspace (1,200+ flights a day, busier than many Class B airports) becomes Class G when the tower isn't operational. So maybe someone can explain the designation since I don't understand it .... why do some airports with control towers become Class E while others become Class G when the tower closes??
 

SierraPilot

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
Cleared for the option means the flight is cleared for a full stop landing, stop-and-go, or a touch-and-go. The controller has given the pilot the "option" for the type of landing he wants. You'll see it in training flights.

[/ QUOTE ]

Being "Cleared for the option" does not necessarily mean a type of landing but can also include a low approach or missed approach where no landing or touch-n-go are executed.

4-3-22. Option Approach

The "Cleared for the Option" procedure will permit an instructor, flight examiner or pilot the option to make a touch-and-go, low approach, missed approach, stop-and-go, or full stop landing. This procedure can be very beneficial in a training situation in that neither the student pilot nor examinee would know what maneuver would be accomplished.
 

N519AT

Ahh! This is how I change this!
Triple seven, how much was that scanner? I was looking for one with a reasonable price tag, the best price I could find was in Sport's Pilot Mag for like $89
 

tripleseven

Well-Known Member
N519AT, my scanner was $99. It was well worth it because it works very well. It also has a cool one-touch operation feature where it searches specific bands (marine, fire/police, air, ham, and WX).

triple7, I agree with you, very cool aircraft, hope to be in the left seat of it in the future.

Thanks to everyone for the responses!
 

jholloway_1

New Member
I was flying the pattern one day, and one of my friends was also in the pattern in front of me. He was cleared for the option, and he decided to make a full stop. After landing, the ATC guy really griped him out, and said he needed to know if he was going to be a full stop. Was my friend required to call for a full stop? or was the controller just in a grumpy mood?
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
I was flying the pattern one day, and one of my friends was also in the pattern in front of me. He was cleared for the option, and he decided to make a full stop. After landing, the ATC guy really griped him out, and said he needed to know if he was going to be a full stop. Was my friend required to call for a full stop? or was the controller just in a grumpy mood?

[/ QUOTE ]

If you're cleared the option, then the local controller should provide sequencing [between aircraft], etc, sufficient to provide for any of the contingencies afforded in the option clearance. The pilot reporting his intentions, in this case, would be a courtesy call to the controller. Absent the option clearance, pilots will provide their intentions (ie- base, full stop) in order to receive the appropriate clearance from the local controller (ie- cleared to land, cleared tough and go, cleared low approach).

IMO, ATC shouldn't have necessarily griped in this instance.
 

DanTheMan

New Member
He was probably just grumpy. Once they clear you for the option, you don't have to tell them which you're gonna do. but if I'm gonna make a full stop, I'll usually let them know.

Edit(dang it Mike, you're too fast!)
 

Minuteman

“Dongola”
Straight from the Pilot/Controller Glossary
[ QUOTE ]
CLEARED FOR THE OPTION- ATC authorization for an aircraft to make a touch-and-go, low approach, missed approach, stop and go, or full stop landing at the discretion of the pilot. It is normally used in training so that an instructor can evaluate a student's performance under changing situations.

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HuzzLord

Well-Known Member
Hey guys, I've been reading the posts on and off for a couple years now and thought I might as well post. To try to answer your question about when the tower closes at an airport. I was taught that if the airport has weather reporting then it will revert to class E while if it does not it will revert to class G.
 
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