Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) 4-1-9 (Non-Towered Airports)

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The full text of the FAA bulletin.

Digital version of this AIM section was provided courtesy of Summit Aviation, publisher of the Computerized Aviation Reference Library CDROM which may be purchased on-line here on AVweb.

DOT LogoAeronautical Information Manual (AIM)

Official Guide to Basic Flight Information and ATC Procedures

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration

4-1-9. TRAFFIC ADVISORY PRACTICES AT AIRPORTS WITHOUT OPERATING CONTROL TOWERS

a. Airport Operations Without Operating Control Tower

1. There is no substitute for alertness while in the vicinity of an airport. It is essential that pilots be alert and look for other traffic and exchange traffic information when approaching or departing an airport without an operating control tower. This is of particular importance since other aircraft may not have communication capability or, in some cases, pilots may not communicate their presence or intentions when operating into or out of such airports. To achieve the greatest degree of safety, it is essential that all radio equipped aircraft transmit/receive on a common frequency identified for the purpose of airport advisories.

2. An airport may have a full or part-time tower or Flight Service Station (FSS) located on the airport, a full or part-time UNICOM station or no aeronautical station at all. There are three ways for pilots to communicate their intention and obtain airport/traffic information when operating at an airport that does not have an operating tower: by communicating with and FSS, a UNICOM operator, or by making a self-announce broadcast.

b. Communicating on a Common Frequency.

1. The key to communicating at an airport without an operating control tower is selection of the correct common frequency. The acronym CTAF which stands for Common Traffic Advisory Frequency, is synonymous with this program. A CTAF is a frequency designated for the purpose of carrying out airport advisory practices while operating to or from an airport without an operating control tower. The CTAF may be a UNICOM, MULTICOM, FSS, or tower frequency and is identified in appropriate aeronautical publications.

2. The CTAF frequency for a particular airport is contained in the A/FD, Alaska Supplement, Alaska Terminal Publication, Instrument Approach Procedure Charts, and Standard Instrument Departure (SID) charts. Also, the CTAF frequency can be obtained by contacting any FSS. Use of the appropriate CTAF, combined with a visual alertness and application of the following recommended good operating practices, will enhance safety of flight into and out of all uncontrolled airports.

c. Recommended Traffic Advisory Practices.

1. Pilots of inbound traffic should monitor and communicate as appropriate on the designated CTAF from 10 miles to landing. Pilots of departing aircraft should monitor/communicate on the appropriate frequency from start up, during taxi, and until 10 miles from the airport unless the FARs or local procedures require otherwise.

2. Pilots of aircraft conducting other than arriving or departing operations at altitudes normally used by arriving and departing aircraft should monitor/communicate on the appropriate frequency while within 10 miles of the airport unless required to do otherwise by the FARs or local procedures. Such operations include parachute jumping/dropping, enroute, practicing maneuvers, etc.

REFERENCE - AIM, Parachute Jump Aircraft Operations, paragraph 3-5-5

Table 4-1-1
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDED COMMUNICATION PROCEDURES
覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧
Key:
Facility at Airport
Frequency Use
Communication/Broadcast Procedures
覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧
1. UNICOM (No Tower or FSS)
Communicate with UNICOM station on published CTAF frequency
(122.7, 122.8, 122.725, 122.975, or 123.0). If unable to
contact UNICOM station, use self-announce procedures on CTAF.
Outbound: Before taxiing and before taxiing
on the runway for departure.
Inbound: 10 miles out. Entering downwind, base, and final.
Leaving the runway.
2. No Tower, FSS, or UNICOM
Self-announce on MULTICOM frequency 122.9.
Outbound: Before taxiing and before taxiing
on the runway for departure.
Inbound: 10 miles out. Entering downwind, base, and final.
Leaving the runway.
Practice Instrument Approach: Departing final approach fix
(name) or on final approach
segment inbound.
3. No Tower in operation, FSS open.
Communicate with FSS on CTAF frequency.
Outbound: Before taxiing and before taxiing
on the runway for departure.
Inbound: 10 miles out. Entering downwind, base, and final.
Leaving the runway.
Practice Instrument Approach: Approach completed/terminated.
4. FSS closed (No Tower).
Self-announce on CTAF.
Outbound: Before taxiing and before taxiing
on the runway for departure.
Inbound: 10 miles out. Entering downwind, base, and final.
Leaving the runway.
5. Tower or FSS not in operation.
Self-announce on CTAF.
Outbound: Before taxiing and before taxiing
on the runway for departure.
Inbound: 10 miles out. Entering downwind, base, and final.
Leaving the runway.
覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧

d. Local Airport Advisory Provided by an FSS.

1. Local Airport Advisory (LAA) is a service provided by an FSS physically located on an airport which does not have a control tower or where the tower is operated on a part-time basis. The CTAF for FSSs which provide this service will be disseminated in appropriate aeronautical publications.

2. In communicating with a CTAF FSS, establish two-way communications before transmitting outbound/inbound intentions or information. An inbound aircraft should report approximately 10 miles from the airport, reporting altitude and aircraft type, location relative to the airport, state whether landing or overflight, and request airport advisory. Departing aircraft should state the aircraft type, full identification number, type of flight planned, that is, VFR or IFR and the planned destination or direction of flight. Report before taxiing and before taxiing on the runway for departure. If communications with a UNICOM are necessary after initial report to FSS, return to FSS frequency for traffic update.

(a) Inbound

EXAMPLE:
VERO BEACH RADIO, CENTURION SIX NINER DELTA DELTA IS TEN MILES SOUTH, TWO THOUSAND, LANDING VERO BEACH. REQUEST AIRPORT ADVISORY.

(b) Outbound

EXAMPLE:
VERO BEACH RADIO, CENTURION SIX NINER DELTA DELTA, READY TO TAXI, VFR, DEPARTING TO THE SOUTHWEST. REQUEST AIRPORT ADVISORY.

3. A CTAF FSS provides wind direction and velocity, favored or designated runway, altimeter setting, known traffic, NOTAMs, airport taxi routes, airport traffic pattern information, and instrument approach procedures. These elements are varied so as to best serve the current traffic situation. Some airport managers have specified that under certain wind or other conditions designated runways be used. Pilots should advise the FSS of the runway they intend to use.

CAUTION
All aircraft in the vicinity of an airport may not be in communication with the FSS.

e. Information Provided by Aeronautical Advisory Stations (UNICOM).

1. UNICOM is a nongovernment air/ground radio communication station which may provide airport information at public-use airports where there is no tower or FSS.

2. On pilot request, UNICOM stations may provide pilots with weather information, wind direction, the recommended runway, or other necessary information. If the UNICOM frequency is designated as the CTAF, it will be identified in appropriate aeronautical publications.

3. Should LAA by an FSS or, Aeronautical Advisory Station (UNICOM) be unavailable, wind and weather information may be obtainable from nearby controlled airports via Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) or Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) frequency.

f. Self-Announce Position and/or Intentions.

1. General. Self-announce is a procedure whereby pilots broadcast their position or intended flight activity or ground operation on the designated CTAF. This procedure is used primarily at airports which do not have an FSS on the airport. The self-announce procedure should also be used if a pilot is unable to communicate with the FSS on the designated CTAF.

2. If an airport has a tower and it is temporarily closed, or operated on a part-time basis and there is no FSS on the airport or the FSS is closed, use the CTAF to self-announce your position or intentions.

3. Where there is no tower, FSS, or UNICOM station on the airport, use MULTICOM frequency 122.9 for self-announce procedures. Such airports will be identified in appropriate aeronautical information publications.

4. Practice Approaches. Pilots conducting practice instrument approaches should be particularly alert for other aircraft that may be departing in the opposite direction. When conducting any practice approach, regardless of its direction relative to other airport operations, pilots should make announcements on the CTAF as follows:

(a) departing the final approach fix, inbound (nonprecision approach) or departing the outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker, inbound (precision approach);

(b) established on the final approach segment or immediately upon being released by ATC;

(c) upon completion or termination of the approach; and

(d) upon executing the missed approach procedure.

5. Departing aircraft should always be alert for arrival aircraft coming from the opposite direction.

6. Recommended Self-Announce Phraseologies: It should be noted that aircraft operating to or from another nearby airport may be making self-announce broadcasts on the same UNICOM or MULTICOM frequency. To help identify one airport from another, the airport name should be spoken at the beginning and end of each self-announce transmission.

(a) Inbound

EXAMPLE:
STRAWN TRAFFIC, APACHE TWO TWO FIVE ZULU, (POSITION), (ALTITUDE), (DESCENDING) OR ENTERING DOWNWIND/BASE/FINAL (AS APPROPRIATE) RUNWAY ONE SEVEN FULL-STOP, TOUCH-AND-GO, STRAWN.

STRAWN TRAFFIC APACHE TWO TWO FIVE ZULU CLEAR OF RUNWAY ONE SEVEN STRAWN.

(b) Outbound

EXAMPLE:
STRAWN TRAFFIC QUEEN AIR SEVEN ONE FIVE FIVE BRAVO (LOCATION ON AIRPORT) TAXIING TO RUNWAY TWO SIX STRAWN.

STRAWN TRAFFIC, QUEEN AIR SEVEN ONE FIVE FIVE BRAVO DEPARTING RUNWAY TWO SIX. "DEPARTING THE PATTERN TO THE (DIRECTION), CLIMBING TO (ALTITUDE) STRAWN."

(c) Practice Instrument Approach

EXAMPLE:
STRAWN TRAFFIC, CESSNA TWO ONE FOUR THREE QUEBEC (POSITION FROM AIRPORT) INBOUND DESCENDING THROUGH (ALTITUDE) PRACTICE (NAME OF APPROACH) APPROACH RUNWAY THREE FIVE STRAWN.

STRAWN TRAFFIC, CESSNA TWO ONE FOUR THREE QUEBEC PRACTICE (TYPE) APPROACH COMPLETED OR TERMINATED RUNWAY THREE FIVE STRAWN.

g. UNICOM Communications Procedures.

1. In communicating with a UNICOM station, the following practices will help reduce frequency congestion, facilitate a better understanding of pilot intentions, help identify the location of aircraft in the traffic pattern, and enhance safety of flight:

(a) Select the correct UNICOM frequency.

(b) State the identification of the UNICOM station you are calling in each transmission.

(c) Speak slowly and distinctly.

(d) Report approximately 10 miles from the airport, reporting altitude, and state your aircraft type, aircraft identification, location relative to the airport, state whether landing or overflight, and request wind information and runway in use.

(e) Report on downwind, base, and final approach.

(f) Report leaving the runway.

2. Recommended UNICOM Phraseologies:

(a) Inbound

PHRASEOLOGY -

FREDERICK UNICOM CESSNA EIGHT ZERO ONE TANGO FOXTROT 10 MILES SOUTHEAST DESCENDING THROUGH (ALTITUDE) LANDING FREDERICK, REQUEST WIND AND RUNWAY INFORMATION FREDERICK.

FREDERICK TRAFFIC CESSNA EIGHT ZERO ONE TANGO FOXTROT ENTERING DOWNWIND/BASE/FINAL (AS APPROPRIATE) FOR RUNWAY ONE NINER FULL-STOP, TOUCH-AND-GO FREDERICK.

FREDERICK TRAFFIC CESSNA EIGHT ZERO ONE TANGO FOXTROT CLEAR OF RUNWAY ONE NINER FREDERICK.

(b) Outbound

PHRASEOLOGY -

FREDERICK UNICOM CESSNA EIGHT ZERO ONE TANGO FOXTROT (LOCATION ON AIRPORT) TAXIING TO RUNWAY ONE NINER, REQUEST WIND AND TRAFFIC INFORMATION FREDERICK.

FREDERICK TRAFFIC CESSNA EIGHT ZERO ONE TANGO FOXTROT DEPARTING RUNWAY ONE NINER. "REMAINING IN THE PATTERN" OR DEPARTING THE PATTERN TO THE (DIRECTION) (AS APPROPRIATE)" FREDERICK.