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'Spotlight' Series

Harry Sugden

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I'm going to use this thread to make the series of 'Spotlight' posts - that are being posted in the TG Enroute mentor and student area - public! The idea behind them is to focus in on a particular part of area controlling in a more detailed, but also hopefully more accessible, writing style. There has only been one so far, but I'm working on the next one to post in the private forum in the next couple of days, and at least one other mentor has said they might at some point... but if it ends up being a one man band, then so be it!

Disclaimer: Any errors or omissions are, unfortunately, my fault. Please let me know about them below.

Do drop me a message if you have any ideas for something you'd like focusing on, or if you might even want to contribute!

Jump to:

  1. The BPK Area [South & Central] - this post
  2. Turn and Burn, Baby Burn [North]
  3. Tricky Crossings 1 - FRANE [South & Central]
  4. Tricky Crossings 2 - TC SW [South]
  5. Awkward Encounters 1 - Daventry Corridor [North & Central]
  6. The Common Misconception that EuroScope will get you a C1 - [All]
  7. The Luck of the Irish (Sea) - [North]
  8. Let's talk about gates, baby! - [All]


(1) The BPK Area

I thought I'd hone in on a little area that requires a good deal of focus when controlling, and indeed explanation in training. This is relevant to South and Central students, and is the area around BPK. We see a criss-crossing of various bits of traffic here to the extent that it is worth understanding not just what you have to do with your traffic, but what's going on in your adjacent controller's heads too! 

Figure 1 - The Area in Question (from this post)


Gatwick LAM Departures (pink)

Let's start with these, but I recommend you read all of my carefully crafted prose to understand how all of this traffic interacts. These departures are transferred from Gatwick AIR to TC SE who - once finished with deconflicting them from BIG inbounds and other departing traffic - has to climb them up, up, up to FL130, ensuring that they reach FL130 by the TC N/S boundary. This is especially important if they are going to be able to climb above Essex inbounds, discussed later. If aircraft cannot reach this level, TC SE must coordinate with TC NE, who does not work this traffic even though it climbs through their airspace. In real life, these departures wouldn't (ordinarily) enter TC NE's airspace but on VATSIM, in order to simplify the airspace structure in this area, KK LAMs actually climb through TC NE's airspace for a little without being transferred over (see Figure 2, below). Positioned on a heading west of the DET-LAM track and climbing to reach FL130 by the boundary, TC SE transfers to AC Dover.

AC Dover in this area - i.e. when the a/c is overhead the London City CTR/CTA - owns the airspace from FL155 (the top of TC NE) upwards. The traffic is released for climb, and Dover's job is to climb the aircraft to FL190 and position the aircraft to track east of HEMEL (the reason will become clear later). There is another condition here - the traffic must cross the northern edge of the London CTR at FL155 or above in order to leave TC NE's airspace by this point, else in this case, AC Dover must coordinate with TC NE. Climb condition met, AC Dover transfers these aircraft to AC Daventry.

Essex VATON-BPK inbounds (purple)

AC Worthing hands Essex inbounds from their sector at FL190 by TELTU, AC West FL180 by BEDEK - AC Dover then has the task of managing converging traffic (from 3 directions!) over VATON. By default, this traffic must be on own navigation along the VATON-BPK track and ideally 5 NM minimum in trail - any deviations from this need to be coordinated with TC NE. There are strict turn and descent restrictions on this traffic too, so most of the work is done by speeds.

In real life, these inbounds are descended to FL140 level by BPK (EGSS/SC) or FL150 by OZZOT (EGGW), and then transferred from TC VATON (AC Dover on VATSIM) to TC LOREL (TC NE on VATSIM). However, our agreement is different. This is because we have simplified the airspace structure in this area, as mentioned earlier. Because TC NE owns the airspace up to FL155 in the area beyond VATON, our agreement is descending FL160 from AC Dover to TC NE. It is not a "level by" agreement - AC Dover should transfer these aircraft as soon as practicable following issuance of descent to FL160, as they will need further descent quickly from TC NE! Note that the aircraft must of course be 'clean' before transfer, especially from KK LAM departures which are also handled by AC Dover, but not by TC NE.

Heathrow BPK/ULTIB departures (blue)

It is oh so tempting as TC NE on westerlies to have a BPK departure check in, see an empty BNN arrival stream, and say - "BAW428, London Control, climb now FL150".

But wait! In real life, your equivalent controller (TC NE Deps) wouldn't be able to do this, for until a good few miles after BPK, their airspace only goes up to FL115. Who's on top? The Essex inbounds! Remember the mention of a TC LOREL in real life? They handle the Essex inbounds descending FL140 by the Park, and will then descend them further to FL120 until further into their sector. Underneath sit the BPK departures, climbed to a maximum of FL110, and later FL150 before transfer to, on VATSIM, TC East.

If I've lost you at this point, then just remember this: Make sure to scan the Essex VATON-BPK inbound track for any arrivals before you climb BPK departures up to FL150. If you forget, you'll either have to stop the departure's climb later, or the Essex inbound will have to sit at FL160 (this will require coordination if it goes on for too long as the aircraft may enter TC East's airspace).

On Easterlies, there is another consideration. @Sebastian Rekdal is really the king of diagrams, so you can refer to Figure 3 (below) for this. In real life, there's this weird bit of airspace in this region that changes ownership based on the runway config, but we've got rid of this complication on VATSIM. All you need to remember is that, as TC NW, you should not climb ULTIB departures until they are within your sector (error in OP!) are only released for climb to a maximum of FL110 until passing west of the VATON-BPK track, subject to TC NE/EGLL traffic. Quite often you'll have LAM inbounds in the way anyway, but who knows when an Essex inbound will come trundling along that VATON-BPK track...

A quick return to the KK LAMs

This made sense in my head to come back to at the end. You'll recall that AC Dover positions KK LAM departures east of HEMEL. Why, you ask? This helps AC Daventry out with the job of keeping this climbing traffic away from Midlands (BB/NX) inbounds, who are handed to them by AC Dover descending to FL220 by HEMEL. AC Dover must also position these inbounds through the 'Midlands Radar Gate' (you can turn this on in Display Settings -> Stars -> Midlands Gate; and there is a diagram in the vMATS, section LAC These inbounds can be on own navigation or on a heading, as long as they pass through the gate which is - conveniently - on the west side of HEMEL!

To Conclude

Even though I've made a lot of references to our smallest day-to-day TC splits, that doesn't mean that those bits aren't relevant. Knowing your massive VATSIM sector requires knowing the intricacies of its constituent parts. A lot of the above is relevant even if you are the whole of AC Central and AC South is online with no splits - or vice versa. You might have noticed that the original diagram also has the CPT direction Stansted departures (green) drawn on it - I didn't touch on these as I thought the BPK area was quite enough, but do have a think about how you'll get these up too!

Figure 2 - TC North East


Figure 3 - ULTIBs

TC NW ULTIB Dele.png

Edited by Harry Sugden
Updated BPK Area Spotlight to reflect sectorisation changes in TC Capital (VATON) area
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6 minutes ago, Lewis Corcoran said:

How do you make these wonderful diagrams?

I made the original one (Fig. 1) in Google Drawings, the same as most of the UK diagrams - I tend to leave the drawing to @Sebastian Rekdal now though since he loves it so much!

Edited by Harry Sugden
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(2) Turn and Burn, Baby Burn

It’s week 2, and I seem to have found myself far out of my usual habitat, in the Manchester TMA. But in the current climate, I have had some time to do some digging. This post is most relevant to North controllers, old, new and upcoming - I had planned to talk about inbound releases and positioning of aircraft in the Daventry corridor too but the post was getting long enough, so I’ll save that for another time. 

Disclaimer: I cannot be held responsible for this technique causing a conflict, especially if you don’t read this from start to finish. ?

Turning and Burning!

It’s definitely one of the coolest named techniques out there – in the vMATS, we refer to it by the more mediocre title of ‘Vectoring Outbounds Subject Inbounds’. You may have looked at some of the SIDs from Manchester before and thought ‘how on earth do I climb these departures safely through the inbound stream?’ – well, this will hopefully explain how.

The way inbound and outbound procedures in the MAN TMA interact requires a significant amount of tactical intervention from controllers. Tactical intervention is the vectoring of aircraft off published procedures or planned routes, in order to manage conflicts that arise because of a particular traffic situation, or in the case of Manchester, conflicts that are basically inherent to the procedures. As part of the UK’s Future Airspace Strategy (airspace modernisation), airports and NATS are working to design new procedures that are less workload-intensive, making better use of modern technology. [Figure 1 comes from a presentation given as part of Step 1a of the relevant Airspace Change Proposal]


Figure 1 – interacting routes in the MAN TMA requiring tactical intervention. Dark blue – GP inbounds. Red – GP outbounds. Green – CC inbounds. Orange – CC outbounds.

But for now, I’m going to talk about a technique for handling some of this traffic - ‘turning and burning’ - which involves PC (MAN) controllers vectoring Manchester (northbound) departures off-route, in a tighter turn that loops back round toward the airport, climbing above inbounds, and then vectoring back toward their route.

There are some important general points to take note of:

  • It is advised not to remove speed restrictions until aircraft are seen to have made the turn, in order to keep the radius of the turn to a minimum
  • Think about how the wind might affect which heading you issue
  • If you plan to climb the aircraft above the SID altitude, you must give the climb in the turn – causing the aircraft to level off will quickly erode the effectiveness of the tactical intervention

Previous advice on the forum suggests something along the lines of:

"DLH949, passing altitude 4000 feet*, turn right heading 085, climb now FL90".

(* due noise abatement)

The same advice stressed the need to give the “turn and climb in the same transmission unless you are very quiet”. If not, then “you have to climb the outbound as soon as they start turning onto the heading [as] we don't want them to level off at any point as they have to get above the inbound stream”. 

When are the techniques used?

(1)   When Manchester is vectoring inbounds from ROSUN for 05L/R vs. ASMIM and MONTY departures

For these, see Figure 2 for an illustration of the kind of turn the PC controller might give.

The Manchester vMATS details a number of conditions on the vectoring inbounds that help out here:

  • Inbounds from ROSUN must be vectored on a track not less than the 215° track from ROSUN until they have intercepted the edge of the Low-Level Route – this includes for traffic vectored from the POL release point, which should be pointed at ROSUN initially, to then intercept this track
  • MIRSI inbounds must be on a track of no less than 175° from MIRSI until south of sub-area B

But even with these conditions, previous advice suggests that coordination between PC (MAN) and Manchester APC is not uncommon.

Does it work for LISTO departures? The same advice suggests that the easiest option is to leave them at 5000’ until they have crossed the DAYNE inbound stream. However, if the traffic is light, then PC East may want to coordinate with Manchester APC to help climb departures through. Due consideration must be given to the fact that finding a heading which deconflicts from arrivals and provides the space to climb may be difficult. He who dares, wins... (I kid!)


Figure 2 – an illustration of a ‘turn and burn’ intervention when Manchester is operating on 05L/R.


(2)   When Manchester is vectoring inbounds from MIRSI for 23L/R vs. POL and SONEX departures

For these, see Figure 3 for an illustration of the kind of turn the PC controller might give. You must also note that:

  • POL/SONEX traffic must not cross the runway 23L/R centreline below MSL+1
  • Too tight a turn for an aircraft on a POL/SONEX SID could cause it to enter Manchester Approach South’s airspace and into conflict with the DAYNE hold – this must not occur without coordination

Again, the Manchester vMATS places conditions, requiring APC to vector inbounds from MIRSI on a track no greater than 090° until east of the MCT–ROSUN line, when traffic may then be turned right “if no conflict exists”.


Figure 3 – an illustration of a ‘turn and burn’ intervention when Manchester is operating on 23L/R. Note that the SONEX line crosses the centreline in this image – it must do so above MSL+1.


Some concluding comments

For both configurations, it is integral you understand the RMAs and how APC will typically vector inbounds. Whilst Manchester APC controllers are (supposed to be) aware of these procedures, the RMAs are ultimately established for the purpose of vectoring inbounds. Even if APC is following the rules in the vMATS, if it looks as if an inbound and an outbound might get too close for comfort, prior coordination must take place between you and Manchester to agree a plan of action. Don’t leave it too late!

Also think about the fact that some VATSIM pilots have a tendency to ignore speed restrictions – if you think they might, why not (re-)state the restriction? The more a pilot attempts to speed up, the lower the rate of climb you will get from them. You might have to make a proactive choice as to what you prioritise: is your frequency quiet enough to give the turn and climb separately, because you feel for this particular aircraft you might need to remind them to stay slow? Or do you jump straight on the phone and coordinate something?

But most importantly of all, the figures above are ILLUSTRATIONS! Only with practice will you come to learn what works, and do not always trust the book - or in this case, the forum post!

Only one question remains...

Will YOU turn and burn?


[See also EGTT vMATS 2002 MPC, because my post is no substitute for the procedures. With thanks to Sebastian Rekdal for his help on the diagrams, and to Johan Grauers for some of the advice that feeds into this post. Plus, Adam Arkley and Arvid Hansson for reviewing].

Edited by Harry Sugden
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(3) Tricky Crossings 1

It’s been a little while since my last post - apologies for that, but I’ve been having a really hard time coming to terms with the potential (luckily not full) loss of my beloved Squawk IDENT. I’m just really worried that I won’t be able to find all these aircraft that keep calling me up! Oh, and the small matter of some real world exams, for which revision must be supplemented with non-stop flying. Alas, there are more important things to worry about with crossing traffic.

This post is part 1 of at least 3 in a sub-series looking at ‘Tricky Crossings’. It might seem a very simple task for the number of words that follow, but if I flesh it out a little then perhaps for some, there’ll be one part of the wider explanation that makes the whole thing ‘click’. I’m going to be talking about crossing Gatwick FRANE departures across the LOGAN inbound stream…

IMPORTANT: Cross check the diagrams with the relevant sector diagrams for a more complete picture. Make sure to read the full captions to understand what they are trying to show.

Crossing 1 - FRANE

For these, you need to get your head around how we appreciate aircraft performance. Previously just that wishy washy criteria on your mentoring report that is an afterthought for you, and sometimes the mentor who has to think what to write in there. Not anymore! It really helps you to manage your traffic safely with a level of anticipation. Crossing FRANE traffic requires some setup first, however.

Part 1: TC South East

TC SE positions FRANE departures on a heading toward DAGGA climbing FL130 before transfer to TC NE. The positioning here is important. When holding is not taking place at LAM, it needs to be far west enough that it enables the crossing, as is about to be explained, but not so far west that it sits in the bit of TC NE that is only up to FL155. Otherwise, there is potential for conflict with Essex inbounds, Heathrow outbounds, and not to mention the inability of TC NE to climb to FL170, which is the next agreement to TC East (see Figure 1).

Even when you’re able to climb aircraft promptly, make sure to take the above into consideration. Here’s a little diagram that highlights where you should try not to put these planes.

Figure 1 - a comparison of the FRANE SID track (solid blue), examples of good positioning on a heading (dash-dot blue), and positioning that would prohibit TC NE from climbing the aircraft to FL170 on first contact (dash-dot red). It is advisable, even when the sectors are not split fully, to avoid positioning FRANE departures within the VATON box (shaded red).



Part 2: TC East

The most important thing for this crossing is that LOGAN inbound traffic must be given descent to FL160 level by SABER. Sometimes you’ll be told by mentors that you don’t have to use every intra-sector agreement when you are controlling a bandboxed sector, but there are certain agreements that really help in terms of crossings and traffic management. This is one of them. 

Unless the pilot has told you they cannot make the descent by SABER, or your eyes tell you that the pilot is lying that they will, then the aircraft being FL160 level by SABER means TC NE can appreciate the aircraft performance of FRANE departures, climbing them in time such that they route over the top of Heathrow inbounds!


Part 3: TC North East

Ideally, as soon as TC NE gets LOGAN inbounds, they should give a further descent such that about halfway along the distance from SABER to LAM, you could reasonably expect the aircraft to have reached around FL130. (Obviously, you’ve got to use your eyes and your appreciation skills to work out whether this will happen.)

By appreciating aircraft performance, you then issue a climb to the Gatwick FRANE traffic, bearing in mind that at the crossing point (well, in advance of it!), you will need them to be at least one level higher than the inbounds to LAM. Given how early TC SE is usually able to climb to FL130 on VATSIM, the departures should be able to reach at least FL150 by the LOGAN stream, most likely higher (see Figure 2).


Figure 2 - a comparison of the FRANE SID track (solid blue), and an example of a FRANE departure positioned on a heading (dash-dot blue) that has at least 15 miles to climb above FL130 (i.e. the agreement between TC SE and TC NE). The LOGAN inbound traffic is expected to be FL160 by SABER and with timely further descent, should be able to make at least FL135 by BRASO, enabling the crossing (solid burgundy).

Airspace Key:          * TC NE DB-FL175         ** TC NE DB-FL175; TC East FL175-FL245



Part 4: Summary for Central Controllers

Things to remember to make this work:

  • The pilot needs to know as early as possible that they should expect FL160 lvl by SABER - use, for example, the phraseology “BAW43HA, expect FL160 level by SABER. When ready, descend FL250”
  • Issuing the pilot with another descent instruction removes the previous level by instruction - thus, if you give someone FL160 level by SABER over LOGAN, and 5 miles later say “descend FL90”, the pilot has no obligation to meet the previous FL160 restriction
  • That said, do not delay the descent beyond SABER. Get them handed off to TC NE in good time if split, and then get them down ASAP to ensure the crossing is safe
  • Do not climb the Gatwick FRANEs into AC Dover’s airspace without coordination if they are online! Even when TC SE is not split from Dover, it is good practice to stick to the fully split climb restrictions, at least until you’ve worked out the technique and the airspace - that way, you’ll always know what to do when the splits are online

For all of this to work relies on two things: firstly, practice, in order to appreciate how it works in action; and second, monitoring, because committing to a crossing that is based on an appreciation of aircraft performance requires your ATTENTION. Don’t take your eye off the ball. Had I lost you?

If you can’t cross them over the top, the alternative is to think about whether you are able to ‘point behind’. In this case, you might point the FRANE departure at/just behind an aircraft in the LOGAN inbound stream, such that by the time the departure would reach the point that the arrival was at, they will be in excess of 3 miles apart laterally. Then as long as the next aircraft will reach FL160 level by SABER, climb accordingly. Take note that the distance from SABER to LAM isn’t far - FL160 to MSL in 31 miles is no easy feat with a delayed descent. So whatever you do, remember that you’ll have more problems by leaving an inbound high, than you will by keeping an outbound low!

Edited by Harry Sugden
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  • 1 month later...

(4) Tricky Crossings 2 - TC SW

And we’re back! Since the last post, we’ve had Dominic on his trip to the castle, SpaceX launched, rallies and marches abound, and COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. I’ve even completed my uni exams and am now trying to enter the world of work... wow, how things change, even if you don’t notice it.

But more immediately pressing is going to be rambling on about something Area Control-y in the hope that my take on it could give you some ideas. This time, it’s the turn of the TC South West sector for some interrogation. This is necessarily limited in scope - chuck in Farnborough traffic, Shoreham arrivals (yes, I had one during MWM), holding(!) etc., and everything changes. But I’m going to try to stick to the basics and let you do the rest. I’m going to talk about outbounds and inbounds, from and to Gatwick & Heathrow, during a westerly configuration.

Step 1 - Receive your perfectly streamed traffic from the south

Well, at least that’s the idea! I’m going to build up an image throughout each of these sections. By the end, it’ll probably look quite messy, but if you follow through and watch how things layer up, then I hope you’ll be able to see the job of TC SW emerge.

Here’s a Figure 1 to start us off, showing the TELTU and HAZEL inbound routes.



Two RNAV1 STARs merge at TELTU - the OTMET 1G and the VASUX 1G - and it’s the job of AC Worthing to present you a stream at this point with aircraft FL130 by TELTU. (The ABSAV 1G and GWC 1G STARs are for RNAV5 aircraft, so you shouldn’t get too many of these - but the same principles apply). 

FL130 is a little low on profile for these inbounds, so you have some time to play with before needing to give further descent if necessary. But if there is no holding, try not to delay this descent too much.

Another big tip for these is to think about the effect of routing direct HOLLY from south of TELTU, especially if the temptation is there as AC Worthing. I do it quite frequently, but it does mean that the track is more likely to route over BOGNA, with the potential to unnecessarily delay the climb of outbounds. Don’t be surprised if, when an outbound pops up, that you then have to intervene with headings. But this doesn’t mean that a cheeky direct HOLLY from the VASUX area is to be frowned upon!


Again, it’s the same principle. You’re fed traffic on the ROXOG 1H and OTMET 1H, descending FL130 level by HAZEL. This is a really useful and important level by to use on AC Worthing even in the absence of TC SW, as it ensures the traffic stays below the KIDLI 1G/DISIT 1G inbounds to Gatwick, which we’ll come back to.

Don’t be surprised if a lot of these inbounds come to you on own navigation from AC Worthing, especially now that our separation requirements allow for traffic on HAZEL vs. TELTU arrivals to be as such.

Be very careful about giving vectors to Heathrow inbounds from the south - you risk narrowing the corridor you have for outbounds via SAM, the further west you go of the STAR track.


Step 2 - “BA9990 maintaining FL150, request further descent” - adding in the extra arrivals!

That was sounding too easy, so here it gets more fun. TC SW receives Gatwick inbounds on the KIDLI 1G/DISIT 1G from AC Daventry, level FL150 by KIDLI. This traffic transits through TC NW’s airspace and it must do so without being turned and at FL150 unless otherwise coordinated. Do not - without coordination - turn or further descend this traffic until within TC SW’s airspace.

Here’s a Figure 2 where I’ve added in the KIDLI 1G/DISIT 1G track.


However, even when this traffic is in your (TC SW) airspace, think twice about further descent. FL150 is very low on profile if the aircraft routes MID-HOLLY(-WILLO). It is 73 miles from KIDLI to HOLLY on the STAR!

  1. The FL150 agreement helps you to merge the traffic with the TELTU inbounds, due the very fact that it is higher, and so doesn’t cause a natural conflict. As long as you leave them higher, you can use slight headings adjustments if necessary, apply some speeds, and present Gatwick with a level separated stream into HOLLY. 
  2. Giving further descent may unnecessarily limit your ability to climb outbounds. 
  3. But most crucially, I think, is that Heathrow inbounds are more important to get down!

Traffic on the BEDEK 1H arrival comes from AC West, to be level FL140 by BEDEK. On first contact, you can generally get away with a descent to FL110 due to the base of CAS, but again, it’s important to form your plan early in terms of level separating into OCK. 

Here’s a Figure 3 showing these BEDEK inbounds being kept beneath the KIDLI ones!


From HAZEL and BEDEK onwards, heading application for the purpose of streaming inbounds should generally be kept to a minimum. Speeds can still be useful for streaming, but remember that on first contact, APP may reduce them. With or without speeds, you must be level separating into a stack.

It is nice to give APP a stream, but it is not essential. It is, however, essential to transfer aircraft level separated and in such a way that they would be able to reduce to holding speed in time for the stack, if required. I think the streaming point is even more pertinent for Gatwick. They have a very sizeable RMA and on 26L can use the HOLLY-WILLO loop to their advantage to create miles as well. Don’t fret about the stream if you can’t make one!


Step 3 - Add in some departures - “Shawty got low low low low low low low low”

And here is where it gets fun! Here’s a Figure 4 showing NOVMA and BOGNA departures added into the mix.


Let’s start with BOGNAs who need to be presented to Worthing climbing FL170. Considering only traffic on the WILLO 3B, depending on where it is you may be able to give a sizeable climb on first contact considering the difference in speeds. This is yours to judge. However, think carefully about how they interact with TELTU traffic. Using headings can be useful to encourage this crossing, but you really don’t want to be using drastic south westerly headings when the aircraft is heading south/southeast. Bear in mind also, for all Gatwick and Heathrow inbounds, that APP can descend to MSL! So don’t bank on it being kept free if you transfer inbounds.

The picture for NOVMA departures is slightly more rosy. The crossing happens sooner, but bear in mind they are generally best kept below EGLL MAXIT-MID traffic. They also conveniently route underneath HAZEL, so a climb to FL120 (all other traffic considered) is a good start. Turning NOVMA deps and HAZEL arrs both slightly right can encourage the crossing to happen sooner, but consider whether turning NOVMA deps left is actually beneficial? Where will they end up? You are more likely to need to use headings to position all outbounds via SAM against each other. Climb NOVMAs to FL150 (there is no level by SAM requirement, as some have got confused about before), and give to AC Worthing.

With that, let’s focus on some Heathrow departures. Here’s a Figure 5 that adds them in.



Throwing in some GOGSIs, and you should keep them below the OCK inbounds, position them on headings vs. NOVMAs if necessary, climb to FL150, and give to AC Worthing. Simples.

CPT departures can generally be left on the SID unless there is more obscure Solent/Farnborough traffic; climb them to FL130, but be sure not to hand them off to AC West until they are clean of WILLO 3B traffic (see Example 1 in Seb’s post here).

MAXIT departures, again, keep them low, slight headings to encourage a crossing of the WILLO 3B stream, or to ‘point behind/between’ successive TELTU inbounds. Climb them to FL170, and ideally - along with BOGNA departures from Gatwick - position them according to their intention code 

West ----> East



And finally, pesky Gatwick KENET direction departures, represented pictorially in this final Figure 6


In real life, these are restricted to one every 5 minutes because of the complexity, but we don’t get that much traffic on here to warrant that. The issue is that FL130 is very easy to achieve quickly. You must keep these departures under WILLO 3B traffic, positioning them sufficiently west of the KIDLI-MID track. You also need to slot them in between CPT departures from Heathrow, and need to make a decision as to whether they will route under or over BEDEK 1H traffic. Again, only transfer to AC West when clean, but rest assured that AC West will not aim to turn KENET outbounds into the BEDEK arrivals - with it being known traffic and all!


So, what’s my key message?

Put simply: Don’t be a pushover and give in to climb requests. Just get on with the crossover!

Or, in the words of Flo Rida, you gotta keep them “low low low low low low low low”.


Look how many words it took me to get through that traffic alone… your task, as a reader - be it a rated C1 or not - is to think about other situations TC SW might find themselves in. Some suggestions for things to think about:

  1. What would you plan to do if an UMBUR 1S Solent arrivals came to you FL160 5 before OCK from AC Worthing? What does it need to get to next, and where would you put it?
  2. Have a look at the STAR charts for the ELDAX 1S arrival for Solent, and the ELDAX 1V for Farnborough. What do you notice about the descent profile of the STAR? Is this traffic going to be under or over the departure and arrival routes I talked about above?
  3. What changes if Gatwick is on easterlies, with Heathrow still on westerlies?
  4. What happens if everywhere is on easterlies? Do you think it makes TC SW simpler, or more complex?

These questions might fall on deaf ears like the teacher asking a question to their new class. But I’d encourage some discussion, if you’re up for it?!

Edited by Harry Sugden
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  • 5 weeks later...

(5) Awkward Encounters 1 - Daventry Corridor

I’ve noticed that the type of people who don’t wear a mask on the tube also seem to be the ones who ignore the signs saying not to pass people on the escalator. You see, there is no guarantee - without a mask on - that the trajectory of the air you breathe is safely aimed away from the person on your right. You just cannot be sure there is adequate separation! See where I’m going with this?

Perhaps quite an obscure link. But in the Daventry corridor, if aircraft aren’t locked on headings, then there is little certainty as to their trajectory. So, let’s talk positioning!


This post won’t cover how to stream inbounds on either the down side of the corridor (southbound) into/toward the LTMA, or on the up side of the corridor (northbound) into/toward the MTMA. But a key tip when working in the corridor is that paralleling inbounds to the same airfield (or eventual hold) does nothing but delay the inevitable. That is, that they will likely have to merge. There are some exceptions to this, such as if one aircraft is a lot faster/slower, so it can be worth having the room to play with. But it’s important that North controllers help Daventry out by streaming/positioning inbounds to the same airfield as best as possible.

Another prerequisite is a grounded understanding of the intention code system in the UK. You don’t necessarily need to know which exit point each intention code refers to, at least for the purposes of Daventry streaming. However, you do need to know the order of them. For example: E is west of V; H4 is west of H3; D4 is south of D2; R6 is east of U5, etc.

Here’s a map, as Figure 1:



It is very much North’s job to do the initial positioning of southbound traffic, such that by the time they’re on Daventry’s frequency, it’s more of a final adjustment type role to make the stream look pretty down the corridor and enable descent. 

All LTMA inbounds from AC North are RFD upon transfer of communication to Daventry (see vMATS LAC 4.4.2), but even when PC is combined with North, stepping descent to FL290 and then later FL200 is advisable to ensure that once the aircraft has left AC North’s sector, they do not reenter. 

Generally, the inbounds are positioned west to east in the same way the airports are geographically located west to east. See Figure 2, and notice how Solent inbounds are west of Gatwick inbounds - the Solent fields are further west, and so is their routing via RISIN vs. KIDLI for Gatwick.

Figure 2 - Positioning of traffic in the Daventry Corridor


There are 6 groups of inbounds shown in Figure 2, but the width of the western half of the corridor (Sector 27) is at a maximum 37 NM, reducing down to 33 NM further south. Given you need to apply 5 NM separation above FL245 and keep aircraft at least 2.5 NM away from the western edge, at a push you may be able to have 6 aircraft abreast if they were exactly parallel with each other. However, considering the need to find a space for MTMA outbounds and overflights too, it’s worth noting that you may need to use speed control to help maintain 5NM if aircraft cannot be paralleled. 

PC East will leave most low level MTMA departures (mostly SHTs to EGLL) on their own navigation to HON climbing FL190. However, for anything departing EGCC and EGGP with an RFL of FL195+, PC East should be positioning these outbounds through the Honiley Radar Gate (see Figure 3). What this enables Daventry to do is to climb them up through the inbound stream, generally west of the busiest stream in that corridor, the BNN arrivals. Other traffic via Cx/AM/AS/Dx/EB may be positioned outside the gate without coordination.

Figure 3 - Honiley Radar Gate for positioning of EGCC/GP outbounds with RFL195+ via Worthing intention codes


All aircraft transferred on a heading from PC East are not released for turn. They are, however, released for climb, and with a climb of just one level to FL200, you can then turn them. In practice, I would suggest that you consider not descending LTMA inbounds to FL200 on first contact, if you can see MTMA departures that you will need to adjust the heading of in order to fit them into the (parallel) stream (and also because of the FL290 step I mentioned above). Remember that you should use vertical separation until the headings/positioning of aircraft enable you to erode this safely.



As opposed to the southbound side, this side has just a few more conflicts inherent to the route structure. 

The first of these is the awkwardness of Gatwick LAM departures vs. Midlands inbounds via HEMEL (refer back to the BPK spotlight). Important things to consider:

  • Gatwick LAM departures - these will be positioned east of HEMEL by AC Worthing and are released for right turns only if transferred on a radar heading. When Worthing and Dover are split, they are released for climb to FL210 only, due this traffic being unknown to Dover.
  • Midlands inbounds - these will be positioned to track through the Midlands radar gate (see Figure 4) on a heading or own navigation, and when Worthing and Dover are split, they are not released for descent. In addition, this traffic cannot be descended below FL170 when TC NW is split from Daventry. (Ideally, BB inbounds will be west of those for NX). 

However, it is important not to delay the descent of Midlands inbounds any longer than necessary - they need to be down and underneath the LTMA departures ASAP!

Figure 4 - Midlands radar gate for positioning of Midlands inbounds by AC Dover


The second of the conflict regions is where Thames (excluding EGMC) inbounds cross the northbound flow routing west-east on the arrivals via ROGBI-TIXEX-ODVOD. Pilots plan to be FL200 by ROGBI on the JACKO 1H, otherwise FL220 level ODVOD. There’s not much more to say other than to use vertical separation and headings to cross them over.

The same logic that is applied to LTMA inbound positioning also applies to MTMA inbounds. The further west the airfield is, the further west they should be positioned. Both the KEGUN 2B (GP) and DAYNE 2A (CC) arrivals start at TNT, so help PC East out by positioning the GPs on the left!

For LTMA outbounds, the vMATS states that “TC NW shall endeavour to position these aircraft towards the east side of the DTY corridor” (LTC This helps with keeping the MTMA inbounds - who need to reach FL200 by around the PC East boundary - on the left side of the corridor. Inbounds to certain airfields in the MTMA and nearby are RFD by AC Dover on transfer of communication to AC Daventry (for full details, see the vMATS, LAC 4.4.1). You may wish to use intermediate levels for this traffic such that LTMA outbounds don’t have to stop climb at FL190 until they are sufficiently crossed over.

The final consideration then is the positioning of LTMA departures (once they’ve been climbed) and overflights. Towards the northern end of the corridor, above the MTMA inbounds, you want to start fanning them out according to exits via BAGSO (Shannon), BEL (ScAC Rathlin), POL-RIBEL (ScAC Deancross), POL-NATEB (ScAC East). See Figures 1 & 2 for the intention codes and the pictorial representation of what you’ll need to get the hang of.

So, what are the key messages? 

  1. North has a really important job in terms of initial positioning, setting up headings and levels such that EGLL inbounds from Shannon direction can cross EGKK inbounds from LAKEY, for example.
  2. Use all the space you have when busy, but ensure you have a plan for if an MTMA departure takes you by surprise and you need to climb it.
  3. Ignore airways, and use intention codes.

And most importantly, don’t let them wander around without a mask. Get them locked on headings!

Edited by Harry Sugden
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  • 1 month later...

(7) The Luck of the Irish (Sea)

No travel restrictions. A CTA like no other CTA. Our friends just across the way. Oh, and they gave us Guinness! Now let’s understand how we can make each other’s lives easier over the Irish Sea…

We’re returning up North for this edition, as I attempt to further get a grasp on what the ‘eck is going on up there. So, what’s the craic? In keeping with my last post, I’m going to be delving into things a little beyond our own FIR border to help you understand why Dublin might want things done in a certain way from PC West, and vice versa.

We’re going this way, that way…

Forwards and Backwards Over the Irish Sea

I’m saying that “forwards” is westbound in this case - just roll with it, OK?

Figure 1 - Route Structure over the Irish Sea


Over the Irish Sea, between north west Wales and the east coast of Ireland sits the busiest interface between UK and Irish controllers. All of the westbound traffic from PC West routes via BAGSO. Dublin Group arrivals (EIDW, EIME and EIWT) should all have flight-planned via the M145 RNAV1 airway which takes them slightly to the north of everyone else on the M144. This allows the inbounds to be descended against MTMA outbounds and other cruising traffic via BAGSO. See Figure 1, above, for a depiction of this route structure.

Dublin Group inbounds are transferred from AC North to PC West descending FL290, and then from PC West to Dublin North (Upper FL125-FL245; Lower SFC-FL125) descending FL200. These agreements are both deliberately descending, because the TOD point will vary depending on the runway in use at Dublin. Clearly, those inbounds for Runway 28 will generally descend sooner than those for Runway 10.

Now, it should be pretty darn obvious which Runway is in use when there is traffic. Of course, it’s not PC West’s job to issue STARs, but if a pilot asks for the runway in use, there is no harm in saying “it looks like they’re using Runway XX”, as that will allow pilots to plan for descent. The STARs for Runway 28 end in L and for Runway 10, R. There are also X and Z versions for Runway 28 and Runway 10, respectively, but these are for fuel planning purposes only, being representative of the shortest route to the merge point (i.e. the most direct route that’s used when quiet).

AC North and PC West should be working their butts off to stream inbounds - behind each other! There is absolutely no point in giving Dublin a consistent stream of aircraft on parallel headings, because that just leaves it up to them to have to get them onto their point merge (explained shortly). 

So, start early, apply speed control, and present them with a solid stream. Feel free to use “when ready” descent instructions where appropriate, but give pilots a little poke if it doesn’t look like they’ll be FL200 abeam approximately:

  • RIMVU, for Runway 10
  • SITKU, for Runway 28

I hope it goes without saying that we always promptly transfer planes when clean, but I think it’s worth emphasising that the runway in use affects when Dublin needs these planes too. Don’t delay transfer of communications - transfer in good time, which should be as far back as LANVA for Runway 28 (Dublin is more than happy to do the final streaming to BAGSO!).

Some Dublin Tings

Dublin, for now, has 2 runways (as in, 2 strips of tarmac) - 10/28 and 16/34. The former is the primary runway, and the 28 direction is preferential. 16/34 is generally only used when crosswind limitations are exceeded for 10/28, but also occasionally on VATSIM when Dublin wants to push a little more tin out. Work is also underway to build another runway parallel to 10/28 on the north side of the airfield. So watch out Heathrow - the Irish are coming to get you!!!

In December 2012, Dublin became the second location for implementation of Point Merge. Developed by EuroControl in the naughties, it’s still a rather novel system for the sequencing of inbounds with only 25 implementations worldwide. (One of these sites is in the UK - EGLC/KB - which will be covered in a separate Spotlight). 

Here’s a little Figure 2 - The Point Merge structure for Runway 28.


MTMA Outbounds

I’ll cover these in passing here. Manchester Group and EGNH/NO outbounds should be climbed by PC West to FL280 level by RAMOX, and transferred to Shannon (LIFFY). If they can’t reach FL250 by RAMOX, coordination needs to be effected with Dublin prior to SOPAX to determine if they want to work the traffic. Traffic is RFC to FL280, but when PC West and AC North are split, further climb is subject to coordination between Shannon and AC North.


We’re going this way, that way, forwards and...

Backwards over the Irish Sea

You guessed it - now we’re talking about the eastbound flow.

Dublin Departures

Scroll up quickly to Figure 1 for a refresher of the route structure in the area. Departures from Dublin into PC West either route via LIFFY (Q37/UL975/Q36) or DEXEN (UY124). 

Here’s a summary of what’s used for what:

  • LIFFY Q36 - RNAV1 jet departures from the Dublin Group at all flight levels, except if arriving at the Manchester Group, EGCN/NE/NM/NO/NH
  • LIFFY Q37 - RNAV1 non-jet traffic at all flight levels; RNAV1 jet traffic departing/overflying Ireland (except from the Dublin Group) above FL245; RNAV1 traffic via LIFFY arriving at the Manchester Group, EGCN/NE/NM/NO/NH
  • LIFFY (U)L975 - everything else via LIFFY that hasn’t used the Q36/Q37!
  • DEXEN Y124 - one of those pesky CDRs (conditional routes)... above FL300, available at all times; below FL300, it’s more complicated in the real world because of activity in the North Wales Military Training Area, but on VATSIM, unless Swanwick Mil notifies of activity there, we say the route is available at all times. EGLL inbounds will only use the Y124 if they departed from EIDW, and all EIDW departures using the Y124 must be planned FL195+.

Simples. Anyway, departures will be climbing FL230 or RFL, whichever is lower and regardless of the runway in use. This generally means that Runway 10 departures will rocket up! But as with our internal coordination procedures in the UK, these departures are released for climb above FL240 only when Dublin and Shannon are not split. To reiterate - if the aircraft is transferred prior to reaching LIFFY/DEXEN, then it is not RFC until it is within PC West’s sector, except when Dublin and Shannon are the same controller.

MTMA Arrivals

The final traffic flow! Shannon (LIFFY) will transfer inbounds to the Manchester Group and EGCN/NE/NM/NO/NH via the routes I outlined above, FL270 level by LIFFY. This traffic is not RFD in Shannon’s airspace - this applies regardless of whether there’s an Irish split or not. On passing LIFFY/DEXEN, traffic is then RFD to FL210 (i.e. on top of Dublin inbounds), subject to known traffic, but it must remain south of the RAMOX Buffer Zone (Area A - see below).

Unlike Dublin’s fancy point merge, there are more routes and more airports with conventional STARs heading into PC - so don’t be surprised if Shannon whacks some of these on headings to help stream. in fact, you should probably be grateful...


Putting up a Buffer Between Us 😞

To finish off, let’s talk positioning! Doesn’t everyone love a Buffer?! Good - let’s introduce the RAMOX Buffer Zone - with its Area A and B - and the DEXEN Buffer Zone.

Figure 3 - RAMOX and DEXEN Buffer Zones


The Irish have already been using these in their sector file - whilst they are Coming Soon™️ to the UK Sector File (I’ve put a pull request in), it’s still worth talking them through.

Westbound Traffic via L70/M144/M145

PC West should position all traffic via these airways to the north of RAMOX Buffer Area B before transfer to Dublin/Shannon. Dublin inbounds are released for turns and descent remaining north of Area B, and north of Area A until below FL200 (because of the RFD for eastbound inbounds, remember!).

Eastbound Traffic via (U)L975/Q36/Q37 and the (U)Y124

Dublin (North) will position all traffic to track south of the RAMOX Buffer Area B at all times, and additionally north of the DEXEN Buffer when there is traffic routing via the Y124 (i.e. more frequently than real world because it’s available basically all the time on VATSIM). It will be on its own navigation or on a heading, with Q36 traffic kept south of the (U)L975 centreline if on a heading. 

All traffic is released for right turns only with PC West, remaining north of the DEXEN Buffer. PC West may elect to turn traffic into the DEXEN Buffer, but in so doing will accept responsibility for separation against Y124 traffic.

One of the important things to note is that Y124 traffic via DEXEN comes from Dublin South, a different controller than the LIFFY traffic. It will be positioned to remain south of the DEXEN Buffer at all times, especially when Dublin is split into N and S.

Dublin will try their best to present successive aircraft via the Y124 or the north group of airways in trail - this shouldn’t be too much of an issue until they get another runway to push tin out at a much greater rate. Regardless, the requirement for MTMA inbounds to use the Q36 and then for Q37 traffic to positioned south of the L975 should enable PC West to descend the inbounds through any climbing traffic to destinations further afield. Again - and unlike for Dublin inbounds - headings are actively encouraged where necessary to parallel stream everything (except stuff headed for the same destination!).


Closing Remarks

Golly gosh - many words yet again. But hey, should be suckin-diesel now with all that knowledge! The key points:

  • Dublin doesn’t want parallel streamed inbounds.
  • Buffers are life. Be careful of them!
  • Take care to review the RFC/RFD/RFT restrictions littered about the above post!

If it all goes awry - just pray for the luck of the Irish (Sea), I guess...

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  • 3 months later...

(8) Let's talk about gates, baby!


(No, not @Oliver Gates!)

Let’s talk about gates, baby!
Let’s talk about buffers - REMSI?
Let’s talk about all the box things,
And the bad things that won’t be!

Gooood afternoon all, and a very merry COVID Christmas 🎅. Last time I was writing, it was about the Irish Sea 🌊 - and that really does seem like ages ago, back when we were dreaming that our Summer freedom would continue. Since that last post, I’ve been living in Tier 1, Tier 2, Lockdown, Tier 2 again, Tier 3, and now Tier 4 - basically another lockdown. Crazy how time flies… or maybe it hasn’t really, I can’t really tell 🤷‍♂️

Anyway, haven’t we all had enough of COVID?! Let’s talk about planes instead ✈️

Whereas previous Spotlights have generally honed in on specific locations, this one is a bit of a UK-wide exploration of coordination. The bumper guide to gates, buffers, boxes and lines! A catchy title, I know.

So, read through them, check my advice for which sector(s) should have them turned on, and marvel at the delight of the beautiful diagrams. 😍

P.S. Sorry the images are so MASSIVE - whatever I seem to do, they don't seem to stay small when I click 'Update' 🖼️


Worthing-Paris Release Line

Relevant to: Worthing (quelle surprise!)
When to turn on? As AC Worthing, whenever Brest/Paris is online

When the French aren’t on strike - which admittedly, isn’t so frequent anymore under the new leadership of the French vACC, vive la France! - then this box gives them freedom to climb and turn. (We’re so generous with our airspace, just not so much with fish 🎣).

Figure 1 shows you the area in which France or Brest (see this recent Procedure Change Post) can climb aircraft (to any level). If the traffic is FL265+, then it may also be turned by up to 20 degrees, subject to known traffic.

I shall take this opportunity to remind y’all that it is not our job to give Eurocontrol directs. 🙅‍♀️ France expects traffic to be routing to the COP 👮‍♂️ (i.e. the point on the FIR boundary); anything else requires coordination, whether that be a heading or a direct into their airspace, such as ETRAT. 🐀

How to turn this baby on? 👀 Display Settings -> Stars -> Worthing-Paris Release Line

Figure 1 - Worthing-Paris Release Line




Relevant to: TC East, Thames
When to turn on? Optional, but I would turn on when covering top-down as Thames and TC East is a different controller to me

Ah the delights of Thames and its 0 planes. It’s suffered one of the largest drops of traffic in Europe as a result of the pandemic - a whopping -94% 📉. But even with everyone at home, it still doesn’t seem any busier on VATSIM… 🤔

This one is a relatively simple one - east of the RAVSA-INLIM line, traffic via JACKO from the N/W is released for right turns. This just helps to shorten the STAR/transition ever so slightly - lucky pilots. You can see the line in all its uninteresting glory in Figure 2. Enjoy.

How to connect the dots between RAVSA and INLIM? 👀 Display Settings -> Stars -> RAVSA-INLIM Line

Figure 2 - Thames RMA Release, including the RAVSA-INLIM Line



Midlands Radar Gate

Relevant to: AC Dover (gives), AC Daventry (receives), AC Worthing (avoids)
When to turn on? As AC Dover with Daventry online, and probably worth turning on as AC Worthing too if Dover is split off

Relevant to 3 sectors and actually in an area with traffic?! Now we’re talking. The Midlands Radar Gate - moving ever so slightly in the next sector file because its current position is dodgy - helps to funnel Midlands (NX/BB) inbounds through a little corridor, with Gatwick LAM departures positioned to the east. We talked about the gate briefly in the first ever Spotlight! It is 9 NM wide and is aligned parallel to the T420 airway (at least it will be, once it’s fixed) - see Figure 3, mmmm.

AC Dover positions inbounds through the Midlands Radar Gate, either on own navigation or a heading. When the traffic is transferred to Daventry on a heading, it is not released for turn! Why relevant to AC Worthing too then? Well, because they should position Gatwick LAMs to the east of HEMEL (and therefore the gate) so that Daventry doesn’t have to work too hard to be able to climb them higher.

Oh, and hopefully it goes without saying - but Dover, please put EGNX inbounds to the east of EGBB ones…

Turn me on via 👀 Display Settings -> Stars -> Midlands Gate

Figure 3 - Midlands Radar Gate (viewed with Dover sector lines)




Honiley Radar Gate

Puff the magic dragon, lived by the sea. And frolicked in the autumn mist, in a land called Honiley

Relevant to: PC East, AC Daventry
When to turn on? As PC East with Daventry online

Most residents of a small little village in Warwickshire are probably blissfully unaware that it’s so famous amongst planes. Won’t be long before the VOR is a gonner though! To the west of Birmingham (and HON) is another radar gate - the Honiley Radar Gate. Again, I spoke about this one in an earlier Spotlight post on the Daventry Corridor. See Figure 4!

The gate is for any EGCC and EGGP departures with an RFL195+ and an intention code west of (and including) ‘P’ (for Paris). PC East may position these departures through the gate either on its own navigation (to CPT/GWC/MID/WOD/VIDOK…) or on a heading. When Daventry receives the aircraft, it’s RFT if on its own navigation, but not RFT if on a heading.

NB: this gate is not for traffic that will route via the Clacton (Cx intention codes) or Dover (Dx intention codes) sectors.

Oh, and even more conditions: maximum 2 aircraft abreast through the gate at once, and subsequent aircraft should be 10NM in trail. 

See me 👀 Display Settings -> Stars -> HON Gate

Figure 4 - Honiley (HON) Radar Gate




Relevant to: AC West
When to turn on? Whenever Shannon is online!

So this Box hasn’t actually made it into the vMATS yet, but our LoA with VATeir does say that Dublin Group departures (from Dublin Control to AC West) are released for climb to FL330 inside this box. I’ve not committed intellectual property theft and stolen a diagram off of VATeir, even if it would be for the purpose of elevating West’s status to that of the other sectors in this post! But, the Shannon Area Control manual of VATeir, in 2.4 iv) has a shiny diagram - go take a look.

Within the box, traffic is not released for turn without coordination with Shannon, who will kindly ensure separation between any departures West chooses to climb and other traffic within the Shannon FIR. So kind.

UPDATE (2021/02): The BAKUR RFC Area is now in both the vMATS and the Sector File! And there is even a pretty picture to put down below now too...

Figure 5 - BAKUR RFC Area



Irish Sea Buffers

Relevant to: PC West
When to turn on? MUST BE TURNED ON when acting as PC West

This is like the 3rd time I’ve talked about these on the forum this year. I’m not a broken record. I just love PC Isle of Man. Can we have another citypair?

As long as the borders aren’t closed, the RAMOX and DEXEN buffers (see Figure 6) do a wonderful job of helping PC West, Dublin North and Dublin South keep their planes apart from each other. It’s pretty simple - neither side should put planes in them. Even I’m struggling to write any more words on the subject!

In more detail: in a Procedure Change Post; in the last Spotlight about the Irish Sea.

Turn them on 💡 - and KEEP THEM ON - under Display Settings -> Stars -> RAMOX Buffer Area A / Area B / DEXEN Buffer

Figure 6 - RAMOX and DEXEN Buffers




REMSI Buffer

Relevant to: AC North, ScAC Rathlin (and PC West too)
When to turn on? When covering any of the above sectors

The airways are so RNAV-y in the Isle of Man area it’s actually bliss. But if you thought that meant we could get away without having some sort of buffer… then you were wrong. Not another one I hear you say!

REMSI sits roughly halfway between Blackpool and the Isle of Man, and its buffer sits on top of the water as shown in Figure 7. Hey look, I wrote about it in a Procedure Change Post recently too. As AC North, ScAC Rathlin or PC West (for MTMA deps), it’s another one of those ‘keep the planes out of it’ type deals. Then everyone can be happy - and most importantly, separated.

Turn this bad boy on in Display Settings -> Stars -> REMSI Buffer👀. It’s optional, but advisable.

Figure 7 - REMSI Buffer





Relevant to: Antrim
When to turn on? Well, when covering Antrim…

I am actually starting to get bored now, and I bet you are too. It doesn’t help that these names are so unimaginative - I am quite tempted to rename this buffer something more exciting. Suggestions on a postcard please - no Brexit jokes though, I think renaming along those (border)lines would be difficult to negotiate…

Also, this buffer is NOT a myth. It’s documented in the LoA with VATeir and in the Scottish vMATS! (Did I tell you it was released? 🤓).

It’s CIRCULAR, has a radius of 3 NM (convenient!) and sits at the midpoint between… well, NIMAT and ROTEV. A gleaming Spotlight beam coming down from God - well, actually only FL245 - to the CAS base. See Figure 8!

Turn it on to your heart’s content via Display Settings -> Stars -> NIMAT-ROTEV Buffer👀. You won’t regret it.

Figure 8 - NIMAT-ROTEV Buffer




Talla-Galloway Buffer

Relevant to: Talla and Galloway
When to turn on? During events when they’re split...

OK, I’m actually done. Just KEEP THE PLANES OUT OF IT, OK!!!



The funny thing is, I’m not even done. I could have gone on even longer and then you would’ve really hated me. I can think of another 7 gates/buffers/lines/boxes that someone might care about… can you think of any more? COMMENT BELOW!

  1. SOLENT Forest Gate
  2. Luton Buffer
  3. SHM-OCK Line
  4. EXMOR Burnham Gate
  5. EKNIV Gate
  6. CPT Gate
  7. Bristol Departure Zones

And that’s it for another Spotlight. Until next time… stay safe, and avoid those buffers!


Oh, before I go, here’s a summary table…



Edited by Harry Sugden
Added BAKUR RFC Area (2021/02)
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22 minutes ago, Harry Sugden said:

Ah the delights of Thames and its 0 planes. It’s suffered one of the largest drops of traffic in Europe as a result of the pandemic - a whopping -94% 📉. But even with everyone at home, it still doesn’t seem any busier on VATSIM… 🤔

I'm in this photo and I don't like it.

You've used the wrong diagram though 😉

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20 hours ago, Harry Sugden said:


Relevant to: AC West
When to turn on? Whenever Shannon is online!

Lol, West.

So this Box hasn’t actually made it into the vMATS yet, but our LoA with VATeir does say that Dublin Group departures (from Dublin Control to AC West) are released for climb to FL330 inside this box. I’ve not committed intellectual property theft and stolen a diagram off of VATeir, even if it would be for the purpose of elevating West’s status to that of the other sectors in this post! But, the Shannon Area Control manual of VATeir, in 2.4 iv) has a shiny diagram - go take a look.

Within the box, traffic is not released for turn without coordination with Shannon, who will kindly ensure separation between any departures West chooses to climb and other traffic within the Shannon FIR. So kind.


This was listed as a "consideration" in the following GitHub issue:


Was there a reason this was never actually added?

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Conor O'Brien
On 22/12/2020 at 14:18, Harry Sugden said:


Relevant to: AC West
When to turn on? Whenever Shannon is online!

Lol, West.

So this Box hasn’t actually made it into the vMATS yet, but our LoA with VATeir does say that Dublin Group departures (from Dublin Control to AC West) are released for climb to FL330 inside this box. I’ve not committed intellectual property theft and stolen a diagram off of VATeir, even if it would be for the purpose of elevating West’s status to that of the other sectors in this post! But, the Shannon Area Control manual of VATeir, in 2.4 iv) has a shiny diagram - go take a look.

Within the box, traffic is not released for turn without coordination with Shannon, who will kindly ensure separation between any departures West chooses to climb and other traffic within the Shannon FIR. So kind.

@Harry Sugden if you want to get fancy, it's formally known as the Strumble Released for Climb Area (STU RCA)

Edited by Conor O'Brien
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