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atc-discussion St Athan Summary

Harry Sugden

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Harry Sugden


St Athan has a tower position that on VATSIM should operate on 122.875 MHz. The ATIS should be broadcast on 130.550 MHz.

St Athan Tower is responsible for the ATZ, a circle with 2 mile radius centred on the mid-point of runway 07/25, up to 2000ft. There is also a Local Flying Zone established up to 1700ft that permits autonomous operation for VFR flights within this area, without reference to Cardiff ATC. 

Approach control services for IFR arriving aircraft are provided by Cardiff. Departing aircraft will also speak to Cardiff once they begin IFR flight.

Circuit is left hand for 25, right hand for 07, 800 ft QFE for light piston aircraft, 1300 ft QFE for all other aircraft.

Most traffic will need to backtrack if runway 25 in use. Ensure you obtain a release that considers this and any inbounds.

Other VFR stuff read here


Inbounds to St Athan should be treated as if they were inbound to Cardiff by AC West and Bristol APC. Cardiff APC will then position them for an approach for the active runway.

The only approved approach available is a visual approach which, given the likely weather later today, is going to be interesting...

If this proves impossible, I had hoped that there would be an ILS available that although not currently approved for civilian use, it was when the field was military. However, I've checked and it isn't in P3D by default ? So depending on the type of person to fly in, they may or may not have added it to their sim. Assuming runway 25, the frequency is 111.15, course 254 - who knows, it might be worth a shot!

Cardiff Approach should take care to:

  • Cancel the IFR flight plan passing 2400ft (the MSA)
  • Put a check on departures from Cardiff in good time for the approach
  • Prenote St Athan tower of pending inbounds and transfer once the aircraft is happy to continue with the approach visually

Technically, inbounds larger than a B757 who miss E or F need to be pushed back down the runway in order to vacate... but it's VATSIM, so just shove 'em on the tiny taxiways or get them to do a 180!


The AIP explains: "Departing flights that have filed IFR flight plans will be issued with a VFR/SVFR clearance to depart on runway track climbing to altitude 4,000 FT. On passing 2,400 FT QNH the flight will become IFR. Based on sector safe altitudes."

Airways joining clearance and en route direction will be issued by Cardiff APC once airborne.

All St Athan Tower needs to do is:

"BAW9172, Climb straight ahead to altitude 4000ft Cardiff QNH XXXX, squawk XXXX, VFR. On passing altitude 2400ft flight becomes IFR."

Then get a release from Cardiff before departure, and Bob's your uncle!

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