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KATL operations


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I thought it would be helpful to provide a quick overview of KATL operations, now that it is out for Tower3D.

KATL prefers a western operational flow, but east flows are quite common nevertheless.

West ops:
     North Runway Complex:  Arrivals on 26R and departures on 26L  During busy hours, a large percentage of 26R arrivals are routed all the way around the far end of 26L via B, V, and then brought the gates via F.  However, aircraft with longer wingspans are not permitted on V (767s are the only heavies that routinely use it), and must cross the runway elsewhere. 
    South Runway Complex:  Arrivals are mostly on 27L and en route to the gate are often routed all the way around the end of 27R via N, P, L.  Runway 28 is used as overflow at peak times (particularly arrivals from the south), as well as for Cargo arrivals destined for the south cargo ramp.  Departures are normally from 27R, which is the longest runway at the airport, and thus is preferred departure runway for heavies on long routes, and is also the default runway for emergency landings.

East Ops:
    North Runway Complex: Arrivals on 8L and departures on 8R.  Arrivals either follow B, V, F, or cross 8R and proceed to the gate via F  Departures taxi to runway via E.
    South Runway Complex: Arrivals via 9R and 10.  Departures via 9L (and occasional cargo departures on 10 as well).  9L departures normally taxi via M and take off from intersection M2, so as to allow 9R and 10 arrivals to use P as an end-around and follow L to the gates.  If there is an unusually big backlog of departures (as may happen after a weather delay), Ground will send some departures up N, have them cross 9L at P, and then head them back down M to M2 from the opposite the main departure stream coming up M from the other direction.  This does work quite well in Tower3D if you are careful with Hold Position commands.


-You may choose to not activate Runway 10/28 for arrivals in the game menu.  Instead, just activate 27L/9R +26R/8L.  Then use the ENTER FINAL command to side-step planes to 10/28 when the final corridor on 27L/9R gets too crowded.  Likewise 26R arrivals may be sidestepped to 27L if there is space.

-Departing ground traffic en route to 27R may lined up on both L and M if needed.  Traffic on M may then depart from intersection LB, and alternates departures with traffic on L which departs from the end of the runway.

-Note that there are two taxi lanes in each of the ramps between terminals T-E.  These do not operate like two-way roads, with planes passing each other on the right.  Instead, an aircraft will always use the lane that is on the side closest to its gate, regardless of whether heading north or south.  Forgetting this detail will result in head-ons between departing and arriving aircraft.  Unlike in the real world, there is no way to instruct an aircraft to switch lanes in order to go around another plane here, even if there is room.

-Taxiway D (In the game it is called Delta, but IRL it is referred to as "Dixie" so as to avoid confusion with the large number of DAL aircraft based at the airport).  This is the only route for crossing between the North and South runway complexes (contrast with KLAX which has multiple options for this).  On the KATL Airport Diagram, it is marked as a non-movement area, but this does not mean that it is closed to traffic.  It just requires a specific clearance for any aircraft to traverse it (much like crossing a runway).  In the game, it is just treated as normal taxiway without any special restrictions, so do plan taxi routes carefully to avoid nose-to-nose situations here. 

-Taxiways SC and SJ are a pair of parallel North-South taxiways used for to getting to and from Runway 28/10, which is separated by some distance from the rest of the South Runway Complex.  SC is used for aircraft traveling TO this runway.  SJ is used for aircraft traveling FROM this runway, heading toward the main terminal area.  Their use mirrors the normal U.S. driving convention of staying to the right side.

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The actual language on the KATL airport diagram states "Aircraft with wingspan greater than 171' are restricted from using Taxiway Victor."

For Boeing it looks like that would mean the 747's, 777s, and 787s would not be permitted. For Airbus, it looks like the A330s and above would not be permitted.

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Assuming West Ops, is there a procedure for which aircraft go to 27R and which to 26L?  Also are 26L and 27R far enough apart that they can handle simultaneous departures without a heading change?

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10 hours ago, FS1TR said:

Assuming West Ops, is there a procedure for which aircraft go to 27R and which to 26L?  Also are 26L and 27R far enough apart that they can handle simultaneous departures without a heading change?

Great questions:

1.  Generally, departures that are parked at Terminal F, or at gates along the southern half of terminals T-E will go to 27R, and occasionally to 28.  Departures parked along the northern half of T-E will generally go to 26L.  However this is not an iron-clad rule, and exceptions abound.  If a departure parked on the north half requires the extra length of 27R, it will be sent there regardless (When this happens it is most often with heavies parked on the north half of E, which is used for international departures if all the gates at F are full.  I can also tell you that the direction to the destination rarely factors into this decision (or if it does, it involves assigning an appropriate gate to the plane in the first place).  As a passenger, I have taken off of 27R for northern destinations many times, and was routed left in a wide oval that circles all the way around the east side of the airport before heading north.  Further, I would bet, but cannot prove, that if taxiway E, going to 26L, is more heavily backed up that than M/L going to 27R, then Ground may shift some of the north side departures south to maintain balance (though I cannot document it).  

2. IRL 26L and 27R departures frequently takeoff simultaneously and then proceed to follow whatever transition to their SID is prescribed, which frequently but not always involves a turn.  In the game, I have yet to receive a penalty at KATL for distance infringement in this situation, but that could just be luck.  I do not know for sure.  I try to stagger departures when practical just to add a bigger margin.  Also keep in mind that departures from 27R must be careful if turning left not to conflict with any traffic coming off of 28.  28 departures usually are given left turns quite quickly after departure, though, while 27R departures continue straight for a mile or so, and then make a wider turn to the left (if called for) to keep clear of this traffic.



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