Apron / Ground SOP

1. Description

Ground and Apron controllers are responsible for the smooth orderly flow of traffic on the taxiways and aprons.

2. Area of responsability

Apron control is responsible for all traffic on the aprons. The responsibility of Apron controllers varies form airport to airport, but to make things simple we have set the following standard for IVAO Canada: Apron controllers will have positive control over aircraft, just like ground control. Push-backs must be requested and approved. The Apron controller will also assign gates to arriving aircraft.

Important: Apron advisory never delivers IFR clearances. If no Clearance position is open aircraft are to contact Ground for IFR clearance, then switch to Apron for the push.

Ground control is responsible for all taxiways, and inactive runways (although exceptions exist). In short the job of a Ground controller is to get aircraft from the aprons to the runways and back safely, with minimal delay. In conditions of low visibility they may be called upon to provide guided taxi, though one must be very careful as some scenery won't match perfectly with your sector file.
When Apron control is not online the Ground controller does not take responsibility of the Apron(s), but provides traffic information only. (MANOPS 303.6)

Ground controllers will also issue IFR clearances when Delivery is not open, or when it doesn't exist at the given airport.

3. What you need to know

In addition to the general guidelines an Apron or Ground controller must:

  • Be familiar with the Clearance delivery SOP (Ground only);
  • Be able to provide taxi clearances in accordance with the Canadian phraseology guide;
  • Be familiar with the taxiway layout of the given airport;
  • When applicable be familiar with which airlines/aircraft use which gates.

You will need the following additional information:

  • The sector file for the given airport;
  • As a minimum the SID and ground movement charts for the given airport, though we recommend you download the complete collection.

4. Procedures

Apron control

Aircraft will contact apron advisory prior to pushback. This action will have to be approved, with supplementary instructions if required (e.g. "Push facing south after Air Canada 320 goes by"). After the push back and start up provide taxi instructions to the chosen apron exit point. The inverse applies for arriving aircraft: You will assign a gate to all traffic. Never close a flight plan (this is Tower's job) , or approve a shut-down (This is obviously at the pilot's discretion). Issue instructions in plain language without ever making use of the words "cleared" or "approved".

"Apron, Air Canada 781 gate C2, push for 06L"
"Air Canada 781, Apron, push facing south. Call for taxi."


Whenever possible anticipate hand-off to ground so that the aircraft won't have to stop. Under no circumstances may the aircraft penetrate a taxiway without calling ground. If no ground is online hand off to next available controller.

Ground control

If apron is online traffic will be handed over prior to exiting the apron. If no apron is online (90% of the time) aircraft should give you a call just before, or after pushback. In this situation you would provide traffic information without assuming the duties of the apron controller.

Issue taxi authorizations and instructions in plain, concise language to aircraft taxiing on the manoeuvring area, as described in MANOPS section 334.3 and 345.1

  • HOLD or HOLD SHORT OF RUNWAY/TAXIWAY (number) or HOLD ON RUNWAY/TAXIWAY (number) or HOLD (direction) OF RUNWAY/ TAXIWAY (number).

Do not use the word “cleared” when issuing taxi instructions. "Cleared" means you are issuing an ATC clearance and a taxi instruction is not a clearance.

Do not use conditional clearances or instructions for the movement of airport traffic. Misinterpretation could be caused by a conditional clearance or instruction such as: proceed across runway XX after departing DC9.

Include the specific route if several taxi paths are available. Always sequence the 'segments' of the route in the order which the pilot will encounter them.

  • For example if a pilot will taxi from the apron to runway 12 via AJ, then D, then have to cross runway 31, and finally hold short on G5 you would say: "(callsign), runway 12, altimeter 30.04, taxi Alpha-Juliett, Delta, cross runway 31, Golf-5. Contact tower 118.1 holding short runway 12."
  • Inversely if aircraft was required to hold short of runway 31 (or a taxiway for that matter) before continuing to runway 12 you would say "(callsign), runway 12, altimeter 30.04, taxi Alpha-Juliett, Delta, hold short runway 31 on this frequency." then once clear to cross "(callsign), cross runway 31, taxi Delta, Golf 5. Contact tower 118.1 holding short runway 12."

Ground may authorise aircraft to cross runways that have been designated as inactive by the tower. However a point out should be made to tower prior to the crossing. (e.g. ACA344 A320 crossing runway 15 on G) Tower will inform you if the runway becomes active.

Ground must request clearance from tower to taxi aircraft across active runways. The aircraft doesn't need to contact the tower - Ground does it on his behalf.

Hand off

Hand offs to tower for departing traffic are given in the taxi instruction, unless there is a reason to keep the aircraft on the ground control frequency.

Coordination with other units

Ground must maintain constant coordination with tower (or if tower is not opened, any unit assuming that position).

Visual control

With the release of IvAi, which enables you to use your flight simulator to control visually ground control can become extremely realistic, especially as you will most likely see exactly where the aircraft is located as there are no sector errors. On the other hand FS scenery becomes an issue, so always interpret what you see with a grain of salt. If tower is also using IvAi there is no need to relay runway vacating messages.

5. MANOPS special procedures

This section includes additional MANOPS procedures that have been approved and can be applied in Canada.

No special procedures exist for this position at this time.

6. Procedures explained with examples

Ground controller controls aircraft on the ground and makes them taxi from parking to departure runway, and the other way around. He is not responsible for the runways. He cannot tell an aircraft to taxi on the runway without tower permission, unless the runway is designated as not active and coordination is made between ground and tower.

Always refer yourself to the taxi chart for your airport. All taxiways are identified by a letter. To give taxi instructions, use:

[callsign], Ground, runway [xx], altimeter [xx.xx], taxi [route] hold short runway [xx] (Call tower [freq] holding short)

Jazz 7812, runway 24L, altimeter 2992, taxi Alfa, hold short runway 24L

If a pilot requests start-up or push-back from you, tell him that these operations are at pilot's discretion. Start-up is never approved by ATC. Push-back is only taken care of by apron control when opened.

Ground must coordinate ground movements to completely eliminate the risk of collision. Give taxi instructions with hold short restrictions if necessary to avoid conflicts.

VFR operations: VFR traffic will call ground directly when ready to taxi with intentions. Give normal taxi instructions.

7. IvAc settings

Use the NARDS colour scheme (available in the downloads section) with all options other than ground detail, runways and aircraft identification turned off. Set your altitude filter to 000 <-> 030.

Set your IN/OUT box to only display traffic arriving and departingthe airport you are covering (e.g. CYYC). Set your ATC list to show all facilities of the airport you are covering as well as the appropriate Centre sector.

See MANOPS section 303, 334 and 345 for complete Ground control procedures.

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