This is a very short and concise guide about basic level comms, suitable for flying on servers such as Georgia At War / Hoggit. It is nowhere near the so-called “milsim” level end it’s even further away from real life comms protocols.
The goal is simple: allow virtual pilots new to online servers such as GAW / Hoggit to understand the radio messages from other players and be able to reply whilst increasing the immersion level of the whole session.
If you want to learn real life radio procedures instead please refer to some of the many sources available online, such as the EASA-FAA guidelines.
Frequencies and radios
Georgia At War uses a number of frequencies, primarily 249.500 for Traffic/ATC and 253.000 as Common. A comprehensive list is available here. More complex servers or Virtual Squadrons can be much more complex and can have multiple controllers and relative frequencies. For instance:
- Terminal Control;
- AWACS or other higher level controllers.
GAW doesn’t have any of these and even a airports are usually ummaned. ATC or other controllers are subject to players availability (check Discord for details). Since only one frequency is used for the whole theatre, comms must be short and concise in order to occupy the frequency for the shortest time possible.
Before going into the details of basic airfield procedures, you need to either download the DCS Aerodrome Charts or bind the controls needed to use your in-game kneeboard (it contains the charts).
These charts show a great number of information: not only the details of taxiways and runways, but also coordinates, frequencies, TACAN details (if present) and many others. Since this is very basic approach to radio comms and ground navigation, our goal will be, after spawning and getting the aircraft ready, taxiing to the runway in use (the so-called “active runway” – note that there can be more than one active runway) and take off. There are a number of issues along the way, namely other players: taxiways are not wide enough to accommodate two aircraft and usually no one want to give way to others by entering the grass (you might end up stuck there!). The solution is simple: learn to communicate clearly your intentions, listen to other people messages and follow the information from ATIS to ensure both yours and other players’ safety.
ATIS stands for Automatic terminal information service (more information can be found in its Wikipedia page). The group I fly with, the 132nd Virtual Wing and public servers such as Georgia At War, support ATIS: by tuning in a specific frequency, a pre-recorded voice message will provide a number of useful information, such as:
- the runway in use;
- wind, visibility, temperature;
- pressure details (QNH and QFE).
The information provided change over time and each update is identified by a sequential letter (e.g. if current update is Alpha, the next one will be Bravo and so on).
Wind, visibility, temperature, QFE and QNH are very important to understand the take off and flight conditions but for the purpose of this guide we only need the runway in use. This is, in fact, our destination.
The second information we need is the spawning position of our aircraft, our starting point. You can figure it out by looking at the signs nearby or, worst case, by using the external views and zooming out (F2 – GAW supports external views).
Now that we have both the initial position and the destination we can work out how to get to the active runway.
The Runway is the part of the airfield where aircraft take off and land. They are identified by two figures that represent their orientations: for instance, Gudauta runway “1-5” (one five) is oriented S-SE, approximately 150°. The actual orientation, both Magnetic and True, is available in the Aerodrome Chart and in this example is 145° Magnetic and 151° True.
Airfields can have a single runway and almost no taxiways. A good example is the Khabala airport in the Persian Gulf Map; other airports instead are much more complex, for instance they can have two parallel runways and in this case each is identified by the usual two figures + Left or Right. For instance, Krasnodar-Pashkovsky has runways 0-5 Left, 0-5 Right and their opposite 2-3 Right and 2-3 Left. Other airports are different again, such as Sochi which has two crossing runways.
Regardless of the size and shape, it is possible to land on almost every runway from both directions. This means that the risk of taking off from an end while another aircraft is landing or taking off from the opposite direction is very real.
This is indeed a dangerous situation.
Part II focuses on the message format, taxiing radio calls and departure.