I'm just from FSX background and not familiar with real procedures. In real world situations, when the pilot is vectored to the runway, does the ATC provide the pilot with the runway frequency and course setting or does the pilot have to know these already from somewhere (logs, FMS, etc)?

I mean in a real world case does ATC say for example "Expect ILS runway 24 left" or do they tell the pilot the nav frequency and course setting too? Or does the pilot obtain the setting for approach like the FSX GPS?

If possible please provide me with a sample communication for landing between ATC and Pilot. (Really curious)

  • $\begingroup$ In real world a pilot performing an instrument approach would always have the approach plate (chart) handy, in either paper or electronic form. This includes the required details including not just frequency and course, but weather minima and the missed approach procedure. In an emergency, of course, he can always ask the tower for the relevant numbers. $\endgroup$
    – IanF1
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 18:45
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ VATSIM or IVAO. You can practice the exact procedures and comms used in the real world. Short summary, you will expect a runway from the ATIS and from the approach controller on first contact. ATC will typically vector you from the end of the SID to the ILS and will clear your approach "cleared ILS 27L approach, report established". When you capture and are stable on the localiser, you report established and you will hear something like "continue the approach, speed 180 kts, descend with the glideslope" later followed by "4 DME, contact the tower on 121.8". Tower will clear you to land. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 20:25

1 Answer 1


When nearing their destination, pilots will be checking weather and airport information. This will let them know which runways are being used for landings and what type of approaches are being used. ATC will also tell each aircraft what runway and approach they can expect in advance, as in your example, "Expect ILS approach runway 24 left".

Once the pilots know the runway and approach, they can reference the corresponding chart (like the ones in this question). Pilots are required to have these charts available, traditionally paper copies but more recently being replaced by electronic copies. This will give them all of the information about the procedure, including the localizer frequency. Besides programming the frequency, the crew will also review the other important requirements of the approach and landing.

ATC does have access to this information as well, and can provide it if they feel they need to confirm the pilot has the right frequency, or if the pilot asks.

  • $\begingroup$ And of course we (the pilots) have the option of requesting an alternate runway and/or type of approach. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ In my world, we call those plates. Charts are maps. Although low altitude IFR charts do have ILS info $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ If e.g. a pilot were to spill something on the approach plate that rendered illegible, I would expect that ATC should have no qualm about supplying whatever information the pilot needed without the pilot having to declare an emergency. $\endgroup$
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 22:52

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