Home Ask an Air Traffic Controller Does ATC read the Remarks Section on Flight Plans?

Does ATC read the Remarks Section on Flight Plans?

Does ATC read the Remarks Section on Flight Plans?


Do you guys not read the remarks section on flight plans anymore? I listed out the
approaches I wanted to do on my training flight for my student, and every single
controller asked me what I wanted to do. Was it just “Screw With Adam Day” in the
radar room?

-Adam W. from Raleigh-

Dear Adam,

Many Tracons throughout the U.S. National Airspace system (NAS) are “Stripless”,
which is to say, that they do not post flight progress strips at the radar sector. The main
pertinent information is contained in the data block on the radar display. However the
data block is only so big, and can contain only so much information. This is quick, and
efficient, and is enough information for the controller to do their job…99% of the time.
In your situation it gets difficult and frustrating for both the controller and the pilot. At
Raleigh Approach, they do in fact, use flight progress strips. Overflight strips are posted
at the first sector to work the aircraft, and then filed away once the route is verified. Also,
for departures off of RDU, they use a bar code scanner in the tower, to give a rolling
boundary notification to the departure controller. Both the overflight strip, and bar code
situations don’t apply to you, but I say it to give you a picture of what the controller is
going through. Now lets say you depart VFR from an airport without an operating control
tower, and you call airborne for your IFR clearance. The controller has your flight plan
right in front of them, so they should see the remarks, right? Wrong. The remarks
section of the flight progress strip gets truncated because you put your whole life story
in there when you filed. This begins the process of asking you what exactly you want.
You then proceed to tell the controller about how you want a VOR approach at this
airport, then a practice ILS at that airport, and ohh, how about an NDB at another
airport, and lastly you want an RNAV back to your destination. I’m not sure how busy it
is at Raleigh approach, but I can tell you, at Houston Approach I don’t have time to tell
two other busy satellite sectors, what you, and all the other aircraft like you, want for
subsequent practice approaches. I understand that it’s annoying to say your request
multiple times, but it truly is the quickest and easiest way to get you what you want. We
have no problem accommodating GA aircraft, doing multiple practice approaches. Many
controllers, love working a busy satellite (because they are sadists). My advice to you, is
this…get comfortable with repeating yourself. Don’t let your frustration get the best of
you. It’s a person on the other end of the radio, and they want to help you. Help them,
help you.

Fly fast, and take chances.