• The safety and effectiveness of traffic control depends to a large extent on accurate position reporting
  • In order to provide the proper separation and expedite aircraft movements, ATC must be able to make accurate estimates of the progress of every aircraft operating on an IFR flight plan

Position Identification:

  • When a position report is made passing a VOR radio facility, the time reported should be the time at which the first complete reversal of the "to/from" indicator is accomplished
  • When a position report is made passing a facility by means of an airborne ADF, the time reported should be the time at which the indicator makes a complete reversal
  • When an aural or a light panel indication is used to determine the time passing a reporting point, such as a fan marker, Z marker, cone of silence or intersection of range courses, the time should be noted when the signal is first received and again when it ceases
    • The mean of these two times should then be taken as the actual time over the fix
  • If a position is given with respect to distance and direction from a reporting point, the distance and direction should be computed as accurately as possible
  • Except for terminal area transition purposes, position reports or navigation with reference to aids not established for use in the structure in which flight is being conducted will not normally be required by ATC

Compulsory Reporting Point
Figure 1: Compulsory Reporting Point

Reporting Points:

  • CFRs require pilots to maintain a listening watch on the appropriate frequency and to furnish position reports passing certain reporting points
  • Reporting points are shown on enroute charts

Requirements for Reporting:

  • Flights along airways or routes:
    • Required by all flights, regardless of altitude, including those operating in accordance with an ATC clearance specifying "VFR-ON-TOP" over each designated compulsory reporting point along the route being flown
  • Flights Along a Direct Route:
    • Regardless of the altitude or flight level being flown, including flights operating in accordance with an ATC clearance specifying "VFR-on-top," pilots must report over each reporting point used in the flight plan to define the route of flight
  • Flights in a Radar Environment:
    • When informed by ATC that their aircraft are in "radar contact," pilots should discontinue position reports over designated reporting points
    • They should resume normal positioning reporting when ATC advises "Radar Contact Lost" or "Radar Service Terminated"
    • Controllers attempting to radar contact an aircraft will assign a specific squawk or ask for an IDENT
  • Flights in an Oceanic (Non-radar) Environment:
    • Pilots must report over each point used in the flight plan to define the route of flight, even if the point is depicted on aeronautical charts as an "on request" (non-compulsory) reporting point
    • For aircraft providing automatic position reporting via an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) logon, pilots should discontinue voice position reports
  • ATC will inform pilots that they are in "radar contact":
    • When their aircraft is initially identified in the ATC system; and
    • When radar identification is reestablished after radar service has been terminated or radar contact lost:
      • Subsequent to being advised that the controller has established radar contact, this fact will not be repeated to the pilot when handed off to another controller. At times, the aircraft identity will be confirmed by the receiving controller; however, this should not be construed to mean that radar contact has been lost. The identity of transponder equipped aircraft will be confirmed by asking the pilot to “ident,” “squawk standby,” or to change codes. Aircraft without transponders will be advised of their position to confirm identity. In this case, the pilot is expected to advise the controller if in disagreement with the position given. Any pilot who cannot confirm the accuracy of the position given because of not being tuned to the NAVAID referenced by the controller, should ask for another radar position relative to the tuned in NAVAID

Non-Compulsory Reporting Point
Figure 2: Non-Compulsory Reporting Point

Position Report Items::

  • Identification
  • Position
  • Time
  • Altitude or flight level assignments
  • Type of flight plan (not required in IFR position reports made directly to ARTCCs or approach control)
  • ETA and name of next reporting point
  • The name only of the next succeeding reporting point along the route of flight
  • Pertinent remarks

Required Reports:

  • The following reports are to be made to ATC or FSS facilities without a specific ATC request:
    • When vacating any previously assigned altitude or flight level for a newly assigned altitude or flight level
    • When an altitude change will be made if operating on a clearance specifying VFR-on-top
    • When unable to climb/descend at a rate of at least 500 FPM
    • When an approach has been missed (request clearance for specific action; i.e., to alternate airport, another approach, etc.)
    • Change in the average true airspeed (at cruising altitude) when it varies by 5% or 10 knots whichever is greater from that filed in the flight plan
    • *The time and altitude of flight level upon reaching a holding fix or point to which cleared
    • *When leaving any assigned holding fix or point

* denotes an exception for pilots of aircraft involved in instrument training at military terminal area facilities when radar service is being provided

    • Any loss, in controlled airspace, of VOR, TACAN, ADF, low frequency navigation receiver capability, GPS anomalies while using installed IFR-certified GPS/GNSS receivers, complete or partial loss of ILS receiver capability or impairment of air/ground communications capability
      • Reports should include aircraft identification, equipment affected, degree to which the capability to operate under IFR in the ATC system is impaired, and the nature and extent of assistance desired from ATC
      • Other equipment installed in an aircraft may effectively impair safety and/or the ability to operate under IFR and so if such equipment (e.g., airborne weather radar) malfunctions and in the pilot's judgment either safety or IFR capabilities are affected, reports should be made as above
      • When reporting GPS anomalies, include the location and altitude of the anomaly
        • Be specific when describing the location and include duration of the anomaly if necessary
    • Any information regarding safety of flight
  • Additionally, when not in radar contact:
    • When leaving final approach fix inbound on final approach (nonprecision approach) or when leaving the outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker inbound on final approach (precision approach)
    • A corrected estimate at anytime it becomes apparent that an estimate as previously submitted is in error in excess of 2 minutes
      • For flights in the North Atlantic (NAT), a revised estimate is required if the error is 3 minutes or more
    • Pilots encountering weather conditions which have not been forecast, or hazardous conditions which have been forecast, are expected to forward a report such weather to ATC