AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER



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                                NATCA LOCAL LAF






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Can I visit the tower?

Visits may be arranged by contacting the tower Manager.

Is there a number to call so I can listen to the ATIS?

Currently there is not a number for the ATIS, however, pilots can call 743-9687 to listen to the ASOS weather.

Why doesn't Lafayette have radar?

Lafayette does not utilize a radar display in the tower cab because FAA radar coverage is too poor. NATCA is currently working to try to convince the FAA to provide a radar for LAF.

Line Up And Wait?

When a controller tells you to "Line Up And Wait" they expect you to taxi onto the runway and hold in position awaiting a takeoff clearance. The new phraseology replaces the older "Taxi Into Position And Hold" clearnace.

What should I do if I get to the 3 mile call, but can't get through to the tower?

The frequency at Lafayette can get pretty congested at times, with more than a dozen planes conducting touch and goes, while others are arriving and departing the intersecting runways. In addition, student pilots often require extra time on the frequency increasing congestion. Therefore, it can sometimes be difficult to get through to the tower. If a pilot is told to report 3 miles from the field, but when they get to 3 miles, they can't get through to the tower due to frequency congestion, the pilot should use caution, good judgment, keep trying to get through for a landing sequence, don't make any unexpected maneuvers, and avoid other aircraft. Some pilots enter a wider than normal downwind, and parallel aircraft already in the pattern. Others pilots see aircraft on the downwind, and after checking to see if there is other aircraft, they enter the downwind from a 45 degree angle and follow. Pilots should be aware that making unexpected 180's, or 360's in the immediate airport area can be dangerous because there may be other inbound aircraft from the same direction.


Why does the controller issue the route when giving taxi instructions even when there is only one way to taxi?

Controllers are now  required to issue the route with the taxi instruction, even if there is only one possible route. Pilots are not required to read back the routing. Pilots should just respond with their call sign, assigned runway, and any hold short instructions if necessary.


Why does the tower sometimes ignore me when I call?

Controllers can be busy at times, even when there does not seem to be much going on. Landline phone calls, coordination with controllers at Lafayette and at other facilities takes time. If you call during the last 5 minutes of the hour, maybe they are making the ATIS. Sometimes there is radio interference, or pilots transmit at the same time. The controller most likely heard you and will answer as soon as they can. If you think maybe they didn't hear you just try again.


Why do I have to read back my runway assignment & hold-short instructions?

Safety! In an attempt to reduce the number of runways incursions nationwide, the FAA requires all controllers to ensure pilots read back ALL runway assignment and hold-short instructions. The procedure is designed to make sure the pilot and controller are both planning, and expecting, the same thing. In addition, the controller could get in trouble if pilots don't correctly read back these items completely. One of tower controllers biggest pet-peeves is when they have to go back to a pilot, and ask them to read back their runway assignment or hold-short instructions, so it's on the tapes. Just remember, it's for your safety.


Why does the controller tell me "maintain VFR no separation services are being provided" when I start a VFR practice approach to Lafayette?

Currently, there is no facility providing VFR practice approach services to Lafayette. Controllers at Lafayette will not approve requests for practice approaches. However, controllers will make every effort to give traffic advisories, regarding know or observed aircraft, to all aircraft on frequency who wish to receive them. Some pilots have mistaken the traffic advisories to mean that the tower is approving the practice approach, and providing separation services during the approach. The phraseology is stated to ensure that the pilot is fully aware the approach has not been approved, they are not receiving any separation services during the approach, and they must maneuver as necessary to avoid other aircraft, particularly other aircraft on an actual IFR approach.


Why must I have the ATIS code before I can taxi out, or enter Lafayette airspace?

Controllers are required to ensure all pilots have specific information prior to arrival or departure. Information like local weather, hazardous weather advisories, runways in use, instrument approach in use, NOTAMS, wind shear, bird hazard advisories etc. It's the controllers job to make things as safe as possible, and making sure pilots have all the pertinent information available, is part of that process.


When should I contact Lafayette tower when I'm inbound to the Airport? 

Pilots cannot enter the delta airspace until they establish two-way radio communications with the tower, so at least 5 miles out! Generally, most pilots call inbound around 6-10 miles from the field. Controllers will usually tell inbound pilots to report 3 miles from the filed, for a pattern sequence.


Why does the controller sometimes say "not in sight" when issuing a landing clearance?

Sometimes pilots will report north, when they are really south, or they may report on final to runway 23, but they are actually on final to runway 10. In the interest of aviation safety, controllers are required to say "not in sight" in conjunction with a landing clearance if they can't see the aircraft. Most of the time, pilots are where they are supposed to be, but the controller is just not able to see them. Without radar, it's very difficult for controllers to see single engine aircraft more than 3 miles from the field, especially during hazy summer days. The controllers make every possible effort to visually spot inbounds prior to the 3 mile call, but sometimes they just can't see the aircraft. However, anytime a pilot is told "not in sight" they should consider the possibility they are at the wrong airport, or reporting the wrong direction from the field, and they should double check to verify the position they are reporting is correct.


When I want to make a short approach, when should I tell the controller?

As soon as possible, upwind is ideal. We have a saying here, "keep no secrets, tell no lies". If you want a short approach, don't keep it a secret until your abeam the numbers, and there are 3 aircraft on final. There is nothing that can be done at that point. If you tell the controller what you want, in time for them to help you, they will! Extending your upwind is the most practical option for achieving spacing to make a power off landing, or short approach. If your on the downwind behind 8 other aircraft, and you want a short approach, it's not going to happen this time around. Tell the controller this time around, you want a short approach on the next time around, so they can make pattern adjustments, to accommodate your request. Remember, Lafayette is a VFR tower, and we provide runway separation only. It's the pilots job to follow other aircraft. After the short approach is authorized, pilots still need to make adjustments to leave enough space ahead, or the controller may have to issue a "go around".


Why does the controller tell me to go around when I was following the aircraft they told me too?

Lafayette is a VFR tower, and controllers are required to provide runway separation and traffic advisories to VFR aircraft. It's the pilots job to adjust flight path, in order to follow other traffic. If pilots do not adjust their flight path enough in order to allow for required runway separation, the controller will issue a "go around" instruction.


Why don't you use position and hold more often?

Taxi into Position and Hold (TIPH) is used at Lafayette from time to time, but it is becoming increasingly rare. Changes to national FAA orders in 2006 and 2007 make TIPH operations nearly impossible at Lafayette. In order to conduct position and hold operations, the local controller can't be working any other position. Controllers at Lafayette frequently work the controller in charge, flight data, and or ground control positions at the same time they are working local control, thereby prohibiting TIPH operations. In addition, in order to use TIPH, no other aircraft can be cleared to use the same runway until after the TIPH operation is complete. That means that controllers would have to withhold landing or option clearances until the TIPH operations are completed.

Why does the controller ask me to verify my lights are on?

Federal Regulations require anti-collision lighting to be operated at all times, day or night, if it's installed on the aircraft. In addition pilots are required to operate navigation lights at night. Sometimes, pilots will turn off aircraft lighting when conducting night operations in the pattern. Controllers will ask the pilot to verify the lights are in the on position, prior to requiring them to make a full stop landing.

If I don't understand the instructions given by the tower, what should I do?

Tell them!  Ask them to "say again", or "slow down".  If their instructions seem unclear to you tell the controller you don't understand. Don't be afraid to speak up and let the controller know you do not understand. It's critical that pilots do what controllers are expecting them to do. Controllers would much rather take the time to say it again slower and clearer than let everything get messed up.

The controller told me to make right traffic, but I'm on the left side not the right, what should I do?

If a controller gives you an instruction that you think seems wrong, tell them your concern. If you are inbound from the west, and the controller tells you to make left traffic for runway 23, don't just assume they want you to fly though the pattern and over the runway to join the other downwind. Although highly unlikely, they might have made a mistake ;-). Ask them to verify the instruction, and don't be afraid to state your concern. Better to be safe than sorry.