The 3 things you need to know about air traffic control in X-Plane

Hi! Randy here, from the X-Plane team. This is the fifth email in the course on using a flight simulator to become a better pilot.

Today I’d like to share with you 3 things you need to know to use the air traffic control in X-Plane.

  1. You have to file a flight plan before interacting with the ATC. Do so by pressing Enter on the keyboard to bring up the ATC menu, then selecting “File Flight Plan.”
  2. Your COM1 radio must be tuned to the proper frequency for whatever ATC controller you want to communicate with. For instance, if you’re at KSEA (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport), this means you need to tune to 128.00 to request clearance, 121.70 to get ground (taxi) clearance, and 119.90 to check in with the tower before takeoff. (If those frequencies are a bit bewildering, don’t worry—you can find them all by searching for KSEA in the Airnav database.)
  3. Just like in the real world, you should check in with each controller as you get handed off to them. This tells the controller that you’re ready to receive instructions as necessary.

For a step-by-step guide through a flight guided by the ATC, check out the writeup in the X-Plane 10 manual titled Working with the Air Traffic Control.

Why buy the full version?

I talked a few days ago about why you might want to buy the full version of X-Plane 10, but maybe unlimited time in the simulator and full global scenery aren’t strong enough draws for you. Here’s why I think you should consider the full version:

As a real-world pilot, you need to keep current. X-Plane can help you keep your stick-and-rudder skills sharp, but more than that, it can help practice navigation techniques, proper procedures, and even emergency situations. If using X-Plane saves you just a couple hours with a CFI, it will have paid for itself. More than saving you money, though, sim time spent in X-Plane will make you a safer pilot.

X-Plane is the most advanced flight simulator you can buy. Since the demise of the Microsoft Flight Simulator development program, X-Plane is the only major simulator still under active development. That means that month after month, we’re working hard to bring you new aircraft (have you seen the new C–130 in your Aircraft folder?), new features (check out the integration with ForeFlight charts and maps), and a better looking sim world (like the auto-generated world scenery).

At this point, you’ve tried the demo. You know you won’t be disappointed by the sim. Order X-Plane 10 Global today and take your home flight simulator to a whole new level.

If you have questions, shoot me an email at, or press the “Reply” button in your email program.

Until next time,
– Randy