ATC Guidance for the beginner

Dumb question time. I am a new pilot, have done flight sims before, so know how to fly. I have never flown with anything like ATC. Is there some guide or a list of how to talk to the AI ATC for the beginner? Proper procedures from push back through landing and parking? I just finished the 8 training scenarios and started flying around the DA40 and want to be as “Real” and as correct as possible. I find myself missing steps cause I don’t really know what I’m doing.

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I don’t want to be the one to break the bad news to you, but FS2020 ATC is about as far from ‘real’ as it gets…

In the real world, you don’t communicate with ATC in regards to the actual pushback directions. The ATC ground taxi instructions are completely wrong and just made up because the airport taxiways aren’t named correctly. The devs just decided to make up fake airport maps. The IFR clearance is missing basically everything, you will normally get a first vector / waypoint / SID instruction, plus expected cruise altitude, plus your routing, which FS2020 doesn’t give you.

In short, any online video or guidance you find will be pretty useless. You kinda just have to follow the bouncing ball on the FS2020 ATC menu and figure it out. Generally the next step of who to contact or what to say is the #1 option on the list.


Thanks. I’ll just follow the flow, jot down some notes on sequence.

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If you want a more realistic ATC experience, I’d suggest using VATSIM. They have real people controlling different airspaces and they are trained so it’s pretty professional level stuff. Here’s a live map you can use to see what places have live coverage at any moment (you may have to turn off your adblocker for it to load).

Here are the guides I used to help me understand what to say at each phase of flight.

For your first flight I’d suggest going to a smaller airport so it’s not too busy and the controller there will be more willing to help you through any newbie-ness vs. going to a busy airport/airspace with a bunch of traffic that the controller has to deal with.

I don’t know if it’s just me but I also find the controllers in Australia to be the most friendly. So if you find them online when you’re playing that could be a good starting point!


Do you get the impression that the ATC was “put together” by a novice VFR Private Pilot, with no IFR knowledge at all, and very little experience talking to ATC, even as a VFR pilot.

I thought they promoted that they had “Real World” Pilots & ATC as consultants.
Obviously not, or they did not listen to them !!!


I think the whole development team is a few kids fresh out of university with no real flying experience, and limited basic ‘playing around’ time on flight sims as a 15 year old. Absolutely no understanding of realism or anything that could make this a sim. This game belongs on an iPad as a ‘muck around’ game when catching a train to work

When I was taking private pilot training in the late 80s, my instructor told me to broadcast 3 things generally…

  1. Who you are…Type of plane and call sign or tail number…
  2. Where you are…in relation to whatever tower or facility you are approaching…“six miles south”, etc. and…
  3. What you want to do…touch and go, full stop landing on runway XX, transition airspace, etc

MSFS models that pretty well for GA aircraft albeit crudely. I cannot help you with commercial aviation in the airliners except that there are more nomenclature and specific instructions that must be followed.


At most airports, airliners do contact the ground controller for pushback as that is part of their jurisdiction. As for everything else, I do completely agree with you that the ATC is pretty bad. Then again I do not think any flight sim will nail it at all unless a third party does a complete overhaul.

As for VFR flying, I feel ATC is fine when it comes to handling that such as transition airspaces, where you are in relation to the facility, what do you want etc, etc. I feel its fine for VFR but IFR needs a major overhaul.

Thanks for the info! :grin:

I just watched a few videos and got the gist of it. Did a quick flight and for a novice, kinda fun.

can we use vatsim in msfs2020?

Grogan645, as a pilot for more than 40 years, I can tell you if you want to learn the most about real ATC, change the FS2020 frequency. FS2020 ATC is “as far from real as possible.” You will not be able to use any of the FS2020 procedures in real world flying. Look into VATSIM. I was a VATSIM “controller” and I highly recommend it to learn real world ATC. Good luck in your flying.


Yes, of course, otherwise I wouldn’t have suggested it! :stuck_out_tongue:

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You only contact ground to get clearance for ‘push and start’ … then you are in direct communication with the ground crew to control the actual push. In FS2020 it’s all through ATC

If you are interested in realism, skip the ATC. It’s made up phraseology and has nothing to do with real life. Just skip it.

Ground is only contacted for pushback clearance, not start / stop or direction of pushback. For VFR flying the ATC is pretty good indeed… because VFR you don’t have much to do with ATC anyway :joy:. The whole ATC system is a mix of completely made up phraseology and American procedures (transition 18000 ft, inHg instead of hPa, “flight following”). They should have added some “with you” and “light chop” nonesense to complete the picture :sweat_smile:.

:us: Lets make flight simulation great again! :us:

Yes, and that same VFR pilot also was the one telling the development team how to model the avionics.

I started using Pilot2ATC because the sim in not yet at a level you can go online with it without making a fool of yourself, and this it’s more immersive because you can speak as well. Also the R/T procedures are pretty accurate, support for other than USA (pressure in mb, transition level not in 18000 but airport dependent (I believe, have to do an IFR with it yet))

The only way forward I see, is for ASOBO to sub-contract out more parts of MSFS, to sub-contractors with the required specialized knowledge and skills to do the job.
They are game developers, not Aviation experts,

Microsoft contracted ASOBO to make MSFS.
ASOBO (or MS & ASOBO) sub contracted out some of the parts of FSMP … ie Scenery AI, Airport customization, Aircraft etc etc

As MSFS evolved, the path forward is to subcontract out more of the development (and design) to those that already specialize in those areas.

Ie ASOB will become subcontracting Project Manager for MSFS.

NO WAY can ASOBO do it all, nobody is that good … (Not Even Microsoft !!)

– Well, maybe GOOGLE “could” , but why would they ?

I think the whole sim was done that way.

From what I’ve seen of Pilot2ATC videos it’s still a bit FAA-centric. It seems to use ‘Climb and maintain FL200’ instead of (UK) ICAO ‘Climb FL200’. Similarly ‘Descend and maintain 2000 ft’ instead of ‘Descend to altitude 2000 ft’.

I may give it a try sometime to see if it suits me.