Operations resources


Class D airspace





Before entering Class D airspace, the pilot in command of an aircraft must establish two-way radio communication with the tower on the frequency notified on the chart, in ERSA, or AIP Supplement or NOTAM. Thereafter, the pilot must maintain those communications while in the Class D airspace.

All flights operating in Class E and G airspace requesting a clearance to operate in Class D airspace must advise position, level and tracking details when making first contact with ATC.

In establishing two-way communications, ATC may issue specific instructions that differ from the altitude and intentions advised by the pilot. The pilot must comply with any such instructions issued by ATC.

A pilot may be assigned the responsibility to follow another arriving aircraft which they have reported seeing. When assigned this responsibility, the pilot must maintain separation from and not overtake that aircraft. In this circumstance, the pilot is also responsible for providing their own wake turbulence separation. Advise ATC immediately if you lose sight of the other aircraft.

Initiating two-way communications

In initiating two-way communications, the pilot must advise current position, altitude, intention, and any request(s).

Track deviations

The pilot in command must not deviate from the track, level and intentions stated during the establishment of two-way communications or the instructions issued by ATC (if these instructions modify the stated track, level and intentions), unless authorised by ATC (AIP ENR 1.1).

Unless ATC specifically instructs otherwise, establishing two-way communications permits a pilot intending to land at an aerodrome within Class D airspace to descend as necessary to join the aerodrome traffic circuit.

Parallel runway operations

Where a Class D aerodrome is equipped with parallel runways, ATC may sequence aircraft for simultaneous contra-circuits and may conduct these operations using separate tower frequencies for each runway. Operations will be regulated independently in each circuit, with an ATC clearance required to enter the opposite circuit or airspace (AIP ENR 1.1).



A pilot in command must not land unless the specific clearance ‘Cleared to land’ (or ‘Cleared touch and go’ or ‘Cleared for the [option]’) has been received (AIP ENR 1.1).


At Class D aerodromes with parallel runways where contra-circuit operations are in progress, if ATC instructs, or a pilot initiates a go-around, the pilot must (AIP ENR 1.1):

  • commence climb to circuit altitude
  • position the aircraft on the active side and parallel to the nominated duty runway, while maintaining separation from other aircraft
  • follow ATC instructions or re-enter the circuit from upwind.

Go-around procedure for parallel runways


After landing

After landing, unless specified otherwise by ATC, an aircraft must comply with the following (AIP ENR 1.1):

  • promptly vacate the runway without backtracking
  • change from the aerodrome frequency to the SMC frequency (where established) when vacating the runway strip, and obtain an ATC taxi instruction
  • not cross any runway that intersects the taxi route unless in receipt of a taxi instruction and a Cross runway (number) instruction from ATC
  • taxi to the destination via the most direct taxiway(s) available and
  • where an apron service is provided on a discrete frequency (see ERSA), change to that frequency on entering the apron.

A taxi instruction which contains a taxi limit beyond a runway must include a Cross runway (number) instruction to cross that runway. When an aircraft is required to hold short of a runway intersecting the taxi route, ATC will issue a taxi instruction limit of the holding point associated with the intersecting runway.

An aircraft which has been issued with a taxi instruction limit of the holding point of a runway intersecting the taxi route, or which has been issued with an instruction to Hold short of that runway, must subsequently be issued with an instruction to Cross runway (number).

Taxiing aircraft holding short


Aircraft required to hold short of a runway must hold at the appropriate holding point for that runway, or the runway strip edge at the intersection of a crossing runway.

When separate frequencies for aerodrome control and surface movement control are in use, the pilot in command, on landing, must change from the aerodrome control frequency to the ground frequency on vacating the runway strip, and then transmit the aircraft callsign and, if applicable, parking bay number. A pilot in command may ‘Request detailed taxi instructions to (location)’.

Radio watch must be maintained on the SMC or tower frequency (where no SMC frequency is provided) until parked.

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New rules come into effect from 2 December 2021 that cover the general operating and flight rules. We are currently updating this guide to reflect the new rules. A new version will be available to download from 2 December.
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