Document Information
Version 1
Created 01/01/2016 01:00
Last Updated 12/03/2023 01:09
by Alexander Lennon

Seattle Ground

I. Purpose

This document is a guide to SEA_GND procedures. This document does not supersede SOP_103, Seattle ATCT SOP. SOP_103 must be reviewed, this document is merely a resource.

Seattle Ground Control shall operate under the call sign as SEA_GND. The frequency to use is 121.7.

II. Position Description

Seattle Ground controllers all the taxiways to the east of 16L/34R. It does NOT own the taxiways to the west of 16L/34R.  Ground Control does not own any active runway; therefore SEA_GND may not taxi an aircraft across an active runway without prior approval from the Local Controller (Tower or higher).

In the absence of the Delivery Controller (SEA_DEL), SEA_GND shall also perform the duties of SEA_DEL, which includes issuing all IFR/VFR clearances.

III. Duties

Below are some of the duties:

  • Ground controllers may not taxi an aircraft until they have been issued the IFR or VFR clearance. All aircraft must have a clearance to depart from KSEA (because it is a class B airport)
  • Aircraft not calling with the current ATIS should be given the current wind and altimeter. 
  • If gate holds are in effect, do not allow aircraft to startup until the approximate release time is met.
  • As a Ground controller, it is very important to work closely with the Tower to determine handoff points.

IV. Runway Configurations

Prior to issuing the first taxi instruction of your shift always check with SEA_TWR to determine the active runways. Whenever there is a change with the runways in use SEA_TWR is required to tell you that a change has been made. The following image shows the approximate taxiways where Ground or Tower control.


A. South Operations:

When the winds are from the southeast to southwest (070 to 250) or if the winds are 5 knots or less from ANY direction.

Departures are routed to Runway 16L and 16C via taxiway Bravo or, if necessary, Alpha then hold short 16L. Arrivals usually land on Runway 16L and 16R. If an aircraft requests an intersection departure (because they do not need the whole runway), route them on Bravo to taxiway Lima, unless they request a specific intersection. Route them via Echo or Hotel (etc.).

B. North Operations:

When the winds are from the Northwest to Northeast (251 to 069) at 6 knots or more.

Departures are routed to Runway 34C R via Bravo. Arrivals usually land on Runway 34R C. If an aircraft requests an intersection departure (because they do not need the whole runway), route them on Bravo to taxiway Quebec, unless they request a specific intersection.

V. Ground Control

A Closer Look - Once the SEA_DEL and the pilot have agreed on the route clearance, the aircraft is told to contact SEA_GND. At this time the pilot may “push back and start. NOTE: During the time between talking to SEA_DEL and calling SEA_GND the pilot may “push back and start, but may not taxi without calling Ground first. On VATSIM we are flexible with the start-up procedures. On the initial call from the pilot, they must state they have the current ATIS. If not, issue the wind and altimeter, and any other relevant information. Below are 3 examples:

Pilot calls with the current ATIS code

SWA804: Ground, ready for taxi with information Charlie

Pilot calls without stating the current ATIS code

SWA804: Ground, ready for taxi 

SEA_GND: SWA804, information Charlie is current on 118.0, please advise when you have it.

SWA804: Roger, will advise

Or you can have them taxi with the basic weather information

SWA804: Ground, ready for taxi 

SEA_GND: SWA804, wind 140 at 8, altimeter 3011, runway 16 Left taxi via Bravo, Charlie.

A quick note about ATIS: To use it, the pilot switches to frequency 118.0 (or whatever the airport's ATIS frequency is), so they may be briefly off your frequency.

If an aircraft does need to push onto taxiway Bravo. They should request prior to pushing onto the active taxiway. After their readback, they should be told "call for push onto taxiway Bravo, expect runway XX."

When ready to push onto the active taxiway, if it's clear,  "push onto taxiway Bravo approved. Face north (south ops)" or face south (north ops).


VI. Taxi Instructions

Here's where you can master your phraseology while working the SEA_GND position. Below are examples of taxi instructions to aircraft. Before we begin, let us go over a couple of very important rules as noted in the VATUSA Ground Study Guide

  • A pilot should read back all taxi instructions. This is REQUIRED however when issuing hold short instructions. Anytime you instruct an aircraft to hold short of something, they must read back the instruction, and say the words “hold short" in their readback.
  • Never use the term "Cleared to cross" or "Cleared to taxi" when issuing clearances. It can be confused by the pilot as a take-off clearance.

During busy conditions, the following should be noted:

  • Arrivals that exit runway 16L/34R should be taxied to the ramp ASAP. This is so aircraft behind can exit quickly and prevent go around and buildups on the taxiways/runway.
  • When taxing aircraft to runway 16L, be mindful of those arrivals taxing to the gate. Do your best to prevent nose to nose aircraft on taxiway Bravo.
  • Utilize taxiway Alpha and Whiskey on the ramp to your advantage.
  • Coordinate, communicating, and be reachable with tower.

Let say that, for whatever reason, the pilot requests a Runway 16C departure rather than a 16L.

SEA_GND: SWA804, Runway 16 Center  taxi via Bravo Carlie, hold short runway 16 Left

The pilot MUST read back the hold short instructions! If they respond with “Roger" it is not good enough. YOU MUST INSIST THEY UNDERSTAND THE HOLD SHORT INSTRUCTION BY READING IT BACK. This is for safety reasons. It instructs the pilot to taxi to Runway 16C via Bravo Carlie, but he must hold short runway 16L and not cross it until he has received explicit permission from a controller. 

Since you don't have control over runways and that after crossing runway 16 left, he would need to talk to Tower anyways, simply hand the aircraft to Tower prior to the aircraft reaching the hold short line.

SEA_GND: SWA804, contact Seattle Tower on 119.9

When it is busy, there will be times that you will want the aircraft to watch/follow other traffic. This, of course, assumes that the multi-player is set so both players can see each other.

SEA_GND: ASA2319, behind the Delta 737 passing Left to Right on Bravo, runway 16L taxi Bravo Charlie.

SEA_GND: DAL1977, runway 16L, taxi via Bravo Charlie. Hold short of taxiway Delta for Boeing 747 exiting the cargo ramp.

Once the aircraft is nearing the departure end of the runway, begin the handoff process with Tower. Also, the pilot is not required to be handed off to tower. It is their responsibility to switch frequencies upon nearing the runway. This is an extra courtesy we can provide to aid VATSIM pilots.

SEA_GND: ASA2319, contact Seattle Tower on 119.9, good day 

ASA2319: Over to Tower, good day

Ground is a fun and challenging position to work. We recommend our newer students start here and master the position before taking on a higher position. The knowledge you learn here will benefit you later on.