Automatic terminal information service

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Automatic terminal information service, or ATIS, is a continuous broadcast of recorded aeronautical information in busier terminal areas, i.e. airports and their immediate surroundings. ATIS broadcasts contain essential information, such as current weather information, active runways, available approaches, and any other information required by the pilots, such as important NOTAMs. Pilots usually listen to an available ATIS broadcast before contacting the local control unit, which reduces the controllers' workload and relieves frequency congestion.[1]

In the US, ATIS will include (in this order): the airport or facility name; a phonetic letter code; time of the latest weather observation in UTC time; weather information consisting of wind direction and velocity, visibility, obstructions to vision, sky condition, temperature, dew point, altimeter setting, density altitude advisory if appropriate; and other pertinent remarks, including runway in use. If it exists, the weather observation includes remarks of lightning, cumulonimbus, and towering cumulus clouds. Additionally, ATIS may contain Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) alert and advisory, reported unauthorized laser illumination events, instrument or visual approaches in use, departure runways, taxiway closures, new or temporary changes to runway length, runway condition and codes, other optional information, and advisories.

The recording is updated in fixed intervals or when there is a significant change in the information, e.g. a change in the active runway. It is given a letter designation (e.g. bravo) from the ICAO spelling alphabet.[2] The letter progresses through the alphabet with every update and starts at alpha after a break in service of 12 hours or more. When contacting the local control unit, pilots indicate their information <letter>, where <letter> is the ATIS identification letter of the ATIS transmission the pilot received. This helps the ATC controller verify that the pilot has all current information.[3]

Many airports also employ the use of Data-link ATIS (D-ATIS). D-ATIS is a text-based, digitally transmitted version of the ATIS audio broadcast. It is accessed via a data link service such as the ACARS[4] and displayed on an electronic display in the aircraft. D-ATIS is incorporated on the aircraft as part of its electronic system, such as an EFB or an FMS. D-ATIS may be incorporated into the core ATIS system, or be realized as a separate system with a data interface between voice ATIS and D-ATIS.

Sample messages[edit]

Example at a General Aviation airport in the UK (Gloucestershire Airport)[edit]

Information Section Details
Airfield this ATIS broadcast is for Gloucester (phonetically GLOSTER)
ICAO spelling alphabet letter Quebec
Time (UTC) 14:20
Runway in use 25L (250º)
Circuit direction (general aviation) right-hand circuit
Wind speed and direction 251º @ 5 kts
Visibility 10 kilometres or more (maximum)
Cloud cover Few @ 2800 feet and broken @ 5000 feet
Temperature 27 °C
Dew point 26 °C
QNH (pressure @ mean sea level) 1020 - hectoPascals is dictated below 1018 hPa
QFE (pressure @ airfield elevation) 1017 - hectoPascals is dictated below 1080 hPa
Other information Request to report altimeter setting in use on first contact.

Noise abatement procedures in effect.

Tower frequency: 122.900 MHz (departing aircraft)

Approach frequency: 128.550 MHz (arriving aircraft)

There is intense gliding activity in the vicinity of the airfield

Instruction to report you have information Quebec

International Airport Example 1[edit]

Message Explanation
This is Schiphol arrival information Kilo Indicates the broadcast is for aircraft inbound to Schiphol, and the bulletin's identification letter
Main landing runway one eight Right Main runway used for landing is 18R, which indicates the direction (180 degrees magnetic) and Right implies there are other runways with a similar direction (18L (left), and perhaps others, such as 18C (center))
Transition level 50 When descending below Flight Level 50 (equivalent to 5000ft altitude on a standard barometric setting of 1013 hPa), aircraft should set their altimeter to the prevailing barometric pressure (QNH) of the airfield (given later in the ATIS)
Two zero zero degrees, one one knots Wind direction from azimuth 200 degrees magnetic (south-southwest), average 11 knots
Visibility one zero kilometres General visibility 10 kilometers or more
Few 1300 feet, scattered 1800 feet, broken 2200 feet Cloud layers at the indicated altitude above the airport
Temperature one five, dewpoint one three Temperature and dewpoint in degrees Celsius
QNH niner niner five hectopascal QNH (barometric pressure adjusted to mean sea level) 995 hectopascal
No significant change No significant change in weather expected
Contact Approach and Arrival callsign only When instructed to contact the Approach and Arrival controller, check in with callsign only (for the sake of brevity)
End of information Kilo End of bulletin, and the bulletin's identification letter again

See METAR for a more in-depth explanation of aviation weather messages and terminology.

Example 2[edit]

This example was recorded on 11 July 2016 at London Stansted Airport during which time there were ongoing maintenance works taking place on the taxiway surface in a part of the airport near the cargo terminal; the ATIS broadcast reflects this.

Message Explanation
Stansted information Uniform. Indicates the broadcast is for all aircraft arriving or departing from Stansted, and the bulletin's identification letter.
Time 12:50, automatic. The information and meteorological data was last sampled at 12:50 UTC and that the measurements were made automatically.
Runway in use 22. Runway 22 DRY DRY DRY. Runway 22 is being used for take-offs and landings and that it has dry surface conditions in all three thirds of the runway length.
Ground is open, delivery is closed. The ground controller frequency is open and is manned whilst the IFR clearance delivery frequency is closed and unmanned - clearance requests should be made to the ground controller.
Transition level - flight level 65. Aircraft above Flight Level 65 (6500ft) should set their altimeters to QNH 1013. When descending below, they should set their altimeter to the local QNH given later in the ATIS.
Expect an ILS approach. Expect the approach procedure to be the one published for Runway 22 ILS.
Surface wind 250, 14 knots. Wind direction from azimuth 250 degrees magnetic (west-southwest) with an average windspeed of 14 knots.
Visibility 10 kilometre or more. General visibility 10 kilometers or more.
Scattered 2400 feet, broken 4600 feet. Cloud layers at the indicated altitude above the airport.
Cumulonimbus detected. An observation of cumulonimbus cloud; typically associated with strong turbulence, thunderstorms and lighting; was made.
Temperature +19, dew point +14. Temperature and dewpoint in degrees Celsius.
QNH 1007 The airport barometric pressure is 1007 hectopascal.
Work in progress in Apron Alpha - taxiway Juliet closed between Papa and Alpha. There is maintenance work in progress in the Alpha Apron and that a nearby taxiway has been closed.
Acknowledge receipt of information Uniform and advise aircraft type on first contact. When contacting the controller, tell them that you have made note of the details in this ATIS bulletin and give them your aircraft type.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Federal Aviation Administration (November 2008). Federal Aviation Regulations/Aeronautical Information Manual 2009 (FAR/AIM 2009). Skyhorse Publishing Inc. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-1-60239-298-4.
  2. ^ "Alphabet - Radiotelephony".
  3. ^ David Harrison (2008). Pilot's Guide to ATC. Trafford Publishing. pp. 276–. ISBN 978-1-4251-3270-5.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-11. Retrieved 2012-06-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]