In addition to acknowledging a handoff to another Center en route controller, there are reports that should be made without a specific request from ATC. Certain reports should be made at all times regardless of whether a flight is in radar contact with ATC, while others are necessary only if radar contact has been lost or terminated. [Figure]

Airplane Instrument Procedures
ATC reporting procedures

Non-Radar Position Reports

If radar contact has been lost or radar service terminated, the CFRs require pilots to provide ATC with position reports over designated VORs and intersections along their route of flight. These compulsory reporting points are depicted on IFR en route charts by solid triangles. Position reports over fixes indicated by open triangles are noncompulsory reporting points and are only necessary when requested by ATC. If on a direct course that is not on an established airway, report over the fixes used in the flight plan that define the route, since they automatically become compulsory reporting points. Compulsory reporting points also apply when conducting an IFR flight in accordance with a VFR-on-top clearance.

Whether a route is on an airway or direct, position reports are mandatory in a non-radar environment, and they must include specific information. A typical position report includes information pertaining to aircraft position, expected route, and ETA. When a position report is to be made passing a VOR radio facility, the time reported should be the time at which the first complete reversal of the TO/ FROM indicator is accomplished. When a position report is made passing a facility by means of an airborne ADF, the time reported should be the time at which the indicator makes a complete reversal. When an aural or a light panel indication is used to determine the time passing a reporting point, such as a fan marker, Z marker, cone of silence or intersection of range courses, the time should be noted when the signal is first received and again when it ceases. The mean of these two times should then be taken as the actual time over the fix. If a position is given with respect to distance and direction from a reporting point, the distance and direction should be computed as accurately as possible. Except for terminal area transition purposes, position reports or navigation with reference to aids not established for use in the structure in which flight is being conducted are not normally required by ATC.

Flights in a Radar Environment

When informed by ATC that their aircraft are in “Radar Contact,” pilots should discontinue position reports over designated reporting points. They should resume normal position reporting when ATC advises “radar contact lost” or “radar service terminated.” ATC informs pilots that they are in radar contact:
  1. When their aircraft is initially identified in the ATC system; and
  2. When radar identification is reestablished after radar service has been terminated or radar contact lost.
Subsequent to being advised that the controller has established radar contact, this fact is not repeated to the pilot when handed off to another controller. At times, the aircraft identity is confirmed by the receiving controller; however, this should not be construed to mean that radar contact has been lost. The identity of transponder equipped aircraft is confirmed by asking the pilot to “ident,” “squawk standby,” or to change codes. Aircraft without transponders are advised of their position to confirm identity. In this case, the pilot is expected to advise the controller if in disagreement with the position given. Any pilot who cannot confirm the accuracy of the position given because of not being tuned to the NAVAID referenced by the controller should ask for another radar position relative to the tuned in NAVAID.

Position Report Items

Position reports should include the following items:
  1. Aircraft identification
  2. Position
  3. Time
  4. Altitude or flight level (include actual altitude or flight level when operating on a clearance specifying VFR-on-top)
  5. Type of flight plan (not required in IFR position reports made directly to ARTCCs or approach control)
  6. ETA and name of next reporting point
  7. The name only of the next succeeding reporting point along the route of flight
  8. Pertinent remarks

Additional Reports

The following reports should be made at all times to ATC or Flight Service facilities without a specific ATC request:
  1. When vacating any previously assigned altitude or flight level for a newly assigned altitude or flight level.
  2. When an altitude change is made if operating on a clearance specifying VFR-on-top.
  3. When unable to climb/descend at a rate of a least 500 feet per minute (fpm).
  4. When approach has been missed. (Request clearance for specific action (i.e., to alternative airport, another approach).
  5. Change in the average true airspeed (at cruising altitude) when it varies by 5 percent or 10 knots (whichever is greater) from that filed in the flight plan.
  6. The time and altitude or flight level upon reaching a holding fix or point to which cleared.
  7. When leaving any assigned holding fix or point. Note: The reports stated in subparagraphs 6 and 7 may be omitted by pilots of aircraft involved in instrument training at military terminal area facilities when radar service is being provided.
  8. Any loss, in controlled airspace, of VOR, TACAN, ADF, low frequency navigation receiver capability, GPS anomalies while using installed IFR-certified GPS/GNSS receivers, complete or partial loss of ILS receiver capability or impairment of air/ground communications capability. Reports should include aircraft identification, equipment affected, degree to which the capability to operate under IFR in the ATC system is impaired, and the nature and extent of assistance desired from ATC.
  9. Any information relating to the safety of flight.
Other equipment installed in an aircraft may impair your ability to safely operate under IFR. If a malfunction of such equipment (e.g., weather radar) affects any safety or IFR capability, reports should be made as stated above. When reporting GPS anomalies, be very specific and include the location, altitude, and duration of the anomaly. Deliberate GPS interference or outage areas resulting from pre-approved government tests will be disseminated in NOTAMs. These outages should not be reported to ATC, as this condition is known and not an anomaly.