Abu Dhabi Intl (OMAA) SOP

Category: ATC TRAINING | United Arab Emirates vACC Policy

This is the Abu Dhabi International airport (OMAA) standard operating procedures (SOP). This is a guide that is to be used along with the aeronautical information publication (AIP) that we use. Both the SOP and the AIP must be read. The SOP contains things that are not mentioned in the AIP and procedures that are "vatsim-ized". These are procedures that can be simulated in real world but not so much in the virtual world and we need to make some changes to them. As you read this guide, make sure you have the charts open for the airport so that you can follow along as you read. You will need to read the AIP and this SOP together. Some things mentioned on this SOP are not in the AIP and vice-versa. You will need to have the OMAA charts open when reading this SOP.



In OMAA, simultaneous runway operations are used and departures and arrivals are sequenced to both runways for maximum efficiency. The clearance delivery controller assigns departures the runway on the ground while the approach controller assigns the runways to arriving aircraft. The controllers must modify the TXT (free text field) of the tag and note the runway being used. The following table notes what to write in the scratchpad depending on the runway being used...











Delivery/ground and approach controllers must ensure the scratchpad is noted with the correct designators in the tags once they have assigned the runways.


Clearance Delivery

The clearance delivery controller at OMAA will be responsible for checking flight plans of aircraft departing the airport and issuing initial clearances to them. The delivery controller will only issue initial clearances to aircraft who are ready for pushback and start. This is a special procedure in OMAA; the aircraft must be fully ready for pushback and start BEFORE they call to receive their flight clearance from clearance delivery. Once the clearance is given, the clearance delivery controller will tell the aircraft to MONITOR the ground frequency. Ground control will then call the aircraft and issue them pushback and start instructions. The aircraft should not call ground control to report ready for pushback.

For the purposes of VATSIM, the clearance delivery controller at OMAA will assume (track) the aircraft tag when they spawn at the gate. Once the initial clearance is given, the clearance delivery will HANDOFF/TRANSFER the tag to the ground control. Transferring the aircraft to ground control will mean the aircraft has received his clearance and is ready for pushback. Do not handoff to ground control if the aircraft is not ready for pushback.

Read the ENR 1.9 chart for Air Traffic Flow Management carefully found on the UAE vACC website to understand what restrictions certain aircraft flight plans have. When aircraft file flight plans, you will need to check to make sure the flight plan is valid against this chart - especially the altitude restrictions (ex: OMAA to OMDB flights file a maximum of 10,000 feet).


Ground Control

There are 2 ground control positions in OMAA: OMAA_N_GND and OMAA_S_GND. Both of their callsigns is "Abu Dhabi Ground". If either one of the positions is offline, you must go online as OMAA_GND which covers both sectors.

OMAA_N_GND covers the north side of the airport, taxiway D and all areas North of taxiway D, except runway 13L/31R. OMAA_N_GND does not control taxiways connected to runway 13R/31L or runway 13L/31R.

OMAA_S_GND controls taxiway E and all areas South of taxiway E. OMAA_S_GND does not control any taxiways connected to 13R/31L.

The North side of the airport contains a new mid-field terminal complex. As of now, this area is still under construction in the real world. The default scenery on flight simulators for OMAA will not have this terminal.

At OMAA, the ground control will ASSUME/TRACK the aircraft tag. Clearance delivery will assume the tag initially, if online, and after giving clearance and verifying aircraft is ready for pushback then handoff the tag to Ground control. The reason is because at OMAA the aircraft are required to be fully ready for pushback prior to calling clearance delivery. The handoff to Ground control from clearance delivery means the aircraft is ready for pushback. Ground control will issue the pushback to aircraft; aircraft shall not call for pushback at OMAA.

There are multiple rapid exit taxiways at OMAA, such as D6, E10, and A13 and other "angled" taxiways connected to the runway. These taxiways should NOT be used as points for departing aircraft or crossing aircraft across the runway. These should only be used for arriving traffic to vacate the runway. Once arriving traffic vacates the runway, they will not be handed off immediately by Tower. The aircraft will need to be completely clear of the taxiways connected to the runway then handed off. For example, an aircraft landing on runway 31L and vacating at E8 will not contact ground until they are atleast on taxiway E. This is to reduce delays and any possible aircraft that stops on the rapid exit taxiways.

There are multiple parallel taxiways at OMAA. These are there for a reason and to make navigating aircraft as painless as possible for controllers. Notice taxiways A and B to the North, G and H in the middle, C and D also in the middle, and E and F on the South side. To efficiently navigate aircraft, the normal procedures are to use the taxiways closer to the runways (A, D, E) for arrivals mainly and use the taxiways closer to the terminals (B, C, and F for departures. For taxiways G and H, Ground control should determine and use one taxiway for aircraft that will be going North to South and the other for aircraft going South to North. Ground control should determine the best use case for these taxiways so that aircraft can travel expeditiously and safely without any delays.

The Etihad airlines aircraft, the flagship carrier of the UAE, park at Terminals 1 and 3 exclusively and have priority first at these areas. All other airlines can park at these terminals as well if there is available space. Terminal 2 can also be used for other airlines if there is not enough space at terminals 1 and 3.


Tower Control

The tower control at Abu Dhabi Intl is responsible for all aircraft taking off, landing, crossing the runways, and VFR clearances and circuits in the airport. There are 2 tower controllers at OMAA: OMAA_N_TWR and OMAA_S_TWR. If either position is offline, then you must go online as OMAA_TWR which covers both sectors.

OMAA_N_TWR controls the North runway, 13L/31R, as well as the taxiways directly connected to the runway. The callsign is "Abu Dhabi Tower North".

OMAA_S_TWR controls the South runway, 13R/31L, as well as the taxiways directly connected to the runway. The callsign is "Abu Dhabi Tower South".

The runways are parallel runways that can be used for simultaneous landing and departing aircraft. As such, the runways can be thought of as independent runways. Approach control will handoff the aircraft to Tower once the aircraft is safely established on the final approach.

VFR aircraft performing circuits shall do circuits away from adjacent runways. Follow the chart below for aircraft performing circuits at OMAA...












The preferred runway operations at OMAA is runway 31R/L. Typically both runways are used for both landing and departing aircraft, unless otherwise noted on NOTAMs. Before going online, be sure to check the NOTAMs for the airport to see if a runway is not available. NOTAMs can be found on the HQ website, navigate to Members > NOTAMs on the menu. Tower control, if online, is the only position that decides which runway is in use at the airport. For runway choosings, the following is used...


Departing Rwy

Landing Rwy

                 wind less than 10 kts



             wind > 10 knots, hdg 040 - 220        



             wind > 10 knots, hdg 230 - 030




Tower control is responsible for VFR aircraft clearance as well and will give clearances to VFR aircraft who when they are holding short of their departure runway.

For aircraft that declare missed approach on any runway, they should be instructed to follow the missed approach procedure that is on the charts. Review the charts to see what each runway's missed approach procedure is. As the aircraft starts to climb and is reaching the end of the runway, tower control shall handoff the aircraft to Departure control (OMAA_R_APP) who will handle the aircraft from that point on.


Departure Control

Within the Abu Dhabi area, departure control is responsible for all departures leaving airports within the Abu Dhabi area. This includes: Abu Dhabi Intl (OMAA), Al-Bateen Executive Airport (OMAD), Futaysi airport (OMAF), the military airport Al Nakhil air base (OMNK) and Al-Ain (OMAL). There is one departure controller at Abu Dhabi: OMAA_R_APP whose callsign is "Abu Dhabi Radar".

The departure control is responsible for keeping appropriate separations between departing aircraft in the Abu Dhabi airspace and keeping them separated from arriving traffic within the airspace. Departure control is also responsible for handling missed approach aircraft from Tower. Departure control will coordinate with Approach control to find a safe point to handoff the aircraft so that they can be re-sequenced. VFR aircraft that are departing the airport and leaving the aerodrome control zone will be handed off to Departure control who will give further instructions for the aircraft to climb to their cruising altitudes.

Departure control should be vigilant and keep the aircraft on their initial altitudes, 5000 feet for 31L/13R and 4000 feet for 31R/13L, until they are clear of any of the arrivals paths. The arriving aircraft who fly the STARs will cross paths with the SIDs in many cases. However, none of the STARs will instruct aircraft to descend lower than 4000 feet. This is done so that they do not interfere with departures.

When handling aircraft that are flying between airports in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Intl or Sharjah Intl, the departure control will maintain control of the aircraft and handoff directly to Dubai Approach.

The departure controller controls aircraft from 1,500 feet up to FL150.


Approach Control

Within the Abu Dhabi area, approach control is responsible for all arrivals into airports within the Abu Dhabi area. This includes: Abu Dhabi Intl (OMAA), Al-Bateen Executive Airport (OMAD), Futaysi airport (OMAF), the military airport Al Nakhil air base (OMNK) and Al-Ain (OMAL). There are 7 approach controllers at Abu Dhabi:







Controls the centre of the approach section. IFR Departures.



Controls the west side of the approach section. IFR Departures.



Controls the North side of the approach section. IFR Departures.



Controls the North side of the approach section. IFR Arrivals..



Controls the South side of the approach section. IFR Arrivals.



Controls the East side of the approach section. IFR Departures. (Also covers OMAL)



Controls all VFR aircraft in the class G airspace. (Below the OMAA CTA)


Departing aircraft shall contact ABU DHABI RADAR as soon as possible after passing 1000 FT, unless otherwise instructed by Abu Dhabi TWR.

Arrivals/Radar control from ATC Surveillance Minimum to FL150. Departures arriving in Dubai, Al Maktoum or Sharjah shall be handed to Dubai Arrivals. Otherwise, they should be handed to UAE Radar.

Since in Abu Dhabi Intl (OMAA) many times the runways will be used for parallel operations with each runway handling arriving and departing traffic, approach control will need to sequence traffic appropriately to each runway so as not to congest either runway with too much traffic. Note that in the default sceneries for OMAA that come on the flight simulators, the runway 13L/31R may not be operational so this will need to be considered and pilots should let the controller know if they do not have the runway in their scenery. In this case, approach will issue runway 13R/31L for arrivals.

Unlike the Dubai area STARs, many of the Abu Dhabi STARs do not route all the way to the final approach path of the runways. In these cases, such as the UKILI1D arrival for 31L/R, the aircraft will need to be vectored to the final approach by the approach control. Approach control will need to issue headings in such a way to not delay aircraft and get them expeditiously to final approach and handoff to tower once established.

In Abu Dhabi approach airspace many of the published holdings in the STARs, such as the published holding at TAPTO on the UKILI 1D arrival for 31L/R, fall within the approach sector. In this case, the Abu Dhabi approach control will issue the holds to the aircraft as needed. Only issue holds to aircraft to control the number of arrivals and do not delay aircraft for too long on the holds. Holds will need to be maintained by the approach controller and once the aircraft exit the hold they shall be told to continue on the STAR or vectored to final approach. The holds in Abu Dhabi airspace will not be issued by the UAE Center controllers.

Abu Dhabi approach control will receive aircraft that are flying from Dubai Intl or Sharjah Intl to an airport within the Abu Dhabi area directly. Dubai approach will handoff the aircraft to Abu Dhabi approach, usually inbound MIADA for the popular Dubai Intl (OMDB) to Abu Dhabi Intl (OMAA) route.

The Abu Dhabi approach controller is responsible for issuing the runway aircraft can expect to land. In most cases, both runways at Abu Dhabi Intl (OMAA) will be used simultaneously for arrivals and departures. The STARs are not dependent on the runway, for example, ELOVU 1D arrival goes to both 31L/R. As such, the CTR controllers will only issue the STAR for the aircraft and once the aircraft reaches approach airspace, they will be given the expected runway to land based on traffic levels in the approach sector.

Aircraft arriving from the East (Oman) and from the Southern UAE into Abu Dhabi Intl will overfly the Al-Ain airspace. The CTR controllers will keep the aircraft at or above 10,000 feet while the aircraft is above Al-Ain airspace before giving further descent and transferring to Abu Dhabi Approach. The Al-Ain airspace is starts from 2,000 feet up to 9,500 feet.