San Antonio International Airport (SAT)
San Antonio International Airport (SAT) is about eight miles north of downtown San Antonio. The large metropolitan airport has three runways servicing air carrier, air cargo, business and general aviation. SAT has class Charlie airspace associated with the airport as well as several military operations areas. High intensity glider activity can be found just 15 miles northwest of the airport on final for runway 13R. San Antonio tower does not have ground radar surveillance. This leads to increased complexity during periods of low visibility at the airport. Pilots need to be aware of the hot spot at the intersection of taxiway Golf and November and their proximity to runway 31L. This is a very busy and congested intersection. View a printable document of the SAT information found on this Web page.
SAT From the Flight Deck (FTFD) Video Notes
- Airport configuration consists of parallel RWYS 13R-31L and 13L-31R with intersecting RWY 04-22.
- Commercial and Tenant Operations in all quadrants of the airport.
- Hot Spot 1 – ATC will sometimes use RWY 4 to taxi departing aircraft for RWY 31L. When taxiing on RWY 04 make sure that you stop before the RWY 31L hold short line which is painted on RWY 04.
- Hot Spot 2 – Two major taxiways and two runways near the air carrier terminal make this a busy intersection. When cleared to taxi via G and N, pilots have missed the turn at N and taxied onto RWY 04-22.
- Even though RWY 13L/31R is closed for construction indefinitely, Wrong Runway risk still remains with parallel RWYs that are staggered at both ends.
- RWY 13L-31R is a third of the size of RWY 13R-31L.
- Pilots will see RWY 13R first.
- Be cautious about transposing the numbers 1-3 and 3-1.
- TWR has no ground radar. TWR may not see your aircraft during low visibility.
Below find various SAT-specific information and things to be aware of, as well as general information to inform your preflight planning. This will be reviewed quarterly and updated as needed. This information is to supplement the From the Flight Deck Videos that are produced by the FAA Runway Safety Group. Here you will also find information provided by the local air traffic controllers at the airport where you intend to fly. The information is subject to change. Not for navigation or legal* pre-flight action. Always refer to official pre-flight materials such as, but not limited to, NOTAMs, airport diagrams, VFR charts and airport construction notices for the latest airport-specific details.
SAT Tower Administrative Office
Business Phone 210-805-5507
Open 0800L to 1600L – Monday through Friday
The airspace at SAT is Class C with a 4800’ MSL ceiling. (Refer to Sectional Chart)
Class C Airspace Requirements (CFR §91.130 and AIM 3-1-4; 3-2-4)
|Visibility||3 statute miles|
|Distance from Clouds||500 feet below | 1,000 ft above | 2,000 ft horizontal|
|Communications||Establish communications (controller response)|
|Pilot||No special certification required|
|Equipment||Two-way radio, operable radar transponder with altitude reporting and Operating ADS-B|
HS 1 RWY 04 at RWY 31L. Aircraft taxiing on RWY 04 sometimes fail to hold short of RWY 31L.
HS 2 TWY G and TWY N in close proximity of RWY 31L. Aircraft taxiing northbound on TWY N sometimes fail to make the turn onto TWY G and enter RWY 31L without approval.
- Verify proper heading prior to starting takeoff roll on all intersection departures.
- NOTE: RWY 13L-31R closed indefinitely – Under Construction.
- Two parallel RWYs 13L-31R and 13R-31L.
- Wrong Surface Landing risk exists due to closely spaced parallel RWYs and staggered thresholds.
- NOTE: RWY 13L-31R closed indefinitely – Under Construction.
- All aircraft after landing on RWY 13R/31L exiting southwest bound on TWY D are instructed to make a 90 degree turn on TWY G to avoid unusable surface.
Surface Risk – Movement Area
- Radio blind spots: TWY K at approach end RWY 13R and Signature North ramp.
- Aircraft taxiing on RWY 04 northeast bound look for hold short to RWY 31L.
- Aircraft taxiing on TWY N southwest bound look for hold short to RWY 31R.
- TWY L closed northbound.
- TWY D non-movement area from TWY N to 500’ west of TWY N.
- Heavy Military Training Activity – See Sectional Chart
- APRON East Cargo Ramp intersection of RWY 04/22 and TWY D are requested to apply minimum thrust when crossing the RWY to avoid damage due to jet blast.
- Glider / Soaring Operations approximately 15 miles northwest of the airport during VFR.
- RWY 13R/31L and RWY 13L/31R centerline distance is 990’.
- Military / Commercial pilots refer to Chart Supplement for airport restrictions.
SAT Tower (TWR) operates 24/7
- All runways: Left traffic unless specified by SAT tower.
- For the most current Taxiway and Runway closures be sure to contact SAT Ground Control on 121.9. Clearance Delivery on 126.7.
- Noise sensitive areas exist on all sides of airport, at pilots discretion climb as quickly and quietly as safely possible on departure and use consideration when flying over populated areas by minimizing flight and high power settings.
- Due to close proximity to Military Airport, best rate of climb is suggested when departing off Runway 4.
- All aircraft after landing on RWY 13R/31L exiting southwest-bound on TWY D to make 90 degree turn on TWY G to avoid unusable surface.
- Frequent rubber accumulation NW 2500’ RWY 13R/31L.
Special Traffic (Military / Commercial / Helicopter, etc.)
- MILITARY AIRCRAFT: departing and arriving aircraft will use minimum power setting consistent with aircraft flight manuals; afterburner takeoff is prohibited unless required for safety of flight.
- No arresting gear available.
- Foreign military aircraft with wingspan less than 100 feet must report to GA ramp Fed Inspection station for Customs processing, Contact Airport Management at 210-207-3433.
- Heavy Military Training Activity – See Sectional Chart
- All international general aviation clear U.S. Customs at North Fixed Base Operator Ramp east side. Call U.S. Customs 210-821-6865 upon arrival.
- Refer to the airfield diagram and/or airport moving map while stopped and/or prior to taxiing.
- Keep your eyes outside to observe traffic, potential threats and airport signs and markings.
- Ask the controller to repeat instructions and clearances if you are not sure.
- Ask for progressive taxi instructions if you are unfamiliar or have lost situational awareness.
- Taxi your aircraft to the side of the run-up area to allow other aircraft to taxi around you if you are not ready for departure.
- Advise TWR on initial contact (ground or air) if you are a student pilot.
- Using runway and/or taxiway designators to describe your position, and turning on exterior lights will assist the controller in identifying you.
- Acknowledge all ATC instructions and read back all hold short restrictions with your call sign.
- Always make sure that your aircraft is completely behind all hold- short lines.
- Advise GND/TWR if you want an intersection departure and wait for TWR clearance to take off. There may be a delay due to wake turbulence or traffic.
- When using any RWY, verify mag heading and look for the white markings to avoid a wrong surface event.
- Consider backing up a visual approach with an underlying instrument (ILS/LOC/GPS) approach if time and workload allows.
- Remember that you must have a clearance to cross all RWYs, active and not active.
- Reference GPS User Waypoint, or if available, the assigned runway’s instrument approach. If unsure that you are aligned for the assigned runway, announce going around and why.
- Verify proper heading prior to starting takeoff roll on all departures. Consider checking and calling out, Wet compass, runway heading, runway paint/signage for departure runway, and directional gyro shows runway heading.
- Use caution when taxiing smaller aircraft/helicopters in the vicinity of larger aircraft/helicopters. Controllers may use the words rotor wash, jet blast, or prop wash when issuing cautionary advisories. A general rule of thumb is 100 feet behind a jet aircraft.
- Do not taxi on your own without obtaining taxi instructions from ATC.
- Do not cross an active RWY without specific controller permission to cross that RWY.
- Do not use a RWY as a turn-off during landing unless cleared to do so by TWR.
- Do not wait until you are ready for departure to request an IFR clearance. Making your request to clearance delivery or ground control prior to taxiing will allow time for ATC coordination.
- Do not, on departure, leave TWR frequency while still in TWR airspace unless previously approved. (Note: frequency change outside of TWR airspace is at pilot’s discretion.)
Additional information in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) Chapter 6 - Section 4
- Squawk Transponder Code 7600 if you experience loss of two-way radio capability.
- If you can hear other aircraft but nobody responds to your calls then you should check for proper frequency selection, popped circuit breaker, radio panel setup, or an improperly hooked up intercom.
- Weak batteries in intercoms are often the cause of “radio failure”. Your emergency checklist may come in handy for checking other areas specific to your aircraft.
- If you can’t hear anything on the receiver, check the volume control, squelch, intercom, circuit breaker, or a stuck mike.
- After you have determined the extent of the radio failure, you can determine how to communicate with the ATC.
- FAR 91.123 (d) states: Each pilot in command who (though not deviating from a rule of this subpart) is given priority by ATC in an emergency and shall submit a detailed report of that emergency within 48 hours to the manager of that ATC facility, if requested by ATC.
- It is extremely rare that a pilot is asked to justify declaring an emergency. In most cases, when a report is needed, it can usually be accomplished with a phone call.
- Additional information is also found in the AIM in Chapter 6 – Emergency Procedures
- Special VFR is primarily intended to offer pilots a way to operate into, out of, and through tower controlled airspace when local weather restricts the visibility or ceiling to below VFR minimums.
- There are times, for instance, when visibility is below three miles due to ground fog or the ceiling is below 1000 feet AGL due to a cold front passage, it may be advantageous to use the Special VFR rules to be able to get to VFR conditions.
- There are rules and conditions that apply to Special VFR and the one that controllers deal with the most often is the requirement that the pilot must request the clearance. We cannot offer it, as we cannot determine your abilities as a pilot and have no wish to talk you into accepting a clearance that may be beyond your experience level.
The basic requirements for Special VFR are:
- The clearance must be requested by the pilot.
- If it is after sunset and before sunrise the pilot requesting the clearance must be IFR rated and the aircraft must be certified for IFR flight.
- A minimum of 1 mile visibility must exist as reported by the tower.
What you may do with a Special VFR clearance:
- You may depart for another destination
- You may transition
- You may enter and land
- You may do touch and go landings
Here are some links to current FAA information.
- Aeronautical Information Services
- Airport Construction
- Airport Diagram
- Chart Supplement
- From the Flight Deck Videos
- Hot Spots
- VFR Charts
Some Advisory Circulars for Reference
- AC 90-66C (faa.gov) Subject: Non-Towered Airport Flight Operations – 6/6/23
- AC 91-73B (faa.gov) Subject: Parts 91 and 135 Single Pilot, Flight School Procedures During Taxi Operations – 7/30/12
- AC 91-92 (faa.gov) Subject: Pilot’s Guide to a Preflight Briefing - 3/15/21
- AC 90-48E (faa.gov) Subject: Pilots’ Role in Collision Avoidance – 10/20/22