Requesting a PDC properly

I am just wondering if the proper way to request a PDC is via text on frequency, voice or via PM? I am a VR flyer with not so good eyesight. I would like to use VSR to read my clearance while in VR.I have to wear glasses when my headset is not on. Copying and reading back clearances via voice is troublesome because with my headset off I can’t hear because I have to take my headset off to put my glasses on so I can see. I am asking because I requested a PDC via text on his frequency and he asked with voice if I was on. I said yeah and he started reading my clearance to me, which I couldnt write down because my headset was on. It 's a minor thing but I was just curious whats the best way.

PDCs (in the US, at least) are only going to originate only from airports that have capability to send them in the real world; otherwise, you’re going to have to get a voice clearance. However, PDCs should automatically appear once you connect to the network, especially now that vTDLS allows controllers to send them before pilots log onto the network. In such cases, the PDC should appear within seconds of you logging on. If you don’t get one within about a minute, then it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a clearance over voice.


This depends a bit on where you are flying. PDCs like the ones you get in the US are simply sent to you via private message as soon as possible after you log on/file your flight plan without any request required on your part. Many other places use the Hoppie ACARS system for PDCs/DCLs(/CPDLC), which requires an active request. This is done through either the aircraft itself - if it supports that feature - or a third party program like easyCPDLC.

What you are describing sounds like a clearance via the frequency chat, which is not a PDC but simply a VATSIMism. If you file voice capability but request a clearance via text, quite a few controllers will try to reach you on voice and give the clearance there because - from their perspective - you’re able to receive voice (and read back via voice); and especially when other people are waiting, it’d also be unfair if other pilots could simply circumvent that queue by going to the frequency chat. On the other hand, some controllers may just think “that pilot probably forgot to set his voice capability to text only, I’ll send him the clearance via text and amend his voice capability for other controllers”, but then you call in via voice later, which can be a bit confusing.

I would, in your situation, simply call the controller on voice and let them know about that predicament; just say something like “XYZ Delivery, ABC123, request enroute clearance, and if possible, we’d like that clearance via text due to a medical issue” (you can probably come up with something better yourself :sweat_smile:). Most controllers should be happy to accommodate you then.
Don’t ask them via text (regardless of whether it’s through the frequency chat or a private message), though, if you can avoid it. Text in and of itself is already a severe increase to ATC’s workload so many may simply ignore private messages (the logic being that it either belongs on frequency anyway or should be asked someplace completely else, like this forum for instance) and some also don’t pay attention to the text chat (unless they have a /t or /r pilot on frequency, of course).

If you don’t do so already, I’d also recommend a thorough pre-flight briefing including possible/expected enroute clearances as you can usually easily guesstimate what you’ll end up getting. You can also preselect certain values in your autopilot and FMC (e.g. set the expected initial climb, have the SID page pulled up and have it set up such that you just have to press one or two buttons to insert the expected SID into your route, etc.). Unless you get a completely different clearance (reroutes and such), you’ll have almost no issues remembering a clearance if writing it down would be problematic due to your setup. And if you get a reroute or such, ATC will usually tell you when you request your clearance so that you are mentally prepared (and can quickly grab pen and paper if you were planning on just doing everything in your mind).

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Thanks for the response. Yeah I guess what I was looking for was something similar to the PM you get when you’re in uncontrolled airspace and ATC pops on and sends you an alert to call them. My issue is not a game breaker. As far as re-routes go, they’re pretty uncommon thankfully but I could deal with it. Thanks again.