Delay Vectors?

Devil07

Rookie
Jul 14, 2018
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I don't fly IFR much, and I don't remember this from my IFR training days, but I just read about "delay vectors". From my understanding, a delay vector is a vector out in a safe direction and altitude to kill time. My questions are:

1. Can I request this, or is this something that can only be assigned by controller?
2. If I can request this, when is it appropriate to request?
3. Are there any limitations or issues when requesting this?
 

lowapproach

Epic Member
Oct 29, 2010
1,316
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WV
I've been at this a while, and I've never known anyone to assign a vector for delay. For traffic, for climb or descent, for spacing, for weather -- sure.

If for some reason you don't want to proceed with your filed flight plan right now, and you want to delay in your general vicinity, I would ask to enter holding at a fix, and tell the controller for how long and what you plan to do afterward.
 

slater

Epic Member
Oct 16, 2009
1,293
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Outside your window
You can ask to hold and delay over a fix perhaps. To "run a checklist" I've seen delay vectors to aircraft that were launched before a coordinated release window with TMU and/or the field is under a ground stop. Ive seen center call up and say see that guy over x fix. Hes holding for an hour because your controller launched him too soon.
 

mbalunda

Epic Member
Jan 31, 2009
2,867
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As a center controller, and traffic dependant, I'll let you just about whatever you feel like if you're not in anyone else's way.
 

j_time41

Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2008
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Lakeville, MN
I give delay vectors every day for time based metering. Anywhere from a few minutes to 40 minutes. Only delay vectors I can think of if you aren’t going into my main airport is if someone hasn’t cancelled ifr before you and it’s one in one out, sometimes I will give you delay vectors in lieu of a hold.
 

r9s

Newcomer
Dec 26, 2010
23
0
1
Perhaps it is just a difference in semantics. At my previous facility, it was described as "vectoring for sequence". But here they call it "assigning delay vectors". In practice, I am doing the same thing.
 

Genot

Trusted Contributor
Feb 7, 2010
534
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18
A Dark Dark Room
Request away and do so as early on as you can. I do it often enough to not call it rare. Usually for me it's when the crew loaded too much fuel and are too heavy to land.
 

mbalunda

Epic Member
Jan 31, 2009
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I give delay vectors every day for time based metering. Anywhere from a few minutes to 40 minutes. Only delay vectors I can think of if you aren’t going into my main airport is if someone hasn’t cancelled ifr before you and it’s one in one out, sometimes I will give you delay vectors in lieu of a hold.
Good ole metering to MSP. Had to slow down all my arrivals this morning for metering
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,563
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I don't fly IFR much, and I don't remember this from my IFR training days, but I just read about "delay vectors". From my understanding, a delay vector is a vector out in a safe direction and altitude to kill time. My questions are:

1. Can I request this, or is this something that can only be assigned by controller?
2. If I can request this, when is it appropriate to request?
3. Are there any limitations or issues when requesting this?
I've had pilots request delay vectors so they could do a seat swap. Also when they need to do some extra checks they'll ask for extended vectors.
I've given delay vectors when I'm not exactly sure how long a runway will be closed. Putting them in a hold could be more trouble than it's worth, but I've also been 30 minutes into vectoring 15 airplanes across the sky wishing I had put them into holding.
 

Devil07

Rookie
Jul 14, 2018
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So it sounds like its not standard, which explains why i didn't learn about it during my instrument training, but its something that if I ask for it, the controller is likely to know what I'm talking about. :)

From a general aviation single pilot operation point of view, there are situations where I might need a few minutes to take care of an issue like having my charts or iPad fall on the floor and slide under the seat out of reach, or the GPS acting up, etc. A holding pattern is great most of the time when everything is going smoothly, but holding a heading and altitude for 10 min is much much easier than having to do standard rate turns every minute when you're fumbling through the menu of a GPS in a rental aircraft, or trying to figure out why the alternator light and landing gear lights keep flickering, etc.

This is a good option to have, in a crunch.
 
Mar 7, 2009
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Sacramento, CA
We issue delay vectors every day for SFO arrivals. I’ll regularly turn someone off the STAR and assign several vectors. We tell the pilots it’s vectors for sequencing. But we’ll call them delay vectors as controllers. I haven’t heard anyone ever request “delay vectors”. But I’ve had lots of pilots say they need to work on something or they aren’t ready to go inbound towards the airport just yet, and in that case I’m happy to vector them however long they need. That’s usually in conjunction with some sort of issue they’re having and the need to run through a checklist or talk to operations though. If you call and request delay vectors I’m going to start asking you what’s wrong. We’re planning where you’re going to line up on final, and with who, when you’re still 80 miles south of the field. If you ask for vectors to fix an issue or your iPad isn’t loading with the approach or something, cool I can work with you. But if you want to be vectored just so you can fly over the coast for awhile or switch seats, that’s not cool. This is all assuming your IFR of course. And I’m sure controllers in less busy airspace would have less of an issue with delay vectoring for fun.
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
4,388
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Long Island
Delay vectors are common. It’s basically vectors in lieu of a hold. Common during runway changes, flow metering, pilot requests vectors to burn fuel etc.
 

Devil07

Rookie
Jul 14, 2018
68
0
6
@Murph20047 - Good info, thanks. I probably wouldn't need a delay vector if I was 80 miles out and just cruising along at altitude. I'm just thinking about the times that I've been doing practice approaches and the GPS doesn't arm properly, or I accidentally load the wrong approach and am frantically trying to navigate through the GPS menus to arm the correct approach while I'm being vectored for the approach. Of course, this is why I'm doing the practice approaches with a safety pilot in the first place, but it gives me a bit of an anxiety attack thinking about that happening in IMC by myself. Its good to know I can just ask for this kind of assistance without making a huge production.
 
Mar 7, 2009
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Sacramento, CA
Absolutely. If you were shooting an approach and something goes wrong with equipment or even if you just have a bad feeling and want to try again, or you weren’t ready when you thought you’d be, always let us know. That’s what we’re here for. Even if I’m busy as hell with other traffic I will always be able to vector you around to try the approach again. You may have to wait a few minutes somewhere before I get you back in the sequence. But most of the time it’s no big deal. I’d rather you tell me you need some more time or want to try an approach again, than fly an approach you aren’t ready for.
 

rytomi

Honor and Determination
Jun 15, 2009
134
0
16
PCT
I don't fly IFR much, and I don't remember this from my IFR training days, but I just read about "delay vectors". From my understanding, a delay vector is a vector out in a safe direction and altitude to kill time. My questions are:

1. Can I request this, or is this something that can only be assigned by controller?
2. If I can request this, when is it appropriate to request?
3. Are there any limitations or issues when requesting this?
1) Yes, you can request it. Usually it is used by controllers when we need to delay you for some reason (like a runway change), but not quite long enough delay for holding.
2) Usually when the request comes from a pilot it's for something like needing to burn extra fuel to get weight down, they need a few minutes to reconfigure, time to brief a new approach, or investigate something possibly malfunctioning.
3) Basically the only limitation is where you go. If you request a delay vector for some reason, we are going to put you where you aren't in the way of other traffic. Generally it won't bother us, but if you are pulled out of a sequence for it, chances are you're going to the back of the line when you're done.