Polite Way to Decline Radar Vectors

bob44zw

Junior Member
Apr 5, 2011
108
1
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Scenario - going home in familiar but busy class E airspace, under an ILS to another airport. Got radar identified. Told to turn 90 degrees for traffic - a jet on the ILS presumably, that was going to either pass well above me or get hollered at for being way too low.

I expressed a friendly desire to keep going on my chosen route. Nope. I did see the jet about four minutes later, well above me.

So I said "Cancel VFR flight following" as politely as I could.

So is that the best and most polite way to assert my PIC authority when in class E airspace in VFR conditions? Or are controllers now instructed that IFR aircraft have the right of way and to vector all participating VFR aircraft away from busy areas?

This happens to me infrequently. It is not a big problem. I just want to know how best to interact with controllers.
 

Purplelobj

Epic Member
Jan 29, 2014
1,646
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If you fly VFR and call for flight follow or any radar services you have to do what ATC tells you to do. We don't vector you for funzies.... If you don't want to be vectored cancel flight following.
 

m57

Senior Member
Mar 22, 2014
194
2
18
So you requested flight following but get miffed when you get vectored for traffic?
 

j_time41

Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2008
1,015
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Lakeville, MN
You assume in your first post that the traffic being vectored for was the one high above you. Possibly correct, or possibly not. When I vector you for traffic, even if you express a “friendly desire” to stay on your route.....well, you just succeeded in pissing me off no matter how well intentioned you feel you were being. If you call me for flight following, it is now in my hands to keep you safe, especially from traffic I’m talking to. It’s it my judgement call, not yours anymore, and I expect you to do it.
If I have a vfr acft. In one of my arrival or departure corridors, or under someone who wants to shoot an ils, heck yes I am vectoring the vfr out of the way. I agree, 90 degrees is a bit drastic, but I don’t know other details from the controllers point of view. Keep in mind right when you squawk and pop up, legally we are unable to use your altitude until it’s verified, so if your tagged popped up right under someone shooting an ils and he wasn’t sure of your altitude, he may have cranked you just to be safe.
By all means, cancel flight following if you feel you have a better handle on the situation. Just keep in mind you may not have the entire picture.
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,561
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It doesn't necessarily mean that the VFRs get moved around while the IFRs stays on their route. It's whatever is most advantageous in each situation.
And saying you want to cancel flight following doesn't always work either, class E is controlled airspace, so depending on the situation I may tell you "remain this frequency, fly heading...". But it doesn't hurt to try to cancel flight following and see what the controller says because the answer is generally "radar service terminated" most of the time.

If you give me a tail number and date/time it happened I'll look at the radar replay and see if there was another aircraft that could have been an issue.
 

ClearanceClarence

Trusted Contributor
May 24, 2014
533
14
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In the world of ATC, the primary purpose is to separate aircraft and issue safety alerts. I think a majority of controllers will agree that no matter how much you "want to just continue", we still have a duty, both professionally and morally to your safety. Newsflash, if we terminate you radar service with a jet barrelling toward you, just because we cancelled services doesn't alleviate the responsibility. I understand that, especially in the world of vfr services, you probably get annoyed being over-controlled, getting terrible headings, useless traffic calls sometimes, but hey, ATC are humans too. On the other hand, our minimum standard of employment is perfection. So nearly all of us will error on the side of safety. Maybe try to compare it to an ifr arrival 20 miles away descending out of 8grand, calls the field in sight. As much as I might want to just clear him and ship him to tower, if I have traffic in his way I have to resolve the conflict(s) first before cutting him loose.

So in short, yes, you not talking to ATC makes your flight less hindered. But you talking to ATC makes the flying community safer. But if you must, requesting to cxl flight following will almost never rub a controller the wrong way.
 

echster

Senior Member
Sep 14, 2015
153
1
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DoD ATC
My two cents.

Since you requested and were receiving radar advisories in Class E airspace, the only reason to avoid taking the turn was to avoid weather. See FAR 91.155. Generally speaking, the onus to maintain appropriate weather minima lies solely with the PIC. That said, when you requested radar services (what pilots refer to as "flight following"), you have an obligation to follow the clearance issued by ATC unless you receive another clearance, declare an emergency, or deviate in response to TCAS. See FAR 91.123.

You have an option to squawk 1200 and move about Class E as you'd like without radar services. However, in this instance, the only "polite way" to avoid taking that turn was to cancel radar services and be told "radar services terminated" by the controller. If radar services are not terminated and the turn is again issued, you have an obligation to make the turn or say unable (and state a reason). Otherwise, you may be issued the Brasher warning and you can have a discussion with the ATC facility supervisor on duty and/or FSDO.

Quite simply, you cannot have it both ways in Class E airspace. If you desire the added safety of being provided radar services, you can expect ATC to occasionally vector you out of the way. Please note that we do not vector VFR aircraft to f*ck with pilots... there is a reason we do so. I will state that I prefer to talk with pilots in Class E that are skirting my Class C airspace. Many controllers, however, do not. I like it because it lets me know a few things, i.e. the aircraft is likely to maintain that altitude and proceed direct to its destination. And I can make a plan with those two pieces of information much better than someone squawking 1200 and just passing through.

Bottom line. You sometimes have to take the good with the bad when requesting radar services. It isn't a controller's desire to f*ck with you as you're passing through, so be prepared to be slightly inconvenienced every now and then. And being inconvenienced with a turn during 5-10% of all of your VFR flights in Class E airspace is far preferable than a near mid-air or mid-air collision.
 

bob44zw

Junior Member
Apr 5, 2011
108
1
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Thanks for your insights. I had no idea that by getting radar advisories I was operating with a clearance, and subject to violation if I did not adhere. This comes under the category of learning something every day, even after 55 years and 20,000 hours. Thank you.
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,561
21
38
Thanks for your insights. I had no idea that by getting radar advisories I was operating with a clearance, and subject to violation if I did not adhere. This comes under the category of learning something every day, even after 55 years and 20,000 hours. Thank you.
It's not a clearance. It's an ATC instruction.
 

bob44zw

Junior Member
Apr 5, 2011
108
1
18
Haven't been in the dash 65 for a while. Wow! 239 pages! You guys need law degrees! This, from section 2-1-21:

6. When requested by the pilot, issue radarvectors to assist in avoiding the traffic, provided theaircraft to be vectored is within your area ofjurisdiction or coordination has been effected withthe sector/facility in whose area the aircraft isoperating.
 

BeaconSlash

Trusted Member
Aug 19, 2011
367
12
18
Thanks for your insights. I had no idea that by getting radar advisories I was operating with a clearance, and subject to violation if I did not adhere. This comes under the category of learning something every day, even after 55 years and 20,000 hours. Thank you.
In 55 years, 20,000 hours, countless BFRs and other instruction... you never once discussed with an instructor, inspector, examiner, or the like FAR 91.123 Compliance with ATC Clearances and Instructions? It's the foundational FAR on how pilots and ATC work together.
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,561
21
38
Haven't been in the dash 65 for a while. Wow! 239 pages! You guys need law degrees! This, from section 2-1-21:

6. When requested by the pilot, issue radarvectors to assist in avoiding the traffic, provided theaircraft to be vectored is within your area ofjurisdiction or coordination has been effected withthe sector/facility in whose area the aircraft isoperating.
Flight following...you've requested radar services which includes altitude and heading changes if the controller deems it necessary.
If you're talking to a controller odds are extremely high you're in someone's area of jurisdiction, so you must follow what they say unless you have an actual valid reason that you can't.
 

echster

Senior Member
Sep 14, 2015
153
1
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DoD ATC
It's not a clearance. It's an ATC instruction.
This is just to add to the discussion and avoid any confusion. I believe we are talking about the same outcome. If a pilot requests radar advisories, they have an obligation to act as stated by ATC unless there is an emergency or they cannot comply.

FAR Part 1, Section 1.1. General definitions. Air traffic clearance means an authorization by air traffic control, for the purpose of preventing collision between known aircraft, for an aircraft to proceed under specified traffic conditions within controlled airspace.

JO 7110.65, PCG. AIR TRAFFIC CLEARANCE − An authorization by air traffic control for the purpose of preventing collision between known aircraft, for an aircraft to proceed under specified traffic conditions within controlled airspace. The pilot-in-command of an aircraft may not deviate from the provisions of a visual flight rules (VFR) or instrument flight rules (IFR) air traffic clearance except in an emergency or unless an amended clearance has been obtained. Additionally, the pilot may request a different clearance from that which has been issued by air traffic control (ATC) if information available to the pilot makes another course of action more practicable or if aircraft equipment limitations or company procedures forbid compliance with the clearance issued. Pilots may also request clarification or amendment, as appropriate, any time a clearance is not fully understood, or considered unacceptable because of safety of flight. Controllers should, in such instances and to the extent of operational practicality and safety, honor the pilot’s request. 14 CFR Part 91.3(a) states: “The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.” THE PILOT IS RESPONSIBLE TO REQUEST AN AMENDED CLEARANCE if ATC issues a clearance that would cause a pilot to deviate from a rule or regulation, or in the pilot’s opinion, would place the aircraft in jeopardy.

JO 7110.65, PCG. ATC INSTRUCTIONS − Directives issued by air traffic control for the purpose of requiring a pilot to take specific actions; e.g., “Turn left heading two five zero,” “Go around,” “Clear the runway.”
 

echster

Senior Member
Sep 14, 2015
153
1
18
DoD ATC
Haven't been in the dash 65 for a while. Wow! 239 pages! You guys need law degrees! This, from section [JO 7110.65, Sec] 2-1-21...
While the section you quoted does state that, there is a better reference in the same book. See JO 7110.65, Ch 7, Sec 6. Basic Radar Service to VFR Aircraft - Terminal. In addition, review AIMS 4-1-17 and 4-1-18. Radar services to VFR aircraft includes: 1) safety alerts; 2) traffic advisories; 3) limited radar vectoring (based on ATC workload); and, 4) sequencing (usually for arrivals).

Bottom line: If you request radar services, you can expect to receive radar services. If you cannot comply with an ATC clearance or instruction, then you have an obligation to tell us.
 

FoxtrotEcho

Rookie
Dec 14, 2016
51
1
8
Wow really guys? Honestly disgusted by most of these responses. Do you really need to belittle a user of the services asking for some honest advice. It would be nice to encourage more pilots to reach out on this forum, lets be respectful. It’s obvious most of you guys are not pilots, you have no idea what it’s like on the other side. At the end of the day you are providing a service to this user. I understand where this pilot is coming from and respect his perspective. Controllers make mistakes too, being over restrictive very possibly in this case. I have seen it first hand as a pilot. It happens and you know it. Start thinking less ego and more customer service. I know some of you guys giving preference to everyone burning jet A. Just remember the little guy pays your salary too. And for you “beacon slash” if I’m in your airspace I’m squawking 1200 pal, dont need the attitude, thanks.
 

j_time41

Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2008
1,015
9
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34
Lakeville, MN
Foxtrot, there was a decent amount of seasoned controllers that all responded to this pilot. If many of us didn’t have attitude, we probably wouldn’t be controllers. He got his answer in multiple ways, and if you have been around this forum at all, a little ribbing is commonplace. I can respect his perspective if it is correct, but it is not and he needs to know it. It is not awesome news that he didn’t know he can’t decline radar vectors for traffic when vfr unless it will put him in clouds or an emergency situation exsists.....it’s pretty disheartening. I would say over half the ones that responded probably have flight time, and that’s why it was even more outrageous that he didn’t know this. He wanted honest answers, and he got them from multiple controllers.
Except you. You didn’t answer. Just wanted to play holier than thou.
And you are not a controller yet and doing that? As a trainee you will get a lot more attitude than what’s in this thread. Perhaps beaconslash will train you...wouldnt that be fun?
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,561
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38
Controllers make mistakes too, being over restrictive very possibly in this case.
I told him I'd look at the radar replay if he provided a day and time. He may be correct that he was being over-controlled or there may have been another airplane that he wasn't aware of.
 

FoxtrotEcho

Rookie
Dec 14, 2016
51
1
8
I told him I'd look at the radar replay if he provided a day and time. He may be correct that he was being over-controlled or there may have been another airplane that he wasn't aware of.
I think that’s pretty cool and the right attitude. I wasn’t calling everyone out on here, just most.
 

FoxtrotEcho

Rookie
Dec 14, 2016
51
1
8
Foxtrot, there was a decent amount of seasoned controllers that all responded to this pilot. If many of us didn’t have attitude, we probably wouldn’t be controllers. He got his answer in multiple ways, and if you have been around this forum at all, a little ribbing is commonplace. I can respect his perspective if it is correct, but it is not and he needs to know it. It is not awesome news that he didn’t know he can’t decline radar vectors for traffic when vfr unless it will put him in clouds or an emergency situation exsists.....it’s pretty disheartening. I would say over half the ones that responded probably have flight time, and that’s why it was even more outrageous that he didn’t know this. He wanted honest answers, and he got them from multiple controllers.
Except you. You didn’t answer. Just wanted to play holier than thou.
And you are not a controller yet and doing that? As a trainee you will get a lot more attitude than what’s in this thread. Perhaps beaconslash will train you...wouldnt that be fun?
Yes, you are right I am not a controller yet and I may never be, so I am responding as a pilot.
 
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bob44zw

Junior Member
Apr 5, 2011
108
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Actually, I appreciated the input. There are many things I don't know much about, and when I ask here I appreciate a straight answer and overlook any slight condescension. I have 20,000 hours and five jet transport type ratings, and I still have more questions than answers.

I had always assumed that in class E airspace navigation was up to me, even when under radar following. Now I know better, and will be quick to cancel flight following when Coast wants to take me ten miles out of my way on a 30 mile flight.

I wish now I had taken the poster up on pulling the radar tapes. I will look at my logbook if it isn't too late - I think it was Dec 3, around 4:15 PM southbound just west of DEGLE Intersection - maybe midpoint between DEGLE and VISTA. 2500', in 44ZW.

I do know what was going on. My route of flight takes me under the KCRQ ILS, and a few controllers like to protect that area for IFR jets. I personally believe that such jets have no priority over VFR traffic, although I avoid the airspace they use, for obvious reasons, along with just trying to be nice to my friends in jets. I know where the glideslope is, and fly well under it. Most controllers just watch me and point out the jets.