Polite Way to Decline Radar Vectors

lowapproach

Epic Member
Oct 29, 2010
1,316
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48
WV
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.
It's less about priority than it is about caution. You sound knowledgeable and prepared to fly, but I promise you that isn't always the case for general aviation pilots flying VFR. It may not even be the norm for general aviation pilots flying VFR. Almost all of the fatalities I've seen have involved general aviation aircraft below 10,000 feet and pilots taking chances they shouldn't have. I'd rather vector you out of your way than put you in a situation where I'm solely relying on you to avoid a jet in a critical phase of flight, or its wake turbulence.
 

Jax

Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2010
869
32
28
N90-EWR
Here in NY, we have all kinds of airspace, and a few places that sound like what the pilot described (like VFR's departing CDW that fly under the MMU ILS 23, or VFR's that fly under the TEB ILS19 localizer).

If I am providing radar advisories to a VFR, and I issue a turn (or maybe an altitude) to avoid a conflict, and the pilot decides to ignore that, then yes, I am going to terminate radar service, and have him go 1200. What's the point to ask for advisories if you're not going to follow them?
 

Jax

Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2010
869
32
28
N90-EWR
Depends on your definition of advisories.
Just like it's your airplane, and you're the final authority on whether to follow that advisory, I am the final authority in my sector. If you're not going to follow my directions, squawk 1200 and have a nice day.
 

customcables067

Senior Member
Sep 1, 2010
199
1
18
I know some of you guys giving preference to everyone burning jet A. Just remember the little guy pays your salary too.
Well, if the "guys burning Jet A" are on IFR flight plans, then do get priority over "little guys" who are on VFR. If you're IFR and a
little guy", you'll get vectored for the sequence, separation, or spacing - and that's to keep YOU, as the user, SAFE (along with everyone else flying). Sometimes, the smaller guy will go first ahead of the big guy if you're turning farther off the runway heading, or are going to turn a tighter base/final than the jet traffic. There are so many variables it's nearly impossible to speak to them over the internet.

Bottom line, we still have a job to do, keep airplanes separated. Sometimes that means you're number last in the sequence, or it means you wait for the line to clear. That's part of the game.

I do agree that many controllers lack experience or knowledge on the other side of the radio, and many have a "god" like ego problem. In a perfect world, we'd narrow that gap. Programs exist to do so, but not everyone takes advantage.

If you haven't toured the air traffic facilities in the airspace you fly in/out/through, I would highly recommend it, you might learn a thing or two as to "why" controllers do what they do.
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,562
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So I looked at the radar replay, did you see the Cessna you flew underneath of about about 4 miles north of the CRQ ILS final? They were at 3500 feet, so wasn't much of a factor if the controller had verified your altitude....if your altitude hadn't been verified yet a turn would have been a good call to establish separation and then verify altitudes.
The jet you saw was a CRJ inbound to CRQ, and the route you take puts you 500 feet below the glideslope of the ILS at about a 6.5 mile final. But maybe they were doing a visual or GPS approach, which do not guarantee you separation underneath. And flying 500 feet below a jet that's descending will almost assuredly set off a TCAS RA for them.
 
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r9s

Newcomer
Dec 26, 2010
23
0
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I will throw my 2 cents in. Maybe there is some history here that I don't know about but it seems that the Class B and C airspace designs are relics of pre nextgen. The issues that pilots are having, are driving the call for these airspaces to be redesigned (This is not an attack against bob44 - I wouldn't want to be vectored out of my way either).

The legacy arrivals to the airports in my airspace all had step down hard altitudes. These altitudes where reliable and predictable and the last hard attitude was higher than most typical VFR aircraft. The arrivals ended on a 20 mile final at 080 feet and the final controller had control to descend these aircraft and clear them for an approach when the conflicts were resolved. This worked well, as my airport is in a valley and all users are vying for the same airspace. For years VFR aircraft were navigating, on their own, under the arrivals. Most of them called us for services. Some of them didn't. It was generally no factor.

With the advent of RNAV arrivals, several things happened. First, the arrival aircraft are now given (by center) a "descend via" clearance down to 040 feet. Instead of allowing the final TRACON controller to descend the arrival aircraft through the top of the airspace, these aircraft are descending through the side of it. This takes the arrival aircraft right through the heart of where many VFR aircraft are navigating. Also the RNAV arrival only has "at or above" altitudes. So they are not even predictable. Some carriers like to stay high (and they can per the arrival) and may be 3000 feet above other arrivals at that same fix.
Additionally the RNAV arrivals have been tightened up to the airport and now end at 15 miles final. So there is fewer flying miles to the airport to resolve conflicts.
When a VFR pilot looks at a VFR sectional, he will be misled. The "Use caution, High volume traffic" label is giving advise for the wrong location and the altitudes listed are wrong. Plus the blue outline of the jet showing the arrival corridor has altitudes off by 4000 feet compared to the new RNAV arrivals These are all left over from legacy arrival procedures that are no longer used (they are editorial errors that can, and should be changed). But simply staying outside of the Class B and C airspace does not keep you away from the RNAV arrivals either.
Finally as the ADS-B deadline approaches, more and more aircraft have advanced equipment that give some pilots the bravado to fly next busy airspace. GPS has been popular for years now and aircraft have been increasingly skirting the legal edges of controlled airspace. But now with ADS-B, they are feeling more comfortable operating closer to bigger and heavier aircraft with the idea that they will separate themselves. This leaves controllers to deal with the consequence of a TCAS RA on an aircraft where traffic was issued and reported insight.

So how does that change our controlling? Of course we have to stay vigilant with our scan. We give hard altitudes to IFR arrival aircraft when we see possible conflicts with unverified targets i.e. VFR pilots who haven't called us. We vector the IFR arrival aircraft away from the unverified traffic when we need to. But that also means when a VFR aircraft calls me, he can expect a heading or an altitude or some combination of instructions to resolve the conflict. Every aircraft that gets assigned a vector or altitude possible thinks they are not getting priority. But when you see all of the aircraft, you realize it is a matter of efficiency. When there is a line of arrivals that I am sequencing to the airport, once I vector the first arrival aircraft away, I very often have to turn the following aircraft as well, to follow the first one. A sort of daisy chain. If I give a hard altitude to an arrival because of an unverified target in front of him, and he either intercepts above the glide slope or goes around because he is not stable - well, there are professional consequences for me in this case. But I have, in the past, done all of these things because at the time I though the circumstances warranted it. But I also give headings and/or other instructions to VFR aircraft when it is more efficient to move the traffic by controlling only the one aircraft. I have seen this scenario every day. I know my conflict points. I know where aircraft typically get a TCAS RA. I know the risk of letting minimum separation go by with only a traffic call. I know the dangers of assuming that VFR aircraft wont change direction or attitude while in close proximity to my final. I don't give VFRs a vector because I think IFR's have priority. I know what that IFR is assigned to do. But VFRs, by their very nature, can be unpredictable. I have seen it. I have planned for it. I am ready. That is why you get a vector.


But I am glad you want to be polite. Hopefully I am polite too. Although admittedly, I wouldn't like it if you came through my airspace knowing you were going to be a conflict, and yet, still didn't call me.

As I mentioned at the beginning, at my facility, they are already redesigning airspace. They are matching the older airspace to work better with the new RNAV procedures. A pilot who cancels and then becomes a conflict can only hasten the process. I would like to see RNAV arrival and departure corridors protected as Class C. Perhaps maybe only below 10000 feet. It doesn't mean you cant go through there. It just means you have to call me first. I doubt this would happen. I think pilots and various organizations like AOPA would see this as too restrictive.


Someone else mentioned, and I like the idea, of pilots visiting a TRACON. Just like I think controllers should FAM with pilots. Seeing it from the other side can only help.
 

atcbrownie

Trusted Contributor
Jun 14, 2008
661
9
18
Warrenton Va
The class B where I work has been the same since the invention of class B airspace. We have tried very hard to get it redesigned continually since before I was here. The redesign is always shot down by the likes of AOPA and other organizations that don't want to change for the benefit of safety. They feel that what they do is perfectly safe even though the 400+ passengers get tossed around during a TCAS RA. It's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt and the controller gets blamed for not seeing the 1200 code because they were busy separating other aircraft.

AW
 

Jax

Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2010
869
32
28
N90-EWR
I will throw my 2 cents in. Maybe there is some history here that I don't know about but it seems that the Class B and C airspace designs are relics of pre nextgen. The issues that pilots are having, are driving the call for these airspaces to be redesigned (This is not an attack against bob44 - I wouldn't want to be vectored out of my way either).

The legacy arrivals to the airports in my airspace all had step down hard altitudes. These altitudes where reliable and predictable and the last hard attitude was higher than most typical VFR aircraft. The arrivals ended on a 20 mile final at 080 feet and the final controller had control to descend these aircraft and clear them for an approach when the conflicts were resolved. This worked well, as my airport is in a valley and all users are vying for the same airspace. For years VFR aircraft were navigating, on their own, under the arrivals. Most of them called us for services. Some of them didn't. It was generally no factor.

With the advent of RNAV arrivals, several things happened. First, the arrival aircraft are now given (by center) a "descend via" clearance down to 040 feet. Instead of allowing the final TRACON controller to descend the arrival aircraft through the top of the airspace, these aircraft are descending through the side of it. This takes the arrival aircraft right through the heart of where many VFR aircraft are navigating. Also the RNAV arrival only has "at or above" altitudes. So they are not even predictable. Some carriers like to stay high (and they can per the arrival) and may be 3000 feet above other arrivals at that same fix.
Additionally the RNAV arrivals have been tightened up to the airport and now end at 15 miles final. So there is fewer flying miles to the airport to resolve conflicts.
When a VFR pilot looks at a VFR sectional, he will be misled. The "Use caution, High volume traffic" label is giving advise for the wrong location and the altitudes listed are wrong. Plus the blue outline of the jet showing the arrival corridor has altitudes off by 4000 feet compared to the new RNAV arrivals These are all left over from legacy arrival procedures that are no longer used (they are editorial errors that can, and should be changed). But simply staying outside of the Class B and C airspace does not keep you away from the RNAV arrivals either.
Finally as the ADS-B deadline approaches, more and more aircraft have advanced equipment that give some pilots the bravado to fly next busy airspace. GPS has been popular for years now and aircraft have been increasingly skirting the legal edges of controlled airspace. But now with ADS-B, they are feeling more comfortable operating closer to bigger and heavier aircraft with the idea that they will separate themselves. This leaves controllers to deal with the consequence of a TCAS RA on an aircraft where traffic was issued and reported insight.

So how does that change our controlling? Of course we have to stay vigilant with our scan. We give hard altitudes to IFR arrival aircraft when we see possible conflicts with unverified targets i.e. VFR pilots who haven't called us. We vector the IFR arrival aircraft away from the unverified traffic when we need to. But that also means when a VFR aircraft calls me, he can expect a heading or an altitude or some combination of instructions to resolve the conflict. Every aircraft that gets assigned a vector or altitude possible thinks they are not getting priority. But when you see all of the aircraft, you realize it is a matter of efficiency. When there is a line of arrivals that I am sequencing to the airport, once I vector the first arrival aircraft away, I very often have to turn the following aircraft as well, to follow the first one. A sort of daisy chain. If I give a hard altitude to an arrival because of an unverified target in front of him, and he either intercepts above the glide slope or goes around because he is not stable - well, there are professional consequences for me in this case. But I have, in the past, done all of these things because at the time I though the circumstances warranted it. But I also give headings and/or other instructions to VFR aircraft when it is more efficient to move the traffic by controlling only the one aircraft. I have seen this scenario every day. I know my conflict points. I know where aircraft typically get a TCAS RA. I know the risk of letting minimum separation go by with only a traffic call. I know the dangers of assuming that VFR aircraft wont change direction or attitude while in close proximity to my final. I don't give VFRs a vector because I think IFR's have priority. I know what that IFR is assigned to do. But VFRs, by their very nature, can be unpredictable. I have seen it. I have planned for it. I am ready. That is why you get a vector.


But I am glad you want to be polite. Hopefully I am polite too. Although admittedly, I wouldn't like it if you came through my airspace knowing you were going to be a conflict, and yet, still didn't call me.

As I mentioned at the beginning, at my facility, they are already redesigning airspace. They are matching the older airspace to work better with the new RNAV procedures. A pilot who cancels and then becomes a conflict can only hasten the process. I would like to see RNAV arrival and departure corridors protected as Class C. Perhaps maybe only below 10000 feet. It doesn't mean you cant go through there. It just means you have to call me first. I doubt this would happen. I think pilots and various organizations like AOPA would see this as too restrictive.


Someone else mentioned, and I like the idea, of pilots visiting a TRACON. Just like I think controllers should FAM with pilots. Seeing it from the other side can only help.
Just out of curiosity...where do you work?
 

bob44zw

Junior Member
Apr 5, 2011
108
1
18
Stinger - thank you. That is sort of what I expected. This kind of vectoring is actually quite unusual - and indeed I have in the past checked with controllers to see what they are comfortable with under that busy ILS. Five hundred feet may be RA territory, but I note that it is standard separation for enroute traffic.

All parties are safer with some form of radar following. I am an advocate of flight safety, and particularly so when it comes to potential midair collisions. I think we need a better way - if that includes more positive control airspace, then maybe we should do that.

Again, I am all for a controller saying "turn right 30 degrees for traffic". I always say thank you, and mean it. When it becomes clear that I am getting a re-route in airspace I am intimately familiar with - airspace that is not B,C, or D - I will politely cancel. I would rather have a way of communicating where I want to go, and that I would truly appreciate staying in the system.

I know that things are more complicated. I also know that general aviation has not yet recovered to 1977 levels, and we pose less threat today than we did then. Tighter controls are one reason; sheer numbers are another.

This is an excellent resource for pilots. I know there are only five or six of you willing to take time to address these things, but you seem to be among the most knowledgable. Thank you.
 

bob44zw

Junior Member
Apr 5, 2011
108
1
18
Let me re-open this. I have been, for the last three years or so, religious about altitude reports under class B. I operate between four and five "slash x-ray" airplanes, and know that radar wants to know what's up with primary targets.

In a conversation Wednesday with a nice guy who stopped all departures because of my known primary target (and well reported altitude to two different facilities), it was suggested that radar following need not involve "VFR Flight Following". Do you think this would work with transponder- equipped aircraft? Something like "Good afternoon, ma'am, Champ 2345, Black Mountain descending to 2.6. Just wanted you to know who I am."

Then, she could call me if she really needed to, and I could avoid vectors that take me a dozen miles out of my way.
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,562
21
38
Let me re-open this. I have been, for the last three years or so, religious about altitude reports under class B. I operate between four and five "slash x-ray" airplanes, and know that radar wants to know what's up with primary targets.

In a conversation Wednesday with a nice guy who stopped all departures because of my known primary target (and well reported altitude to two different facilities), it was suggested that radar following need not involve "VFR Flight Following". Do you think this would work with transponder- equipped aircraft? Something like "Good afternoon, ma'am, Champ 2345, Black Mountain descending to 2.6. Just wanted you to know who I am."

Then, she could call me if she really needed to, and I could avoid vectors that take me a dozen miles out of my way.
At SoCal, I think the controller's response would be "do you want flight following or what?" If you respond that you don't, you'll get told "frequency change approved."
I don't see any difference between radar following and vfr flight following. And I've worked some pilots that call me up and say who they are, where they are, and an altitude, and that they'll be doing YYY. Now I know they're on frequency and I'm still protecting for them and know I can move them out of the way if I need to. Instead of a discrete beacon code I'm watching, it's either a primary or a random 1200 code.

What altitude were you at and how close were you to the two airports that the controller said he stopped all departures for you?
 

bob44zw

Junior Member
Apr 5, 2011
108
1
18
1500', below class Bravo, and in continuous contact with CRQ and MYF, with altitude in all initial callups. My radio has monitor capability, so I can get ATIS without leaving the tower frequency. I even used the words "I promise" with my 1500' cruising altitude when I left CRQ. They were in contact with SoCal. Been doing this particular route for four decades.

This is something new. The reason I mention it here is that it was suggested by the SoCal controller that I could establish two way communication and still avoid the vectors that go with flight following. That would be useful to me - I need all the radar help I can get. I do 40 knots, and cannot see behind me.
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,562
21
38
1500', below class Bravo, and in continuous contact with CRQ and MYF, with altitude in all initial callups. My radio has monitor capability, so I can get ATIS without leaving the tower frequency. I even used the words "I promise" with my 1500' cruising altitude when I left CRQ. They were in contact with SoCal. Been doing this particular route for four decades.

This is something new. The reason I mention it here is that it was suggested by the SoCal controller that I could establish two way communication and still avoid the vectors that go with flight following. That would be useful to me - I need all the radar help I can get. I do 40 knots, and cannot see behind me.
What about instead of staying at 1500 below the CRQ ILS 24 final, fly a little closer towards CRQ at 2000-2500 and talk to CRQ tower. Then you'll be above their pattern and inbound traffic.
 

bob44zw

Junior Member
Apr 5, 2011
108
1
18
No you're not. I am literally the slowest certificated airplane in the sky. Some say the Helio (ugh) is slower, but that is true only on approach, and only with a very well qualified pilot.

I am often passed by cars on the road - especially westbound. Remind me to tell you the story about delaying vectors to follow a Learjet into Amarillo. A half hour later I landed - Lear crew was already at the hotel.