Pilot's tip of the week

Getting Custom Vectors to Final


Subscriber question:

"I know about asking ATC to vector me close to the final approach fix if I want. But how do I ask for more time to get stabilized on the final approach course before reaching the glideslope?" — Ely V.


ATC’s job is done if you join the final approach course from below the glideslope—even if the glideslope comes alive just seconds after you get established. If you need more time, ask for it.

Maybe you want a level segment before capturing the glideslope to set power, get below gear extension speed, and run a before-landing checklist. Maybe there’s a significant crosswind or even a tailwind component. Maybe this is your second attempt at this approach. The longer final will give you more time to figure out what it will take to stay on course and stay mentally ahead of the airplane.

The advice here is really straightforward: Don’t leave anything for ATC to assume. Tell them how many miles outside of the fix you want to join the localizer. If you ask ATC for a long final, you will likely have different opinions on what that looks like, so be specific. There’s no fancy shorthand for it. Just ask in plain language like, ‘Approach, N123 is requesting vectors to join final at least 8 miles from the final approach fix.’

Also remember that if you will slow down to your final approach speed farther out than normal, tell ATC what you are planning for so they can sequence other traffic appropriately.” 

Learn more about vectors to final in this excerpt from our IFR Communications Manual.

How comfortable are you asking ATC for something out of the ordinary?

(NEW) VFR Mastery scenario #69 “Something’s Come Up” is now available. Passenger airsickness is an annoyance that almost every pilot has had to deal with at one time or another. Landing ASAP is the rule, but VFR above the clouds complicates the execution. The passenger might not be the only problem as well. Maybe you shouldn’t have ordered the fish. Watch the Intro video.

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