Initial contact with approach and the mindset of a controller

March, 13, 2021 by

Pilot tunes into your approach frequency, you’re expecting an approach request.


Now it’s a waiting game. What will you get as a response?

Some pilots may not know this but what we as radar controllers are looking for is your preference, if we’re not busy. We service the pilots, we’ll try to accommodate the approach type they request.

If we are busy we may assign a specific approach but if we are not we will wait to hear from the pilot what they’d prefer.

6.8.3 — On initial contact with Approach, aircraft are expected to make their approach request. If the aircraft has already been cleared to descend via the STAR from a previous Controller, it will be visible on their flight progress strip (see 6.6.11 above), Approach Controllers should respond with “Continue as Filed, Expect the [approach type/runway] at [location]” if they wish the aircraft to continue as previously cleared. If the aircraft was previously receiving vectors, was not approved for descent via the STAR or the Controller wants to issue vectors/altitude assignments, then “Expect Vectors for the [approach type/runway] at [location]” should be used instead. In the absence of Center, aircraft who have already begun their initial descent via a STAR may continue their descent with the response ‘Continue as Filed, Expect the [approach type/runway] at [location]’ without a specific descent via clearance (see 6.6.12 above*).

That is why you may a radar controller ask for “your intentions” or ask you to “say your approach request”.

Kyle Boas is the Founder of the IFATC Education Group. He is an IFATC Supervisor and Infinite Flight Appeals team member. — More