An Approach Pet Peeve

Disclaimer: I appreciate all the hard work IFATC controllers do on a daily basis. Thank you for your service!

I think my biggest pet peeve when flying with approach ATC is when they vector aircraft out of the way of the airport. I don’t mean when they set some aircraft up on a downwind-like path, I mean when ATC vectors aircraft 50+ miles from the airport.

I remember flying into Calgary on a FNF a while back, and being so annoyed when approach vectored me (and all the other inbound aircraft) almost 100 nm away. When I was about 50 nm from the airport, approach vectored me south, then vectored me in an S shaped pattern, sent me 50 nm north of the airport, and then left*. That whole time, approach had vectored me not to exceed 180 IAS, so it was an excruciatingly long process. At one point, I was flying in the direct opposite direction of the airport. It took such a long time that I got a low fuel warning. Thankfully, another controller came in and cleaned up.

I understand when there’s an unrealistic amount of traffic at an airport that you have to make adjustments. And managing an unrealistic amount of inbound aircraft is a lot of strain on one person. But sometimes I think vectors like the one I described are a little ridiculous. Is this a fair complaint? Was the controller doing the right thing?

Sorry, this has weighed on me for a little while and I just needed to vent.

*That isn’t exactly what happened, it’s been a long time and I can’t remember the exact details.

Check this it explains of why approach vectors you away. 😊

Appreciate the help, but that’s not what I’m asking about. Tim B’s post is directed to aircraft that try to squeeze into approach after taking off from some nearby airport. In my scenario, no one was doing that (there might have been a TFR in place to restrict that…). It’s two different subjects, even though they seem similar.

Remember FNF they have many more aircraft ahead of you, i did the JFK FNF a while back and i was on vectors from approach controllers for 1 hr 30 minutes but i knew they were slotting me in as i was like the 125th aircraft to request approach. busy airspaces require bigger space to allow for a good flow


100nm away?! That is so unrealistic!

@IFliPlanes no it wont


The approach may do this to separate aircraft out as they will be a high demand of aircraft wanting to come in and land and some type of sequence etc is needed to make sure that pilots will not crash into each other.

You are right.

There was high traffic, but it wasn’t too heavy. I get that they need to vector aircraft in some patterns for separation, but vectoring them 100 nm out of the way is a little excessive…

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I totally agree, Normally they should vector in a Race track type of way, around 30 nm away from the airport, not an S 100nm away!

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Vectoring in a S is more common then a race track type, Also it is not always excessive, it may not seem alot of aircraft for you as a pilot but as a controller it may have been, also you have to think sometimes maybe it could have been a new Approach controller and his first time doing a FNF as an approach controller.

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It would make sense if the controller wasn’t very experienced. I can see how vectoring aircraft that way could be simpler.


Going forward you can always message the controller on here to ask about their approach strategies for that particular session/approach.

One of the benefits we now have with replay is that we can go back, review our sessions and continue to better our approach frequency techniques.


This happens sometimes, as controllers are busy. I have been forgotten, and brought 100 nm away from the airport, but it is fine. The controller realized after I checked in, and actually told me to climb so I could go faster.
IFATC are trying their best!

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I’m not radar qualified, so I can’t speak in a radar point of view, but whenever I’m Tower on FNF, i deal with an obsessively huge amount of inbounds, and sometimes I ask the radar controller to limit inbounds just so I can get a fair amount of departures out. This is just from my point of view though

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I would just like to add, if you fly into any FNF airport: Expect delays!
There are many pilot’s arriving and departing the airport, and everyone needs to have a fair chance, pilots on the ground queue for take off just as pilots in the air queue for landing. During an FNF one thing that you definitely need to have on board is patience!

IFATC do their best to accomodate the huge amount of traffic, and to keep the traffic flow as smooth as possible;)


Hey man, I have had a very long APP line into Cape Town once. It was last week actually. Aircraft were going out about 45nm in order to get in line. Some aircraft flew the Path for a solid 45 minutes. Cape Town was the busiest airport of the day in inbounds as well as outbounds I had to build a solid 7-9nm spacing for tower to be able to get departures moving.

Flying into the busy airport during the busiest time of day you have to be prepared to hold or to be vectored on a long Approach path. If it is say ORD for example, I had 3 runways to vector aircraft into. Also, no departures were on any of those inbound runways which aloud me to space them tightly.

Calgary has only 2 runways which makes it hard. The parking spots are also crouched around in runway so in the end you only have 1 main inbound runway if that.

Hope this clarifies stuff!


Hi there! Thank you for your disclaimer :).

I think it is a fair point you make, it is indeed annoying and sometimes the lines are excessive, I would agree with that and I can tell you that we noticed it too, and we give feedback to controllers when appropriate. Sometimes the controllers could keep things tighter and thus shorter lines. On the flip side, managing the FNF type of traffic is no joke! And sometimes things look tight but then you get a wave of inbound and all of a sudden you end up with a long line…

Anyway…thank you for the feedback!

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If only we had a Center frequency to tidy things up before people get into APP’s airspace… One major downside of Global so far.


Can’t agree more, I’ve had the same problem and was ghosted for saying “low fuel” twice after the controller ignored my request. There really isn’t an excuse, people need to realize that the amount of traffic is typically unrealistic in the fact that traffic is less than it would be in real life. Holding patterns are very rare in real life. Wonder why? And yes, I know it’s a simulator but then why is it called expert? These are all problems that I think need to be addressed. The infinite flight team has done a great job creating this wonderful platform for everyone to play together, but now we need some new management, and new ideas to manage the expert server.