I have noticed that most approach controllers do not assign an altitude even under 18,000 feet so I typically descend per my flight plan. Am I allowed to descend to my desired altitude if the approach controller does not issue an altitude? Also, am I allowed to change speeds if the approach controller does not assign a speed? If not, then do I stop descending at the altitude at which I first make contact with the approach controller?
You can always ask for an Altitude but if the approach controller doesn’t give you one (or gives you one but you want lower) FOLLOW THE ATC. You can get ghosted for not following instructions
Just descend or climb and increase or reduce speed to your heart’s content until approach vectors you. Just keep following your flight plan like you always do until approach vectors you.
Remember, you are not under their control until they start giving you vectoring instructions. Then you would deviate from your flight plan and follow ATC instructions.
When you first contact Approach, request an ILS, GPS, or Visual approach into your arrival airport. Then, they would tell you to expect vectors to a runway. Then, you would acknowledge. That is when ATC will deviate you. If you don’t expect an approach, ATC will ask you to "Say Intentions."
Well how far out from your intended destination are you?
That answers my question, precisely. Thank you for responding.
No problem, happy to help as much as I can. :)