ATC Radar Tips & Tricks!

Hello community and ATC addicted! Here I made a little guide with multiple common scenarios during an ATC radar session, I will explain how to handle these situations and how to ensure that safety and efficiency factors won’t be missed.

Important Note: all of the following recommendations are based on my experience as radar controller, you can tell me your opinions about them and I’ll be glad to hear.

Let’s start!

First Scenario

Here we have our first scenario: TI-AMO and N123QC are both assigned for an ILS approach to the runway, they are both pretty close to the ILS cone and if they are not vectored correctly they will most likely lose the minimum separation required for radar (3nm laterally and/or 1000ft vertically), commonly called bust. We must not consider only the separation factor, but also the efficiency that the controllers must ensure to let planes land as soon as possible.

First scenario is sometimes handled like in this picture ⬆️,this can work only if N123QC is significantly slowed down, however slowing down sometimes is not enough and might lead to a bust.

Here instead the idea would be to extend the downwind of TI-AMO and lead N123QC to a straight in approach, this can also work but the efficiency factor is missed, as TI-AMO will approximately extend his flight of 5+ minutes from planned.

Here we have an efficient and safe approach for both.

TI-AMO will not extend his flight time at all, he will go for a normal approach.

N123QC will slightly turn into TI-AMO and then will turn base, this vector will not extend his flight for more than 1 minute.

Note: you must take into account their altitudes, they will both came rather close to each other as you can see in the picture, you have to make sure they don’t lose vertical separation.

Second scenario

Here N123QC and A6-LAW are both going to execute an ILS approach the runway, this situation appears to be fine and no action is necessary for the approach.

However, you always need to watch the speeds, A6-LAW is going 50kts faster than N123QC, he will for sure bust with him when on final approach, to fix that and mantain efficiency in the approach, A6-LAW will execute al little turn on the left heading to N123QC like in this picture ⬇️

And once the separation is ok, we can clear A6-LAW for the approach, if the separation is not enough you can let A6-LAW go past the cone and execute a reversed clearance when separation is enough (The runway heading is 010, so A6-LAW had to turn left heading 340 for a normal 30° clearance, with the reversed one he will turn right heading 040). This ensures that A6-LAW will not bust with N123QC, he didn’t loose almost anything from this slight turn, but a lot of spacing is gained.

Third Scenario

This situation is similar to the first one, but the plane on downwind is on the opposite side of it.

We must also take into account the speeds, G-RHYS is going 189kts while D-NICO is going 229kts, much faster.

Here is what happens if we let D-NICO extend his downwind and let G-RHYS going for a straight in approach. ⬇️

If we do that D-NICO will lose a ton of time because not only the distance between G-RHYS and the cone is plenty, but at the speed G-RHYS is going it will take a while for D-NICO to get to turn base.

Here is how should be done, we let D-NICO do his normal approach and turn G-RHYS to a “left base”, when the spacing is enough we can clear for the ILS approach G-RHYS using the reverse clearance we pointed out before.

This ensures that D-NICO will not lose time doing his approach, and G-RHYS can do a little longer approach without need to accelerate.

Fourth Scenario

Here the situation is a bit more complex:

We have 3 planes that are going to execute an ILS approach.

The situation seen from here looks easy to manage: N29AG as first to be vectored, followed by XA-EFW and Z-OOM.

In order to not add any plus minutes to planes flights we’ll look on the order of the vectors.

We don’t need to wait N29AG makes his turn and intercepts the localiser to turn XA-EFW, in fact XA-EFW will be the first to receive a vector that puts him on left base, then we can clear N29AG for the ILS approach and right after Z-OOM, again, no need to wait until XA-EFW arrives on final, the separation is enough to turn him straight away. ⬇️

Now you may think that XA-EFW and Z-OOM will have a conflict, but no, they won’t. You don’t need to turn XA-EFW on late base, in the picture ^ the intercept is issued very early on base but enough to be good and efficient, in the worst case Z-OOM will not be able to mantain separation, you can issue a late base intercept or a reversed one.

Fifth scenario

Here we have a very simple concept, D-PENC is assigned for a visual approach and G-KYSW for an ILS.

Often this situation is handled with D-PENC following G-KSYW and both will do the same path. This is not convenient for both radar controller and plane, D-PENC will only lose time for his approach.

Here’s how it must be done, D-PENC will significantly reduce his flight time while G-KYSW will not extend at all his approach path.

This not only ensures that D-PENC will have a more efficient approach, but also reduces the amount of traffic to deal with on the radar airspace you have.

Important Note: When doing this you must take in consideration planes altitudes, (the current airfield is at 0ft elevation) when you will issue the base turn to D-PENC you must assign an altitude of 2000ft or below otherwise he will be too high and possibly call a missed approach.

Sixth Scenario


It may happen that sometimes in ILS approaches the plane overshoots the localiser and will execute a missed approach.

There is no need to let him enter on downwind and doing another full approach like here ⬇️

This strategy will only let the aircraft lose time and your airspace will have one more plane to deal with.


This ⬆️, is called re-clearance, you will assign a Missed approach vector with runway heading and a 1000ft descend from your original clearance altitude.
Then you will issue a 30° clearance vector towards the runway and once the aircraft is established on the localiser you will handoff to tower or Unicom.

That’s all from this post, hope you found it useful and will use these little tricks for a better handling of your radar frequency.

Most of the previous scenes were taken from IFATC radar training session, thanks everyone!



Thanks for sharing it! It’s helpful!!!

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Bookmarked, this will be so helpful when I train for radar 🙂

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I learned something from the Third Scenario haha! Great tutorial that I’m sure many new trainees will utilize!

Nice article! 🌷
You’ve put some work in this. It shows!

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Yes! Will help the radar controller to maximise efficiency in their work!

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Happy to hear Anton 🌷

Amazing job, Davide!

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@Flying_Pencil So this explains why we were summoned to Edinburgh a few nights ago… lol

Great work Davide 👏


It would seem so.


Great Advice! I didn’t know I appeared in one of them (G-RHYS)! This is really cool!

Nice job Davide!

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Thanks for the tips davide!

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Wow! Thanks for your useful tricks:)

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Yes haha


This is awesome, good job Davide 👍👏

Thanks Dimitri!

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Nice topic!

Appreciated Henry 👌🏼

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Great Job 👏 Davide !! I like how you have explained all most every kind of scenario possible ,it will help a lot in trainings and while Controlling. Saved as bookmark.Thanks again and keep up the good work ! 😄


Didn’t think a nobody like me would be in the screenshots… (Z-OOM)

Definitely learned a thing or two and confirmed some of my suspicions with radar, thank you so much Davide. By far the most helpful Radar Tips and Tricks yet.