Disappointing Event

Hi There,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I understand that the Alps event carries a large amount of traffic and I can expect delays. I had planned a flight from Nice to Zurich without realising the event was taking place. Only when I was setting up the route I noticed that there was ATC and lots of traffic, this was no issue and I made sure to follow the ATIS instructions (I had set up and planned a runway 16 approach however 14 was the active arrival runway so I changed my plans accordingly.).

I contacted Zurich Arrival at 1242z, 30 miles to the South West at 14,000ft on a roughly correct descent profile. I was immediately given a heading of 040 which sounded like good news, a more direct approach. From here I was expecting a tight base onto the ILS at 14.

What followed was a 150+ mile, 40 minute tour of France, Germany and Switzerland. I was vectored from the South West to the North, to the North East, to the East, back to the South and then joined a downwind only to disappear back up into Germany to the North of the field before being given a descent that would’ve sent me way below the glide slope (having spent the last 30 minutes at 10,000ft) and 150 heading to intercept runway 14 - a 10 degree intercept heading?

I touched down at 1324. 42 minutes after initially contacting the approach frequency.

I understand that I would expect some vectors and a little bit of a delay, but this was tedious and frustrating. The only vectors the controller seemed capable of giving was to send every single person on this expeditious route.

Unfortunately it has put me off flying into or out of an airport with live ATC as my experience here was not a good one.

I do hope it was a one-off.



this always happens dont expect anything different

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I don’t see how this is an issue?

ATC put you in this “Expedition” for you to be in line with other aircraft to avoid departing traffic by giving you vectors. Putting many aircraft this neatly is not unprofessional, but rather skillful and is not easy when you have aircraft flying in all directions as seen in the picture you’ve shown. Mind you if you have a problem you can always divert. This is totally normal and is seen in the real world.

If you found out there was an event with a lot of traffic and expected long waiting hours, why did you even fly there in the first place? There are many other places you could fly to that are featured and have lesser waiting times.


This is not uncommon. If an event was taking place, it would be even worse.

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I mean, who was the Approach controller, they can explain why better then we could.


There’s no “better” explaining here. This is a simple “hold” that is found at any airport with heavy traffic in IF as explained above. No need to contact the controller as it has been explained… Of course, if the OP wants to there’s no-one stopping him. It has been said why and what it is, and when to expect it.


I dont see the reason for the complaining. OK, it may be frustrating that there is such a long line to get into the airport. Did you expect the ATC controller to vector you right into departing traffic and cut the whole other line of inbound traffic, that have been waiting patiently?

Every single IFATC is highly tested especially at the Radar position. Trust me, they know what they are doing.


Hello there @Benvorn,

Sorry to hear that your approach into Zürich did not live up to your understandably high expectations today.

Obviously the airspace you were flying into was very busy at the time, as is expected with all Friday Night Flight events - and therefore we only allow the most seasoned IF Air Traffic Controllers to man the frequencies at these airports.

It seems to me that the radar controller in question was using an approach ‘pattern’ to try and accommodate the high levels of traffic - and this clearly involved you being taken on quite a long path to fit into said pattern. These are usually used to space out traffic appropriately to ensure separation on approach, and ensure there is enough space to allow departures to use the runway in addition to the stream of inbound aircraft. Whilst this does slow your arrival down, it can also ensure that your approach is fairly timed, and that no other aircraft ‘jump the queue’, cutting the line and making it straight into the airport, which would make it unfair to others that have been subjected to the delay.

In addition to this pattern, obviously alpine regions and airports such as Zürich pose other challenges, such as the runway layout, difficult terrain to negotiate, and general airport layout - these can all contribute to how long your wait may be on approach, or waiting to depart. This may be part of the reason why you were delayed so much - there is only a maximum efficiency that even the most experienced Air Traffic Controllers can obtain at airports such as these.

With all this being said, there is never a full excuse for poor service, and I’m sorry to hear that you were un-impressed with the service you received today. Holding patterns perhaps could’ve been utilised to manage aircraft more efficiently, instead of taking you on a tour of the alpine region - I will communicate this to the rest of the IFATC team, as we are always looking to improve. In addition, whilst a 10º intercept hopefully worked, we are advised against giving any intercepts at 10º or below, so I apologise that you received this. We always advise controllers that an approximate 30º intercept to join the Localiser is preferred and recommended, and we’ll reinforce this accordingly.

Of course, all IFATC controllers are meticulously trained and tested before being let-loose controlling masses of aircraft on the Expert Server - and all new controllers now undergo probation and trial periods to ensure quality. Feedback is always provided when possible, so we’re always learning and improving.

I hope that I’ve helped answer some of your questions, address your frustrations, and hopefully we won’t let you down again - although there are times when long approach times are necessary due to airspace congestion, and I’m sure you somewhat enjoyed the spectacular scenery this region has to offer on your approach. If you have any further questions or queries regarding policies, recruitment, testing, or otherwise in the IFATC team then feel free to contact me! (N.B: I was not the controller controlling at this time).

Many thanks,
IFATC Recruiter and Supervisor.


It was your respnsability to understand why there was so much traffic. I do not understand how you didn’t see the FNF thread when you came online here on the community. If an airport is featured for an FNF, it is obvious that there will be a lot of traffic. Therefore, you have to ask yourself « am I ready to do a long approach and accept the fact that there may be delays?». Everything is normal here, you just have to accept the fact that sometimes approach will give you a different path in order to bring all of those planes in safely.


@Benvorn I also hate when ATC does this during such events as the FNF. I love to be realistic with my FPLs and routes, trying to fly scheduled flights most of the time. However, due to the heavy congestion that is expected with such events, I almost always try to avoid flights into main HUB airports during community events, especially the FNF. It gets to chaotic and almost always, the ATC is just plain wrong in its approach vectors for majority of its controlled airports. I understand that this is only to alleviate the aforementioned congestion. I also appreciate the work of all ATC members and understand that this is necessary, I am not asking for change. But just as a personal opinion, I hate flying into controlled airspaces because it loses that touch of reality that I seek from a sim such as IF.


Keep in mind the traffic you see at airports in IF is about 3 times the amount (or even more) the real life airport has.
With that much traffic coming in from all sides, with no organization, it’s almost impossible to follow the real world procedures.
You’ll notice that at less busier airports, there are many realistic procedures followed .


I understand this, and, again, I do appreciate all the work that IFATC puts into controlling all these aircraft. Again, I am NOT asking for change. I am simply saying that for me personally I don’t like the exaggerated flight plan deviations and lengthy approach times that come with such popular community events. For me, I try to avoid the FNF airspace, especially on approaches.


Totally see your point there.
I too, like to go straight to the airport without getting a scenic tour around the region. But it’s just not possible to with this heavy load of traffic


Nothing you to really do about this but be patient. In reading your post I thought it sounded like you were the only one being vectored like this but your picture illustrates ATC’s strategy for all the traffic coming in. There’s not really anything you can do except be patient. You aren’t the only one trying to land or takeoff.


I too find it frustrating when the approach controller is determined to send everyone on the scenic tour of the region, and yes sometimes the traffic amount is high, 60-70 average total inbounds an hour, but it shouldn’t be a problem for most airports, the issues arise when an airport with an inefficient layout (ZRH, GVA, LGW, SAN, EYW etc) is picked to be the featured airport, combine that with controllers who are not, perhaps as proficient with controlling the featured airport, and a crowd of pilots, who many cannot even be trusted to fly a hold properly. And finally the non-voice system for ATC imo really bogs things down as there is no way for either pilots or controllers to say specifically what they need from the other. So yeah, that’s why I avoid controlled airspace as much as possible unfortunately.

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lol welcome to the live server my guy


Thank you for all the replies.

I apologise if I upset or offended anyone, I was just voicing my frustration. I can understand both sides of the story and I could see on my map that I was being vectored just the same as everyone else. It’s only the second time I’ve flown into a controlled airport and the first time I was basically put on a straight in approach as per my request when I contacted the controller. I was just a little confused that the approach path the controller had created was some 40-50 miles away from the airport. Zurich is a difficult airport to operate due to the terrain and bad runway layout so I wasn’t expecting a slick straight in approach, but I was of the opinion that the vectors I was given were a bit unnecessary. I am interested in stepping over to the controller side of things so maybe I will be proved very wrong should I get so far as an approach controller.


Sometimes the problem are the pilots, no the atc. When atc tell to someone “cleared for inmediate takeoff” and they lining up slowly, and take a few seconds to start rolling. It cause problems and force many go arounds of the landing traffics and everything is delayed…

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Oh I know, I have seen my fair share of idiotic pilots, I did reference them in the post.

I normally divert when I see these types of events going on to not disturb. Next time, go to Munich if Zurich has an event going on.