Duties of the approach controller

Having qualified for approach controlling on the advanced server recently, I was hoping someone with more knowledge than me could clarify exactly what services they should provide.

Today I was on at KSEA for a while and I would say that there were more aircraft making “other requests” than actually asking for an approach to KSEA, which is surely the main purpose of my being there.
In fact at one point I counted 12 aircraft on my screen, only 4 of them actually heading towards Seattle. The rest were requesting flight followings and radar vectors to airports 150 miles away. Am I being unreasonable when I say that it’s nothing to do with me and they shouldn’t be on the frequency ? It clogs it up with pointless messages and stops me from providing a good service to those who really need it.

I’m aware the guidelines suggest that when there is no departure controller then approach should handle these too but why ? It just becomes too much for one person to cope with. It’s not the real world, there’s not always going to be the appropriate controller for every leg of your flight, and if that’s the case you should just switch to a unicom and continue on. Don’t sit on a frequency that isn’t applicable to you and block it up. In the time it took me to deal with one request today, 2 or 3 more were flashing up and most of them had nothing to do with me.

Also surely it’s time to do away with radar vectors. What is the point of this ? The whole idea and skill of approach controlling is to guide aircraft to the glideslope, keep them spaced apart and hand them off to tower. Not to send them to a rough space somewhere around the airport and then get rid of them.
And flight following should also be ditched for approach. It should only be available when you’re with centre and around cruising altitude. The clue is in the title ‘approach’, I’m not there for pointless FF requests.

It’s time to redefine the guidelines for when pilots should contact approach, and more specifically what they can request when they do. This will make the controller’s job easier, and they can then provide a better service to those who need it.

Thoughts people ?


I’m not going to lie this thread makes me upset.


Didn’t read your whole post but in real life you will contact a lot of time approach after taking off. Also lot of pilots are infamiliar on which freq they should be and sometimes I think they just like to listen to the comms while flying somewhere else.


Well first of all radar vectors a vital tool to have especially in VFR conditions. It upsets me that it’s come to be ILS approaches are standard procedure in advanced and if you want to fly a visual approach aka radar vectors that’s not tolerated. KSEA has no departure frequency so approach takes that on as well. It’s obserd to me that one would be upset about there contact to approach after departure. It’s not difficult to grant departing aircraft one altitude vector and maybe two heading vectors and send them on there way. Nor is it difficult to check someone’s flight plan and if it doesn’t get in the way of arrivals and if not grant that request as well. We are here to provide a service to pilots and if there is no departure frequency it falls on approach to complete the job. Saying I’m going to deny someone because I’m on approach and they are departing my airport is bad service in my opinion.


It also seems like a question that should be asked internally not on the General fourm

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Wow, I feel guilty now, didn’t mean to upset you Brandon ! Of course like you I want to provide the best service possible, and I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s often difficult to do that when you’re being bombarded by a host of other requests.
Be honest here, if you’re trying to vector in 5 or 6 aircraft do you really want or need another 5 or 6 joining your frequency 60 miles from the airport and requesting RV or FF to an airport on the other side of the region ?
I take Aernout’s point about departures often joining approach frequency and I’ll definitely bow to his superior knowledge here. Maybe that’s not so bad giving a departing aircraft a few vectors to keep them away from inbounds.

As for the whole radar vectors thing, I just don’t get why if you’re sequencing a bunch of aircraft and giving them precise instructions to line them all up, why you would then give someone else a vague RV into the broad airspace. What happens when they get there ? Do you then have to vector them into your sequence of others ? In which case why not do that from the start ? Or do you hand them off to tower and make more work for them ? I’m sure there is a place for RVs in the real world but I don’t quite see how it fits into the sim.

I do understand your frustration I truly do. Radar vectors are for a visual approach you don’t have to put them into the downwind of the airfield for radar vectors put them on the same course as all your other ILS traffic but give them the runway vector, and I decend them a little further down then the ILS traffic so they can gain visual of the airfield. The people contacting you 60 miles away for what should be centers job is annoying but if center isn’t on hand that’s just another thing we as approach controllers need to deal with unfortunately.

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Which is maybe why we need some updated guidelines for pilots as to what approach is for and when to contact it. It’s probably in a tutorial somewhere, perhaps that tutorial could be “bumped” as seems to be the fashion nowadays !

I still don’t agree though about being on the frequency when you shouldn’t be. Aernout’s point about people wanting to be on an active frequency is valid and probably human nature, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. If you need to be on centre but there isn’t one, that doesn’t mean you should join approach just for the sake of it. Suck it up, switch to unicom and enjoy cruising in peace and quiet !

Not going to complement myself, but I have been an APP Controller for some time.

Since you are new, 12 aircraft is a lot, when in fact when handling busy airports that’s not even 1/3 of the traffic - you’ll get used to it.

This eliminates your other question. If there’re are 50 planes on your freq, I really can’t be bothered to send the “Freq change approved”. The planes know that I’m busy and connect to other freq. themselves. Thanks pilots.

I have a secret way I have JUST recently found out. Send me a DM over Slack and I can say it :)) It will completely change the way you use the APP frequency.

To others wanting to find out DM me here in Le ForumeZ.

P.S. “Only accepting ILS APPROACHES at this time” is a magic command, use it well.