First Officer Lee’s Questions About ATC Instructions

Hello IFC!

I need some help understanding some ATC instructions about turn left/right heading ___. Can someone inform on the what I should do when the controller gives me this instruction? Do I turn that direction and keep true unless told after?

When approach tells you to turn right/left heading xxx you set that in the autopilot and fly that heading until you get a new one.


yes you should keep the heading until told otherwise
NOT RECOMENDED:sometimes if im going a bit past were i think i should turn i request to decend or something like that so they can remember me but this is NOT RECCOMENDED

Please don’t do that. Sometimes an approach controller is trying to move a leg of their pattern and it may seem as if they forgot about you when in fact they haven’t. Unless you’re headed in the opposite direction of the airport for a long time and there are no other planes doing the same around you, I wouldn’t do that.

To answer the initial question, turn to the indicated heading and maintain it until further instructions.


So unless I’m told, I keep going in that direction?

Yes, you do

What’s if they forget about me?

Yes. The approach controller will give you all the vectors needed when they’re needed.

Forgive me for asking but, what are “the vectors”

Headings and altitudes.

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ok sorry will do

Oooooo okay, thank you.

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Is it possible for the controller to forget about me? Or is it highly unlikely…

It is, just highly unlikely. In that case, you can send a check in but only if you’re 100% convinced.

Also, remember everyone that by “a long time” it is meant at least 5 minutes, usually 10.

It can happen. It’s pretty rare though. I’d say the main situation where it could happen is if you’re given a first heading far from the airport. If you’re within 60nm of the airport (which you should be anyway) I don’t see why the controller would forget about you. Maybe they might forget the altitude. But forgetting about you entirely would nearly never happen

That is incorrect. If you send a check in, you’re telling the approach controller that you have a flight plan and you want to follow it, apart from some occasions when it is used once you have just been handed off from another approach frequency. If you check in then request flight following you’re essentially requesting 2 services. Only request one of them, not both at the same time.

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You can receive vectors by departure and approach.
Approach: once you have requested approach to the airport the controller will tell to you to follow specific altitudes and heading useful to regulate the traffic flow coming into the airport. After you recieve your first vector you have to do all the tower tells to you ( if you don’t you’ll get a warning or being ghosted).
The approach will bring you to the airport in safe distance with other aircraft.
If you feel the controller loose you request an other approach ( don’t request it immediately… wait 10-11mins)
Departure: when you contact departure, simply check in and request flight following. Happy landings.

You rewrote it wrong 🙃.

(Also it’s approach vectoring you not tower)