How do you descent when a atc tells you to

Hello i have a question when atc tells you to descent how much feet per minute do you guys descent?

Unless expedited, normal descent would be 1000fpm.

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It always depends on the altitude you are at. If you are at 20000ft you can descend with a higher vertical speed than when you are at 7000ft as it’s harder to reduce your speed at low altitudes and you would gain speed and maybe get a violation instead of slowing down. I usually descend with -2200 to -1000 depending on my speed, altitude and other factors like other traffic etc.

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Hey @IF-BE! I’m an IFATC officer, so I might as well explain my thoughts on the matter.

I think it should be looked at in a broad sense. If you know that you’re high, I’d suggest maybe 1800-2200vs, but if you know that the controller means it in a more general sense just to get you put somewhere, I’d suggest 1200-1800, preferably above 1200 though.


I think a picture will best do my explanation justice. In the picture below, let’s assume that the pilot in question is at 10,000 feet. Now, let’s also assume that KMIA, runway 9 ILS, has a standard, 3 degree glide slope (which it does). If the pilot has to descend 7,000 feet to intercept the localizer and glideslope in a matter of about 10 nautical miles or less, and ATC tells you to descend and maintain 3,000, I would definitely advice that you slow down, and descend fairly rapidly, around 2000 vs.


Now, in the other scenario where ATC may give you a vector but a rapid descent isn’t required can be seen below. In the picture, let’s assume the aircraft in question is also at 10,000 feet, but is now nearly 50 nautical miles away from the ILS intercept for runway 9 at KMIA. There is an obvious, huge difference between the given scenarios because the first scenario already has the aircraft on downwind, but here, we would just be contacting approach as you would on expert (at or below 18,000 feet, and at or below 50 nm).


All in all, I would just take into consideration the situation you are in. If you notice that you are given a drastic descent vector when getting close to the final stage of your approach, a rapid descent will be needed, but if there is plenty of time until the intercept/final leg of your approach, just make sure you meet that altitude given in a timely matter. Also, make sure to take into consideration the traffic around you! The controller could just be making sure that you are maintaining proper separation between you and other traffic in the airspace, which is 1,000 feet vertically, or 3 nm laterally.

Have a nice day, and I hope the explanation helps!

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This helped me thank you for your time:)

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