If You Don’t Want RV, Don’t Request Them

I’ve lost count of the number of times per session a pilot requests RV of departure, then either simply ignores the vectors and starts doing what they want anyway or says “unable” to a particular heading or simply changes their request to flight following.

Typically, the reasons fall into a couple categories:

  • They have an intricate flight plan from SimBrief or whatever and you’ve taken them off of it by a millimeter.

If this is the case, and the pilot doesn’t want to divert from their flight plan the slightest inch, why in the world request RV? Just check in and be done.

  • You’re not turning them off runway heading immediately after crossing the threshold

I know everyone who puts so much time and effort into that WPT-ICAO flight plan wants to hit NAV and spin 180 degrees in a half second, but there’s downwind traffic or other departing traffic you may need to climb over or around. If you have to spend an extra 30 seconds waiting to make that turn in order to not collide with another plane, where is the harm.

Either way, if you’re unwilling to wait, again, just check in and proceed. But when you do collide and are held accountable for it, don’t put it back on the controller. We tried to take you around the traffic, you just didn’t feel like waiting. VFR is see-and-avoid. Both actions referring to the pilot.

  • You plan for terrain that you’ve painstakingly studied prior to opening and they prefer the “oh no a mountain better climb at 5000 FPM STAT” method of preparation and flight.

This is my favorite. Take a place like LFMN with 04s in use. Last time I was there, Geneva was the big destination and everyone wanted to head northeast. Well, guess what’s northeast, nearly immediately, of the runways: terrain:


So, here I am as a departure controller thinking “hey, great, I get to give them the Realism™ they all pretend to want (until it’s slightly inconvenient) and take them on the published SID:

“Man, I bet all those pilots complaining about us never using SIDs and STARs will really appreciate this.”


The second I tried to turn them south I got one of the three responses. Some just went northeast anyway, some used the inapplicable “unable (to eat the side of a mountain)”, and others immediately decided “oh I don’t want Radar Vectors after all.”

Please decide this first. If you don’t want to leave your flight plan, you don’t have to. Just check in. if you don’t want to be told where to go, flight plan or not, you don’t have to. Just check in. If you prefer we ignore the terrain and not vector you slightly away from your destination for a few moments…guess what? Just check in.

But please realize when you request RV, we are putting extra time into planning your departure. Every minute spent on vectoring you is time not spent vectoring approaches, so if you want RV, great we are happy to oblige. But don’t request our time and then simply ignore us or change your mind when you know before you ask what RV means.

And because I say this every chance I get:

If you request a flight level that is incorrect for your direction of travel, I am not accidentally giving you a correct one. Don’t ask again. I heard you correctly. The reason it’s not what you requested is because what you requested is wrong for your flight’s heading.

360-179 degrees: odd flight levels
180-359 degrees: even flight levels

If you have a set flight level for every flight regardless of circumstances, better check on that Realism™ machinery. It needs a little oil.


Thanks for writing this. BOOKMARKED. I’ll look at it when I don’t wanna follow vectors.

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This is a great review and probably new information for some people. I hope you don’t mind I cross-posted on IFFG because people need to read this. It might be good to roll this into a “How to deal with radar/departure” tutorial!

These kinds of posts made by you (i.e. the Understanding Departure one, among others) are so helpful and relatable that I can’t help but be excited every time you make a new post. Keep ‘em coming!

Since you also mentioned FF…l wish to say that recently l just checked in with an IFATC dep controller and even though he obviously saw my fpl on his display …he asked me for my intentions regardless …then l asked for FF and he cleared me to my dest airport…but then what is the purpose of just checking in if l am going to be asked for a specific service anyway !

I believe you sadly. Working on it.

While frustrating, I understand from whence it springs. They’re used to hearing check in immediately followed by a request, so when they don’t, they think something is missing. You didn’t do anything wrong.

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Thank you for posting this, giving new pilots crucial information, and older pilots that may not have known this, more information. It was a good read, always enjoy how detailed your posts are.

I think I said this in one of your previous posts, these mini-lessons should be mandatory to read. They would do a lot of good for many pilots.

Once again…if you are going to reply unable to any vector which takes you off your flight plan…don’t ask for vectors!

You have the option to just follow your flight plan…use it instead of asking for vectors then ignoring them. It makes less sense than…I don’t know, what ever makes the least sense in the world.

Oh, and judging from recent messages, this needs to be refreshed as well.

You cannot have it both ways. If you tell me you are VFR, do not then blame the controller when you fly directly into the fuselage of another plane and are held accountable.


Thank you for this great post, which is very much needed. It is totally mind boggling that some pilots are “flying VFR” in commercial jets, like the A321.

Well said Tim !

This is a great topic! You really educate the IF pilots. I hope i will help many pepole!

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