ILS Approach vs Radar Vectors

Another learning post for you…

I’m still struggling with “request vectors to…” vs “request ILS/GPS approach to…”. I was controlling Approach at KJFK earlier and had two inbound aircraft.
One requested ILS approach, to which I replied to expect vectors to ILS 31L, and continued to vector him in.

At the same time, the second inbound requested radar vectors to KJFK. I began vectoring him in towards 31R, and he followed until about 20nm out, to which he began to “unable” each time. He eventually changed frequencies to Unicom (no tower working at the time), and wound up landing on 31R anyway.

Am I misunderstanding something regarding his request? Am I misunderstanding the tutorials? Thanks!

Some pilots (or most pilots) on TS1 have the idea that they should follow their flight plan over what the approach controller says. That’s probably what happened here, and he just assumed that you didn’t know what you were doing and changed frequencies. Best you can do is just ignore them.

LOL, it’s funny to read this. I was the one that followed your instructions to vector to 31L, I kept hearing you and the exchange back n forth with the other pilot and I was like, “dude, just follow the ATC commands”. Thanks for being there this morning!


For those who may be wondering what the differences are from the pilot’s perspective, this wonderful tutorial explains the differences.


@ActnJaksn239 Glad to be of service! Also glad someone else understands my pain!

Maybe I’m not getting it. I’ve read the tutorials and watched the videos. At a major airport such as KJFK or KLAX, we’re supposed to just vector a few aircraft “close enough” and then hand them over to tower?

For RV, just vector them to a recognizable position in the pattern i.e. downwind or base and in a logical sequence with other aircraft before handing off to tower. In most cases, the runway on which tower will clear them to land will be evident from the flow of aircraft ahead and the current aircraft’s position.

For ILS/GPS approaches, you must vector an aircraft with a 30 degree intercept with the ILS cone and below the glideslope (within reason of course). In many cases, on the expert server, you will see ILS approaches only being used in busy times, since their rigidity eliminates many variables from the approach that could impact the traffic flow in a busy airport.


Got it. Thank you!

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