“Unable” button Terrain option

I was just wondering, if we could have an option of terrain for the “unable” button. Like when you press “unable” the buttons (sub-menus) could be displayed such as:

-Terrain (radio call would be something like “Unable, terrain.”).
-Send (the generic one, the radio call would simply be “Unable.”)

This is coming from a place of having been asked to turn and descend to a particular altitude and heading with a mountain near me on multiple flights, and being told to follow instructions or be ghosted after I replied “unable” and requested a climb.

Currently there’s no system as to recognise why the pilot is using the “Unable” option, which is probably why it might have developed a reputation as a button to use only if you want to be ghosted.

EDIT: I had originally suggested ‘traffic’ as an option too, but as an ATC trainer rightly pointed out, a controller vectoring an aircraft into traffic is pretty much impossible.

This feature will be great and helpful for ATC


Pretty interesting concept, maybe in the future :)


You know, I could definitely see this happening. It really has developed a reputation… I might free up a vote.

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Thanks! Yeah it shouldn’t be that way - cuz IRL “Unable” is one of the most significant things to say and very necessary too.

Freed up a vote!

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You’ve got my vote, this would be extremely helpful if ATC makes any mistakes!

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I don’t have any votes but this is a good request. I was thinking about making a request about being able to say “Say Again” in the future, especially with the new violation thing coming out.

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There is already an option to review messages in the message pane when you’re flying. “Say Again” would be too susceptible to trolls.


That’s true but it could be possible to add the phrase only to the expert server.

The only two reasons you’d unable if there is terrain or your aircraft can’t perform what they are asking you to do, never traffic. We can’t vector you into other aircraft.


Terrain I believe is very necessary. The other one could be generic.

I have long thought “Unable-Terrain” is needed. More than once I have been vectored toward a mountainside, and given a “Follow Instructions or you will be ghosted” when deviating.

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Our rule is that you need to be above 1000ft AGL at all times, you can be vectored 1000ft above any terrain so it may look like you’re being vectored into a hill but you’re not.

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Could we make that 2000? (Yet another feature request haha) 😜 At least in the USA under IFR, that would be the minimum obstacle clearance in mountainous areas.
After all, the final call on safety does belong to the pilot. Terrain isn’t something I like to be messing around with. And it seems to be a common issue popping up.
Just my thoughts, apologies if I’m sounding rude or demeaning in any way. IFATC does a great job for the greater majority of the time, this would just make it better.

No, see 10.3.1 of the ATC Manual.

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I’m editing my original post for terrain only, since that seems to be a common issue. The other one for ‘traffic’ was just another example, I’ll delete that part off since you rightly said, it’s not a relevant issue. I’m still of the belief that terrain judgement rests with what one can see outside of the cockpit, and that this could really help with people being afraid to use the ‘unable’ button for fear of being ghosted. It might even help ATCs at busy airports where a mistake might be made with the pull-and-drag scan for terrain option because of high workload.

While I agree that in general, the more specific one is with their wording the less confusion there is, I don’t think this would be of much use - especially on expert server. For the past 3-ish years and hundreds of approaches I’ve flow, not once has IFATC vectored me into terrain. I feel like the chances that a controller on expert doesn’t have a plan or isn’t familiar with their airfield’s surrounding terrain are rather slim.

That’s just my observation. If you’ve had an approach controller on expert vector you into a mountain I would be quite surprised.


I’ve had it happen twice, on Expert. Contacted the controllers, at the time, and they had acknowledged the error.
Again, this is not a commentary meant to demean controllers or IFATC. This would just make the job easier, is all I’m saying.

Hi Trio (a brilliant ATC by the way)

Please see attached replay link for an example of what I am talking about. At the 1:53 time stamp you will see there is a terrain avoidance issue developing, and I deviate. I am then given a “please follow instructions,” and a turn back towards the terrain. I answer unable, and am yet again given a “please follow instructions.” I requested a climb to try to signal to the ATC that my GPWS is going off, but it would have all been simplified with a command like “Unable, Terrain.”

Happy Tuesday!

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