What to do with incorrect ATC at the time?

Hi all,

Not a dig or a complaint specifically. Just generally!

So the other day, I was vectored for a Visual Approach. As I got closer to the airport, I was vectored away from the cleared runway at around an angle of 90 degrees to the right halfway of the approach ‘cone’. I was then cleared and told to contact Tower.

I began turning back to the cleared runway and was cleared by tower for landing, but Approach got me on GUARD to come back to their frequency. I was told to stay on their frequency and re-vectored. I was then vectored away from the runway at a different angle about 6 nm from the runway and was cleared to land the approach. Again, at a completely unachievable position. I was handed back to tower who again cleared me for approach. I began turning and was told to execute missed approach. I went back to Approach who told me to check out tutorials and it was clear to me that something was being missed here, so I simply quit out the session to avoid any reporting/ghostings. Not ideal. I assumed at the time they were mixing up the runways but I wasn’t in a position to achieve a visual landing on ANY runway and I was constantly cleared for the same specific runway.

My question is - what do you do in these situations at the time? Where there’s clearly a disparity between controller and pilot? I understand PMing the controller is the right move, but in live, at the time, what can you do? How can you communicate “i think you’re in the wrong” or is it just safer to quit out to avoid receiving any disciplinary actions?


From my understanding, it’s best to follow ATC instruction, even if it’s incorrect. Then discuss it with the controller after your session. Hope this helps.

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There really isn’t much to do other than PM the controller. Mistakes like these rarely happen and there is no way to say “no” on live. I’d say the right thing to do is follow their instructions. If for some reason you can’t (for example, you being vectored into terrain) you can just say “unable” and PM them later.


Thanks and I do agree generally. I suppose what I’m getting at, is in this case, following ATC was physically impossible!

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Did you contact the controller?


Follow ATC. The only way you will receive disciplinary consequences is if you don’t. As others have said contact them after your flight in order to review the situation.

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