Why do aircrafts not fly over VORs when flying STARs that says "Fly Over VOR, expect radar vectors to final course"?

I am doing a flight from KBOS to KJFK, the STAR at KJFK I am supposed to follow is PARCH3, which according to the chart I am supposed to fly over the JFK VOR and expect radar vectors to my final approach, which is the ILS on RWY 31L. That is fine, I have flown a VOR STAR before, like the one at Kufra International Airport (HLKF). However, when I looked at the flight paths of the flight IRL, the aircraft did not fly over the VOR, instead went straight to final approach. If this is how it is done IRL, why does my STAR chart tell me to fly over the VOR and not give me transitions to final approach?

It says ‘via 278º track to JFK VOR/DME.’ That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to fly over it, except perhaps in case of a radio failure, where you’d fly the entire arrival, hold over the JFK VOR/DME until your clearance limit time, and then proceed direct to the initial approach fix.

In practical purposes, it means you pick up the 278º bearing towards the JFK VOR/DME, and on the way, the approach controller will give you final approach vectoring instructions.


@CaptainSooraj summed it up pretty well. I would like to add, though, that in real life, controllers will frequently vector aircraft off STARS (traffic and workload permitting) to get them to their destination a bit faster. This is really not that rare to see, and I’ve actually seen it at JFK a million times before, too!


I just recently did KBOS - KJFK, to get the ATC experience on arrival. I also preplanned PARCH3 and ILS 13L, and posted in a couple of waypoints to take me north of the field and as direct as possible to the IAF.

As soon as I made contact with Approach, I was vectored off the end of the STAR, headed 240, then 310, then 040, then 130… Perfect traffic pattern established south side, and butter smooth the whole way around and down.

Just depends on circumstances.

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The reason you were vectored south and over is because straight-in-approaches to runways 13L/R at KJFK do not exist. There is simply too much congestion in the airspace for that to happen.

What pilots do instead is an RNAV (GPS) Z approach or sometimes the ILS for runway 13L, which is not a full straight-in approach like most ILS approaches. There is an RNAV (GPS) Z approach for runway 13R, but it is seldom used.

However, DO NOT make left traffic for the 13s at JFK or make a straight-in from any direction to the 13s. Besides, the RNAV approach is very fun for pilots - in my opinion even more so than the Kai-Tak Attack.