Radar Vectors


  • Radar vectors are instructions issued by ATC to facilitate the smooth and expeditious flow of traffic

Radar Vectors for Approach:

  • Review the appropriate approach charts to determine frequencies, courses, altitudes, and missed approach procedures
  • Prior to reaching the Initial Approach Fix (IAF), tune and identify the NAVAID
  • Verify that the HI or HSI is aligned with the magnetic compass
  • When within 30° of the Final Approach Course, or 5 NM of the Final Approach Fix (FAF):
    • Slow to approach speed
    • At or below VFE, lower the flaps as appropriate for initial approach
    • Complete Descent Flows/Checklists
  • When cleared for the approach, intercept the final approach course inbound


  • Pilot Responsibilities:

    • Promptly complies with headings and altitudes assigned to you by the controller
    • Questions any assigned heading or altitude believed to be incorrect
    • If operating VFR and compliance with any radar vector or altitude would cause a violation of any CFR, advises ATC and obtains a revised clearance or instructions
  • Air Traffic Controller Responsibilities:

    • Vectors aircraft in Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class E airspace:
      • For separation
      • For noise abatement
      • To obtain an operational advantage for the pilot or controller
    • Vectors aircraft in Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, Class E, and Class G airspace when requested by the pilot
    • Except where authorized for radar approaches, radar departures, special VFR, or when operating in accordance with vectors below minimum altitude procedures, vector IFR aircraft at or above minimum vectoring altitudes
    • May vector aircraft off assigned procedures
      • When published altitude or speed restrictions are included, controllers must assign an altitude, or if necessary, a speed
    • May vector VFR aircraft, not at an ATC assigned altitude, at any altitude. In these cases, terrain separation is the pilot's responsibility


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