Never Load Vectors To Final!!

So you’re in the clouds, you’re at the end of a three hour flight to Las Vegas, weather is 500’ overcast, five miles vis.  The ATIS reports they are using the 25L ILS.  Being in a radar environment, you go to your GPS, select PROC, choose the 25L ILS with Vectors to Final as your transition.  Everything is looking great.   And now the approach controller says, ‘Expect Vectors to Final runway 25L, contact Approach on 123.4.’   You respond with, ‘Roger, approach on 123.4.’

You switch the frequency, the controller is a little busy, but you report in and he says, ‘Roger, proceed direct to PRINO for the 25L ILS.  You look at your Flight Plan page and you don’t see PRINO so you ask for ‘Vectors’ and the response is ‘Unable, too busy, proceed direct to PRINO, you did say you were Slant Golf.’

If you do most of your flying or received the bulk of your instrument training at an airport served with radar where all you get is vectors to final, you can find yourself in this trap.  It’s happened to me more than once before I learned my lesson.

The key thing to remember is regardless of which transition you select when setting up your approach, going to PROC will always give you the option of ‘Activating’ Vectors to Final.  But loading a transition, typically the one that makes the most sense from where you are arriving, loads all the subsequent waypoints into your flight plan and they are just sitting there waiting to be used if you need them.  In the case of the 25L ILS in to KLAS, there are five waypoints outside of the Final Approach Fix.  More than once I have been told to expect VTF (Vectors to Final) only to be given ‘Direct to PRINO,’ head that direction and then be given ‘Direct to LARRE, cleared for the 25L ILS.’  Whatever happened to ‘Expect Vectors to Final?’

In any case, loading the entire approach puts all the information you could need into your Flight Plan, just sitting there waiting to help you.

The same concept works for flying in to uncontrolled airports.  When you are doing your flight planning the night before and checking what kind of weather to expect, look at the GPS approaches that are available.  Select the one that you think will best accommodate the weather and do one of two things.  Either file to the initial approach fix or have that idea in your back pocket and ask Center for direct to it when you get closer to destination and you’ve decided that doing the approach will make sense for you.

It’s all called ‘planning ahead’ and keeping all of your options available to you.

Robert L. Stedman
Independence Aviation, LLC

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