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Features April 2019 Issue

Just Say It: “Unable”

Just Say It: “Unable”

This one word can make the difference between complying with an instruction that really shouldn’t be attempted, and a nice, safe, comfortable flight.

ATC will often ask pilots if they can do something somewhat out of the ordinary for the purpose of granting a shortcut or maybe to gain that extra slice of airspace. This subtle word works on both sides of the coin. In the pattern, Tower might ask a pilot to fly a short approach that—if the pilot is unprepared and accepts it—requires a steep and fast dive. Perhaps you’ve been offered that so they can fit you inside of other traffic, to avoid vectoring you 10 miles out to get behind everyone. Or, perhaps they just need you to cross the approach end of the runway so they can start getting other airplanes out. Regardless, if you don’t think you can safely and properly comply, bring on the PIC authority and just say it, “Unable.”

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