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Is it possible to use the track instead of headings in the aim to apply a radar separation?

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  • $\begingroup$ related $\endgroup$ – Manu H Aug 4 '15 at 13:08
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Radar controllers take wind into consideration when issuing headings - "Fly heading one six zero".

Issuing a track would not be practical. This puts the burden of figuring out what course to fly on the pilot. Not all aircraft have a glass cockpit or instrumentation necessary to easily, quickly, and accurately compute a heading to fly to stay on course. The radar controller knows real-time information, knows the 'big picture', and has practice issuing headings.

Actual position is used to provide separation. Heading doesn't matter for separation.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Issuing a track would not be practical." No, it wouldn't be impractical, it would be impossible. By definition, track is what the plane flew over ground. You cannot assign what to have done in the past. $\endgroup$ – Andreas Lauschke Aug 4 '15 at 0:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Andreas, in this case ‘track’ means direction of track and that can be assigned. But it can only be flown by GPS and controllers can't assume aircraft have that. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Aug 4 '15 at 7:55
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I certainly understood what was meant, but that doesn't mean it was written what was meant. We have to go by what was written and cannot interpret around at will. And "direction of track" would mean you extrapolate the track (from the past), and ATC doesn't assign that. "... and that can be assigned". No, it can not. If you disagree, show a source, or I won't continue this discussion. What was meant ... I think the op just misused the term, he/she meant course. ("Is it possible to use the course instead of headings ...") and just didn't know that what he/she thinks of is course $\endgroup$ – Andreas Lauschke Aug 4 '15 at 12:49
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No, ATC will not issue instructions to aircraft to maintain a specific track. From ICAO Document 4444 (PANS-ATM):

8.6.5.1 Vectoring shall be achieved by issuing to the pilot specific headings which will enable the aircraft to maintain the desired track.

If a controller wishes an aircraft to fly a specific track toward/away from a VOR navigational beacon, they may instruct pilots to fly a certain VOR radial, which is essentially a track. However, this only works if flying to or from a VOR or similar beacon.

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  • $\begingroup$ I guess then that SIDs and STARs should be banned altogether since they do not comply with ICAO. $\endgroup$ – cavver Jul 8 '16 at 12:52
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    $\begingroup$ SIDs and STARs are not vectoring. The question is specifically about ATC issued instructions (radar vectoring), not about ATS routes (SIDs, STARs, airways, RNAV routes etc.) $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Jul 8 '16 at 17:35

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