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I understand ATCs may use minimum vectoring altitudes(MVAs) when they deem it as appropriate. When they do that, do they notify the pilots of the fact that they are being radar vectored based on MVAs? Or are pilots expected to query ATCs when they find the newly assigned altitudes below the MEAs on the charts?

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I'm not exactly sure what you are asking, but no, we do not notify pilots that we are vectoring in accordance with the minimum vectoring altitudes - because that is what we always do. ATC is responsible for terrain clearance during radar vectors, and pilots know this, so it is implied and understood that we use safe levels.

MVA's simply define the lower level for radar vectoring in an area - the lower level of our designated "box". Just like there is an upper limit and lateral limits as well, that we cannot cross during vectoring. MVA's are based on terrain and other obstacles, to ensure that terrrain clearance is always provided. You make it sound like MVA's are only used in special circumstances, which is not true. Vectoring at and above the MVA is completely routine and happens every day.

As for cross checking by pilots, MVA's are supposed to be published on a separate chart which pilots can use to cross check their assigned levels. The MEA is not used during approach, and pilots know this. In case of a radio failure during approach, if the flight is being vectored below minimum sector altitude (MSA), the pilot will climb to the MSA, even if the MVA is lower.

Further reading on SKYbrary.

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    $\begingroup$ If I want lower I will often ask ATC what their MVA is to see if it will work for me. $\endgroup$ – mongo Sep 17 '17 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ @J. Hougaard I’ve never heard of MVAs being published on a chart for pilots and MVAs don’t show up on paper charts or ForeFlight. According to the Pilot Controller Glossary, "Charts depicting minimum vectoring altitudes are normally available only to the controllers and not to pilots." We’ve got lots of altitudes, MORAs, MRAs, MTAs, MSAs, but we don’t know the MVA. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Sep 17 '17 at 22:01
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    $\begingroup$ @JScarry I don't know which country you are in, but it sounds like it is one that does not follow ICAO recommendations on the matter. The following three are examples from Sweden, Norway and Finland respectively: aro.lfv.se/Editorial/View/3112/ES_AD_2_ESGG_4-91_en ais.avinor.no/no/AIP/View/21/aip/ad/engm/… ais.fi/ais/eaip/ad/efro/EF_AD_2_EFRO_ATCSMAC.pdf $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Sep 18 '17 at 4:25
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    $\begingroup$ @J.Hougaard Not surprising that the US doesn’t follow ICAO. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Sep 18 '17 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ Sample MVA chart: faa.gov/air_traffic/flight_info/aeronav/digital_products/… $\endgroup$ – mongo Oct 11 '17 at 1:36

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