Unable

troopernflight

Well-Known Member
When asking for weather deviations, have any of you ever had a controller simply state “unable”? We thought about responding “unable” back to him when he directed us towards some uncomfortable Wx. We got our heads rocked flying through the particular Wx, though we knew it was not a situation that was dangerous. It just scares the hell out of the pax in the back. Shouldn’t a controller at least offer a different option when an aircraft is facing potentially hazardous Wx? It was surprising when he just answered unable. Maybe Sully decided to become a controller.
 
Last edited:

web265

Well-Known Member
About 7 ish years ago....I’ve had it happen in NY airspace. Had just left Groton going towards central Jersey. Headed right for a storm and asked for deviation. “Unable”. When we queried for an alternative to entering the weather we were offered a return to departure airport. We took that and waited it out.

I’ve found it extremely rare to not get an alternative to what we ask for is a problem for the controllers.
 

Roger Roger

Paid to sleep, fly for fun
If as you admitted it’s not dangerous, suck it up princess. Or ask for a holding pattern until they’re able.
 

nabbyfan

Well-Known Member
We have live fire warning areas active in the ocean a lot of the time, I can’t let you go in there unless you’re declaring an emergency. When there’s weather out there, I’ve unabled deviations into it, but always try to offer an alternative. What’s fun is when the airspace on both sides of the control extension is hot, so there’s literally nowhere I can go with you. Basically forced a Hawaiian to declare once, which then got the attention of whoever was using the airspace and we got it back pretty quick.

Just unable-ing a deviation request without providing an alternative or at least the big picture of what’s going (because in my experience most pilots have no idea/don’t care that there’s a big picture outside their flight) isn’t cool though.
 

troopernflight

Well-Known Member
We were flying south, with a cell to the east that was definitely a no-no, and we were cleared to an intersection that would bring us to the south east into stuff that appeared attached to the stronger cell. Long story short, we were looking at tops in 250 range, as opposed to the one in the 350 range next to it. So, even though I say we were not putting ourselves in a dangerous situation, that fact is you never really know. Best course of action in my mind is to respect nature and give a wide berth. How many of you have had to declare an emergency because of a similar situation?
 

Derg

Cap, Roci
Staff member
Not that I suggest this, but generally when it comes to getting around a storm, I’d suggest being more directive than descriptive about what you want. I always think about Delta 191 when it comes to “Well, the last guy didn’t report anything” or some of my colleges that ended up with a massive hail damage for trying to shoot a gap.

I’ll gladly take coffee and donut orders at the hearing.
 

greg1016

Trustworthy Source
Very unusual to not get an alternative course of action. Sometimes that alternate course of action is flying several hundred miles out of the way though. Where were you?

@nabbyfan back in my oceanic days we had recall authority over the whiskeys if we needed it for weather deviations they would get out of our way. We tried to avoid that if possible but it did happen occasionally.
 

A300Capt

Freight Dawg
I’m not advocating using this all willy-nilly for minor wx deviations or issues, but I’m not running through a cell because of “unable”. So, if warranted, declare a “weather emergency” and let them know what heading you’re turning toward.

Generally, I try to give ATC enough time to work something out and also let them know I’m flexible and can go up, down, left or right to make it easier on them. On the east coast, real estate is at a premium and sometimes you just have to suck it up and take the bumps. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about the ride for 300 people in the back.
 

troopernflight

Well-Known Member
Very unusual to not get an alternative course of action. Sometimes that alternate course of action is flying several hundred miles out of the way though. Where were you?

@nabbyfan back in my oceanic days we had recall authority over the whiskeys if we needed it for weather deviations they would get out of our way. We tried to avoid that if possible but it did happen occasionally.
We had just taken off out of Milwaukee.
 

Alchemy

Partner, Ally, Friend
"Unable" is a common response to a deviation request by ATC in China because the military supposedly owns most of the airspace off the airways. I believe that is where at least one of the incidents to which Derg refers occurred. As someone that has had a flight attendant injured due to denied weather deviations on a departure out of IAH (towering cumulus that was not painting radar returns but was severe once penetrated), I am now not too shy to declare pan-pan to communicate the urgency of a requirement to deviate or mayday if I have no other option. In china it's pretty tricky as they can levy penalty points against your air carrier if you declare mayday for reasons they deem unnecessary; the question becomes would you rather earn a point or have an airplane written off?

I understand that ATC has airspace limits and separation requirements that they must respect. At some point, if the airplane is in danger, someone needs to take whatever action is least likely to result in aircraft damage or injury to occupants.
 

Derg

Cap, Roci
Staff member
I’m not advocating using this all willy-nilly for minor wx deviations or issues, but I’m not running through a cell because of “unable”. So, if warranted, declare a “weather emergency” and let them know what heading you’re turning toward.

Generally, I try to give ATC enough time to work something out and also let them know I’m flexible and can go up, down, left or right to make it easier on them. On the east coast, real estate is at a premium and sometimes you just have to suck it up and take the bumps. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about the ride for 300 people in the back.
One day, during my sophomore year at southerners, we were flying from MCO to the Northeast. Nasty nasty weather, we needed about 20 right for weather or we were going to run into one of the biggest cells I had ever seen.

We were refused a turn on multiple attempts so the captain basically said “turning right 15?degrees for X miles, will squawk 7700 if requested”

I sat there like:

74370095-66AA-4A76-AA81-B68C92927BF8.jpeg


“Whooooooah... we can do that?” :)
 

NovemberEcho

Dergs favorite member
Here’s another thread with explanations when me and @dustoff17 hashed if out

 

z987k

Well-Known Member
"Unable" is a common response to a deviation request by ATC in China because the military supposedly owns most of the airspace off the airways. I believe that is where at least one of the incidents to which Derg refers occurred. As someone that has had a flight attendant injured due to denied weather deviations on a departure out of IAH (towering cumulus that was not painting radar returns but was severe once penetrated), I am now not too shy to declare pan-pan to communicate the urgency of a requirement to deviate or mayday if I have no other option. In china it's pretty tricky as they can levy penalty points against your air carrier if you declare mayday for reasons they deem unnecessary; the question becomes would you rather earn a point or have an airplane written off?

I understand that ATC has airspace limits and separation requirements that they must respect. At some point, if the airplane is in danger, someone needs to take whatever action is least likely to result in aircraft damage or injury to occupants.
So say your carrier had too many points... you'd be banned from the PRC?

And that's a bad thing?
 

Cessnaflyer

Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
I hate to be an • with deviations but I don’t want to become a pink mist if I lose control or compromise the structure. Luckily have only had to do it a few times. Otherwise I try to do whatever ATC gives me because there job is usually more stressful 99.9% of the time.
 
Top