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ATC Cancelling Clearances

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If a pilot is not judged as a competent pilot, can a controller cancel their clearance and not allow them to depart? Can they have them return to their starting airport? What can a controller do in that kind of situation?


Edit 1: This is a hypothetical situation.

Edit 2: From a controller POV

Edited by Benjamin Koula
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But in all seriousness it depends what it is. If a pilot is incompetent enough that they can't follow B8 then it will end in a .wallop. If they simply didn't understand something or realize they can't comply with a clearance (PSA to pilots: please make sure can comply with a clearance before accepting it) then I probably will re-clear them for something different, provided I have the time to do so. Another situation which may see restrictions/delays for departing pilots is say, non-event traffic during CTP, or an aircraft asking for VFR circuits during a very busy IFR-focused event. But you can't really make anyone return to the starting point on the airport by force.

Josh Jenk

CZVR I1 controller


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4 hours ago, Lauri Uusitalo said:

Could it be that controller gave TSAT, but pilot was not then ready and his clearance was cancelled? And tower/ground told him to contact delivery again.

As the original post is vague.

That's a bit of a different context... yes, so in a busy event, you obviously have a lot of aircraft trying to depart and aircraft are "metered" (regulated) in a way where they are kept at their stands and are slowly released so that the taxiways and holding points aren't held up. Aircraft are issued TSATs (target-start-up times) which is when the pilots can expect to get their start and if necessary, pushback clearance. They get the TSATs assigned to them when they request pushback and startup. So when you have a lot of aircraft waiting with different TSATs and they finally get handed off to ground to push and start, they are assumed to be (i.e. they must be) ready to start the pushback and their engines. If they take too long and are unable to push after a set amount of time after their TSAT (usually somewhere around 5 minutes after the TSAT), they lose their TSAT slot and have to go back to delivery to basically find them a new spot in the queue. 

C1-rated controller

Gander Oceanic FIR Chief (ZQO1)

[email protected] | dsolesvik#0001


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We don't even know whether the OP is the pilot or the controller in this scenario.

Given a vague question, here's a vague answer -- pilots need to be able to adhere to the minimum competency standards as laid out in the CoC.  That means they must be able to maintain an assigned altitude, heading, and airspeed while airborne, and be able to hold short of anything they are instructed to hold short of on the ground.  They also must be able to comply with any other reasonable control instruction, or effectively communicate if they are unable.  If they cannot do these things, a controller can contact a Supervisor who can intervene and either (a) help the pilot be able to understand and comply or (b) disconnect the pilot so they don't disrupt the airspace any longer.

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr



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