ATC altitude vs Flight Plan altitude

Is everyone having an experience where the ATC puts them at a higher altitude, especially when flying a low altitude plan, and never ‘letting’ them descend even though that’s part of the flight plan? Maybe I’m doing something wrong.


Yes, my last two flights they’ve never let me descend from cruise altitude. (FL120)

Same issue for me.

Technically works like real live, I mean, even when the plan said be at 8K-feets, tower can order you to change that altitude if there are near air traffic or simply assign you that “highway” for avoid other future planes, that works well in the FSX but here, with the A320 the problem is that the plane autopilot comes crazy because it pass all the time changing the manual altitude with the planned altitude and even ignoring your vs. Is very annoying.

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Yep! ATC always guides me to an insane altitude on approach! Makes me overfly every time. Where I normaly would be in ILS, I´m still at 11000 ft by following ACT instructions. ATC is useless.


Yes, I’m also encountering this issue.

Especially over the rocky mountains. Atc will request i ascend to 10 thousand feet in an area where a 10 thousand foot mountain is directly in my path.

It will also do crazy things like ask me to descend to 5 thousand feet in the mountains, and before im even halfway, ask me to ascend, and then again descend, like its caught in some ridiculous loop.

Overall the ATC really needs work, as its actually killing the immersion of the experience completely with its totally ridiculous non-sensical requests.

Also, why do I have to comply with atc? I mean sure, i can just ignore atc in class C airspace until they dump me to VFR, but id much rather reply something like.

“Vancouver Centre, Cessna 152 POS, Unable”


Agreed! I was getting a clearance from KFLG to KSEZ. ATC cleared me as filed, climb and maintain 6000’ - KFLG is at 7000 msl :slightly_smiling_face:


Is there any option where I can set altitude during flight planning? I am aware of low and high IFR plan,
I have also learned that if you choose properly aproach, transition , and runway for landing in the airplane FMS the atc let you descend acordingly to STAR min. Altitude levels. If you dont fill out the FMS corectly is not working properly…Even in visual landings the atc will descend you properly…
But is buggy the flight planning, sometimes the flight plant is not loaded to airplane, sometimes the buttons are not responding in fmc…

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Yes, this is happening to me too. I didn’t even plug the flight plan into the FMC myself, rather used the default pathing in the sim. Everything is programmed in, and the A320 seems to be able to follow the programmed altitude, unlike the other planes, but I’m constantly putting in different altitudes than are in my flight plan. It’s frustrating. And yes, I don’t get permission to descend until it is too late! Then I’m plummeting down from the sky with a massive airliner and it’s an absolute mess.


What I do not like is how ATC completely ignores the real world legal heights on departure and approach plates. Also why the software completely ignores that you change to standard altitude above the transition height and this is different in different countries.

In most of my (few so far) IFR flights as a total beginner I ended up way too high to do a proper descent. In the Flight Planner (in the World Map) I usually keep the default values for the departure and approach (STAR?), except that I change the runway from „Automatic“ to some actual runway (with ILS). Like this the actual NAV (ILS) frequencies get automatically entered into the navigation computer (I am currently using the A320neo for this). In fact, the „Automatic“ setting did not work for me so far: the generated flight plan simply ended directly above the destination airport, and I did not know which runway to land on, let alone which frequency to use for ILS.

I,do not mind that the ATC tells me to „fly higher“: I have absolutely no idea whether that happens often in real life or whether that‘s realistic at all to deviate as much as 10‘000 ft from the actual flight plan. Personally that adds to the „immersion“ and keeps me „busy“ during the flight.

But again, it regularly puts me way too high, and as I do not know the airports and their surroundings just yet I cannot judge this (and I do not have the altitude/distance tables in my mind just yet, like „what is the maximum altitude above ground to do a proper descent when 25 miles away from the airport etc. - all I know is that one should be like 10‘000 ft at 10 miles in order to catch the glide beam).

Very frustrating, especially for beginners like me who rely on the ATC :wink:

Today I even repeatedly asked the ATC to lower my flight level by 10‘000 ft - and he wouldn‘t even reply. Bummer. That was in Berlin Tegel.

On the other hand an IFR from Geneva to Zurich went just fine the other day…

Yes. When planning the flight, after selecting the FROM and TO airfields, click the NAV LOG button under the FLIGHT CONDITIONS box on the upper right. You can set your cruise altitude there. I have rarely had ATC try and direct me to a different cruise altitude than what I set there. It’s always “Continue to climb to as filed.”

Because MSFS doesn’t have a smart ATC, it is up to you to plan out your flight and cruise altitude using maps/sectionals and decide during the setup stage the proper altitude you wish to cruise at.

This is an example of not setting proper cruise altitude during flight planning. It probably defaulted to 6000 ft. and that’s where the ATC thought you wanted to cruise at. There’s no algorithm to look ahead and see if you are going to hit something or not. USUALLY if you select an IFR plan it will default to a safe cruise altitude, but not always. Best to check.

My biggest problem is the transition to approach at some airports. Let me give an example:


I was flying at cruise altitude of 10,000 ft. After crossing the last waypoint before transitioning to TROY, ATC called out to me “You are cleared for approach on ILS Rwy 14L, continue to TROY and maintain present altitude and heading.” Great! It’s vectoring me to approach and clearing me for it. As you can see, my minimums after TROY are 2200 ft. I’m not sure how real ATC works (I’m not a real pilot) but I would think they would start having you descent early as you approach IAF. In fact, the plate shows an MSA of 2200 ft. as far out as 25 nm. Well, not in this case. I wasn’t directed to descent to 2200 until after TROY and there was no way to reduce altitude in time to land, let alone capture the glideslope. Suffice it to say, I had to declare a missed approach and it told me to climb back to 10,000 ft and head back toward TROY. The second problem is that the GPS wouldn’t let me active the approach without going all the way back to the waypoint before TROY first…it was 60 nm away! I cancelled the flight plan in the GPS and when I tried to set it up again the game crashed.



Fwiw I have actually had ATC give me a higher altitude for mountains, etc in the way, but I’ve also seen where they have a different height for me than my altimeter because my baro setting is off. The time I had the issue with it bouncing, like it kept making me ascend, come down to my FP altitude, and then ascend again, it was because my FP was set too low for the terrain and I had to request a higher base altitude from ATC.

Thanks for the info on flight plan altitude - that makes sense! As for your approach - you are correct. ATC would not clear you for approach and also tell you to maintain an altitude (I was ATC for 30 years at LA Center). They would clear you for approach and thus give you permission to descend via the approach. More precisely, they would give you an altitude to maintain until TROY (or until established on the approach) at which time you could continue your descent as per the GS or approach plate. Usually something like, “Cross TROY at or above 2200, cleared RY 14L approach.” Or fly heading 1-7-0, join the RY 14L localizer. Maintain at or above 2200 until established, cleared approach. On certain approaches, our minimum IFR altitudes were usually higher than the MSA altitude. Perhaps we could only descend you to 4000 at TROY but once over TROY you could start down. On an approach plate, if the altutude is underlined it means “at or above”. If it has a line above and below it means “at and maintain”. Regardless, as the pilot in command, you would have to advise us if we screwed up and kept you too high. At some point you would realize that there was just no way that you could safely descend and make the landing. You could either ask for s-turns or vectors to descend or slow or simply to be vectored back around to the IAF.


I think the issue is that it waits until passing a waypoint to issue an ATC command to change altitude to the new minimum, rather than trying to get close to that altitude before getting to the waypoint. So in your example above, it would be good if the ATC had tried to get you close to 5,500ft upon crossing NIT rather than leaving you at 10,000 feet. Either that or at least let the player request a new altitude so we can follow the STAR/approach properly.

I’ve had too many instances in the A32N where I’m 15 miles out from the airport and still at 15,000ft by following ATC.

I’ve had it both ways re landing clearance. Most times it clears me to descend, some times I pull out of the IFR fp and land visual.
One time it tried to send me to FL180 in the CT182T going over some mountains and I uhh declined.

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Yesterday atc Said me to descent from 6000 to 3000 feet but i was too close to the runway so it was impossible to land in ils mode and app mode i was too high…on a other day i was flying in montains and ATC became crazy , he asked me to descent but if i descent i crashed in the montains then he asked me to climb 2000 feet then asked me descend… In montains i think there is lot of work on…


Yeah definitely. I also have issues with ATC keeping me way too high. It is odd because if you’re flying an airliner that can show the altitudes for the waypoints on approach, the game clearly knows what the altitude limits are, but it doesn’t stop ATC from demanding that I come in extremely high.

Still, since I can just ignore ATC’s altitudes if necessary, what I mostly care about is that I am able to input the approach on time and not have random glitches where my plane just flies off course or turns back to some other waypoint before following the plan.

I’ve started planning my descents and if ATC doesn’t instruct me to descend at or soon after my TOD, i’ll use the atc window to “Request cruising altitude decrease”. Annoying but at least it keeps atc involved.

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I also experience the issue where ATC wants to send you to say 10,000ft when you have filed IFR iin a C172 to fly an ILS at a local airport.

What is more upsetting is that the AI Approach controllers, seem to want to pass you off to Tower, far too soon, and never give you a final “position, heading , altitude and clearance onto the ILS”