Cleared for the approach when flying VFR

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by Joegoersch, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. Joegoersch

    Joegoersch Pre-Flight

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    (This may have been covered before, so feel free to point me to the thread...I couldn't find anything when searching)

    Getting flight following and flying VFR, I asked for a practice ILS 36 and the controller said "Cleared ILS 36, proceed direct ABCDE" (the IAF).

    What am I "cleared" for exactly ? I wasn't requesting IFR clearance, , he didn't even ask if airplane and pilot IFR qualified. Is he providing separation services ? No change in distance I must maintain from clouds ...??? Note: weather was VFR.
     
  2. tsts4

    tsts4 Line Up and Wait

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    ATC assumes you are appropriately rated-- they have no way of knowing whether you or the plane is legal. The fact you were not on a clearance at the time and on flight following is irrelevant. You asked for a clearance by asking for the approach and he gave it to. Did you tell him that you needed to remain VFR? Otherwise the expectation is at that point you are IFR and will proceed direct, at the assigned altitude and there are no cloud clearance restrictions.
     
  3. FORANE

    FORANE Pattern Altitude

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    Did the controller say remain vfr?
     
  4. Joegoersch

    Joegoersch Pre-Flight

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    I don't remember. But I did specifically say request PRACTICE ILS approach.

    What would it mean if he did say remain VFR? What would the clearance mean then?

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  5. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    If you and ATC are on the same page that it is a practice approach under VFR:
    • "Cleared for the Approach" means they are providing separation services.
    • "Practice approach approved" means they are not. The standard language includes the phrase, no separation services provided."
    "Maintain VFR" should be part of the instruction in either case. It's a reminder of your obligations to maintain VFR cloud clearances when operating under VFR.
     
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  6. Joegoersch

    Joegoersch Pre-Flight

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    Any reference for this? I'm pretty sure you are correct!

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  7. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Sure. ATC Handbook, FAA Order 7110.65W (currently), paragraph 4-8-1.

    Also, TRACONs can be inconsistent. Some prefer giving VFR approach clearances; others prefer the practice approach language. In some locations, the local TRACON has a letter to airmen outlining their preferred procedures.
     
  8. timwinters

    timwinters Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Curious, what type of airspace where you in (B, C, D)? And what type of controller (approach, tower)?

    I shot a practice ILS into Cape Girardeau, MO (KCGI) on Christmas day and they used the exact phraseology as your second example. I was talking with tower and they are a class D with no radar in the cab.

    I could see a class C approach controller using "cleared for the approach" even on a VFR practice approach because they are (for all intents and purposes) already providing separation services when you're in their airspace and I've had this happen when shooting practice approaches into Springfield, MO (KSGF).

    ...
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
  9. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    It varies. You are probably correct that Class B&C is going to use "cleared" language for approaches into the primary. But they may or may not for approaches to their satellite airports. For example, Denver TRACON (Class B) used to use the "cleared" language and then switched to "approved" most of the time even if they cleared you into the Class B. Pretty much decided they were too busy to provide separation services in visual conditions. Let you go and then pay attention to more important things. OTOH, Raleigh TRACON (Class C) prefers the "cleared" language even for airports outside the Class C airspace. When I asked them about the use of the "approved" phrase at a pilot-ATC meeting a few years ago, they had no idea what I was talking about since they never used it

    If you are getting the instruction from a Tower (not a TRACON), although it probably happens, I'd be surprised to hear anything other than "approved" since to "clear," they'd have to do your job of contacting TRACON.
     
  10. Joegoersch

    Joegoersch Pre-Flight

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    Thanks

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  11. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Yep, it varies a lot. Detroit TRACON provides separation services for practice approaches into KVLL and KPTK (and probably other fields too). Selfridge Approach always says "practice approach approved, no separation services provided" for practice approaches into KPHN. (At least, that's how it was 3-4 years ago...)
     
  12. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Been out of ATC since '88 so I don't know what they do and say now but doubt it's changed much if at all. When I worked approach, it was along the lines of, "maintain VFR, cleared ILS 36", or even "approved as requested", along with a clearance, if the pilot wanted to, say for example, fly the entire approach w/o vectors. The maintain VFR portion was to remind the pilot to do just that (wasn't on an IFR clearance), and the pilot would be provided separation services. And that's how it was, many moons ago.
     
  13. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Line Up and Wait

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    An IFR clearance should include "Cleared to [clearance limit]".

    An IFR approach clearance should include an altitude to maintain if you aren't already on a published route which you weren't on if you were direct to the IAF.

    For those reasons, I do not think the controller was considering you IFR but he should have used either this IFR phraseology or the previously mentioned VFR phraseology to avoid confusion. Since the weather was VMC is really didn't matter to you. If you couldn't maintain VFR, or wanted an IFR clearance anyway, then you would have needed to clarify.
     
  14. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    If you’re going to the primary airport that provides radar service, you’ll receive a clearance and given IFR separation from other aircraft. It’s still with the caveat to remain VFR on initial contact.

    Going into a secondary airport, you may or may not get the clearance and separation. It all depends on if the FAA has a Letter to Airmen with the airport listed. If not listed, then “N12345, maintain VFR, practice approach approved, no separation services provided.” You can access these letters via the FAA website. Example:

    https://www.faa.gov/about/office_or.../local_more/media/vfr_practice_approaches.pdf
     
  15. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route

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    What you got was an IFR clearance. He didn't say "maintain VFR" so you don't have to. That you requested a practice approach changes nothing except they are not supposed to delay other traffic. There are three kinds of practice approaches. One is to an IFR airplane which you were as soon as he gave you that clearance. Next is to VFR aircraft to an airport where there is a formal program. A Letter To Airmen is made when this is the case. You will be instructed to Maintain VFR and must do so. The Missed Approach Procedure is not authorized. They will often give you instructions on what to do after the Approach and use the words "missed approach" though. Standard IFR separation will be applied except that 500 feet vertical separation may be used. Last is to a VFR aircraft to an airport where there is not a formal 'practice approach program.' This is when you get "practice approach approved, separation services will not be provided."
     
  16. neilw2

    neilw2 Line Up and Wait

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    In the Boston area I always get "Cleared for the ILS RWY XX; maintain VFR." Interesting to see that varies that much by region
     
  17. FORANE

    FORANE Pattern Altitude

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    I always get the same in east Tennessee.
     
  18. Joegoersch

    Joegoersch Pre-Flight

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    Yeah, I'm still a little confused. Usually a clearance gives you SOME permission. It's not clear exactly what permission you are getting when the controller says "Cleared ILS approach xx, to maintain VFR,"

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  19. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's very clear. You're cleared to fly that ILS approach, and you have to remain in VMC conditions. You are not on an IFR flight plan so no IMC for you. Help any?
     
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  20. neilw2

    neilw2 Line Up and Wait

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    Exactly how I always understood it. "I'll be watching your back and i will make sure I don't send a jet up your a** down the same approach, but stay out of the clouds"
     
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  21. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    I'm confused what you find confusing.

    You are not on an IFR flight plan. You are operating under VFR and request a practice approach. ATC is clearing you for the approach - giving you permission to fly the approach, but requiring you to keep your legal obligation to stay in VFR conditions. Keep in mind this clearance can be given to a pilot who is not even instrument rated, say an instrument student practicing with an equally not instrument rated safety pilot.

    The idea is it's practice - in the sense of both flying the course and glidepath/stepdowns of an approach and in ATC communications.
     
  22. Joegoersch

    Joegoersch Pre-Flight

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    Ok. I get it. It's just usually a clearance authorizes you to do something that you can't do without a clearance;. Enter Bravo airspace, cross a runway, land at a controlled field, etc.

    Without a clearance you could fly the ILS XX approach anyhow..."Tower, Cessna 1235 10 to the north with ATIS X-ray. ". Tower: "Cessna 1234 report 1 mile final runway 18". You could fly the ILS 18, no clearance needed.

    You could fly the glideslope/localizer and just report 1 mile final. No clearance needed.

    But I guess the right way to think of a clearance is
    Authorization by an air traffic control authority for an aircraft to proceed under specified conditions--in this case no ambiguity-proceed along VFR...


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    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
  23. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route

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    If they give you a straight in, yeah. Most folk doing it are in training and want the full experience of IFR procedures comunication, vectors to final, getting changed from approach to tower and all that jazz
     
  24. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route

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    Thats it. And not sending you up someone elses a** if you got a sporty plane.
     
  25. Harold Rutila

    Harold Rutila Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Check for an FAA Letter to Airmen (LTA). These are letters promulgated by individual facility managers to inform pilots about what separation services are provided during VFR practice approaches, and from where they begin. Most locations that have LTAs use the "Cleared ______ approach" phraseology with VFR pilots.

    There are three types of "approach clearances" VFR pilots may receive:

    1. A real one. "Fly heading 240. Maintain 2,400 until established on the localizer. Cleared ILS Runway 27 approach." Separation criteria is defined in the LTA if there is one. An example is Flint, MI (FNT).

    2. A fake one. "Fly heading 240. Practice approach approved. No separation service provided." The controller has authority over the airspace in which approval is being granted. An example is Dallas-Ft. Worth TRACON.

    3. An even more fake one. "No separation service provided." This is used by control towers that manage practice approaches. Most of them can't use the "Practice approach approved" phraseology because they don't have authority over the airspace in which the approach begins. An example is Lafayette, IN (LAF). An opposite example is McKinney, TX (TKI).

    All of these "clearances" are supposed to be prefixed by the phrase "Maintain VFR" per the 7110.65.

    @luvflyin, when the above phraseology in 1 is used, it does not constitute an IFR clearance, as there is no clearance limit prescribed, and the phrase "Maintain VFR" is stated. Clearance limits are prescribed with the phraseology "Cleared to... ."
     
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  26. TRocket

    TRocket Line Up and Wait

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    Same thing I always get her in NC/D.C..

    As for the OP, I'm going to assume either he said "Maintain VFR" and you missed it or he forgot to say that part by accident. You were in no way IFR from the information you gave. Next time you are out practicing approaches listen carefully and see what You pick up. Trust me there are plenty of times a controller rattles off a spiel and I'm like, wait what did he just say?
     
  27. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Nice summary, Harold.