DCA Runway 19 Approach

One of the most enjoyable and challenging approaches in the US, in my opinion, is DCA’s runway 19 given you have to follow an almost zigzag approach to avoid restricted airspace. I love how Infinite Flight has built this approach into the program. Unfortunately for the third time today I had to end my flight before an uneducated ATC threatened to report me. If you are going to manage an airport please do your homework on the airport’s approaches.
I do appreciate everyone who takes the time to run ATC, so I hope you will take this post as an honest plea to be careful when you’re doing this great work,
Thank you!


Hey Mike!

Welcome back! I am super sorry that you experienced this during your recent flights into DCA.

Since I, among all other community members, except for the controller, do not know what exactly happened, I would advise you to contact the controller whose airspace you were in at the time. If you need help finding the controller, please let us know.

I hope your situation gets resolved.

Have a fantastic day!


Thank you - I ended my flight before the report so there is nothing to resolve. I could not grab the ATC’s name before ending.

You can always check the replay! If you go the “States” section, it will display the controllers name.


Do you know why they sent you the please follow instructions command?

I can only assume because the 19 approach makes it look to an uneducated user like you are headed to runway 15, but if you look at the actual approach it is getting you to 19.


If you have the time your flight was we could have the controller contact you to see why, we/I can see who opened KDCA today so it wouldn’t be hard to figure out for you.

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I contacted them. It was N940VK.

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I’ve wondered about this issue also, for example at NZQN where there are some special visual procedures to follow on departure before joining a SID… Obviously the visual parts will not be in the FP, so we can only hope the controller will understand what you’re doing… That’s never a given though, is it?

We should be OK with RNAV type approaches that you’ve got in the FP… My assumption (and practical experience in IF) is that if you’re given a GPS clearance then you can follow whatever is in your FP to the runway, as this is what the controller has seen also.

But perhaps the DCA visual cannot be programed in the FP? In that case its tricky, because there’s no way to tell the controller how you plan on getting to the runway.

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I think the comment above me is on to something. Maybe some of our IFC users that are really familiar could provide some insight to DCA? @Drummer @dca.iad.aviation @Plane-Train-TV 💭 🤔

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In this case, the controller should know about the approach, and can click on me to see my flight plan…but I get your point.

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Any info on DCA is free to use here in this DCA tutorial I made, if you’re controlling DCA or flying in, have a read through this, it’s open for anyone to use. Thanks for the @!


But, is the visual part of that approach actually in your flight plan? I thought that DCA approach was visual using a chart, it’s not an instrument procedure with waypoints, is that right?

There is an RNAV approach for 19 that can be used in your FP that is nearly the same as the River Visual.

However that is an special auth. RNAV RNP approach which many airlines and aircraft may not be authorized to fly (if you want to be pedantic about the details)
And additionally the autopilot in IF really doesn’t handle RNP/RNP.Z. approaches very well.

Just as an observation, but it just seems like a simple case of a controller not knowing the basics of that airport.

Also the River visual does have a few waypoints (FERGI DARIC GRAYS and SETOC IIRC) which do illustrate that planned approach path up to about 4 miles from the field.

Ok, so really, if you entered a few waypoints from the RNP that lead to the runway the controller can see that and should understand that’s your route in…

The next question is what sort of approach should you ask for? If you ask for visual then I guess don’t expect the controller to take any notice of the FP. Probably best to ask for the GPS even if you intend to fly it visually…?

If you’re on a visual, if traffic allows for it, we will let you follow your flight plan. So you could ask for either, the visual is just done visually so you’d need to report the airport in sight. With the GPS you’ll be able to follow your flight plan and you’ll be handed off to Tower and cleared when you’re at an appropriate altitude.

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I had the full approach entered and stated I was coming in on a GPS approach, which it was…there really shouldn’t have been confusion. I got a nice response from the controller.

Did they issue you a heading? There’s so many reasons why someone could receive a PFI, could just be a miss understanding.

No - the controller simply didn’t understand the approach for that runway.

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