Handoff from APP to Tower

Howdy, please clear this up for me. I have visited the ATC manual and cannot find specifics on this topic.

When getting handed over from Approach to Tower (lined up on grid), I always “Call Inbound” to tower and just select “inbound for landing”. I do not specify the runway from APP because I figure it is best to leave Tower with the flexibility to direct me to an adjacent runway if needed. I feel like tower should know what runway I’m expecting since APP wouldn’t hand me over unless I was lined up.

Today on Expert at KSFO, I was handed off to tower, and for the first time I get the “please check ATC user guide…” from tower. What did I do wrong?


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Did you say inbound for landing or inbound on the ILS/GPS/Visual?

If you’re cleared for a specific Approach for a specific runway, call in on that.

You should tell the tower controller what you’ve been cleared for, for example if approach told you “Cleared ILS runway 23L”, you should call in “Inbound on the ILS runway 23L”.

A plain “Inbound for landing” would be used without an approach controller, and will prompt the tower to give you pattern entry and sequence to fly a standard pattern round the airfield.

As far as I’m concerned here’s the deal:

  • Radar vectors
    APP drops you at one of the pattern positions, you contact tower and call inbound for runway you requested yto approach
  • ILS/GPS approach
    Just say that you are inbound on ILS/GPS runway XX (the one you requested from APP).
  • Visual approach
    Just say that you are inbound on visual runway XX (the one you requested from APP). Don’t report that you’re on final/base though.

Ok I get it now. I guess I didn’t know there would be a difference if APP there or not. Thank you all for the help! I will not make that mistake again!

If there’s no approach you just do the same as in radar vectors

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