Visual Approaches


Who wants to learn something’s today? Well, let’s do!

Today’s topic is about the good ole visual approach. What is a visual approach? To summarize, a visual approach is an appoach conducted under an IFR Flight plan but in Visual Meterological Conditions or VMC! After the radar controller clears a plan for the visual approach, the pilot is responsible for making its own altitude and headings to safely land on the runway! In other turns, the pilot can do what he/she wants to line up on the runway! [spoiler]If you want to check out the visibility and ceiling requirements for a visual approach, check out AIM 5/4-20[spoiler] That is your typical visual approach!

So a typical visual approach is described up there and you might ask, is there a non typical visual approach? Well I call it a non standard visual approach. So what is my definition of a non standard visual approach? A non standard visual approach to me is a visual approach issued by the tower controller! (who knew a visual approach clearance could be issue by a tower controller right?) Well, it can! Check out JesseFlies video of an instrument approach turned into a visual approach clearance by the tower! Hope you learned something today! Link to video: []

Reference:AIM 5-4-20


Cool! Told me a lot.


Very, very common in the US to even major international airports.

Always worth remembering though that the visual clearance given by either the approach controller or the tower controller gives implicit separation (terrain and traffic!) responsibility to the pilot.

Can be tricky when conducting parallel runway approaches (eg. San Francisco (not PRM approaches, they are IFR only)) . Worth keeping in the back of your mind when asking for or accepting a visual approach in busy airspace.

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That’s what pretty much I was saying! You put it in more complicated turns as I kept it more non-Aviation terms. I think we need to look at this as a hike when it comes to IFATC and visual approach commands from tower!

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I’m not disagreeing with you in any way. The important factor in visual approaches from IFR in the US is that it will normally be given by ATC primarily to reduce their workload by transferring aircraft and terrain separation requirements to the pilot. I didn’t read that anywhere in your post.

Not more complicated ‘terms’, more including the primary driving factor, in the real world, behind the decision to switch from a standard instrument approach to a visual approach.

From my experience ATC will always ask if you have both the field in sight and any potentially conflicting traffic visual before giving the clearance to commence a visual approach.

Very useful as it allows a tightening of the traffic pattern in congested airports.


Yes you are much correct! Once again I tried to keep short and sweet and if people wanted to get into detail, they could read the AIM section I posted which describes that! I didn’t want to make a book of it and make things complicated for the forum!

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Thanks for your additional informed comments. Very much appreciated.


Here’s an excerpt from the .65 if anyone wants to see it from the ATC perspective of things. Visual approaches are indeed useful and are welcome additions to IF.

Though, while we have people reading through all this, I will mention a few things relevant to the sim only. This is due to a number of circumstances which make them necessary.

  1. 3NM/2000 feet minimums
  2. Calling inbound on the visual while on tower with no approach present will net a check help pages and pattern entry, due to tower not having the ability to clear or utilize visuals.
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Why don’t you go watch the video I linked? One could argue that our towers are radar controlled giving the circumstances of a tower controller issuing a visual approach! I also Suggest reading the AIM I listed!

Blue skies and A Tailwind

I am a great believer in telling it exactly like it is. I don’t really like the idea of ‘TLDR’ or making it more simple. Most people reading on here will have a love of flying and most things related to it. Read the AIM by all means but if you wish to precis then include all relevant information.

If they are unsure of anything then please, please, please ask a question. Much better to have an accurate account and an inquisitive mind in my opinion.


Understandable! There were a few contributing factor to where I didn’t make this longer but we won’t dicuss that!

All due respect, I’m not sure you interpreted the comment correctly. Due to tower not having the ability to clear or utilize the visual, we cannot approve it without approach present. The .65 backs it up on this end- “when authorized by a LOA with the facility that provides the IFR service.” We don’t have reliable radar service 100% of the time, period.

Will this change in the future? Maybe. But this is as it stands for now.

No need for the bold text! Maybe I am reading it wrong but you could be nicer! If people can call inbound on the visual without app then don’t you think, tower should have that ability?

The whole point is in regards to tower not having that ability.

I’m not the one who makes the call, but if it changes, you bet we’ll start clearing and approving visuals.

The whole point of this thread was not to IF related but to show that the tower can clear for a visual approach! You always have to make RWA stuff, IF related when that’s not needed

I think this is in RWA meaning RW ATC not IF. 🤷🏻‍♂️ Let’s me useful and instead off always commenting on our posts maybe it can be learned from.

Let’s time out for a second, because no amount of public or private discussion is going to work.

That aside, I think people would find it useful to hear both sides of the spectrum when it comes to providing and conducting visual approaches, hence the .65 tidbit. To clear up any confusion and avoid people applying the same instances to IF, an annotation was needed for our procedures.

In essence, the forum is a place for healthy discussion and debate. If one can’t be willing to disagree or tolerate different opinions, then there isn’t a point in having any category at all. Be flexible and allow a few stray comments here and there. Avoiding being catty is also a bonus.


It’s not that. It’s the fact that this was for use in #real-world-aviation and not Infinite Flight! If I wanted to have a discussion about it in Infinite Flight, I would of put it in #general or #live!

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