What does approach exactly do?

Hey so i contacted approach and requested vectors to a runway. i expected them to guide me and align me with the runway and hand me off to tower.

However, i was on right downwind when approach asked me to report airport in sight. I was slightly confused and just reported airport in sight. Then approach handed me off to tower while i still was on right downwind.

If that’s what they are supposed to do, what am i supposed to do from there ? Thanks

Did you by chance request for a visual landing?
Also what server was this on

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i’m pretty sure i requested ils
it’s on expert server

There’s multiple services they can provide. Visual approach meaning that you report airport in sight and conduct the approach fully on your own. ILS they guide you to the cone, give you an intercepting heading for the localizer and you proceed on the approach. If we can know exactly what the approach type is, it would help us understand and elaborate.

i just checked the replay and i requested ils approach

You should go back and take a look at all these videos before flying on the expert server with ATC.

Was this on expert server or training server as those on training are just getting started without the full knowledge of how some frequencies work

it was on expert server

Hello @Akinxri!

Settle down, this will be a little bit of a learning process so you can become an expert at flying with an active approach controller.

This is taken from section 10.1.1 of the public IFATC manual:

Although the radar position and its responsibilities are vast, fundamentally, there are three
main objectives. These are:

- Providing aircraft & terrain separation
- Reducing tower controller workload
- Getting aircraft to their destination as expeditiously as possible

There are currently 3 types of services that a radar controller can provide you that involve you being vectored to the airport. ILS approach, visual approach, and Radar Vectors.

ILS Approach

When you request an ILS approach, the controller will give you vectors to the runway. Once you are nearing the runway, the controller will clear you for the approach. This includes an intercept heading and altitude. You will follow these instructions until you intercept the ILS Localizer and glideslope.

For an in-depth tutorial, check out this video.

Visual Approach

A visual approach is different than an ILS approach when it comes to the final stages of clearance and execution. Similar to an ILS approach, the controller will vector you towards the airport and put you in a leg of the pattern. When you are relatively close to the airport, the controller will tell you to “report airport in sight”. Once you see the airport, simply report to the controller that you can see it and you will be cleared for a visual approach. At that point, you proceed to the airport using visual air rather than a localizer or glideslope.

Radar Vectors

This is slightly different than other approaches. The controller will vector you into the VFR leg of a pattern. Once you are on this leg, the controller will hand you over to the tower controller/UNICOM.

Also check out this video:

I hope this helps you understand what approach can do in terms of services! Approach can also do much more, such as VFR flight following and flight following to a destination. For your purposes though, I believe I covered the main 3 needed to understand what approach does.

Enjoy, and good luck! Please ask any questions you may have.


Thank you for the detailed explanation i appreciate it. However, looking back at the replay i requested an ils approach. Does this mean the atc is at fault ? It was on expert server.

What did ATC tell you to expect vectors for?

Check your log to see if the controller told you to expect a visual, or switched you from an ILS to a visual at any time. This would explain your scenario.

If you are able to find out who the controller was, that would help immensely. There could be a reason, or simply the mis-click of a button.

That question would be best suited for the controller themself.


he said ‘expect vectors for the ils approach … ‘. i hope it was just a mistake from him.

It’d help if you listened to what @Will_A said^^

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