When to call inbound on the ILS...

Lately I’ve noticed numerous pilots calling inbound on the ILS when they shouldn’t be, or alternatively, calling simply inbound when they should be calling inbound on the ILS. Let’s go over when to do each…

Inbound on the ILS

In order to keep things simple, two conditions have to be met in order to be able to legitimately call inbound on the ILS. Condition one is that you have to be previously under the control of an approach controller immediately before switching to tower. Condition two is that you also have to be cleared for an ILS approach which happens about 97% of the time with an approach controller anyways. If these conditions aren’t met, don’t call inbound on the ILS; instead simply call inbound, which is covered next.

Simply inbound

There are two different types of scenarios for this one. The first one is when there is an active approach controller. You call simply inbound when the approach controller hands you off to tower without clearing you for an ILS approach. Now you may ask, why would the controller not clear you for an ILS approach? The answer is because you requested radar vectors and not ILS.
Now the second scenario is when there is not an active approach controller. This is pretty straightforward as there is no one there to guide you via radar and clear you for the ILS. Since there is no one there to clear you for it, you can’t legitimately call inbound on the ILS. In this case, just like the first scenario, just simply call inbound.

What you can expect from IFATC

For those of you that don’t know, IFATC are in communication with each other while we are controlling and the approach controllers will usually let the tower controllers who is not inbound on the ILS. Not to mention the fact that we are very observant and we know when a pilot should be doing certain things. We have all sorts of pilot information at our fingertips, especially what kind of radar services you’ve requested. If you’re messing up the call inbound, don’t be surprised if immediately afterwards you receive a check help pages command. I will personally give a check help pages command to every person that incorrectly calls inbound. Other controllers may let it go… that’s just the way the 🍪 crumbles. But nonetheless, please strive to continuously fly as realistic as possible.

Much regards,
Nichalas Petranek


Good topic a lot of people misunderstand this. (I used to myself until a IFATC gave me a check help pages) ;)


Yes thank you for this topic. People don’t understand that you are not inbound on the ILS if you’re about to enter the downwind 20 nautical miles from the airport.

Ahh yes, that too. I didn’t mention that although typically the only way you’re entering downwind is when approach isn’t available. So I guess that falls under the “approach frequency not active” portion.

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You should have a look to this.

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Damn I didn’t know that controllers were in contact with each other too
Now have to be more careful👍🏻👍🏻🤔🤔

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Unfortunately, 97% of the people who read this right post will continue to make misuse and without logic of communications … frustrating


Thank You! This really helps, learn something new everyday:)


If users watched the Tutorial Videos, there would be no need for this whole post.

Maybe time to get this closed.


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