When to hand over ATC

if I’m an approach controller, is there rule or etiquette which states at which point I hand over to the tower? Is it once someone is in the pattern, or sooner? If the former, how do I know which is the preferred pattern for the airport, so I don’t send a plane into the pattern that the tower would prefer a different approach?


Learning but keen!


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The best person to answer this is @Tyler_Shelton.

That said, they should be in the pattern, spaced and sequenced. You can’t wait for a short final. The tower has to clear them to land and space with departures (if the same runway is used for both). If an ILS is active you should have them intercept it at an angle of 30-45 degrees and use the command to automatically switch to tower when they have acquired it. Switching to tower and turning final becomes their duty at that point.


Since I only fly Seattle and only listen to LiveATC for KSEA, I know that approach brings the plane well into the ILS and hands them over just before FINKA 16R or SODOE 16C, which is about half way down the ILS. Tower than assigns which exit ramp to take after landing, This usually happens about 3 miles from the threshold.

Here is a sample https://youtu.be/4zvlzwMtjdQ

And having said that, on the opposite end. KPDX approach hands it over to tower when the aircraft are 90 degrees to the top of and before the ILS.

Here is a sample of that if you care to listen :)

It depends.
If the plane requests flight follwing, we can treat it as VFR aircraft, and it means its landing sequence is arranged by TWR. You can h/f the plane to TWR about 7-10 nm out of airport in order to allow TWR to have sufficient time for sequencing .
If the plane takes ILS, though VFR a/c can still request ILS approach practice, we should have our job done till issuing “cleared ILS Rxx approach”. If no more fine tune required, you can h/f to tower after issuing approach clearance.
The funny thing is that some TWR controllers don’t really know this, and they just send guard message to pilots and make the plane leave the frequency before getting their ILS approach clearance. But there is no way to tell tower don’t do so.

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