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VFR with ILS or RNAV Approach?


Joel Semmel
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This will almost certainly vary by locality but in general: yes you can fly an instrument approach when operating VFR, but what you cannot do at any time is fly in IMC (ie enter a cloud), and so you must be absolutely crystal clear with ATC that you cannot accept any instruction that would result in this. In real life, you cannot use a view limiting device to practice your instrument flying unless you have a safety pilot with you either.

Likewise in real life, depending on your aircraft type (for instance if you are flying a light aircraft VFR which is obviously the most common scenario) then you may also run in to resistance from ATC if there is commercial IFR traffic that actually “needs” the approach as invariably flying the ILS etc will require many more track miles and, particularly in a slow single/multi-engine piston aircraft, take an inordinately longer amount of time than a visual circuit and landing which in turn will have a knock on effect to other traffic — in such cases you might expect a lengthy delay if there is commercial traffic. This may be less of an issue on VATSIM as traffic levels naturally are generally lower than real life, although obviously if you pick a busy commercial airfield then you might expect delays.

In summary: yes you can, but you must remain VMC at all times and be aware if you are flying a slower aircraft of the effect on surrounding traffic!

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I can not remember. In real life, I think you must be sure your aircraft is certified to fly IFR and request the ATC to cancel your VFR and request an IFR approach.

I am not sure, I will check the air law manual again...

 

Edited by Luca Melis

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ILS and RNAV approaches are instrument procedures, so you can, by definition, only fly them under IFR.

However, nothing prevents you from using the nav equipment on your aircraft while under VFR - as long as you abide by the restrictions of VFR (maintain visual contact with the runway, stay in VMC, follow published VFR procedures, etc.), you can use ILS or RNAV to augment your navigation, and you can even use the autopilot to track a localizer and glideslope.

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11 hours ago, Tobias Dammers said:

ILS and RNAV approaches are instrument procedures, so you can, by definition, only fly them under IFR.

 

But wouldn't this imply that ATC can't clear you to fly an ILS/RNAV approach? And if so, you'll probably have to tell atc that you'll fly the approach as an ils/rnav, but under VFR and naturally in VMC

Torben Andersen, VACC-SCA Controller (C1)

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2 hours ago, Torben Andersen said:

But wouldn't this imply that ATC can't clear you to fly an ILS/RNAV approach? And if so, you'll probably have to tell atc that you'll fly the approach as an ils/rnav, but under VFR and naturally in VMC

Correct. If you're VFR, then you cannot be cleared for an ILS or RNAV approach.

As far as ATC is concerned, as long as you're VFR, the only approaches you can legally fly are approaches under VFR. Whether you fly those approaches using your Mk-I Eyeballs™ alone, or make use of additional available instrumentation, is up to you, and you don't need to tell anyone anything about it, because, again, legally, and as far as ATC is concerned, you're flying a VFR approach, and all that matters is that you fly it correctly, as outlined in ICAO rules, your local VFR rules, and any published VFR procedures.

If the local VFR chart says to fly a left traffic pattern and to remain within 5 miles of the airport, then you can hand-fly that, but you can also set your autopilot to HDG mode for the downwind, put a suitable VOR on your DME, and the ILS on your NAV1, and then twist the HDG knob left by 90 degrees as you approach 5 DME, wait 60 seconds (assuming you have set yourself up for a nice 1-minute base leg), twist the HDG knob left another 50 degrees or so, push APPR, and watch the aircraft capture the localizer and glideslope. Perfectly legal, as long as you keep the runway in sight and stay out of IMC. And Tower won't be able to tell the difference either - they'll just see an aircraft flying a perfect traffic pattern, and legally, that's exactly what you're doing.

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15 hours ago, Tobias Dammers said:

ILS and RNAV approaches are instrument procedures, so you can, by definition, only fly them under IFR.

However, nothing prevents you from using the nav equipment on your aircraft while under VFR - as long as you abide by the restrictions of VFR (maintain visual contact with the runway, stay in VMC, follow published VFR procedures, etc.), you can use ILS or RNAV to augment your navigation, and you can even use the autopilot to track a localizer and glideslope.

It is not true.

You can be cleared for these in VFR flight, you're just responsible for Ground clearance separation/VMC, and for traffic separation as per adjacent airspace class. Whether you fly these with or without outside reference, it's a different story. You may use it if you are unfamiliar with local VFR routing, if it's complex, or you can use it for practice - you can use a sight view limiting device (as per IR training), but you need to have a safety pilot with set of controls on his side, remaining VMC and looking for traffic.

Edited by Mateusz Zymla

Mateusz Zymla - 1131338

VATSIMer since 2009, IRL pilot rated.

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30 minutes ago, Mateusz Zymla said:

It is not true.

You can be cleared for these in VFR flight, you're just responsible for Ground clearance separation/VMC, and for traffic separation as per adjacent airspace class. Whether you fly these with or without outside reference, it's a different story. You may use it if you are unfamiliar with local VFR routing, if it's complex, or you can use it for practice - you can use a sight view limiting device (as per IR training), but you need to have a safety pilot with set of controls on his side, remaining VMC and looking for traffic.

In busy airports they will start to ask to be IFR in this way they have you under control and they can maintain separation with another traffic

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20 hours ago, Alistair Thomson said:

@Mateusz Zymlais correct. It's common in RW to "shoot the ILS" while under VFR in VMC in CAS if given ATC permission.

I often fly with pilot friends, and we do this just for fun, and training however - I once flew abroad, where VFR Route was so complex (and spelling of the VRP was just impossible to my tongue!), I asked for ILS. I flew it without hiding my sight of view, remained VMC, the procedure itself worked as "known path I will take" for both me and ATC, not as a IMC-breakthrough, as in IFR flight.

Edited by Mateusz Zymla

Mateusz Zymla - 1131338

VATSIMer since 2009, IRL pilot rated.

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Sometimes, in real life they are quite funny.

Multi-engine, IFR flights performing an ILS approach with clearance... Before minimum they request circling to land and ATC told them this is a VFR action and they should cancel the IFR flight plan and become VFR or they could not clear them...

 

??? :-OO

 

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4 hours ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

Huh, since when is a circling-manoeuver a VFR-procedure?

I'd guess, there could be not enough minimums for this (and VFR/SVFR could be done, as CTL's have high minimums) however, it's a solely PIC responsibility to determine whether it's fine or not.

Mateusz Zymla - 1131338

VATSIMer since 2009, IRL pilot rated.

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It's all wrong what you are writing.

A circle to land procedure is always an IFR manuever, period. It's not a visual approach. If the weather is not good enough to perform a circling approach, cancelling IFR and continuing VFR is certainly no option, since VFR minima are higher than circling minima. There may be some special cases at airports in mountainous areas, but that's about it.

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I am wondering if the pilot in question asked for circling on a specific instrument approach that does not allow it -- as some do not have circling minima published -- and was told in that case that canceling IFR and performing a VFR pattern entry was his only option to land on his runway of choice.  Would that make sense for this scenario? 

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-R.

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On 10/20/2021 at 11:02 AM, Andreas Fuchs said:

Huh, since when is a circling-manoeuver a VFR-procedure?

I know, go and explain to the real world ATC who said that to a real IFR training flight in a real airport performing a real ILS procedure...

 

:-)))

 

They did not know what they were doing ;-)

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On 10/20/2021 at 3:51 PM, Mateusz Zymla said:

I'd guess, there could be not enough minimums for this (and VFR/SVFR could be done, as CTL's have high minimums) however, it's a solely PIC responsibility to determine whether it's fine or not.

It was an European airport and there is a minimum in their chart for Circling to land, my guess is that this ATC controller was new or under training too.

Edited by Luca Melis

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On 10/20/2021 at 2:02 PM, Andreas Fuchs said:

Huh, since when is a circling-manoeuver a VFR-procedure?

Perhaps ATC got confused between VFR and VMC??

I have understood that circling approach is possible also in IMC, if pilot is certified and company SOP allows it. But are there also limits for this based on airport/country/... ?

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but AFAIK the requirements for circling approaches are different than those for VMC, so yes, it may be legal to fly a circling approach in IMC. You need to maintain visual of the runway, but you do not need to be in full VMC.

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1 hour ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

No, a circling approach is always a visual maneuver under IFR. If you go IMC during a circling approach, you need to perform a missed approach. Basic IFR knowledge.

But you can have license with either "circling approach in VMC only" or have that restriction removed.

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