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When are Approach plates flown in real life - or Vatsim

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I suspect this might sound like a real dumn question -- but here goes anyway!!There are a number of different kind of airports.Firstly the BIG International ones - primarily flown into by big jets, with an ILS system and under ATC control.Then you go down the scale to airports which have a mix of big and small aircraft, no ILS but also under ATC control. Then Rightdown to unattended airports which have Navaids and associated approach plates .So -- do you only fly say an NDB or VOR approach at an unattended airport? Why would you fly one at an attended airport?Bit confused about it all . Thanks barry

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Hi Barry,I'm not sure, what the 'official' reasons are for flying an instrument approach at an unattended airport, but there are a few I could think of - like terrain clearance, noise abatement, avoidance of traffic from nearby airports etc. Or maybe the airport is in an area with a lot of bad weather...Just some ideas :).Cheers,Gosta.http://hifi.avsim.net/activesky/images/wxrebeta.jpg

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Regardless of whether the airport is controlled by a tower or not, all airspace down to either the ground or 700/1200 feet above the ground is still considered controlled airspace for IFR purposes. If weather conditions are such that an IFR clearance would be required to operate in that airspace, including departing or arriving at an uncontrolled airport, then for the arrival phase a published approach would be used. An IFR ATC facility serving that area would issue an approach clearance to you and protect the airspace from other IFR traffic while you proceeded on the published approach. At an uncontrolled airport however, the actual flight into the pattern area and use of the runway would be strictly up to you to insure it was clear. Roger

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One very common reason to fly an approach into an airport under visual conditions is to verify that you are flying to the correct airport. It is more common than you would believe for pilots to land at the wrong airport. This is bad for general aviation but it is REALLY REALLY bad for commercial aviation. Hope this helps, Grady Boyce

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As the previous poster pointed out, there may be no tower, but there is an ATC unit responsible for the airspace. If you're in the soup you're going to need an approach to get you down to visual conditions. (Try to imagine randomly descending through a cloud deck in hill country with a 500' ceiling and hoping you don't hit something before you break out!)Note that many non-towered airports ("uncontrolled" is now politically incorrect in aviation speak :-) ) have ILS approaches as well as other non-precision approaches available.ATC is responsible to protect the airspace while you are on approach until you either cancel IFR, report on the ground (via telephone or remote comms outlet), or report a missed approach. This means you might hold for a bit while the guy ahead conducts his approach. Common courtesy is to cancel IFR if you break out above minimums so the next guy in line gets his shot. If you've got to search for a land-line to report on the ground you'll usually add at least 10 minutes of hold time for the guy behind you.One of the most unusual situations I've seen occured shortly after 9/11 when GA airplanes could start flying again. At that time the FAA required all planes to be on an IFR flight plan and would not allow you to cancel in the air. It was a beautiful, clear fall day .. unlimited ceiling and vis .. and 6 planes were stacked in a hold over KFIT (near Boston) waiting for the guy ahead to report on the ground. KFIT has no tower and no RCO, so everyone was running for to the FBO after landing to report on the ground. Because it's IFR, ATC is responsible for separating traffic. In spite of the fact you could see everyone else, ATC couldn't let us maintain our own separation because we would then be VFR.

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>ATC is responsible to protect the airspace while you are on >approach until you either cancel IFR, report on the ground >(via telephone or remote comms outlet), or report a missed >approach. RIGHT! -- I think I might have some misunderstandings as to just what say an approach or tower ATC position actually does .So - I have obtained IFR clearance before departing and am approaching Hicksville . If it was untowered , I would announce my intentions and fly the published (say VOR approach) -- if it was towered , what would the tower controller do/say after I contacted them ?Flying the aircraft in the Fsim is the easy part -- trying to get some understanding of just what happens in real life is, I find, the hard part!! :)Thanks Barry

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>Common courtesy is to cancel >IFR if you break out above minimums so the next guy in line >gets his shot.I'm not a real life pilot, so what happens if you cancel IFR after runway in sight but you have to go missed for some reason? If the ceilings are high enough could you just fly the traffic pattern VFR? If the ceilings are low would you just ask for clearance for the missed approach procedure despite having already canelled IFR?

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The charts are there for when ATC can't contact an aircraft or is unavailable.That way ATC can predict where an aircraft they're not in communication with will go and what it will do (as will other aircraft).ATC commands always take priority over published charts, but ATC will usually channel aircraft more or less according to the routes published on those charts.

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Bazza,Further to the replies already received:If the airport has an Approach Radar, you will most probably never fly the published Approach Procedure but will instead receive radar vectors to intercept the final segment of whatever instrument approach you will be flying. If the weather is good you may even be vectored to a position where from a visual approach may be authorized.If the airport dos not have Approach Radar, then you will most probably be cleared to fly the published instrument approach, until you can report "visual contact" with the runway, in which case you may be cleared for a visual approach. Otherwise you will end up flying the entire instrument approach as published.If the weather is so good that you may report visual contact from 15 miles out during your descent, then you may be cleared for a visual approach from the beginning and skip the instrument approach altogether.Stamatis

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>The charts are there for when ATC can't contact an aircraft >or is unavailable. Not to mention that the charts contain the minima for the approach, as well as relevant radio frequencies etc.Martin767 fetishistIt's a lot like life and that's what's appealing

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All of the above posts are really good explanations, but one thing I didnt see mentioned is this. Normally, airports that are more busy with business traffic and alot of GA traffic will have approaches with lower minimums associated. An airport that has basically no services beyond a fuel station, and attended infrequently by airport personnel might just have an NDB approach (or more commonly now, a GPS approach), while a very busy airport that commonly has turboprop or corporate jets coming in and going (which doesnt include commercial jets) might have an ILS. I think this is also directly related to the airports distance from an ATC facility other than Center. It is alot easier for ATC to monitor you the closer you are to their radar, although there is an airport not far from where I live which is only covered by Center with an ILS, and you must fly a DME arc that feeds you into the localizer.Craig

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... while a very busy airport ... might have an ILS. I think this is also directly related to the airports distance from an ATC facility other than Center. It's actually more related to the cost!! :(It costs a lot of money to setup and maintain an ILS and someone's gotta pick up the tab. A busy airport will probably get some funding toward the ILS from the airlines. An ILS also attracts more biz jets and turboprops. Where airports make most of their money is on fuel sales, so an ILS can be good for the bottom line.GPS approaches are a great boon to smaller airports ... they're very accurate and there are no facilities to install and maintain. Eventually we should see precision GPS approaches with accuracies the same as an ILS. All you have to do is chart the approach and certify it .. a relatively cheap option!!

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I'm not a real life pilot, so what happens if you cancel IFR after runway in sight but you have to go missed for some reason? If the ceilings are high enough could you just fly the traffic pattern VFR? If the ceilings are low would you just ask for clearance for the missed approach procedure despite having already canelled IFR? Well, you shouldn't cancel if you can't make the field .. but that doesn't stop some people :-dohOnce you cancel, you're VFR ... which means you have responsibility for traffic separation and terrain avoidance. You have no clearance and no way of knowing whether ATC just cleared another guy to the fix you need for the missed. Legally, you need to scud run while you contact ATC and ask for a clearance. If you're over the airport, I would just fly the pattern. Controllers are really pretty good guys ... and while they'll grumble at you, they'll probably grant you a new clearance unless there's a damn good reason not to.The harder bit comes in if you're below radio reception altitude for ATC and would need to climb into the soup to ask for your clearance. There have been a number of accidents (mostly fatal) related to people trying to stay "legal" and scud run to another airport because they can't get a clearance. Better to follow the missed approach (which will keep you out of the dirt), squawk 7700 (emergency), and scream like hell for an ATC clearance. Chances are you'll get slapped on the wrist and might even get your license suspended ... but it's better to be alive and unhappy than dead and sorry :-)Happy flyin'

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Bazza:Since I mostly fly IFR in airliners, I personally use approach plates and STARS (Standard Terminal Arrival Charts) for every flight, regardless of the weather. Why? For safety. The charts provide terrain and obstacle clearance, particularly important in night IFR in mountainous terrain. The charts will help you with ATC as well since many times you will be vectored to local NDBs, VORs or intersections as initial approach fixes, and for the most part, they are always on the charts.Lastly, in regard to your questions about the various types of ATC, here's a quick summary:Contact "Center" when you're passing through the local airspace.Contact "Approach" when you get close to the airport and directed by CenterContact "Tower" on final when directed by ApproachContact "Ground" when directed by the tower after you land and have cleared the runwayContact "Clearance" at the gate when ready to pushback and taxiContact "Departure" after takeoff when directed to do so by GroundHope That Helped!http://mostrealisticai.projectai.com/images/northwest.gifAlex ChristoffN562ZMinneapolis, MN

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Let us first differentiate between a "missed approach" and a "go-around." Essentially they are the same thing, but for my explanation you need to understand the difference. A missed approach is what happens if you cannot complete an instrument approach (i.e. you can't see the runway, you descend below minimums, get more than 10 degrees of your course etc). A go-around is what you do if you cannot land (i.e. deer on the runway, too high, too low). A go around is for the most part a VFR manuever. Now, say you're inbound on an instrument approach (doesn't matter what kind). You break out of the clouds at 1500 AGL, you see the runway and there's nothing that would prevent you from losing sight of the runway (like low scattered clouds). Here is a situation where you could cancel IFR and let the next airplane shoot the approach. Even if something happened, like a deer on the runway, you could safely go-around and fly the traffic pattern (remember, you broke out at 1500, so if you flew a 1000 foot pattern, you could legally keep the seperation between you and the clouds)Now, let's change the situation. What if you break out of the clouds at 800 AGL? First, if you're that far along on the approach before you see the airport, you're probably almost on top of the airport and are going to have a pretty high workload to get the plane on the ground. Your last priority at this point is the radio. (Aviate, navigate, communicate-- the first two can kill you if you neglect them, no one's ever died from not talking on the radio) Remember, if you had to go around here you couldn't legally and safely fly a traffic pattern (you'd have to fly it at 300 AGL, maybe higher if you could stay in class G airspace, but not the best idea) Secondly, if you called approach or center to get an IFR clearance now, they can't give it to you because they've already cleared the next airplane in on the approach("one in, one out" is the rule for IFR flights at uncontrolled fields) so you're going to be hanging out below the clouds with another airplane bearing in on you. Best in this situation to remain IFR and cancel on the ground. Yes, it's going to inconvenience the guy behind you, but it's the safest thing to do and it's only going to cost him about 4 extra minutes (one trip around a holding pattern) if you don't waste time between landing and making the phone call to flight service.

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Yes Martin, I think I was saying that indirectly, but that is certainly a valid point. I know that they are not going to repair the NDB at my local airport anymore because they have an ILS, and just approved two new GPS approaches which now gives us 3 of those and a total of 5 (including the NDB approach). I have heard many times that the cost of maintaining VORs and NDBs is quite expensive, and of course I think everyone has heard that they will all be phased out over time and we will completely rely on GPS navigation. GPS is the governments baby though, and if for whatever reason they ever decide to pull the plug on the GPS satellites, its gone.Your last statement about GPS approaches with vertical navigation is definitely true. The two new GPS approaches we have at IKV offer VNAV, but they only get you down 20 feet lower. The examiner I go to for my checkrides flies a Beechjet and has VNAV in that aircraft and says its a great thing to have, but right now you cant really use it anywhere. I look forward to all of the advantages GPS has to offer, but Im not really all for everyone filing GPS direct as I have seen mentioned in some articles. I would rather see prefered routes you must take, or just keep the victor airways in place even if we dont keep VORs around.Craig

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>RIGHT! -- I think I might have some misunderstandings as to >just what say an approach or tower ATC position actually >does . >>So - I have obtained IFR clearance before departing and am >approaching Hicksville . If it was untowered , I would >announce my intentions and fly the published (say VOR >approach) -- if it was towered , what would the tower >controller do/say after I contacted them ? >>Flying the aircraft in the Fsim is the easy part -- trying >to get some understanding of just what happens in real life >is, I find, the hard part!! :) >>Thanks >>Barry BarryIn this case you had contact with ATC on departure and would have followed a flight plan, which you filed before departing and had been approved. If "Hicksville" has a tower, after the previous ATC handed you over to the tower, you would change to the TWR frequency make contact (where you are, callsign, etc) and follow their instructions to land. The trick is to get as much information on your "Hicksville" as possible so you are familiar with instructions that the TWR will give you. Simply put,Approach will handle aircraft for a much greater distance & altitude than Tower. If you were in contact with Approach they would hand you to the Tower after they (approach) vectored you in to close proximity to the field. It works in reverse when you depart. If you are flying in Australia you should get a copy of the ERSA (Enroute Supplement) which will give much information about places like your "Hicksville" & others.

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RIGHT! -- I think I might have some misunderstandings as to just what say an approach or tower ATC position actually does.The tower is responsible for the airspace immediately surrounding the airport. This is usually about 5 miles and up to 2500' AGL. Their main responsibilitiy is the sequencing of airplanes on takeoff and landing. Approach and departure controllers are the next guys in line to handle your airplane. Not all airports have approach and departure services. Often it is a larger airport in the area that has responsibility for approach services to the surrounding airports.Finally there's the center - or enroute - controllers. These guys also provide approach services for more remote locations where a dedicated approach control isn't warranted.On a typical flight the tower clears you for takeoff. When you fly into the soup (or about 1000' AGL on a clear day) you'll get handed off to departure control. Departure will get you out of the terminal area - usually about 30-40 miles from a large airport - and then hand you off to center. Reverse the process on the way in.Approach control will sequence you toward your destination and eventually clear you to execute an approach. When you're established outside the final approach fix, you'll be handed off to the tower where you'll get clearance to land. Once you're safely on the ground, the tower will cancel your flight plan. Because the tower is there to insure you don't tangle with another plane, approach can clear the next guy for the approach while you're still on your way in (as long as proper separation is maintained).If you're conducting an approach to a non-towered airport, approach will ensure there's no other IFR aircraft in that airspace and then clear you for the approach. When you're outside the final approach fix, he'll tell you to switch to the local traffic frequency and tell you to report on the ground or report cancelling IFR. Until you either report on the ground, or cancel or report flying the missed approach that airspace is all yours ... no one else is allowed in or out.Normally if you break out at 700' or better and can see the airport and are reasonably sure you can land without getting back into the soup, you call the controller and cancel ... now it's up to you to avoid hitting something. If you break out at 200' on the ILS, you had better worry about landing the plane and call the controller once you're clear of the runway!!Hope this helps :-)

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>In spite of the >fact you could see everyone else, ATC couldn't let us >maintain our own separation because we would then be VFR. They should have been able to give everybody a visual approach. "Follow the Cessna XXX" etc. It's still an IFR procedure.Mike

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