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Sidney Schwartz

Confused with ATC and Approach Plates

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I've been using approach plates recently in my sim flights and think they help immensely with landing. That is, until I use ATC in my flights. When I fly VFR and request landing clearance, I'm told to "fly right downwind to runway x" as an example. This indicates to me to forget about the approach plate and just get in the traffic pattern for landing. Then on IFR approaches, I just follow the vectors given by ATC, which again seems to make the approach plates secondary or unneccessary. So my question is, when do I really follow the approach plate since ATC vectors do not coincide with the published approach? Thanks for any replies.


Curt Branch

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Guest Sunny9850

Hi there,when you are flying VFR you will get instructions to enter the traffic pattern visually....no plates required and you certainly would not want to unless you are, real world that is, flying under higher than Part91 rules where usually when carrying passengers all flights are flown under IFR rules...or if the company rules require you to do so.The IFR plates are there to help getting you from the air safely on the ground without hitting anything...hopefully. The plate just allows the pilot to fly the apprach without the controller walking you through every required step.So VFR you fly a normal traffic pattern and ATC will only give you pattern entry instructions.On an IFR flight ATC will either give you the full approach or in the sim at least most often vector you to the final approach fix at the correct altitude. So the plate is only there to double check things just in case you loose coms and to double check ATC.What you can do in the sim in IFR flight is not accept the vectoring to ILS 27...there is a selection in the ATC menue to select another approach. Under that you will find lets say ILS 27...but via ODC. You just pick that and ask ATC for that approach. Now you have to fly the whole enchilada with only the plate to guide you.Try that and if that gives you trouble check back in here or send me a PM...plus I think there are a few guides available here at AVSIM...or the lessons with Rod in the sim.

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Guest skink

If you're being given vectors, the chart is still needed to find the appropriate approach course, ILS frequency, minimums, and missed approach procedure. In real life (or on VATSIM) you could ask to fly the published approach from the IAF all the way in.

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A published instrument approach is intended to provide positive guidance to transition from the enroute structure to landing. If you are vectored to final, the approach plate still is required to fly the applicable final approach segment, including course, navaids, intermediate fixes and step-down altitudes, minima, missed approach, runway environment and lighting info, radio freqs, obstacle, mis safe altitude etc.If you want to fly the complete approach...something generally only done in the real world for training or at airports in a non-radar environment, I'd recommend you check out the program Radar Contact. It is an add-on ATC package FAR more true to life than MSFS, and it includes an option to request/fly the full approach when approaching the terminal area.RegardsBob ScottATP IMEL Gulfstream II-III-IV-V L-300Santiago de Chile


Bob Scott | AVSIM Forums Administrator | AVSIM Board of Directors

ATP Gulfstream II-III-IV-V

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Thanks everyone for your responses. I understand it much better and appreciate your taking the time to reply.


Curt Branch

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Many (most?) airports are uncontrolled, or have ground/tower controllers but no approach controller. This means there's no friendly voice to keep you clear of the terrain and line you up for the final approach. If the weather is VFR this won't matter. If the weather is IFR it matters a great deal. :) In IFR conditions an IAP is your only option for landing at an airport without an approach controller.FS9's atc is unrealistic in this regard...if you are flying IFR you will be given approach vectors even at airports that are have no approach controller. In real life the center controller will get you to or near the IAF (Initial Approach Fix) of the IAP you requested, then you're on your own and must fly the instrument approach without further assistance. If the field has a tower controller you will contact him/her for clearance to land. If you blow the landing you fly the missed approach procedure specified in the IAP and try it again.Sidney Schwartz KPDX

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