A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation
so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it
all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as
representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have
heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we
might never have considered before, or something that didn't
"stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for
the practical test.
It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers
become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our
ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those
strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow
them to soar magnificently through it.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are
always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips.
Remember... when it comes to being good pilots, we're all in this
IFR, you drone through the drizzle and fog near your
destination. Although you’re below the bases of the
overcast, flight visibility is limited to a little over a mile;
low-level scud beneath you is beginning to break up. ATC calls:
“November 12345, say which approach you request.” There
are only two approaches into your destination airport, and either
one requires you maneuver quite a way past the field before lining
up on the final approach course. Do you have other options?
Yes—you can ask for the contact approach and fly directly to
“Contact” ATC for the approach
A contact approach permits IFR airplanes to fly self-navigated,
visual approaches in lieu of published approach procedure.
Conditions for the contact approach:
- The destination airport must be served by a functioning
instrument approach procedure.
- The flight must be clear of clouds with flight visibility of
one mile or greater, with a reasonable expectation that it will
remain so until on the ground.
You as pilot must request a contact approach—ATC cannot
suggest it for you. On a contact approach you’re responsible
for terrain clearance, while ATC will assure separation from other
IFR and any Special VFR aircraft. (Note: this differs from a visual
approach in that “visuals” require three miles
visibility and a 1000 foot ceiling, and ATC can assign a visual
approach without waiting for the pilot to ask).
The contact approach does not include any missed approach
procedure should you be unable to remain clear of clouds or
visibility drop, so be very sure of conditions before you ask.
For more information see www.faa.gov/ATPubs/AIM/Chap5/aim0504.html#5-4-23.
Aero-Tip of the day: If conditions are
right request a contact approach to get down sooner, and to free up
the approach course for other airplanes.