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Practice IFR approach?


crashed_05
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Here's the story to help explain my question...

 

"I was in VFR conditions. The ASOS at cec was calling 3/4 mi visibility; 100 ft ceiling. The ASOS is wrong a large amount of the time. It is by the beach end of the airport and fog covers it and the runway is open. I asked ZSE for an approach and was told it was too low and she was unable. I said the runway was open and; could I get the contact or a special in there? She said no. I then said again the runway is open and was told to squawk VFR 1200 have a good day. So I landed. This problem would be solved if the unicom or other live WX reporting was available there. A second ASOS at the other end of the runway would help. Callback conversation with reporter revealed the following information: the reporter stated that while the AWOS detection system may have been reporting accurate WX it is also notoriously inaccurate. In this case; the east end of the airport was VFR. The ATC controller's denial of an instrument approach several times led the reporter to cancel IFR and proceed VFR to land with no problem. The reporter suggested allowing an FBO or other on airport person to give WX advisories when the airport is manned."

 

My question is, couldn't the pilot just request a practice approach instead and at the MAP report that he was visual and land? Will ATC deny an instrument approach if the reported visibility is below mins? Aren't the minimums based on in-flight visibilities (what the pilot can see) and not necessarily reported visibiility? A text book reference would be greatly appreciated to go along with whoever has the correct answer.

Thanks.

 

By the way, an IFR forum would be awesome on here.

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Hmm, interesting. Denied an approach because the reported minimums were to low? I dont think that is the controllers call. Thats why they have missed approaches. This seems to be an ATC question. Maybe calling and talking to an ATC supervisor would be best.

 

I have done many approaches where the Wx was below mins. Some approaches the reported weather was below mins, but low and behold....there was the airport before I had to go missed and I landed. Others.....Yep, no airport, just like the weather said.

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My question is, couldn't the pilot just request a practice approach instead and at the MAP report that he was visual and land? Will ATC deny an instrument approach if the reported visibility is below mins? Aren't the minimums based on in-flight visibilities (what the pilot can see) and not necessarily reported visibiility? A text book reference would be greatly appreciated to go along with whoever has the correct answer.

Thanks.

 

Officially issued weather minimums are use by ATC and since your fields official weather report was below minimums, no clearance was issued... The controller has no choice but to use officially issued weather reports, try flying into SMX and listen to the radio and you'll hear how many commercial pilots cancel IFR for this very reason... FAA 7110.65 (ATC Bible) will explain your question and any other ATC related questions you might have...

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Approach minimums for commercial operators are set by their ops specs, not by approach control, and the controller has no way of knowing, legally, what those minimums are. Under Part 91 you can go take a look regardless of the reported weather, and helicopters can reduce the published visibility by 1/2 unless specifically prohibited on the approach plate. Ceiling has no effect on whether an approach can be initiated, visibility is the only controlling parameter. The only reason a controller can deny an approach clearance is for separation purposes. If the pilot flies an approach when the weather is below his minimums, enforcement action can be initiated by the FAA, but only after the fact.

Edited by Gomer Pylot
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at SMX it's common for the commercial operators to cancel IFR because the tower is closed and the official weather report is reported as fog with visibility far below minimums... As a result, approach control is unable to issue an approach clearance and places aircraft into a hold, which is no different than being place in a holding pattern at any other airport for weather... The difference with SMX is the pilots are reporting the field in sight from 5,000' and canceling IFR because the fog is at the western end of the runway near the ocean...

 

So my question to you would be, why would atc close a field for fog or other weather if the ceiling has no effect on atc's authority to allow or decline an approach for anything other than separation... It's a valid question for which I'd be interested in learning the answer so I can ensure I understand this situation correctly...

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I think you are misunderstanding what is going on. The commercial operators are not canceling IFR because approach won't give them a clearance, they are cancelling because their (the pilots) regulations will not allow them to start the approach. ATC has nothing to do with that decision. ATC will never place you in a hold for weather unless you request it. ATC's job is seperation of aircraft and that is all. If you fly in that area try this. Wait until the field is fogged in but weather around is VFR (do this so you can do the flight in a VFR aircraft), file a flight plan to the airport and fly it. When you get there they will give you an approach clearance...guarenteed.

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ATC will never place you in a hold for weather unless you request it.

 

ATC certainly will, and there are numerous reasons that holds are used. Traffic separation is only one of them. I was placed in a hold a couple of days ago in Kabul due to weather.

 

Depending on the airspace and type of field and ATC services available, ATC may need to hold traffic an a feeder, initial, or intermediate fix until the completion of an approach by other traffic, or commonly, until the other traffic cancels IFR and proceeds visually to the field. When IFR conditions exist, proceeding under IFR requires an ATC clearance if in controlled airspace (none is required in Class G). ATC may withhold an approach clearance due to traffic concerns, weather (ATC is not obligated, for example, to authorize an approach into a thunderstorm over the field), a runway change, conflicting paths from other fields or approaches, equipment outages, etc.

 

The simplistic view that because one can see the end of the runway one is automatically entitled to proceed, or that the cats in the bag, is incorrect when operating under IFR. For those aircraft operating under Part 121 or 135, additional restrictions exist with limitations for a given operator that are generally different than published minimums.

 

at SMX it's common for the commercial operators to cancel IFR because the tower is closed and the official weather report is reported as fog with visibility far below minimums... As a result, approach control is unable to issue an approach clearance and places aircraft into a hold, which is no different than being place in a holding pattern at any other airport for weather...

 

You are referring to Santa Maria, which has a part-time tower, and uses the tower frequency for a common traffic advisory after hours. The Airport Facility Directory states that the field is "CLOSED to supplemental part 121 and 135 air carrier operations" except with 24 hours prior notice. It also states that there are no practice instrument approaches from 0600 to 1500z. The airspace is Class D, but reverts to Class G from 1400z to 0400z. The ILS is unmonitored when the tower is closed. As you can see, there's a little more to the story than simply "ATC won't let anyone fly an approach if the weather is low."

 

So my question to you would be, why would atc close a field for fog or other weather if the ceiling has no effect on atc's authority to allow or decline an approach for anything other than separation... It's a valid question for which I'd be interested in learning the answer so I can ensure I understand this situation correctly...

 

Your question, then, is why air traffic control is unable to provide a clearance in uncontrolled airspace to an unmonitored ILS during weather conditions below minimums or during times of IFR weather? ATC provides control services in controlled airspace.

 

Officially issued weather minimums are use by ATC and since your fields official weather report was below minimums, no clearance was issued... The controller has no choice but to use officially issued weather reports, try flying into SMX and listen to the radio and you'll hear how many commercial pilots cancel IFR for this very reason...

 

This is incorrect. Aircraft flying into Samta Maria cancel for other reasons, among which are clearing the airspace for the next aircraft, rather than forcing someone else to hold, as well as expediting flow.

 

Ceiling has no effect on whether an approach can be initiated, visibility is the only controlling parameter.

 

Not true. Generally visibility is the controlling factor in establishing approach minimums, but adequate ceiling may also be an applicable restrictive factor, particularly on some approaches in mountainous terrain. While height and altitude criteria generally doesn't correspond to or get limited by reported ceilings (lowest layer that's broken or overcast), sometimes ceiling plays a crucial role. Approaches which require "adequate visual reference" during the missed approach may have ceiling approach minima which dictate the lowest the vertical descent may be conducted, whle allowing for visual separation during the missed approach procedure.

 

 

The only reason a controller can deny an approach clearance is for separation purposes.

 

Not true. See previous description.

 

If the pilot flies an approach when the weather is below his minimums, enforcement action can be initiated by the FAA, but only after the fact.

 

Not unless that pilot is flying for a Part 121 or 135 operator at the time, and not if the pilot stays above appraoch minimum altitudes. While a Part 135 pilot can't begin the approach unless the weather is within minimums, an operator under Part 91 can obtain and fly the aproach when weather is zero-zero, if he or she wishes (zero vertical visibility, zero runway visual range).

 

Also bear in mind that where RVR is provided, (It's provided), RVR becomes controlling; not reported visibility.

 

My question is, couldn't the pilot just request a practice approach instead and at the MAP report that he was visual and land?

 

A practice approach when the weather is below minimums? What type of airspace exists at this location? What ATC services are available? What airport facilities are available? ATC? Radar?

 

This problem would be solved if the unicom or other live WX reporting was available there.

 

No, it wouldn't. The provision of a pimple faced befreckled desk girl in jelly shoes and a cute top does not weather reporting make. A unicom is a voluntary reporting service, and doesn't necessarily imply official weather availability or an official weather observer, nor does it imply the transmission of weather data that's available for use by ATC, nor does it change the airspace in which the field is located.

 

Further, "live" weather reporting isn't necessary, depending on the operator and the level of automated information provided.

 

A second ASOS at the other end of the runway would help.

 

Clearly the submitter doesn't know what ASOS is. He or she may think it's somehow comparable to an RVR transmitter, or that two stations reporting the weather might somehow not compete in their broadcasts, nor cancel each other out, and actually provide something like a multiple RVR setup. Wrong.

 

One ASOS is adequate. Multiple runway transmissiometers may be worthwhile, depending on the amount and nature of traffic on the field, but these can be a double-edged, expensive sword.

Edited by avbug
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The situation you described at Kabul was because of separation, and the weather was only incidentally involved in the separation. The hold was because ATC had to wait until separation was insured before issuing an approach clearance. That could have been because of weather or something else. ATC is concerned with aircraft separation only, and while that separation is sometimes affected by weather, it's not weather that prevents a clearance, it's separation. And we are talking about US FAA regulations in this thread, not foreign or military operations.

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I do know a few things about ATC and provided the information for everyone to look up, but since no one was willing to do so~ here it is word for word right out of FAA 7110.65 which is the ATC regs...

 

4-6-1. CLEARANCE TO HOLDING FIX

Consider operational factors such as length of delay,

holding airspace limitations, navigational aids,

altitude, meteorological conditions when necessary

to clear an aircraft to a fix other than the destination

airport.

 

NOTE-

1. The AIM indicates that pilots should start speed

reduction when 3 minutes or less from the holding fix. The

additional 2 minutes contained in the 5-minute requirement

are necessary to compensate for different

pilot/controller ETAS at the holding fix, minor differences

in clock times, and provision for sufficient planning and

reaction times.

2. When holding is necessary, the phrase “delay

indefinite” should be used when an accurate estimate of the

delay time and the reason for the delay cannot immediately

be determined; i.e., disabled aircraft on the runway,

terminal or center sector saturation, weather below landing minimums, etc.

In any event, every attempt should

be made to provide the pilot with the best possible estimate

of his/her delay time and the reason for the delay.

Controllers/supervisors should consult, as appropriate,

with personnel (other sectors, weather forecasters, the

airport management, other facilities, etc.) who can best

provide this information.

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That says nothing at all about denying a clearance because the weather is below minimums. If the weather is low, then things back up and there may be long delays in getting approaches done, and that affects separation. Certainly the controller will consider meterological conditions when issuing holding clearances or clearances to destinations other than what was filed. But reported weather is not a reason to deny a clearance if there are no separation issues.

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Really good arguements going on here. I did look up your reference helistar...thanks, thats a really good source of information.

AVBug, let's say there is an ASOS/AWOS on the airport and the reported weather is below minimums for the approach for either a controlled or uncontrolled airport.

Can ATC deny you the approach and if so, instead of cancelling your IFR flight plan, just request to fly a practice approach under IFR and hope to become visual at the missed approach point?

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If reported weather is below minimums and a pilot requests an approach, can't the controller deny an approach due to the lack of an alternate and if the pilot still wants to fly the approach make them file an official IFR flight plan with all the required info, including an alternate?

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airfields are closed all the time for weather (fogged in, lightning, snow, hail, wind shear, tornado, hurricane) and when they are no departure or arrival clearance is issued...

 

fyi: note #2 clearly states the reason aircraft my be denied a clearance...

 

I assume you know the difference between an approach clearance and a clearance to land? They are in fact two separate approvals given at two different/separate times during an IFR approach...

 

can a pilot ignore ATC advisories without declaring an emergency... Yes... is the controller required to advise the pilot in doing so, he's doing so at his own risk... Yes...

 

However your mindset that a field is never closed for weather is wrong... Just watch how many times this winter airfields are closed around the country...

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We were talking about denying an approach for weather. That is denying an approach cause the field is closed. Put it this way. How would ATC even know what your minimums are? Have they memorized every aircraft and their suggested approach speed so they know what category you are? Would they deny you the approach because its below cat d minimums when you can fly cat a. They have no idea. That is why they do not deny approach clearances based on weather.

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Of course airfields can be closed for snow, but it's the runway that's closed, not the approach. Runways and airfields can be closed for many reasons, not just weather. But the assumption here is that the runway is fine, it's just low visibility/ceiling.

 

ATC has no idea whether you have an alternate, nor what it is if you have one. Filing an alternate is the pilot's responsibility, and alternate information is not sent with the fllight plan from FSS to ATC. If you miss an approach, ATC will never clear you to your alternate, they ask you what your intentions are, since they don't know your alternate, and you have no requirement to go to it if you have one. Alternates are for planning purposes only, and after takeoff they no longer apply.

 

Fly some actual IFR for a few years and things will become clearer.

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If you are on a flight plan, with an alternate and without a hand off, why would you ask for an IFR approach? The flight plan should be filed to the initial fix already.

 

If you are already flying on a flight plan, ATC should already know what you are planning on doing and when you get close there is no reason anything should be denied.

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The situation you described at Kabul was because of separation, and the weather was only incidentally involved in the separation.

 

It was not due to separation; it was due to weather.

 

If you are on a flight plan, with an alternate and without a hand off, why would you ask for an IFR approach? The flight plan should be filed to the initial fix already.

 

You aren't on a flight plan. You're on a clearance. If you're on an IFR clearance, why would you ask for an approach? How about in order to land? How about for training purposes? How about to find the runway in a dark location? How about to expedite handling during low weather conditions? How about a lot of reasons.

 

The flight plan may be filed to an initial fix, but often it's simply filed to the airport, not a fix. At locations where 70+ approaches and numerous arrivals may exist (Miami, for example), with changing weather conditions, guessing which fix may be in use may not be a simple task.

 

That is why they do not deny approach clearances based on weather.

 

ATC can, and does.

 

AVBug, let's say there is an ASOS/AWOS on the airport and the reported weather is below minimums for the approach for either a controlled or uncontrolled airport.

Can ATC deny you the approach and if so, instead of cancelling your IFR flight plan, just request to fly a practice approach under IFR and hope to become visual at the missed approach point?

 

Not enough information provided, and the question makes little sense.

 

You didn't identify the airspace and services available, which makes a big difference, as does the nature of the monitoring and controlling authority.

 

If you're unable to get an approach clearance under IFR, you're suggesting requesting a "practice approach?" What's the difference between an actual approach and a practice approach? If you can't get an approach, you ask if you can get a practice approach? What exactly are you trying to ask. It's a little like asking, "If you can't walk through the door can you walk through the door?" Nonsensical.

 

The goal is to always find the runway by the time one arrives at the MAP or VDP. That's a given.

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if you can't be denied an approach, why do you need an alternate destination?

 

Gomer... Amazing, you really think a controller is going to allow you to shoot an approach to a closed runway? fyi your statement was you can't be denied an approach for weather, to which I'm saying your wrong... Listening to your logic this winter when all these runways are closed... a pilot can make approaches all day long, doing whatever he chooses and your right, but he will be issued the phraseology "he's doing so at his own risk" and you can be assured, you won't enjoy the FAA response...

 

FYI: I'm a dual major of which one is ATC... My father is a retired controller/ ifr pilot and my uncle is a current controller/pilot... In addition I'm also in flight training, plus all of my education was paid via full scholarships including an ATC Association scholarship... So to answer your question about IFR controller knowledge, I have more than an average understanding of the issue and most likely a far better understanding of the pilot/controller IFR interaction and requirements placed on both parties...

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Once again here's the information your disputing Gomer...

 

Approach clearance is being denied by ATC because of weather minimums....

This information is straight out of FAA 7110.65... The controller is to told to place aircraft into a hold or advise them to proceed to their alternate destination...

 

If an arriving aircraft reports weather conditions are

below his/her landing minima:

 

NOTE Determination that existing weather/visibility is adequate

for approach/landing is the responsibility of the pilot/aircraft operator.

 

a. Issue appropriate instructions to the aircraft to

hold or proceed to another airport.

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That was not in dispute at all. Actually you just proved the exact point we were making.

 

" NOTE Determination that existing weather/visibility is adequate for approach/landing is the responsibility of the PILOT/aircraft operator."

 

It is not up to ATC to deny an approach. What you just quoted was ATCs actions to do after a PILOT advises they can not do the approach.

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I have more than an average understanding of the issue and most likely a far better understanding of the pilot/controller IFR interaction and requirements placed on both parties...

 

You think you do, anyway.

 

Of curiosity, what does having a scholarship from the ATC association do to make you an expert?

 

Being a student pilot with a daddy who retired from ATC does about as much to make you an expert on the national airspace system as living close to Russia made Sarah Palin an expert on foreign policy. Try not to run before you walk, or craw. It's too easy to trip.

 

if you can't be denied an approach, why do you need an alternate destination?

 

An alternate on a flight plan is a legal requirement, and depends on the aircraft, the operation, the pilot or crew, the regulations under which the flight is operated, the location, and the circumstance. Not all flights under IFR require an alternate. Not all locations where no approach is available require an alternate. Alternate fuel requirements exist in some cases, where no alternate airports are available. Sometimes an alternate is required in order to take off. Sometimes alternates are predicated on something other than weather (equal time alternates on long overwater flights, for example).

 

Sometimes alternates are required, sometimes they are not. Sometimes multiple alternates are required.

 

Amazing, you really think a controller is going to allow you to shoot an approach to a closed runway?

 

Of course. I flew one not long ago. The runway in use had no instrument approach. The parallel approach was operative, but the runway was closed. Consequently, approaches were in use to the closed runway, and upon identification of the runway environment, the approach clearance included a side-step to the parallel. Yes, approaches are conducted to closed runways. In some locations, approaches are conducted to no runway. Hospitals use RNAV/GPS procedures to helipads, and water approaches exist in some locations for seaplanes to waterways. Certainly approaches exist, and are conducted to closed runways, runways other tha the runway in use, and other types of approaches to non-runways.

 

Not uncommonly, when a runway isn't available, an approach serving that runway may be conducted with the full knowledge of ATC that the runway isn't available or can't b used due to any number of factors. The procedure may be an approach to runway 27, circle to land runway 29, for example, or approach to runway 27, circle to land runway 18. This is perfectly acceptable, and common.

 

Insofar as being issued an approach under a given set of weather conditions, yes, ATC may refuse to issue a clearance. An approach may not be available due to weather, or the facility or field may be using different procedures; simply because you want an approach doesn't mean you'll get it. When the VOR 13 is in use at JFK, go ahead and ask for the ILS to runway 4, and see what that nets you. Try to get the Silver ILS at Reno, if you're not qualified. You likely won't even have the approach charts for the procedure, and the same for the ILS at Aspen. It's there, but it's not available and won't be issued unless you hold a special qualification in low weather.

 

You can also be denied a takeoff clearance due to weather.

Edited by avbug
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reported weather is not a reason to deny a clearance if there are no separation issues.

 

Wrong... FYI, I just confirmed this with a senior controller & facility trainer at a level 12 facility... if a runway is closed for weather, find me one controller that will issue an approach clearance to that runway... it's not happening...

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If you're unable to get an approach clearance under IFR, you're suggesting requesting a "practice approach?" What's the difference between an actual approach and a practice approach? If you can't get an approach, you ask if you can get a practice approach? What exactly are you trying to ask.

 

I'm a little confused by it myself. I'm trying to recall what my instrument instructor was talking about a few years back. It sounded like he was talking about a loop hole in the ATC system where, in the event you are denied the IFR approach to an airport (due to visibility) and you still would like to shoot the approach and land, then you could ask for a practice approach (which ATC would allow) and if you just happen to see the runway at your MAP, let ATC know and request permission to land.

I'm trying to figure out if there is any truth to this and if so, where can I find it in the text books?

I can't recall what airspace, facilities, and what not he used in his lesson...too far back.

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