Document Information
Version 2
Created 01/02/2016 02:25
Last Updated 11/24/2020 22:37
by Skylar Hutter

A non-precision approach is a type of approach that uses a navigation system for lateral guidance (i.e., left and right), but not for vertical guidance (i.e., glideslope). The following information is gathered from various pages of the ATC Bible 7110.65.

Do not get confused with a LETTER designation at the end of the chart rather than a runway. For instance "NDB-B" approach, or the "VOR/DME or GPS-A" approach. Notice the [A] represents the ending for either the VOR/DME or the GPS approach. Don’t misread it as the [A] only belonging to the GPS only. The letter on any of these types of charts represents a “circle to land” phrasing for proper clearance.

 

Controlled Fields

This example is a scenario of a pilot flying Portland Approach airspace requesting a non-precision approach into KHIO.

PILOT: "Portland Approach, N57SF with request."

PDX APP: "N57SF, PDX APP go ahead with your request."

PILOT: "Requesting the NDB-B approach into Hillsboro."

PDX APP: "N57SF, you can expect that."

[controller looks up chart and gathers needed information to give the clearance]

PDX APP: "N57SF cleared direct BANKS, cross BANKS at or above three thousand six hundred feet, cleared NDB-BRAVO approach; circle to land [assign runway based on METAR], report procedure turn inbound."

[pilot reports inbound from the procedure turn]

PDX APP: "N57SF report established on final [assigned runway]."

[pilot reports established on final; then give normal landing clearance wind/alt cleared to land.]

This example was based on the pilot having GPS or FMC equipment suffix and being able to navigate directly to the navigation aid. BUT..... if pilot was /A, or other Non-RNAV type suffix, then you would need to give pilot a slightly different clearance from the start to give them instructions for reaching the navigation aid. Remember the PTAC [position, turn, altitude, clearance]. So you would say:

“N57SF, [miles] from BANKS, turn heading XXX to intercept outbound radial [VOR and number if using VOR to get to fix], cleared direct BANKS; cross BANKS at or above [refer to chart], cleared NDB-BRAVO approach, circle to land [assign runway], report procedure turn inbound.”

Practice the proper sequence to say in the phraseology; don’t twist and turn them around to suit your needs; but instead realize that the wording only follows a logical sequence.

 

Uncontrolled Fields

If a field is uncontrolled, you should not be assigned a specific runway for the approach. The rest of the initial clearance should be very similar. Once inbound, the pilot will be switched to the uncontrolled field's advisory frequency (always 122.8 on VATSIM), and they must report back whether they have landed and will cancel IFR, or they have aborted the approach and will required further service.

PILOT: "Portland Approach, N57SF with request."

PDX APP: "N57SF, PDX APP go ahead with your request."

PILOT: "Requesting the VOR/DME-A approach into Scappoose Industrial Airpark."

PDX APP: "N57SF, you can expect that."

[controller looks up chart and gathers needed information to give the clearance]

PDX APP: "N57SF cleared direct BTG, cross BTG at or above five thousand six hundred feet, cleared VOR/DME-ALPHA approach into Scappoose Airpark [don’t assign runway/circling as this is uncontrolled field], report procedure turn inbound."

[pilot reports inbound from the procedure turn]

PDX APP: "N57SF no traffic observed between you and the airport; report IFR cancellation or Missed Approach on this frequency, change to advisory frequency approved."

[IF there is traffic alert them to that; also remember the one in, one out rule for this type of approach.]

[pilot reports IFR cancellation prior to landing]

PDX APP: “N57SF IFR cancellation received, squawk VFR; change to advisory frequency approved”

As with a controlled field, this assumes an aircraft able to navigate directly to the initial approach fix. If they are unable to do this, you would give the PTAC instructions to reach it.

 

Note on Circle to Land

"Circle to land" allows the approach procedure to get the aircraft to the airport, but not quite the runway. Less precision is required for this, and the approach may be available for multiple runways. Once the pilot has the airport in sight, they will basically enter the VFR pattern to "circle to land" on the active runway.

If you look on many approach charts to a specific runway, you will still find weather minimums for circling. This means that you could, for example, clear an aircraft inbound to HIO for the "LOC 13R approach, circle to land runway 31L." This allows the pilot to fly a localizer approach and land on 31L even though there is no published localizer approach for 31L.