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Approach Minimums

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Sep 24, 2005
Some intersting discussions about this subject at my place lately. I'd love to hear thoughts from others

On a recent flight w/ my boss, wx was 200/1. Only a non precis avail and mins were 400/1. He says vis is the only min that matters and that we can shoot the approach to 400 to see if we break out. I had always been of the mindset that if the wx reported is below mins I couldnt begin the approach.....

Digging into the FARs but meanwhile.....

What does your company allow?
I thought you could only do that if under part 91...?
Visibility is normally the only controlling factor, unless you are 135/125/121 and on High Mins, or are operating in a foreign country where the Ceiling then(not always, but will be notated on the chart) becomes controlling.

Company rules vary. The FARs are fairly clear on this. Assuming a Part 91 flight, you can begin the approach if it's 0/0, right down to the MDA. (Part 135 has tighter rules, obviously.) You just can't descend below the MDA unless you have the visibility to do so:
§ 91.175 Takeoff and landing under IFR.

(c) Operation below DA/ DH or MDA. Except as provided in paragraph (l) of this section, where a DA/DH or MDA is applicable, no pilot may operate an aircraft, except a military aircraft of the United States, below the authorized MDA or continue an approach below the authorized DA/DH unless—
(2) The flight visibility is not less than the visibility prescribed in the standard instrument approach being used; and

That's it. There's nothing about a ceiling requirement. The MDA is the lowest you may fly until you have the visual references listed in 91.175. The ceiling will give you a good indication that you're not likely to see the runway, but it does not prevent you from attempting the approach.
Vis. is the controlling factor. I am corporate now, but when I was at the airlines, we just had to have the vis by OM, or FAF, so most tower guys knew this, so they didnt tell the vis if we were close...as long as we had it prior.
part 121 vis is controlling. ( flight vis once you have pass the marker but reported vis before you start the app) I know just the right amount of rope to hang yourself if something goes wrong. Thanks faa

if the wx reported is below mins I couldnt begin the approach.....
all the below is pt 91
-the first number on the mins section of an non-precision approach is the mda, on a precision app, the dh. It is not a weather minimum that tells you if you can land or not, or even if you can attempt the approach. (Although it will give you a clue on what to expect. If the wx is reported below 300 and the mda is 800 you are probably sol.)

-the controlling item on continuing an approach, or taking the approach to a landing, is vis. The second number on the minimums section of an IAP.

But it is not the only thing.
In order to leave MDA/DH you have to have
-the vis AND
-be continuously in a PTL, AND
-have one of the 10 items in sight
§ 91.175 Takeoff and landing under IFR.


In Pt 91 you may begin an approach that you full well there is no way in h you can complete. It can be a pea soup fog from an ant's knee to 10K and you can 'give er a try' ifn you want.

All the above is pt91

Is how I learned it; corrections welcomed.

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