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Required ceiling for visual approach?

Fearless Tower

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Mar 28, 2006
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How does one determine if an airport of intended destination has the required ceiling for a visual approach? All I have been able to find so far on the subject is on an FAA ATC webpage that states:

"A vector for a visual approach may be initiated if the reported ceiling at the airport of intended landing is at least 500 feet above the MVA/MIA and the visibility is 3 miles or greater."

Since the MVA is in most cases unknown to the pilot, how can a pilot determine if a visual approach is an option?

I ask, because I am currently spending the next few weeks flying around Texas into uncontrolled fields most of which have only GPS approaches and the aircraft does not have an IFR GPS. I am well aware of the standard flight planning/alternate requirements associated with airports without IAPs, but what I am really trying to understand is how to determine prior to departure, if I am going to be able to get a visual at my intended destination or if I am going to have to plan right off the bat to head for my alternate.

Hope that makes sense.
 

nosehair

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Sep 22, 2003
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For general planning purposes, I use the MEA's of nearby airways and MSA's on approach plates.
But each approach control has it's own MVA, so I ask the controller of each area for future specific planning - or call 'em on the phone prior.
 

UndauntedFlyer

Ease the nose down
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How does one determine if an airport of intended destination has the required ceiling for a visual approach? All I have been able to find so far on the subject is on an FAA ATC webpage that states:

"A vector for a visual approach may be initiated if the reported ceiling at the airport of intended landing is at least 500 feet above the MVA/MIA and the visibility is 3 miles or greater."

Since the MVA is in most cases unknown to the pilot, how can a pilot determine if a visual approach is an option?

I ask, because I am currently spending the next few weeks flying around Texas into uncontrolled fields most of which have only GPS approaches and the aircraft does not have an IFR GPS. I am well aware of the standard flight planning/alternate requirements associated with airports without IAPs, but what I am really trying to understand is how to determine prior to departure, if I am going to be able to get a visual at my intended destination or if I am going to have to plan right off the bat to head for my alternate.

Hope that makes sense.

Your question seems to be a non-question. AIM Paragraph 5-4-22 Visual Approach, says, "Reported weather at the airport must have a ceiling at or above 1000 feet and a visibility of 3 miles or greater." Whether of not the weather will allow you to do a visual approach is not your concern for flight planning or even on your arrival because for planning you must list an alternate since you are not equipped for an instrument approach at your destination, and when you arrive and ATC will only vector you to the airport. If you see it and can maintain VFR, land; otherwise, proceed to your alternate or another nearby airport.
 
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