Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

the visual approach

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


Nov 27, 2001
I've been flying on the line for about a month and a half now and have come to realize that ATC really likes to clear us for the visual approach as I guess it takes the burden of collision avoidance off of them and lays it on us as well as allowing for closer sequencing; but that's not really my question.
From what I understand a visual approach is an instrument procedure conducted in VMC whereby the pilot must have either the airport or the preceding aircraft in sight and must have a reasonable expectation of proceding to the field and landing while maintaining VMC and proper separation.
Question: What is the prescribed procedure in the event of a missed approach or go-around? I've heard that the tower is required to assign a heading and altitude and then possibly a frequency change for radar service, I've heard maintain VMC and enter the visual pattern to come back around for another try and I've also heard folks brief the published missed. The reason I ask is so that I can be accurate and concise during my approach briefings. I had one captain get really pissed when I briefed that "a missed or go-around would be with the tower, if directed to execute the published missed it will be a blahblahblah". His opinion (a very strong one) was that the published missed was in no way authorized from a visual approach and we were a VFR aircraft at that point (at least I think that's what he was getting at but when he turned into a wanker I pretty much stopped listening). I couldn't disagree more as we've not cancelled IFR and that trying to maneuver a jet into the 1500' VFR pattern would be much more dangerous than flying a published IFR procedure wherein the airspace is protected, at least from obstacle intrusion, I don't know about other traffic.
To sum up: What is the sanctioned method for conducting the go-around or inadvertant missed off the visual and how would you brief it?
Thanks to all who care to respond. -Bluto out.
Feip and your captain are correct. You are not authorized, nor expeted, to fly the missed approach proceedure upon completion of the visual approach.
Well that couldn't be any more clear, sorry to have made you guys do my homework for me; I shouldn't have tried to rely on stuff that I had memorized six months ago for my interview. Thanks to all and fly safe. -Bluto
Dont' ever apologise. These forums are for asking questions and discussing the answers. If no one asked, there would be very little to talk about.
Well since this discussion is moving along nicely...the ILS glideslope and the visual approach path indicator (I think it's a PAPI at CVG) don't necessarily coincide as I found out by going strictly off the PAPI when cleared for the visual about a month ago. I was on glidepath according to my outside reference but was rudely alerted by the Canadian guy that I was low on the slope. The captain didn't say anything but the FA sure did give it to me after landing; in a good humored way, of course. So here's the question and this will probably involve technique as much as regulatory compliance: Yesterday coming back from MKE with a line check airman in the jumpseat giving a Stan check to the captain, but I get to have one too since he's there, it's my leg, I'm cleared for the visual, company manual states pretty much what the FAR's (CFR's if you're anal) say-remain on or above the glideslope until necessary to descend below it for landing. Which glideslope is controlling? My hunch is the visual one as I've been cleared for a visual approach. Funny thing is that if I'm right on it the "glideslope" voice goes off so I hung out a little high on the PAPI and a little (just a smidge) low on the electronic. Decent landing and no questions asked but it still bugs me; if I had flown a white-white-red-red approach and then heard the voice warning-if he wanted to be a tool could he bust me for that? I stew way too long over minutiae like this. -Blut
14 CFR 91.129(e)(2)&(3) provide that you must remain at or above the electronic glideslope between the outer marker and the middle marker, and at or above the visual approach slope indicator, if available.

It isn't either/or. You are obligated to remain above each, according to the respective phase of the approach. If you're outside the middle marker, then remain above the electronic glide slope; if you can see the visual slope indicator, then you need to remain above that, too.

Once inside the middle marker, you are obligated at a minimum to remain above the visual indicator.

A good rule of thumb in such a case is to maintain the electronic glide slope until minimums, and then remain at or above the visual indicator beyond that. Ideally, you should remain at or above the highest of the visual or electronic glide slopes, but the wording of the regulation requires that you remain at or above the electronic glide slope until the middle marker (as applicable), and after that you need only remain at or above the visual slope indications. If the electronic indicator is higher than the visual indicator then stick with that.

I wouldn't destabilize your approach in order to climb or desced to intercept the other slope indicator, and you're always best off flying the electronic glide slope if you have it as a matter of standardization.

Currently this requirement only applies to large or turbine aircraft (when flying in class D airspace to runways served by an electronic glideslope), and this is an error on the part of those who drafted the current revision of the CFR. Formerly, this requirement applied to all aircraft, and the current requirement as ammended to apply only to large aircraft, was inadvertant.

The requirement to remain at or above the visual indicator applies to all aircraft, not only large and turbine powered equipment.

Note also that these requirements apply to operations in Class D airspace.

I have included two legal interpretations below, the first of which is partially applicable (albeit somewhat bizarre), covering this subject. The regulation references have changed due to changes in codification in the CFR, but the ruling itself is still valid. The second more directly addresses the issue and is also applicable.

14 CFR 91.129(e)(2)(&(3):

(e) Minimum Altitudes. When operating to an airport in Class D airspace, each pilot of -

(2) A large or turbine-powered airplane approaching to land on a runway served by an instrument landing system (ILS), if the airplane is ILS equipped, shall fly that airplane at an altitude at or above the glide slope between the outer marker (or point of interception of glide slope, if compliance with the applicable distance from clouds criteria requires interception closer in) and the middle marker; and

(3) An airplane approaching to land on a runway served by a visual approach slope indicator shall maintain an altitude at or above the glide slope until a lower altitude is necessary for a safe landing.

Paragraphs (e)(2) and (e)(3) of this section do not prohibit normal bracketing maneuvers above or below the glide slope that are conducted for the purpose of remaining on the glide slope.

Legal Interpretation:

August 24, 1977

Trevor C. Spencer, Esq.

Dear Mr. Spencer:

This is in reply to your letter requesting an interpretation of FAR Section 91.87(d)(3). We regret the delay in responding to your inquiry. You state that an aircraft in which you have a partnership interest was struck by a golf ball when 100 feet AGL and 700 feet from the threshold of runway 1L on making an approach to Buchanan Field, Concord, California. This runway is equipped with VASI lights. On page 1 of exhibit 3 of your letter, it is stated that the VASI glide slope is 140 feet AGL at the point of impact.

You ask specifically: (1) whether the lower altitude reference in Section 91.87(d)(3) is a matter of pilot discretionary judgment, provided no known person or property is endangered; (2) for an explanation of the pilots discretionary values with regard to "normal bracketing"; and (3) the intent of Section 91.87(d)(3) and the identity of the NPRM on which it is based.

Referring to your first question, the pilot does not have discretion to go below the glide slope, regardless of what may or may not be endangered by such lower flight path, until it is necessary to do so to make a safe landing. Section 60.18(b)(6)(ii) of the Civil Air Regulations from which Section 91.87(d)(3) was recodified in 19163, with no substantive change intended, was more explicit in locating the point where the pilot, at his discretion, may go below the glide slope. That regulation provided that fixed wing aircraft when approaching to land on a runway served by visual glide slope devices shall be flown so as to remain at or above the glide slope until arrival at the runway threshold. This change of wording appearing in Section 91.87(d)(3) was not intended to alter substantially that location.

Referring tot he second question, "normal bracketing maneuvers" means maneuvers which remain within the limits of the higher and lower glide slope signals; and the pilot who remains within the envelope formed by the higher and lower signals, which constitute the glide slope, will not be in violation of Section 91.87(d)(3).

As previously stated, Section 91.87(d)(3) was recodified from Section 60.18(b)(6)(ii) of the Civil Air Regulations. That section was based on an NPRM published in Draft Release 60-17, appearing in the FEDERAL REGISTER on October 14, 1960 (25 FR 9868). As stated in both the notice and the final rule, the purpose of that regulatory action was to enhance both the safety of airport flight operations and the abatement of the airport noise problem as it affected adjacent communities.

Since you consider the 1L approach to Buchanan Field to be a hazardous condition, we are advising Flight Standards Service of this incident for their review.

If we can be of any further service to you, do not hesitate to call on us.

Chief, Airspace, Air Traffic &
Environmental Quality Branch
Office of the Chief Counsel

Second Legal Interpretation:

February 18, 1975
Air Line Pilots Association


Your letter of January 30, 1975, to the Administrator very properly questions our delay in responding to Mr. Linnert's letter of December 16, 1974, requesting an interpretation of Section 91.87 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Please accept my regrets and my assurance of full and rapid response to your future inquiries.

Your December 16th letter cites the provisions of Section 91.87(d) that require the pilot of a turbine powered airplane, in certain circumstances, to fly the airplane at or above the glide slope during portions of an ILS approach. Your letter then cites provisions of the flush paragraph following Section 91.87(d) that state that the regulation does not prohibit "normal bracketing maneuvers," above or below the glide slope, that are conducted for the purpose of remaining on the glide slope. The letter then requests our advice on the following question:

What is the minimum deviation below glide slope, as indicated on the pilot's glide slope indicator, which would constitute a violation of this FAR when operating between the outer and middle marker on an approach to an airport with an operating control tower?

The term "normal bracketing maneuvers," as it appears in Section 91.87(d), involves maneuvers conducted for the purpose of remaining within the higher and lower limits of the glide slope scale as displayed on the pilot's flight instruments, that is, within 150 microamperes of the center or null position of the glide slope. A pilot who remains within these limits, which constitute the glide slope "envelope," is not in violation of Section 91.87(d).

The principal purposes of Section 91.87 are to standardize flight procedures at controlled airports and, to the extent practicable, provide for the uniform application of rules that enhance both the safety of airport flight operations and the abatement of aircraft noise. The regulation is applicable to all aircraft operating to, from, or on an airport with an operating control tower. It is our judgment that turbine powered or large aircraft remaining within the above described "envelope" of the glide slope while approaching to land meet the objectives of the regulation. In answer to your specific question, concerning deviation below the glide slope, please be advised that any excursion below the lower limit of the glide slope scale as displayed on the pilot's flight instruments (that is, beyond full scale deflection in the direction indicating flight below the glide slope), constitutes a prima facie violation of Section 91.87(d). It is recognized that factors beyond the pilot's control, such as equipment malfunction or sever turbulence, must be considered to determine the particular application of the regulation in specific cases.

Thank you for your patience in this matter. I hope this answer provides the guidance that you require. If more information is needed, please let us know.

(Signed) Gerard J. Turner
Chief Counsel

Latest resources