When it will be operationally beneficial, ATC may authorize an aircraft to conduct a visual
approach to an airport or to follow another aircraft when flight to, and landing at, the airport can
be accomplished in VFR weather. Visual approaches are initiated by ATC to reduce
pilot/controller workload and expedite arrivals by shortening flight paths to the airport. It is the
pilot's responsibility to advise ATC as soon as possible if a visual approach is not desired. The
pilot must have the airport or the identified preceding aircraft in sight before the clearance can be
issued. If the pilot has the airport in sight but cannot see the aircraft he is following, ATC may
still clear the aircraft for a visual approach, but ATC retains both separation and wake turbulence
separation responsibility. When visually following a preceding aircraft, acceptance of the visual
approach clearance constitutes acceptance of pilot responsibility for maintaining a safe approach
interval and adequate wake turbulence separation.
Reference: AIM Section V, "Circling Minimums," NIFM Section 29, "The Circling Approach,"
FAA ATC Manual 7110, "Circling Approach."
Because of obstacles near the airport, a portion of the circling area
may be restricted by a procedural note: i.e., "Circling NA E of
RWY 1735." It is the pilot's responsibility to review any circling
restrictions for the intended airport. These restrictions can be found
in the Approach Plates, AP1, IFR Supplement or current NOTAMs.
Published circling minimums provide a 300foot obstacle clearance when pilots remain within
the appropriate area of protection (Figure 712).
7-20 INSTRUMENT NAVIGATION