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visually and clear of clouds to the airport. The pilot must have either the airport or the preceding
identified aircraft in sight, and the approach must be authorized and controlled by the appropriate ATC
facility. Always backup a visual approach with available navaids. There have been numerous cases of
aircraft, including major airlines, landing at the wrong airfield on a visual approach, especially at night.
Conditions Required to Conduct Visual Approaches. To fly a visual approach, several conditions must
be met:
The reported weather at the airport must have a ceiling at or above 1000' and visibility three
miles or greater.
ATC will authorize visual approaches when it will be operationally beneficial.
Visual approaches are IFR procedures conducted under IFR in visual meteorological conditions
(VMC) with one exception normal VMC cloud clearance requirements are not applicable.
Pilots must be able to proceed visually while remaining clear of clouds.
ATC will not issue clearance for a visual approach until the pilot has the airport or the preceding
aircraft in sight. If the pilot has the airport in sight but cannot see the preceding aircraft, ATC
may still clear the aircraft for a visual approach; however, ATC retains both aircraft separation
and wake 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. Notify the controller if you do
not see the preceding aircraft or are unable to maintain visual contact with it.
A Visual Approach is an IFR Approach. Although you are cleared for a "visual" approach, you are
still operating under IFR. Do not cancel your IFR clearance when cleared for a visual approach. Be
aware radar service is automatically terminated (without advising the pilot) when the pilot is instructed
to change to advisory frequency.
What ATC Expects You to Do When Cleared for a Visual Approach. After being cleared for a visual
approach, ATC expects you to proceed visually and clear of clouds to the airport in the most direct and
safe manner to establish the aircraft on a normal straight-in final approach. Airspeed and configuration
point is at pilot's discretion. Complete the Landing Checklist no later than one mile from the runway.
Clearance for a visual approach does not authorize you to do an overhead/VFR traffic pattern.
Visual Approaches Have No Missed Approach Segment. A visual approach is not an instrument
approach procedure and therefore does not have a missed approach segment. If a go-around is
necessary for any reason, aircraft operating at controlled airports will be issued an appropriate
advisory, clearance, or instruction by the tower. At uncontrolled airports, aircraft are expected to
remain clear of clouds and complete a landing as soon as possible. If a landing cannot be
accomplished, the aircraft is expected to remain clear of clouds and contact ATC as soon as possible
for further clearance (separation from other IFR aircraft will be maintained under these circumstances).
H. Contact Approach.
A contact approach is one where an aircraft on an IFR fight plan, operating clear of clouds with at least
one mile flight visibility and having an ATC authorization, may deviate from the instrument approach
procedure and proceed to the airport of destination by visual reference to the ground. This approach
will only be authorized when requested by the pilot and the reported ground visibility at the destination
is at least one statute mile.
NOTE: Being cleared for a visual or contact approach does not authorize the pilot to fly a 360 overhead traffic
pattern. An aircraft conducting an overhead maneuver is VFR and the instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan is
canceled when the aircraft reaches the "initial point." Aircraft operating at an airport without a functioning
control tower must initiate cancellation of the IFR flight plan prior to executing the overhead maneuver or after
IAP with Published Visual Segment.
In isolated cases, due to procedure design peculiarities, an IAP procedure may contain a published
visual segment. The words "fly visual to airport" will appear in the profile view of the IAP. The

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