Contact Approaches

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TopperHarley
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Contact Approaches

Post by TopperHarley »

Hey guys,

If you have been cleared for a contact approach, I realize that you may deviate from the instrument approach procedure and dead reckon a track to the destination.

Let's assume that you have been cleared for such an approach. If you become disoriented and decide that you now want to follow the approach procedure again, do you now need to get a new clearance to do so (assume you now want to do a full approach procedure).

Or, does a clearance for a contact approach allow you to shoot the actual procedure, dead reckon a straight-in landing, circle-to-land, or join the circuit as you would if it were VFR (i.e. is it a blanket clearance, allowing you to choose any of the above means of landing?) I'd imagine that if you are being cleared for a contact approach, ATC is expecting you to fly the approach and landing like a circuit at circling minima or at circuit altitude.

Thanks in advance for all comments,

Chris.
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FamilyGuy
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Post by FamilyGuy »

A contact approach is a cross between a visual and an actual full IFR approach clx. The pilot is expected to remain clear of cloud and have a reasonable expectation of continuing to destination while ATC continues to apply normal IFR separation standards to the flight - visual sep is not allowed like in successive visual approach clx's.

So, if you have been cleared for a contact approach and can no longer maintain visual ref or don't think you will find the airport, you should advise ATC and request another clearence. ATC will not expect you to do the full procedure on your own without a clearence. Oddly enough however the only form of IFR separation that ATC could normally apply to a contact is vertical because they have no idea what lateral area you might need to complete it. They would be surprised if you went 10 miles past the airport and then back again.
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slob driver
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Post by slob driver »

I think that it is perfectly resaonable to do an approach if you have been cleared a contact approach. In my mind, a contact approach is used to expedite an arrival into an airport, instead of doing the full approach. There are diffferent reasons why one would request a contact approach instead of say a visual approach. If you are going into yqt for instance and the wx is below visual approach limits, and you are clear of cloud with at least 1 mile flight visibility with a reasonable expectation of continuing in it, you can request and be granted a contact approach. What the contact approach does is give you ifr separation in the event that you arent able to continue the approach by maneuvering visually, and have to continue the approach as published, and are also covered in the event of a missed approach off of a contact approach. Also, it lets you deviate from the published vfr circuit procedures of going overhead. You can just say that you are circling for a runway on the contact, instead of saying your on a right base, and getting violated. There should never be an airplane cleared to your missed approach altitude during your contact approach. They will be made to hold at an altitude above all the published approach procedures. While rare, I have had to revert to the published approach after I have been cleared for a contact approach, at least in a situation where i was conducting an approach at an airfield where you are talking to someone i.e. fss or an rco. i didn't do anything like miss on the approach, I just advised on the mf or rco that I was unable to continue with the contact and was proceeding with the published approach, and would fss or the rco advise center. I assume that this was ok, since I've never heard back from ACC over the matter. One thing that does anger me is how some people interpret the rules of a contact approach. It is my belief that you can request and be granted a contact appproach if you believe that at your minimum IFR altitude, you will be clear of cloud with 1 mile flight vis and can stay in those conditions to the landing. It seems that some people believe that you need to be clear of cloud to request the contact. I don't think that this is true at all, but would like to hear some feedback on what other people think
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FREEFALL
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Post by FREEFALL »

The contact approach is an approval by ATC. Not a clearance. They will clear you to the ABC airport for an approach. Which means any one of the appraoches in the CAP. If the contact approach is approved, ATC expects you to fly your planned approach, weather it be a full procedure, ARC, RNAV...etc. And once you meet contact approach requirements, deviate to your destination from the original approach. If the contact approach is approved and throughout the entire approach you don't meet contact approach requirements, you may fly the whole approach you planned without getting another clearance.
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cargo_guy
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Post by cargo_guy »

FREEFALL wrote:The contact approach is an approval by ATC. Not a clearance.
If that is the case why do I always hear centre use the terminology: "cleared to ABC airport for the contact approach"?

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tower controller
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Post by tower controller »

Maybe an IFR guy can help me out on this, but from an ATC point of view, we treat visuals and contacts basically the same.

For the contact you have to have;
a) the weather limits
b) the pilot has to be able to navigate from where he is to the airport visually

For the visual the pilot has to;
a) have the airport in sight
b) have any IFR traffic that he is to follow in sight

I have seen multiple aircraft on the visual approach at once, tho usually not more than two, I've only ever seen one aircraft on the contact at a time, but we have radar right to the ground so we have lots of other options.

If I was flying (I'm not a pilot) and could no longer continue on the approach I was cleared for, like the contact or the visual, I'd be sure I told somebody about it.

One thing though, if you had to do a miss due to an aircraft problem, what type of missed approach would you do?
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zzjayca
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Post by zzjayca »

FREEFALL wrote:The contact approach is an approval by ATC. Not a clearance. .
Straight from ATC manops:

476.1

You may clear an aircraft for a contact approach provided:

A. the aircraft requests it;and
B. there is an approved functioning instrument approach for the airport.

476.2

Issue alternative or missed approach instructions if weather conditions are such that completion of a contact approach is in doubt.

476.3

Maintain an IFR separation minimum between an aircraft cleared for a contact approach and other IFR and CVFR aircraft.


To summarize, a contact approach is not an approval, it is a clearance. Technically, if an aircraft is unable to continue on a contact approach, they are required to request an alternate approach clearance. However, since ATC is still required to provide separation to an aircraft on a contact approach, no one usually takes issue with an aircraft who doesn't request an alternate clearance but continues with an instrument approach. The reason you may hear "contact approach approved" by ATC is simply laziness on our part. Usually we have already cleared you for "an approach" after which you request a contact. Instead of giving you a new approach clearance, many controllers will use the shorter phrase "contact approach approved".

Unlike a visual, we cannot clear another aircraft for an approach to follow the preceding aircraft which is on a contact. We must maintain IFR separation. (Manops 476.3)
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ahramin
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Post by ahramin »

Everyone here seems to be consentrating on using a contact approach the same way you use a visual approach, i.e. to deviate from a published approach. In this case doing a missed approach is not likely. As stated previously you are covered for the missed on a contact, not covered on a visual.

However you can also use a contact approach to proceed past the missed approach point without having the required visual reference for the runway. For example on an approach with high minimums, you are clear of cloud but cannot see the runway because a cloud bank is between you and the runway. At this point if you know where you are and where the runway is and there is room around the cloud (or over or under) you can continue to the runway with visual reference to the ground. If you have made a bad decision and cannot actually get to the runway safely then you are still covered for the missed approach, although you now have a problem as your missed approach point is a couple miles behind you. Just like a missed in a circling, you now have some fancy footwork to do to get yourself safely onto the missed approach path.

On a visual, you HAVE to stay VFR. On a contact you can return to IFR mode.
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SkyKing
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Post by SkyKing »

You know what makes this easier...

Aircraft - "ABC 123 is requesting the OPTION for the contact."

Controller - "ABC 123, the option for the contact is approved."

Use it if you can, if not, just takes perhaps an extra couple of minutes for the approach.
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FamilyGuy
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Post by FamilyGuy »

The "option" you refer to is limted to the VFR circuit only. There is no provision to the "option" for IFR clearences. Maybe not a bad idea, but it don't exist right now.
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xduster
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Post by xduster »

Even easier is once cleared for an approach I always ask the controller
"If able requesting the contact approach". Works really well if you're still imc and know of higher ceilings or good vis at your destination.
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fche
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Post by fche »

xduster wrote:Even easier is once cleared for an approach I always ask the controller
"If able requesting the contact approach". Works really well if you're still imc and know of higher ceilings or good vis at your destination.
What does "if able" mean? Are you asking the controller if he is able to approve the request? What could she possibly know to let her approve or disapprove? "requesting" makes it sound like you want something now, but you also said you're still in IMC. Huh?

You may warn the controller you may request the approach later, but then wouldn't you better word it as something like "may request contact approach later"? And once you are actually clear of cloud, and can make it in, then go ahead and request it outright?
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xduster
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Post by xduster »

I work where our airport is served by a Fss station. More times than not when I request decent from the ATC controller he/she will clear us to the airport for an approach. Now if i'm still at 14000 feet and say the clouds are 3000 agl at destination airport and vis is great, lots of room for a contact approach. However, in order to satisfy the requirements of a contact approach "I have to be operating clear of clouds with at least 1 nm vis and reasonable expectation of continuing to the destination in those conditions."

Since i don't meet the requirement of a contact at this time. I ask "If able (once below the cloud deck and meetiing the requirements) that i'd like to do the contact".

Also we are talking to the FSS controller more times than not once we can do a contact so it saves us from asking FSS to get us a contact approach approved from center.
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fche
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Post by fche »

xduster wrote:Since i don't meet the requirement of a contact at this time. I ask "If able (once below the cloud deck and meetiing the requirements) that i'd like to do the contact".
But what exactly are you doing by telling the controller this? Not requesting clearance for a contact approach, since you can't accept one yet. If just advising her that you are likely to ask for one later, then please reconsider your wording to refer to the future tense. Or are you asking for permission in advance, so that you don't intend to talk to her again? Is that legal for a controller to approve?
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xduster
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Post by xduster »

When i ask for it "If able we'd like to do the contact approach" Center comes back with "If able contact approach approved". We then however ususally get cleared of there frequency and told to contact FSS. So with us still 35 nm out and up a 12000 all it does is save us the hassle of going back to center frequency to get the contact approval or getting it through FSS once clear of cloud.
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Post by fche »

xduster wrote:When i ask for it "If able we'd like to do the contact approach" Center comes back with "If able contact approach approved"
I guess that answers whether it's legal. Sounds like a good idea then.
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