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Visual Approach

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A visual approach is an approach when either part or all of an instrument approach procedure is not completed and the approach is executed with visual reference to the terrain. (JAR-OPS 1.435 (a) (8))


Visual features used for approach path guidance include features in the airfield environment (especially runways), runway visual approach aids (e.g. runway lights and Visual Approach Slope Indicator Systems (VASIS) (VASIS)) and general landmarks.

An element of an instrument approach system (e.g. an Instrument Landing System (ILS) localiser) is often used by pilots to assist in alignment for a visual approach.

A visual approach is not permitted when the Runway Visual Range (RVR) is less than 800 metres. (Appendix 1 to JAR-OPS 1.430 (g)).

Although a visual approach is the first type of approach normally taught to student pilots, this type of approach may be hazardous and careful consideration should be given before flying a visual approach in preference to an instrument approach.

Further Reading

  • JAR-OPS 1

Flight Safety Foundation

The Flight Safety Foundation ALAR Toolkit provides useful training information and guides to best practice. Copies of the FSF ALAR Toolkit may be ordered from the Flight Safety Foundation ALAR website.