Welcome Guest. Sign in or Signup

9 Answers

When to use procedure turn

Asked by: 1813 views , , ,
Instrument Rating

I have a question about procedure turns. I've already ran the scenario past local instructors, and pilots, and the responses I get are about 50/50 so I thought I would throw it on here.

Ok so Iv had my instrument for just under a year so still learning each time i use it. I try to do at least two approaches a month as time and money permit. Recently I had filed to an airport aprox 20 miles to the south that had a VOR approach. The weather was VFR but ceiling was 1800 so I would be in actual enrought. Now I will explain right up to my clearance for the approach, and then ask what you would have done. But first here is the AP


ok now that you studied it heres the scenario. You've just departed the airport 20 miles to the north of the destination so things are going to be moving fast. Upon initial contact with approach you are told "climb maintain 3000, proceed direct to VOR, cross VOR at or above 3000, cleared for the VOR approach to Ross County airport." All dialed in you head direct to the VOR. About 3 miles from the VOR ATC is kind enough to provide the local weather, and then approves a freq change to destination airport. At this point how would you proceed with the approach in regards to the procedure turn.

once I get a few responses ill tell you what I did and why. 


9 Answers

  1. Jim F. on Jan 28, 2013

    Your link to the IAP did not work. Try to re-post it again, or just tell us which approach at which airport your are talking about.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  2. Kris Kortokrax on Jan 28, 2013

    Since you mentioned Ross County airport, I assume that you are referring to the VOR 23 approach to Ross County in Chillicothe, OH. Arriving from the north with the clearance you received, I would have crossed the VOR at 3000 and since the choice of procedure turn is up to me, I would have made 1 trip around the holding pattern (the one depicted as the missed approach hold works fine for this) while losing the 700 feet down to 2300 and continue the approach as depicted from that point.

    From the AIM paragraph 5-4-6:

    If proceeding to an IAF with a published course reversal (procedure turn or hold-in-lieu of PT pattern), except when cleared for a straight in approach by ATC, the pilot must execute the procedure turn/hold-in-lieu of PT, and complete the approach.

    +1 Votes Thumb up 2 Votes Thumb down 1 Votes

  3. John D. Collins on Jan 28, 2013

    Since you are coming from the north, it might seem you aren’t required to do the PT, but you are. You also have to complete the PT at 3000 according to the chart, so you will need to have a little over 2 NM to accomplish that and leave yourself a reasonable amount of time and space to make your descent to 2300. I would turn left at the VOR and continue the turn for 225 degrees, track outbound a minute or two, then perform a PT, then intercept the inbound course, descend to 2300 and complete the approach as charted.

    Edit: There is nothing wrong with Kris’s advice, but I would add that one should consider extending the outbound leg of the hold/PT to provide ample time to get established on the inbound course and then descend the 700 feet to the minimum FAF crossing altitude. Descent may not commence until established on the inbound course and one is considered established when the CDI is no greater than half scale deflection.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  4. David R on Jan 28, 2013

    I agree that you have to make the procedure turn, unless you ask. If you think you can successfully complete the approach there is nothing stopping you from clarifying with the controller his or her expectations and not performing the turn if approved. I ordinarily would not do that 700 higher than the ordinary initiation point of it FAF but it comes up sometimes where a controller is used to issuing vectors to final where a procedure turn would not be required but instead clears to a VOR as was the case here. In fact from the facts I would guess that was the case here and the controller may not have been expecting a procedure turn or he or she would not have released you to the common traffic frequency before you completed the reversal. Given that itself is a bit unusual I would have first inquired whether I could stay on controller frequency until I had at least completed the reversal as a cue about whether or not a procedure turn was expected.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  5. John D. Collins on Jan 29, 2013

    With the clearance provided in the OP, it is considered a random route and not a vector to final. ATC may only clear the aircraft to the IAF in this case. The FAF is the same fix as the IAF and the PT must be flown. If it had been a vector to final, ATC could not issue a vector to join the procedure at the FAF without a pilot request. Even if this was done, the 3000 foot altitude is inappropriate for vectors to final as it would require 2300 feet. When vectoring to final, ATC is required to clear the aircraft at an altitude from which a normal descent can be made as shown on the approach chart. A vector to final places several constraints on the controller. A gate must be shown on the final approach course radar and the final approach course has to be depicted. The gate is typically located about a NM from the FAF and the controller is required to intercept the aircraft along the final approach course at no more than a 30 degree angle and at least 2 miles outside of the gate. Fly heading is a vector, direct to a VOR is not.

    +1 Votes Thumb up 1 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  6. Rog87 on Jan 29, 2013

    Thanks for your responses, and you all said what I actually did. But when I made the turn outbound I was still listening to approach on the second radio even though he had given me a freq change. Anyway as soon as I turned outbound he asked “call sign what are you doing!?”. I switched back to his freq and informed him I was turning outbound for the PT. Then a different voice took over for him, and told me to report when I was inbound, and amended another aircraft that was inbound on the same VOR, and altitude. He gave him instructions to climb to 4000, and do the published hold. I advised when I was inbound, and a short time after he advised the other aircraft that he would give him clearance after my cancellation. I took his hint to cancel and did.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  7. John D. Collins on Jan 29, 2013

    The controller doesn’t know the rules. I would file a NASA report. I have data on many such misunderstandings and provided an analysis of similar NASA reports to ATPAC (Air Traffic Procedures Advisory Committee). IMHO, the controller needs to be trained on proper procedure. I would discuss the incident with the quality person at the ATC facility. If you want to discuss it with me privately, you can send me an email at johncollins@carolina.rr.com.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  8. Rog87 on Jan 30, 2013

    To John
    I might have sent the wrong impression. I didn’t mean to seem like my complaint was at ATC. I just wanted to get clarification if i had screwed up or not in order to know how to do such approaches in the future. what ive taken from this so far is that even though I don’t think I was violating any rule, the situation would have been helped by me seeking clarification on ATC’s expectation of me. I believe that the controller was actually in training, and the second voice I heard was probably his coach. Probably the most dangerous part of the situation was that the other aircraft was inbound on the same vor as me at the same altitude. So i was monitoring that closly. But i wouldn’t want to damage the guys chances of success. However, if you think I really need to do as you said, or you have a suggestion you wanted to give me in private, my email is rog87@aol.com.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  9. John D. Collins on Jan 31, 2013

    This is a common type of controller error and area of pilot-controller miscommunication regarding when a PT is required. Filing a NASA report gives visibility of the issue to those that develop the controller manuals and training. There is a new update to the controller manual that attempts to provide more direction on this subject working its way thru the FAA process and hopefully will be available before the end of this year. If the controller was in training, it should be a good lesson. There are no recriminations if you discuss this with the facility and if the controller doesn’t understand the accepted methods of joining an approach and what the issue is with his expectation of what you were required by regulation to do, then it should be beneficial for the next time it comes up.

    I would recommend if you encounter a similar ambiguity, that you clarify the situation with the controller. I believe your actions were correct in this case, but anytime there is potential for miscommunication, the pilot is required by 91.123 (a) which states in part “When a pilot is uncertain of an ATC clearance, that pilot shall immediately request clarification from ATC.”

    If I had received the clearance you did, I would tell the controller that I was going to execute the PT. Direct to the VOR at 3000 and straight in from the VOR is unacceptable and my response to such a clearance would be “unable”. I would be OK with an appropriate vectors to final clearance that included straight in. If it was IMC, vectors to the final leg would have been acceptable as long as the controller permitted joining the final approach course at least 3 miles from the VOR at no more than a 30 degree intercept and a clearance that permitted descent to 2300 prior to reaching the FAF. So this clearance would be acceptable “Bonanza 1234, 4 miles from Yellow Bud, fly heading 180 to intercept the final approach course, maintain 3000 until established, cleared straight-in VOR RWY 23 Ross County”, but this would not “Bonanza 1234, 4 miles from Yellow Bud, cleared direct Yellow Bud, maintain 3000 until Yellow Bud, cleared straight in VOR RWY 23 Ross County”.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

Answer Question

Our sincere thanks to all who contribute constructively to this forum in answering flight training questions. If you are a flight instructor or represent a flight school / FBO offering flight instruction, you are welcome to include links to your site and related contact information as it pertains to offering local flight instruction in a specific geographic area. Additionally, direct links to FAA and related official government sources of information are welcome. However we thank you for your understanding that links to other sites or text that may be construed as explicit or implicit advertising of other business, sites, or goods/services are not permitted even if such links nominally are relevant to the question asked.