Welcome Guest. Sign in or Signup

5 Answers

Cleared for the approach?

Asked by: 2217 views Instrument Rating

Hi,I'm an instrument student. I am having trouble understanding how to differentiate between ATC instruction on a VOR instrument approach. How doI know if I should simply make the approach straight in from the VOR or fly the procedure turn?

5 Answers



  1. John D Collins on Jul 12, 2015

    It is always better to ask with a specific example in mind. That being said, the starting point is that if a procedure turn or hold in lieu of a procedure turn is charted, it must be flown. There are four exceptions to this hard and fast rule. If one of these exceptions apply, then you do not fly the PT unless ATC clears you to fly it. Here are the exceptions:

    1) You are flying the procedure along a route or segment that specifically states No PT on the approach chart. This means you may not fly the PT when using this route or segment.

    2) You are receiving vectors to final.

    3) You are cleared for the approach, but the controller adds the magic words “straight in”.

    4) Timed approaches are being conducted from a holding pattern and you are subsequently cleared for the approach.

    All this being said, there are cases where ATC may not clear you straight in. In particular, if you are cleared direct to a Final Approach Fix (FAF) which is also an Initial Approach fix (IAF). In that case, the controller is told to expect that you will conduct the PT.

    Finally, if you are not clear of what you or the controller expects you to do, clarify the situation with the controller. This is required by regulation 91.123.

    +2 Votes Thumb up 2 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes



  2. fragrep larembell on Jul 12, 2015

    Thank you John. Here’s what happened: We departed KSNA on a TEC radar vectored training flight for the VOR -A KFUL. My instructor explained to me that I should receive one of two commands from ATC.
    1. Intercept the final approach course. (Which means do not execute the PT)

    2.”Cleared to the SLI VOR, cleared for the approach”. (Which means execute the PT).

    Intercept the final approach course and cleared for the approach just sound to similar to me, I’m afraid I’ll screw this up and mistake one for the other and fly straight in from the SLI VOR when I shoulda done the PT. (Hope all this make sense, and thank you for your time).

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  3. Best Answer


    John D Collins on Jul 12, 2015

    In either case, you will be cleared for the approach.

    Your case 1 is my case 2. The controller will provide you with vectors. When being vectored, you will be in radar contact and be cleared to fly various headings. The controller will normally give you the reason for the vector, for example “this will be vectors for to final”. Assuming you are coming from the south, the controller will take you to a point at least 3 miles away from the VOR, usually directing you on a downwind, base and then turn you towards the final approach course to intercept the final approach course of 20 degrees. If he does a good job, you will intercept the final approach course at 3 or 4 miles from the VOR. His final vector will say something like this: N12345, 4 miles from Seal Beach VOR, turn right heading three six zero. Maintain 2600 until established.on the final approach course, cleared VOR-A approach, This instruction is the vector to final and you would not perform the PT. Since this is a relatively long clearance, start your turn as soon as possible and then read back the instruction or you might end up going right thru the final approach course.

    If instead, the controller cleared you direct to seal beach VOR, the PT would be required. Assuming you were already navigating direct to Seal Beach, the clearance would be something like this: “N12345, maintain 3000 until crossing Seal Beach, cleared VOR-A approach”. In this case you would continue your navigation to the Seal Beach VOR and then fly the PT.

    If you were north bound on V25 and cleared for the approach, on reaching ALBAS, you would turn to 357 bearing to Seal Beach and fly inbound on the 187 radial to the VOR. At the VOR you would fly the final approach course because this feeder from the airway has the note No Pt.

    If you were southeast bound on V25 or east bound on V8, on arriving at WILMA intersection, you would fly the feeder route to Seal Beach VOR and perform the PT, because coming from this direction, there is not a NoPT note.

    +1 Votes Thumb up 1 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes



  4. fragrep larembell on Jul 12, 2015

    You Sir are Amazing. Thank you so much:)

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes



  5. Chuck Mineo on Feb 28, 2017

    The purpose of the PT is for course reversal for the Final Segment. If you are aligned with Final, simply confirm or request “Cleared Straight In” .
    It is noteworthy that by law, VTF ( Vectors To Final ) when the field is IFR, will place you “On Final” at three miles from the FAF ( 2 miles from The Approach Gate, the Gate being one mile from the FAF, basically on the arrival side ).
    This allows for pilots to trim the machine for the final segment / descent / approach.
    I prefer vectors, but when I have to execute a PT, I do my best to set myself up early, so I am trimmed for Final, and the approach is a non-event.

    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.