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Is it okay to descend to MIAs once established on the course without clearance?

Asked by: 596 views Instrument Rating

Hi. Let's say you are being vectored to the final approach course and instructed to intercept the localizer at 4000ft. You look down on the approach chart, and it says the Minimum IFR altitude (MIA) of the segment you are going to intercept is 3500ft. After a couple of minutes, you have intercepted the localizer yet still haven't received an approach clearance from ATC. Are you legally permitted to descend to 3500ft before you get an approach clearance?

The same way, let's  say you're vectored to an IAF at some higher altitude than the MIA of the segment starting from it. Are you permitted to begin a descent to the MIA before ATC gives you an approach clearance?

AIM(5-4-7b) says that you need an approach clearance AND should be established on a segment of a published approach course to descend to the MIAs on charts, but I remember hearing from one of my previous instructors I can descend whenever I'm established on one of the published approach courses.

So back to my examples, is it okay to descend to the MIAs without ATC's clearances?

1 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    Russ Roslewski on Jun 30, 2017

    You’ve answered your own question by referencing AIM 5-4-7b.

    ATC will often instruct you to intercept final but not yet clear you for the approach, but you don’t know why. It could be due to traffic underneath you. You don’t descend until ATC either clears you, or issues you a lower altitude.

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