Pilot's tip of the week

Practice Approaches in VMC


Subscriber question:

"We were practicing instrument approaches on a clear day, but talking to ATC who vectored us for the approaches. We flew the approach and the published missed per the approach chart, but had to deviate a bit to avoid another airplane. We mentioned this to the controller when we checked back in and she said we should have requested to fly the published missed approach if that's what we wanted. Isn't the missed approach part of the instrument approach she knew we were practicing?" — Nicholas G.


“If you are on an IFR flight plan, the approach clearance automatically authorizes you to fly the missed approach, unless otherwise instructed by ATC. IFR aircraft are also provided standard separation throughout the approach and missed approach procedure.

VFR aircraft practicing instrument approaches are not automatically authorized to execute the missed approach procedure. The authorization must be specifically requested by the pilot and approved by the controller. Separation will not be provided unless the missed approach has been approved by ATC. VFR aircraft practicing instrument approaches may be provided half standard separation. That is 500 feet vertical separation and the appropriate lateral separation from IFR aircraft.

Pilots not on IFR flight plans desiring practice instrument approaches should always state ‘practice’ when making requests to ATC. Controllers will instruct VFR aircraft requesting an instrument approach to maintain VFR. This is to preclude any misunderstanding between the pilot and controller as to the status of the aircraft.

If the pilot wishes to proceed in accordance with instrument flight rules, they must specifically request and obtain an IFR clearance.”

Learn more about flying practice approaches under VFR from PilotWorkshops IFR Procedures manual.

When practicing instrument approaches in visual conditions, do you prefer to stay VFR or file an IFR flight plan?

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