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AIM 

6/17/21 

b. 

Controllers may authorize a contact approach 

provided: 

1. 

The contact approach is specifically request-

ed by the pilot. ATC cannot initiate this approach. 

EXAMPLE

 

Request contact approach. 

2. 

The reported ground visibility at the 

destination airport is at least 1 statute mile. 

3. 

The contact approach will be made to an 

airport having a standard or special instrument 
approach procedure. 

4. 

Approved separation is applied between 

aircraft so cleared and between these aircraft and 
other IFR or special VFR aircraft. 

EXAMPLE

 

Cleared contact approach (and, if required) at or below 
(altitude) (routing) if not possible (alternative procedures) 
and advise. 

c. 

A contact approach is an approach procedure 

that may be used by a pilot (with prior authorization 
from ATC) in lieu of conducting a standard or special 
IAP to an airport. It is not intended for use by a pilot 
on an IFR flight clearance to operate to an airport not 
having a published and functioning IAP. Nor is it 
intended for an aircraft to conduct an instrument 
approach to one airport and then, when “in the clear,” 
discontinue that approach and proceed to another 
airport. In the execution of a contact approach, the 
pilot assumes the responsibility for obstruction 
clearance. If radar service is being received, it will 
automatically terminate when the pilot is instructed to 
change to advisory frequency. 

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26.  Landing Priority 

A clearance for a specific type of approach (ILS, 
RNAV, GLS, ADF, VOR or Visual Approach) to an 
aircraft operating on an IFR flight plan does not mean 
that landing priority will be given over other traffic. 
ATCTs handle all aircraft, regardless of the type of 
flight plan, on a “first

come, first

served” basis. 

Therefore, because of local traffic or runway in use, 
it may be necessary for the controller in the interest 
of safety, to provide a different landing sequence. In 
any case, a landing sequence will be issued to each 
aircraft as soon as possible to enable the pilot to 
properly adjust the aircraft’s flight path. 

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27.  Overhead Approach Maneuver 

a. 

Pilots operating in accordance with an 

IFR flight plan in Visual Meteorological Condi-
tions (VMC) may request ATC authorization for an 
overhead maneuver. An overhead maneuver is not an 
instrument approach procedure. Overhead maneuver 
patterns are developed at airports where aircraft have 
an operational need to conduct the maneuver. An 
aircraft conducting an overhead maneuver is 
considered to be VFR and the IFR flight plan is 
canceled when the aircraft reaches the initial point on 
the initial approach portion of the maneuver. (See 
FIG 5

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36.) The existence of a standard overhead 

maneuver pattern does not eliminate the possible 
requirement for an aircraft to conform to convention-
al rectangular patterns if an overhead maneuver 
cannot be approved. Aircraft operating to an airport 
without a functioning control tower must initiate 
cancellation of an IFR flight plan prior to executing 
the overhead maneuver. Cancellation of the IFR 
flight plan must be accomplished after crossing the 
landing threshold on the initial portion of the 
maneuver or after landing. Controllers may authorize 
an overhead maneuver and issue the following to 
arriving aircraft: 

1. 

Pattern altitude and direction of traffic. This 

information may be omitted if either is standard. 

PHRASEOLOGY

 

PATTERN ALTITUDE (altitude). RIGHT TURNS. 

2. 

Request for a report on initial approach. 

PHRASEOLOGY

 

REPORT INITIAL. 

3. 

“Break” information and a request for the 

pilot to report. The “Break Point” will be specified if 
nonstandard. Pilots may be requested to report 
“break” if required for traffic or other reasons. 

PHRASEOLOGY

 

BREAK AT (specified point). 
REPORT BREAK. 

Arrival Procedures 

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