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AIM 

6/17/21 

5

5

3.  Contact Approach 

a.  Pilot. 

1. 

Must request a contact approach and makes it 

in lieu of a standard or special instrument approach. 

2. 

By requesting the contact approach, indicates 

that the flight is operating clear of clouds, has at least 
one mile flight visibility, and reasonably expects to 
continue to the destination airport in those conditions. 

3. 

Assumes responsibility for obstruction clear-

ance while conducting a contact approach. 

4. 

Advises ATC immediately if unable to 

continue the contact approach or if encounters less 
than 1 mile flight visibility. 

5. 

Is aware that if radar service is being received, 

it may be automatically terminated when told to 
contact the tower. 

REFERENCE

 

Pilot/Controller Glossary Term

 Radar Service Terminated. 

b.  Controller. 

1. 

Issues clearance for a contact approach only 

when requested by the pilot. Does not solicit the use 
of this procedure. 

2. 

Before issuing the clearance, ascertains that 

reported ground visibility at destination airport is at 
least 1 mile. 

3. 

Provides approved separation between the 

aircraft cleared for a contact approach and other IFR 
or special VFR aircraft. When using vertical 
separation, does not assign a fixed altitude, but clears 
the aircraft at or below an altitude which is at least 
1,000 feet below any IFR traffic but not below 
Minimum Safe Altitudes prescribed in 14 CFR 
Section 91.119. 

4. 

Issues alternative instructions if, in their 

judgment, weather conditions may make completion 
of the approach impracticable. 

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4.  Instrument Approach 

a.  Pilot. 

1. 

Be aware that the controller issues clearance 

for approach based only on known traffic. 

2. 

Follows the procedure as shown on the IAP, 

including all restrictive notations, such as: 

(a) 

Procedure not authorized at night; 

(b) 

Approach not authorized when local area 

altimeter not available; 

(c) 

Procedure not authorized when control 

tower not in operation; 

(d) 

Procedure not authorized when glide 

slope not used; 

(e) 

Straight-in minimums not authorized at 

night; etc. 

(f) 

Radar required; or 

(g) 

The circling minimums published on the 

instrument approach chart provide adequate obstruc-
tion clearance and pilots should not descend below 
the circling altitude until the aircraft is in a position 
to make final descent for landing. Sound judgment 
and knowledge of the pilot’s and the aircraft’s 
capabilities are the criteria for determining the exact 
maneuver in each instance since airport design and 
the aircraft position, altitude and airspeed must all be 
considered. 

REFERENCE

 

AIM, Paragraph 5

4

20 , Approach and Landing Minimums 

3. 

Upon receipt of an approach clearance while 

on an unpublished route or being radar vectored: 

(a) 

Complies with the minimum altitude for 

IFR; and 

(b) 

Maintains the last assigned altitude until 

established on a segment of a published route or IAP, 
at which time published altitudes apply. 

4. 

When applicable, apply cold temperature 

correction to instrument approach segments. Advise 
ATC when intending to apply cold temperature 
correction and of the amount of correction required 
for each affected segment on initial contact (or as 
soon as possible). This information is required for 
ATC to provide aircraft appropriate vertical separa-
tion between known traffic. 

REFERENCE

 

AIM, Chapter 7, Section 3, Cold Temperature Barometric Altimeter 
Errors, Setting Procedures, and Cold Temperature Airports (CTA) 
AIM, TBL 7

3

1, ICAO Cold Temperature Error Table 

b.  Controller. 

1. 

Issues an approach clearance based on known 

traffic. 

2. 

Issues an IFR approach clearance only after 

the aircraft is established on a segment of published 

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Pilot/Controller Roles and Responsibilities