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Visual Seperation  
User currently offlineWilliam From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 1268 posts, RR: 0
Posted (15 years 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 807 times:

I am listening to the DFW airtraffic control over the internet right now,and I keep hearing "keep visual separation". Separation between planes is suppose to be 2 miles on approach to landing. You would think tho keep that separation,the pilot would be using his radar,so why do the controllers keep saying visual separation?

9 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineAirbus Boy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (15 years 2 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 756 times:

The distances with airplane are not very clear I have been under 1/2 a mile in a 172 to a 757. You can see planes from far away I have be told to keep clear of planes when they are on a 9 mile final and all you can see is there light. Planes can be VERY difficult to see and you have to train the eye to pull them out and planes will be pointed to you by ATC like you might hear.
Cessna 321 traffic 9 mile final landing paralell runway.
You would say
Either looking for traffic or traffic in site.
If you see the plane the will tell you to keep visual seperation from it. And then the resposibility is over to you (according to the FAA it always is but ATC will not keep pointing that plane out or notifing you of it.
Well that is it in a nutshell.

User currently offlineTwa747100 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 600 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (15 years 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 742 times:

Where can you listen to dfw atc?

User currently offlinePurdue Cadet From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (15 years 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 740 times:

Here is an example of how this is used...

Yesterday I flew a cross country flight from Purdue to Jefferson City, MO to St. Louis (I actually landed at BLV - Mi America Airport, not Lambert), and back to Purdue. When I returned to Lafayette (Purdue), there were other aircraft operating in the pattern, so the control pointed out the trafiic that I was to follow and requested confirmation that I had him in sight. Once I reported traffic in sight, the controller told me to maintain visual seperation and cleared me to land. The point of this is to make it possible for the controllers to clear multiple airplanes for a visual approach in sequence. If I didn't see the plane, the controller would have had to make sure that I stayed away from it rather than allowing me to continue my own navigation in to the airport, and he couldn't have cleared me to land until I saw the traffic or it was on the ground for fear that, since I didn't see the plane, my approach could have caused me to collidse with or cut off the other plane. Instead, by telling me to maintain visual seperation, he was able to clear me in, confident that I would not collide with the other plane because he knew that I saw it. When told to maintain visual seperation, a certain distance is not required... all that is required is that you don't collide.

User currently offlineBuff From Australia, joined Mar 2007, 0 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (15 years 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 744 times:

Purdue Cadet is close!

VFR aircraft are not guaranteed traffic separation while under Tower control. A Tower Controller (in US & Canada) sequences aircraft for take-off and landing. That is his/her prime function. Many however still have separation in the backs of their minds, as we're all human - it's just not their mandate to "provide separation" for VFR aircraft.

IFR aircraft once cleared for an approach in VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions) may be subsequently cleared for a visual approach, in which case the direct responsibility for separation from both IFR & VFR traffic rests with the PIC. Any IFR clearance though provides no guarantee of separation from VFR flights - so if you're IFR in VMC: KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN!

Similarly, IFR aircraft on close parallel approaches (DFW is a good example) will be issued the caution brought up at the beginning of this thread.

Another good example of a busy airport is KBOS landing on the 4's. It is not unusual for jets to be landing on the right, with commuter traffic circling to land on the left. Prior to the final vector to final, the approach controller points out your traffic and asks if you have them in sight. When you "say traffic in sight", the approach controller will then issue a clearance something like this:

"ABC 123 cleared visual approach 4L. Maintain visual separation from traffic on approach to 4R"

Once again, the instruction referred to in the initial post will only be given to an aircraft following IFR.

Hope that helps!

Best Regards,


User currently offlineWilliam From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 1268 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (15 years 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 737 times:


Click on listen,and sit back and be amazed at the humor,and yet professionalism of the men AND women pilots and airtraffic control personel. Its educational and entertaining.

User currently offlineAirbus Boy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (15 years 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 734 times:

Just to add to your post. When you said that it is in VMC you could get a visual. This is only done in the US. But I know for a fact that BA pilots really do not like doing this and normally will refuse it. I have the habit when flying in the US to say 'looking for traffic' unless it is very clear to me. Also when I declare myself as a unfamiliar ATC normally says it is 5 miles at 1 o'clock (the airport) I will ask another question about it normally a yes or no question. If it is very clear then I might skip this part. But I like to hear ATC say yes that is it.

User currently offlineBuff From Australia, joined Mar 2007, 0 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (15 years 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 734 times:

We have the "visual app", an IFR clearance in Canada as well. Also, an approach called a "contact approach" which is a pilot abbreviated published instrument approach.

I don't know if it's just the BA guys, but I know I've refused a visual approach on occasion, because conditions don't warrant it. Perhaps our parallel traffic is disappearing in and out of city lights - that kind of thing.

Good topic!

Best Regards,


User currently offlineAirbus Boy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 727 times:

Well the reason I was told that the BA pilots do not except this is because all of there flights into the US are long ones and after a 5-12 hour flight looking out for things is a lot harder and if the have not flown into that airport in a couple of months they might get it wrong. So the will just get vectored around to stay on he safe side.

User currently offlineBuff From Australia, joined Mar 2007, 0 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (15 years 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 726 times:

That's another very good reason!

One other tactic used on occasion to expedite arrivals/departures in Canada is to "cancel IFR" meaning change from IFR to VFR. This is a common practice at some smaller airports where there is no positive control. An example of where it might be used is where an IFR aircraft is waiting to takeoff but can't because there is another aircraft on an instrument approach. If the aircraft on approach so chooses, he/she can "cancel IFR" and continue VFR, so long as VMC exists. The aircraft waiting on the ground now has no restriction and may depart.

Many companies though have a stated policy of not cancelling under these conditions.

Best Regards,


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