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How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Sat Jan 16, 2021 3:37 pm
by Trimeresurus
Assuming conditions of near zero wind, visibility greater than 20 miles, and not very crowded airspace. In this scenario, would a visual approach(ILS diamonds and flight director off) ever be performed? For example, into SXM.

Re: How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Sat Jan 16, 2021 3:42 pm
by GalaxyFlyer
In the US, probably 70% of approaches are visual when the weather meets the criteria. Most operators do require an approach be selected and displayed on a visual, if one is available. Weather could far more restrictive than zero wind, 20+ viz, more 3,000 BKN and 6 would do. KSFO, KEWR, KLGA, KDCA all use visuals to expedite the flow.

Outside North America, much less so—approaches are nearly all instrument clearances.

Re: How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Sat Jan 16, 2021 4:15 pm
by gloom
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Outside North America, much less so—approaches are nearly all instrument clearances.


I can only tell for Europe, still it depends very much on airport. If you have busy airport, that's easier to manage traffic in on ILS and STAR. Still, it's not that rare to hear "airport on 11 o'clock, ready for visual". On regional airports, or late hour, where you can save some time and weather is good, some pilots will even ask for opposite runway approach and visual. Save time, save fuel.

Cheers,
Adam

Re: How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 12:04 am
by N1120A
In the US, visual approaches are the norm and fully instrument approaches are primarily used only 1) when needed for weather, 2) when needed for airspace or 3) when insisted on. Of course, basically every airline, quite a few 135 operators and a growing number of 91 GA pilots now load back up approaches using GPS anyway. Modern GPS systems are quite good at constructing instrument based visual approaches and that is quite useful. It is quite common for IFR vectors to generally either put you on a base or a straight in, even when being vectored for a visual, so you really aren't flying a typical traffic pattern anyway. Visual approaches are much more expedient for ATC and allow much more closely spaced IFR operations both at the same airport and at nearby airports.

Re: How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:57 am
by Max Q
Trimeresurus wrote:
Assuming conditions of near zero wind, visibility greater than 20 miles, and not very crowded airspace. In this scenario, would a visual approach(ILS diamonds and flight director off) ever be performed? For example, into SXM.




Just to clarify, while we sometimes accept visual approaches when requested by ATC (accepting responsibility for separation from preceding aircraft) we always use all available Nav Aids as a reference


A visual approach ‘backed up with the ILS’ is a good description, in good visibility and the runway clearly in sight you could turn off your FD but you’d still want to have at least raw data displayed


Accurate lateral and vertical guidance is important in jet transport operations, use whatever you can get

Re: How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:30 pm
by dakota558
In Europe, as mentioned earlier, it is depended upon airport/airline. Some airlines has a SOP that states that an instrument approach shall be flown when available, and at some larger airports you will not get a visual approach due to traffic. My airline encourages visual approaches when safe to do so (meaning weather ok and familiar with the area/airport), and you do save a lot time/fuel by doing so. I would say, at least outside of the winter season, most of my approaches are visual, and for those approaches that we do fly, some do require some visual maneuvering when below to align with the runway centerline (due to terrain). I seldom have an approach loaded behind if flying visual since in 99 percent of the cases we are not coming in aligned with the runway so it wouldn't help us in either case. But I do use either a DME or GPS distance to help with descend planning.

Re: How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:21 pm
by CosmicCruiser
What parameters were you using for a stabilized approach?

Re: How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 7:24 pm
by dakota558
CosmicCruiser wrote:
What parameters were you using for a stabilized approach?


Don't know if you were asking me, but I'll answer anyway. I fly the Dash 8-100/200/300, and we need to be stabilized at 500 ft (both for visual and instrument approaches). The parameters in most cases are gear down, flaps 15 (flaps 35 can be selected later if required), power above idle, max 1300 fpm descend rate, aligned with the runway centerline and wings level, and a vertical deviation as to reach the touchdown zone without excessive sink rate (for instrument approaches standard deviations). We do however have airports where it's not possible to be aligned with the runway centerline at 500 ft due to terrain, in some cases you will be on centerline shortly before reaching the threshold. We do have dual PLASI (Pulse Light Approach Slope Indicator) to guide us in the turn in those cases.

Re: How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 7:36 pm
by IAHFLYR
dakota558 wrote:
In Europe, as mentioned earlier, it is depended upon airport/airline. Some airlines has a SOP that states that an instrument approach shall be flown when available, and at some larger airports you will not get a visual approach due to traffic.


While in the U.S., during a large arrival bank it is very simple to vector an aircraft on to final or at least a 20-30 degree intercept (in other words filling the hole between arrivals), point out the preceding traffic and when that aircraft is reported in sight to clear them for a visual approach. They can still rely on and ILS/RNAV approach as back-up to the visual and it also allows for less separation on final in quite a few instances as ATC does not require the longitudinal separation on final, just enough distance so the preceding arrival is off the runway when the next arrival crosses the threshold. I'd never try to fill that hole by clearing the traffic off of a downwind as they may not turn when I think they should have thus creating an issue for following traffic, that hole has no far to much spacing in front of them and too little behind them.

Re: How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 8:54 pm
by dakota558
IAHFLYR wrote:
dakota558 wrote:
In Europe, as mentioned earlier, it is depended upon airport/airline. Some airlines has a SOP that states that an instrument approach shall be flown when available, and at some larger airports you will not get a visual approach due to traffic.


While in the U.S., during a large arrival bank it is very simple to vector an aircraft on to final or at least a 20-30 degree intercept (in other words filling the hole between arrivals), point out the preceding traffic and when that aircraft is reported in sight to clear them for a visual approach. They can still rely on and ILS/RNAV approach as back-up to the visual and it also allows for less separation on final in quite a few instances as ATC does not require the longitudinal separation on final, just enough distance so the preceding arrival is off the runway when the next arrival crosses the threshold. I'd never try to fill that hole by clearing the traffic off of a downwind as they may not turn when I think they should have thus creating an issue for following traffic, that hole has no far to much spacing in front of them and too little behind them.


It seems like in the US, vectoring is much more common, both for instrument and visual approaches, while in Europe most approaches are designed to flown via an entry (usually the end of the STAR). But vectoring is still happening from time to time, especially to shorten in the approach (in the area of Europe I'm flying in at least). You will usually be given the approximate remaining track miles to plan the descend. Since we fly a turboprop and can be more flexible with speed and altitude during approach, we might get a visual when jets are told fly the ILS, for instance we can be told to join a 6 mile finale to get in between two planes. Even though we fly slower than a jet during most phases of flight, we can some cases fly faster than jet on approach because we don't need to start reducing to configure with gear and flaps until we are quite close to the airport, there have been times when are told to slow down when following a jet.

While most airports I fly into are quite flexible in allowing us to visual or circling approaches to save track miles, there is one that is quite strict. I remember coming in there in the evening once (first time flying in there). The weather was CAVOK, no other traffic and we could see that airport from a long distance. I was the pilot monitoring and I asked captain if he wanted a visual approach. You could always ask he said, not sounding to optimistic. And of course we were denied and told to continue for an ILS. When asked why, I was told it was due to noise abatement, even though the approach it self was directly above the city...

Re: How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:13 pm
by IAHFLYR
dakota558 wrote:
It seems like in the US, vectoring is much more common, both for instrument and visual approaches, while in Europe most approaches are designed to flown via an entry (usually the end of the STAR). But vectoring is still happening from time to time, especially to shorten in the approach (in the area of Europe I'm flying in at least).


The FAA has finally started catching up to the 21st century as many STARS now connect to the approach, even some from a downwind using RF legs to final on RNP procedures. The runway transitions are certainly reducing vectoring IF the controllers would use them all the time. While there are situations where a vector may be needed it certainly allows for much reduced radio chatter as well as gives the crews real track distance to the runway from TOD.

Ahhh noise abatement, crazy how tight some routes need to be due to the NIMBY issues. That precise track may be right through the city, but a mile either side of it is where the complaints may be from.

Re: How often do airliners perform visual approaches in good weather?

Posted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:30 am
by N1120A
IAHFLYR wrote:
dakota558 wrote:
It seems like in the US, vectoring is much more common, both for instrument and visual approaches, while in Europe most approaches are designed to flown via an entry (usually the end of the STAR). But vectoring is still happening from time to time, especially to shorten in the approach (in the area of Europe I'm flying in at least).


The FAA has finally started catching up to the 21st century as many STARS now connect to the approach, even some from a downwind using RF legs to final on RNP procedures. The runway transitions are certainly reducing vectoring IF the controllers would use them all the time. While there are situations where a vector may be needed it certainly allows for much reduced radio chatter as well as gives the crews real track distance to the runway from TOD.

Ahhh noise abatement, crazy how tight some routes need to be due to the NIMBY issues. That precise track may be right through the city, but a mile either side of it is where the complaints may be from.


That said, it's pretty common to see vectoring as a result of separation requirements between IFR aircraft arriving at different airports. For example, VTF is very common for airliners that want the full procedure RNP Z 27 approach into SAN due to the entry conflicting with the ILS 28R into MYF.