What is a "short Approach"?

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  1. #1
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    What is a "short Approach"?

    Specifically, when a Cherokee asks for a short approach, and a tower says "short approach approved" what can that Cherokee now do that it could not have done without that specific clearance?

    Background for this question: when Cherokees ask and get approval, they run downwind only one mile past the abeam point instead of the usual two miles.

    More background: I have asked elsewhere - Cub drivers and AOPA - you are my last stop. Consensus among Cub pilots is that a "short approach" is one where the base leg is abeam the threshold or even closer to the departure end, and is usually coupled with a long landing.

    I have personally assumed it meant anything where the final approach was shorter than the AIM- suggested 1/4 mile. From pattern altitude abeam, even a Cub cannot do that at normal speeds without a giant slip.

    What say the guys who issue the clearance.

  2. #2
    FL_CTI's Avatar
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    Re: What is a "short Approach"?

    Depends on how the pilot defines "short approach". Most of the time, when I issue the clearance, I assume they are going to turn their base abeam the numbers or very soon thereafter, but I have seen pilots fly 1/2 a mile out and call that a short approach. The AIM is simply there for guidance and is not regulatory so technically, a pilot can keep their approach as short as they want unless ATC dictates otherwise.

  3. #3
    Stinger's Avatar
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    Re: What is a "short Approach"?

    If I tell a pilot to make a short approach, I expect something shorter than what they've been making on their previous laps. Usually base no further out than a half-mile. If it's turboprops of the Pilatus and King Air variety, I expect a base no further out than one mile. Lots of pilots are well inside of that though.
    If a pilot asks me for a short approach, I'm expecting the CFI to do a power-off 180 with their student, so they're aiming for the numbers. Basically I won't have time to get a departure out.

    I'm more curious why a Cherokee pilot is going 2 miles out past the abeam point for a normal base.

  4. #4
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    Re: What is a "short Approach"?

    They are training for the airlines. Stabilized approaches. I fit in well, because even in a Mooney I am half their speed, and half their pattern. In the Cubs and Stearman the tower expects power off approaches - at least from me.

    I am just blown away when an instructor asks for a short approach, then proceeds to do a one mile downwind. It doesn't seem to affect operations any. Thanks for the input.

  5. #5
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    Re: What is a "short Approach"?

    Former CFI here. When a student is in the pattern practicing a short approach there's a lot going on in the cockpit that differs from a regular pattern approach. Instead of reducing power to less than cruise setting when abeam the numbers (which is typical when practicing normal landings), you pull power to idle and perform a simulated glide to the touch down point, essentially doing a 180 from the downwind leg instead of squaring the downwind/base/final leg turns. That being said, the glide ratio of most single engine trainers is pretty good, so that even with less power, most students practicing a short approach still fly pretty close to the same distances as a regular approach so that they don't end up super high on final.
    Many primary instructors I know don't even bother requesting a short approach because it doesn't make a huge difference, where controllers are concerned, in terms of time to touchdown, etc.

  6. #6
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    Re: What is a "short Approach"?

    Quote Originally Posted by bob44zw View Post
    Specifically, when a Cherokee asks for a short approach, and a tower says "short approach approved" what can that Cherokee now do that it could not have done without that specific clearance?

    Background for this question: when Cherokees ask and get approval, they run downwind only one mile past the abeam point instead of the usual two miles.

    More background: I have asked elsewhere - Cub drivers and AOPA - you are my last stop. Consensus among Cub pilots is that a "short approach" is one where the base leg is abeam the threshold or even closer to the departure end, and is usually coupled with a long landing.

    I have personally assumed it meant anything where the final approach was shorter than the AIM- suggested 1/4 mile. From pattern altitude abeam, even a Cub cannot do that at normal speeds without a giant slip.

    What say the guys who issue the clearance.
    I agree with the cub pilot. It means the plane can turn base at any point they want, including prior to passing the approach end of the runway on downwind.

  7. #7
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    Re: What is a "short Approach"?

    In my experience, "approved" anything in the pattern is basically the same as flying a closed pattern. The citation jets I've seen hit the peak of their base anywhere from 1 to even 3 miles out. They all usually fly however they want as long as they're allowed.

  8. #8
    slater's Avatar
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    Re: What is a "short Approach"?

    I usually toss in "long landing approved" with a short approach. Helps them cut sooner and able to olan a faster exit from rhe runway. Especially if you say "plan to exit Bravo 4" followed by "in front of a b737 on a 4 mile final."

    Be prepared for the pilot to completely botch the short aproach. Have a back up plan.

  9. #9
    NovemberEcho's Avatar
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    Re: What is a "short Approach"?

    In the radar environment, I take a request for a short approach to mean they’d like to intercept as close to the FAF as possible.

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