Climbing after approach clearance issued

RadarContact

Scope Dope
Jun 26, 2008
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High Desert TRACON
So here's a good one that came up today... where does it specifically state that an aircraft can NOT climb after being cleared for an approach. If you are vectoring an aircraft to final and you say "maintain x,xxx until established on the localizer, cleared blabla approach" and the aircraft is executing a non-precision approach. He establishes himself on the localizer and his next crossing point is ABOVE his current altitude. Can he legally climb to meet it?

Yes I understand he would be an idiot to do so, and I would probably ask him WTF he was doing.
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
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AIM 5-4-7



1. Maintain the last altitude assigned by ATC until the aircraft is established on a published segment of a transition route, or approach procedure segment, or other published route, for which a lower altitude is published on the chart. If already on an established route, or approach or arrival segment, you may descend to whatever minimum altitude is listed for that route or segment.
 

MikeATC

Retired FAA, NATCA Member
Apr 3, 2009
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Beacon, of course on the missed approach the pilot can climb per the published missed approach procedure.
 

BeaconSlash

Trusted Member
Aug 19, 2011
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My point exactly.

It's a different point than the OP is making, but as an aircraft could choose to go missed and climb to the missed approach altitude at any time, realistically, a pilot could climb after an approach clearance was issued. It might not be to meet a published restriction in an attempt to complete the approach, per OP's example, but if we're playing the separation game along with the theoretical, then a controller legally HAS to protect up to the missed approach altitude from the moment the approach clearance is given, at least if the aircraft is on a published segment of the approach.
 

kcranger79

Rookie
May 13, 2009
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Well put, Beacon. I'm not sure why an aircraft would be cleared for approach below IAF. I'm familiar with approaches that have an IAF altitude that is above an MIA/MVA, but what if that IAF altitude is for signal reception?
 

StuSEL

Moderator
Aug 23, 2009
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Well put, Beacon. I'm not sure why an aircraft would be cleared for approach below IAF. I'm familiar with approaches that have an IAF altitude that is above an MIA/MVA, but what if that IAF altitude is for signal reception?
If you're flying an RNAV approach with the standard T design, sometimes the MEA on one of the Ts is a hundred or two hundred feet off of what the approach controller normally assigns.

For example, if I get a descent to 3,000 and the leg from one of the T fixes to the final approach course is 3,100, some pilots request to climb to 3,100 or do so without asking, not realizing that it is in fact legal to fly that leg at the controller-assigned and MVA-compliant altitude of 3,000.
 

ATCtower

Epic Member
Oct 26, 2008
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Radar-

I know you are terminal and have different rules (sort of) than we do enroute but we still provide approach guidance to a/c as terminal appch does, here is my take (from a pilot/enroute controller):

Yes, the pilot may climb to an altitude given the segment of the approach/localizer they intercept. The general decent rate is 3 degrees and if you/we were to say maintain XXX until established on the localizer and for whatever reason they are far enough out that means a climb to intercept the requested glide path then yes. If vectoring for a precision approach (glide path for those who dont know), should the a/c be vectored far enough out, they are obligated to climb to intercept the localizer if needbe to avoid full deflection on the GS indicator or go missed. We have 2 approaches to an uncontrolled airport where flying the approach dictates climbing to cross the IAF above what we normally vector to, this is generally not done, but we are required to protect for it.
 

FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
991
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They are not required to climb to join the glide slope.

Flying an ILS properly involves intercepting the glide slope at the point indicated on the approach plate. This is usually right next to the non precision FAF. ATC is required to issue an altitude not lower than that, so there should be no reason to climb to join the GS. Do your approaches really show glide slope intercept as far out as the IAF? If so, that point becomes the precision approach FAF anyway, so it's not really an IAF anymore and that approach is really strange.
 

WatchThis

Trusted Contributor
Apr 29, 2010
561
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They are authorized to descend only. If they want to climb, they better ask first (or be nordo, missed, etc...). If they do go missed, they better be in the final segment or risk flying out of the protected area and crashing into something.

91.175
(i) ... snip ... Radar vectors may be authorized to provide course guidance through the segments of an approach to the final course or fix. When operating on an unpublished route or while being radar vectored, the pilot, when an approach clearance is received, shall, in addition to complying with 91.177, maintain the last altitude assigned to that pilot until the aircraft is established on a segment of a published route or instrument approach procedure unless a different altitude is assigned by ATC. After the aircraft is so established, published altitudes apply to descent within each succeeding route or approach segment unless a different altitude is assigned by ATC. Upon reaching the final approach course or fix, the pilot may either complete the instrument approach in accordance with a procedure approved for the facility or continue a surveillance or precision radar approach to a landing.
 

FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
991
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The Instrument Flying Handbook also has this to say about starting a missed approach early:

10-21
If the missed approach is initiated prior to reaching the MAP,
unless otherwise cleared by ATC, continue to fly the IAP as
specified on the approach chart. Fly to the MAP at or above
the MDA or DA/DH before beginning a turn.
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
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If you clear an ac for an approach below an altitude specified, the pilot must maintain altitude until he can descend as published, OR he must notify ATC if he is unable and request a climb. At no time should he climb on his own initiative.
 

RadarContact

Scope Dope
Jun 26, 2008
698
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High Desert TRACON
NovemberEcho and WatchThis: Thanks! It is good to see it in writing somewhere. Poured over the .65 which doesn't really state it clearly. Dabbled in the AIM and CFRs but couldn't find it. Originally this started out as a "Hmmm.. what if?" scenario and turned into a shouting match at my facility. Glad I can take something in writing back now to settle it (should make the old guys happy :) ).

Thanks again :D
 

RadarContact

Scope Dope
Jun 26, 2008
698
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High Desert TRACON
The Instrument Flying Handbook also has this to say about starting a missed approach early:
Yeah, read through that handbook too, but that is ambiguous. If he continues to fly it as published, and is only meeting AoA restrictions, he could climb and still technically be following the procedure. If there was a malfunction causing the missed approach, I wouldn't expect the plane to keep descending (possibly into IMC) just to turn around and climb back up again.
 

BeaconSlash

Trusted Member
Aug 19, 2011
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The Instrument Flying Handbook also has this to say about starting a missed approach early:
This doesn't mean the pilots can't climb to the missed approach altitude immediately. It only means to follow the lateral course guidance to the MAP, which is how TERPS maps the protected airspace. Starting a turn early on an approach chart could be deadly, especially if someone is down low (think course reversal in a canyon kind of thing).

Again... a pilot can, and frankly should, immediately climb to the missed approach altitude in case a pilot goes missed (again, assuming on a published segment of the approach). It would make ZERO sense for a pilot to intentionally put himself closer to the ground if they already know they won't/can't make a successful approach and landing.

That's still a different point than the original question though, which was properly answered by the others.
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
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If I have a guy on the ILS at 2,000, I'm not going to protect all the way up to 5,000 in case he decides to go missed and climb 4,000ft per the published missed. I'll bring people over him at 3,000 all day long.
 

FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
991
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A pilot going missed outside of the FAF and climbing doesn't make sense.

Why wouldn't they remain at the present altitude until the MAP and then climb? I don't expect them to descend if they're not going to complete the approach. But why climb?
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
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AIM 5-5-5

4. If executing a missed approach prior to reaching the MAP, fly the lateral navigation path of the instrument procedure to the MAP. Climb to the altitude specified in the missed approach procedure, except when a maximum altitude is specified between the final approach fix (FAF) and the MAP. In that case, comply with the maximum altitude restriction. Note, this may require a continued descent on the final approach.
 

FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
991
7
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Ah, so they should descend. Interesting. Going for my IR in a few months so maybe I can speak with more authority on this stuff after I hit the books.

I wouldn't see an issue with them at least leveling off, but I work in an area with pretty simple IAPs.
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
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AIM 5-4-21

H. ....
In the event a balked (rejected) landing occurs at a position other than the published missed approach point, the pilot should contact ATC as soon as possible to obtain an amended clearance. If unable to contact ATC for any reason, the pilot should attempt to re-intercept a published segment of the missed approach and comply with route and altitude instructions. If unable to contact ATC, and in the pilot's judgment it is no longer appropriate to fly the published missed approach procedure, then consider either maintaining visual conditions if practicable and reattempt a landing, or a circle-climb over the airport. Should a missed approach become necessary when operating to an airport that is not served by an operating control tower, continuous contact with an air traffic facility may not be possible. In this case, the pilot should execute the appropriate go-around/missed approach procedure without delay and contact ATC when able to do so.