Operations resources


Controlled airspace

Visual approach

ATC authorisation AIP ENR 1.1

ATC may authorise a visual approach for a VFR flight by day and night when the aircraft is within 30 nm of the aerodrome.

Tracking requirements

Tracking requirements for a visual approach include the following:

  • a pilot in command must maintain track/heading on the route progressively authorised by ATC until:
    • by day—within 5 nm of the aerodrome, or
    • by night—for a VFR flight, within 3 nm of the aerodrome and the aerodrome is in sight
  • from this position the circuit must be joined as directed by ATC for an approach to the nominated runway.


Minimum altitude requirements

For VFR flights during a visual approach, a pilot must descend as necessary to:

  • by day—operate not below the lowest altitude permissible for VFR flight (CAR157)
  • by night—maintain not less than the lowest altitude permissible for VFR flight (CAR 174B) until the aircraft is within 3 nm of the aerodrome and the aerodrome is in sight.

A pilot in command making a visual approach must not climb above an altitude reported to ATC as having been reached or left, unless authorised to do so.

A pilot may be assigned the responsibility to follow another arriving aircraft which they have reported sighting. When assigned this responsibility, the pilot must maintain separation from and not overtake that aircraft. In this circumstance, the pilot is also responsible for providing their own wake turbulence separation. Advise ATC immediately, if you lose sight of the other arriving aircraft.

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