The intermediate segment is designed primarily to position the aircraft for the final descent to the airport. Like the feeder route and initial approach segment, the chart depiction of the intermediate segment provides course, distance, and minimum altitude information.

The intermediate segment, normally aligned within 30 of the final approach course, begins at the IF, or intermediate point, and ends at the beginning of the final approach segment. In some cases, an IF is not shown on an approach chart. In this situation, the intermediate segment begins at a point where you are proceeding inbound to the FAF, are properly aligned with the final approach course, and are located within the prescribed distance prior to the FAF. An instrument approach that incorporates a procedure turn is the most common example of an approach that may not have a charted IF. The intermediate segment in this example begins when you intercept the inbound course after completing the procedure turn. [Figure 5-31]


The final approach segment for an approach with vertical guidance or a precision approach begins where the glide slope intercepts the minimum glide slope intercept altitude shown on the approach chart. If ATC authorizes a lower intercept altitude, the final approach segment begins upon glide slope interception at that altitude. For a nonprecision approach, the final approach segment begins either at a designated FAF, depicted as a cross on the profile view, or at the point where the aircraft is established inbound on the final approach course. When a FAF is not designated, such as on an approach that incorporates an on-airport VOR or NDB, this point is typically where the procedure turn intersects the final approach course inbound. This point is referred to as the final approach point (FAP). The final approach segment ends at either the designated MAP or upon landing.

Figure 5-31. Approach without a Designated IF.

There are three types of procedures based on the final approach course guidance:

  • Precision Approach (PA) an instrument approach based on a navigation system that provides course and glidepath deviation information meeting precision standards. Precision Approach Radar (PAR), ILS, and Microwave Landing System (MLS) procedures are examples of PA procedures.
  • Approach with Vertical Guidance (APV) an instrument approach based on a navigation system that is not required to meet the precision approach standards but provides course and glidepath deviation information. Baro-VNAV, LDA with glidepath, and LPV are examples of APV approaches.
  • Nonprecision Approach (NPA) an instrument approach based on a navigation system that provides course deviation information but no glidepath deviation information is considered a NPA procedure. VOR, TACAN, LNAV, NDB, LOC and ASR approaches are examples of NPA procedures.