The missed approach segment begins at the MAP and ends at a point or fix where an initial or en route segment begins. The actual location of the MAP depends upon the type of approach you are flying. For example, during a precision or an APV approach, the MAP occurs at the DA or DH on the glide slope. For nonprecision approaches, the MAP is either a fix, NAVAID, or after a specified period of time has elapsed after crossing the FAF.

APPROACH CLEARANCE According to FAA Order 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, clearances authorizing instrument approaches are issued on the basis that, if visual contact with the ground is made before the approach is completed, the entire approach procedure will be followed unless the pilot receives approval for a contact approach, is cleared for a visual approach, or cancels the IFR flight plan.

Approach clearances are issued based on known traffic. The receipt of an approach clearance does not relieve the pilot of his/her responsibility to comply with applicable Parts of the CFRs and notations on instrument approach charts, which impose on the pilot the responsibility to comply with or act on an instruction, such as “procedure not authorized at night.” The name of the approach, as published, is used to identify the approach. Approach name items within parentheses are not included in approach clearance phraseology.


The approach gate is an imaginary point used within ATC as a basis for vectoring aircraft to the final approach course. The gate will be established along the final approach course one mile from the FAF on the side away from the airport and will be no closer than 5 NM from the landing threshold. Controllers are also required to ensure the assigned altitude conforms to the following:

  • For a precision approach, at an altitude not above the glide slope/glidepath or below the minimum glide slope intercept altitude specified on the approach procedure chart.
  • For a nonprecision approach, at an altitude that will allow descent in accordance with the published procedure.

Further, controllers must assign headings that will permit final approach course interception without exceeding the following:

A typical vector to the final approach course and associated approach clearance is as follows:

“…four miles from LIMA, turn right heading three four zero, maintain two thousand until established on the localizer, cleared ILS runway three six approach.”

Other clearance formats may be used to fit individual circumstances but the controller should always assign an altitude to maintain until the aircraft is established on a segment of a published route or IAP. The altitude assigned must guarantee IFR obstruction clearance from the point at which the approach clearance is issued until the aircraft is established on a published route. Part 91.175 (j) prohibits a pilot from making a procedure turn when vectored to a FAF or course, when conducting a timed approach, or when the procedure specifies “NO PT.”

When vectoring aircraft to the final approach course, controllers are required to ensure the intercept is at least 2 NM outside the approach gate. Exceptions include the following situations, but do not apply to RNAV aircraft being vectored for a GPS or RNAV approach:

  • When the reported ceiling is at least 500 feet above the MVA/MIA and the visibility is at least 3 SM (may be a pilot report [PIREP] if no weather is reported for the airport), aircraft may be vectored to intercept the final approach course closer than 2 NM outside the approach gate but no closer than the approach gate.
  • If specifically requested by the pilot, aircraft may be vectored to intercept the final approach course inside the approach gate but no closer than the FAF.