Circling Approach / Circle to Land

Generally, when a pilot will Circle to Land on a runway other than the one for which he executed a published Instrument Approach Procedure (IAP), the maneuver is called a Circling Approach.


A Circle to Land maneuver may be executed when the wind does not favor the runway to which the approach was executed, the runway is not aligned within 30 degrees of the final approach course or the instrument approach procedure requires 400 feet or more of descent (per nautical mile) and consequently requires maneuvering in visual conditions prior to landing.


Minimum Descent Altitudes (MDAs) are established by the FAA and published on the Instrument Approach Procedure by Category of Aircraft.  A pilot must maintain these minimum altitudes until such time as he begins descent for landing.  In addition to MDA’s, visibility restrictions also apply for the maneuver to be performed.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) specifies the airspace to be protected for a Circling Approach.  The FAA may issue a Notice of Presumed Hazard for a proposed structure that would impact a Circling Approach/Circle to Land procedure.


Once a sponsor has received a Notice of Presumed Hazard, it would be prudent to engage an aviation consultant who has extensive expertise in developing innovative and workable solutions that will either allow them to construct their structure as planned or will mitigate the FAA’s issues resulting in a favorable determination.


Williams Aviation Consultants Inc. has been very successful in receiving a favorable determination from the FAA for our clients that had previously received a Notice of Presumed Hazard due to proposed structures penetrating airspace to be protected for a Circling Approach/Circle to Land procedure.


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