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The 7 Steps Of Flying An ILS Approach

There are a lot of steps to flying an ILS, but here are the basics...

1) Cleared for the approach

Before you start the approach, you must first receive a clearance from ATC. It goes something like this: "Cirrus 803 Bravo Delta, proceed direct ROKXX, maintain 7,000' until on a published portion of the procedure, cleared ILS runway 30 right approach.


2) Initial Approach Fix (IAF)

This is the first fix you will go to, unless you're being vectored onto the final approach course.

3) Intermediate Fix (IF)

The intermediate fix is the fix on the approach designed to get the aircraft established on the final approach course.

4) Glideslope Intercept / Final Approach Fix

Usually co-located with the final approach fix. Glideslope intercept begins the final descent to land.

5) Cleared to Land

If you're flying into a towered airport, you need a landing clearance from ATC. At a non-towered field, you're responsible for announcing your intentions on CTAF, and coordinating with any other traffic at the airport.


6) Minimums

Minimums specify the minimum altitude you can descend to without having the runway environment in sight. For an ILS, it's called DH (Decision Height), or DA (Decision Altitude). At this point, if you can't see the runway environment, you need to executed a missed approach.

7) Missed Approach Holding Fix

If you go missed, you need to follow the prescribed missed approach procedures to the missed approach holding. When you get to the fix, you can coordinate with ATC and decide if you'll try the approach again, or if you'll divert to another airport.

Corey Komarec

Corey is an Embraer 175 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota, and he's been flying since he was 16. You can reach him at

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