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6 Reasons Why You Should Always Back Up A Visual Approach With An Instrument Approach

Visual approaches are tougher than they seem, especially if you're constantly flying in the IFR world. Here's how backing up your visual approach up with an instrument approach can make things a lot easier, and safer.

1) Lateral Guidance To The Correct Runway

Most airlines require their pilots to back up visual approaches with available navigation guidance. As you're on final, you can confirm you're lined up for the correct runway. If the needle is centered, you're flying to the correct runway.

2) Vertical Guidance For A Stabilized Descent

When you input an approach backup, you might get the added benefit of a constant glide path all the way to the pavement, which makes your approach more stable all the way down.

3) Long, Straight-In Approaches

If you think finding the correct airport is a no-brainer, read this story about an ATP rated flight crew that landed at the wrong airport during a visual approach. Having an instrument backup is a great way to make sure you've lined up for the correct runway.

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4) Terrain And Obstacle Clearance

One of the best benefits of using an instrument approach is that you're guaranteeing yourself terrain and obstacle protection. This is especially important at airports with terrain immediately around the airport. You might find offset approach courses that will steer you clear of terrain on the approach end of the runway. At night, this can be a lifesaver.


5) Identifiable Waypoints

To let other traffic know where you are, you can use DME and approach waypoints for radio calls as you approach the airport.


6) Flying With The G1000 NXi?

New avionics systems, like the Garmin G1000 NXi, have the ability to load a visual approach to nearly any runway. The procedure provides lateral guidance, and sometimes a vertical glide path. And that lateral guidance is another way to confirm you're lined up with the correct runway. This function is available for runways with OR without instrument approaches.

When has this technique come in handy for you? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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