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Before You Land On An Instrument Approach, You Need To See One Of These 10 Things

Live from the Flight Deck

If you've taken any instrument training, you probably know that you need three things to land on an instrument approach...

1) Continuous position to land on intended runway
2) Required flight visibility
3) Runway environment in sight (approved visual reference for the runway)

But what are the 'approved visual references for the runway' that let you land? There are 10 of them, and we've got them for you right here.

1) The approach light systems's red terminating bars or red side row bars (used on ALSF-1 and ALSF-2 systems)

This is an example of red side row bars on an ALSF-2 system.

2) The runway threshold

3) The threshold markings

4) The threshold lights

5) The runway end identifier lights (they're the flashing strobes on the corners of the runway's approach threshold)

6) The visual approach slope indicator

7) The touchdown zone or touchdown zone markings

8) The touchdown zone lights

9) The runway or runway markings

10) The runway lights

So there you have it. The next time someone asks what 'approved visual references for the runway' are, you'll know.

Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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