A visual approach is an ATC authorization for an aircraft on an IFR flight plan to proceed visually and clear of clouds to the airport of intended landing. A visual approach is not a standard instrument approach procedure and has no missed approach segment. An aircraft unable to complete a landing from a visual approach must be handled as any go-around and appropriate IFR separation must be provided until the aircraft lands or the pilot cancels their IFR flight plan.
A vector for a visual approach may be initiated if the reported ceiling at the airport of intended landing is at least 500 feet above the MVA/MIA and the visibility is 3 miles or greater. At airports without weather reporting service there must be reasonable assurance (e.g. area weather reports, PIREPs, etc.) that descent and flight to the airport can be made visually, and the pilot must be informed that weather information is not available.
NOTE: At airports where weather information is not available, a pilot request for a visual approach indicates that descent and flight to the airport can be made visually and clear of clouds.
ARTCCs and approach controls may clear aircraft for visual approaches using the following procedures:
NOTE: Towers may exercise this authority when authorized by a LOA with the facility that provides the IFR service, or by a facility directive at collocated facilities.
NOTE: The pilot need not report the airport/runway in sight.
NOTE: Visual separation is not authorized when the lead aircraft is a super.
NOTE: Although simultaneous approaches may be conducted to intersecting runways, staggered approaches may be necessary to meet the airport separation requirements specified in Para 3-10-4, Intersecting Runway/Intersecting Flight Path Separation.
Clear an aircraft for a CVFP only when the following conditions are met:
Clear an aircraft for a contact approach only if the following conditions are met:
NOTE: When executing a contact approach, the pilot is responsible for maintaining the required flight visibility, cloud clearance, and terrain/obstruction clearance. Unless otherwise restricted, the pilot may find it necessary to descend, climb, and/or fly a circuitous route to the airport to maintain cloud clearance and/or terrain/ obstruction clearance. It is not in any way intended that controllers will initiate or suggest a contact approach to a pilot.