Straight In???

Pro Member Trainee
LuckyBlunder Trainee

I was approaching New Orleans enroute from Nashville. I was IFR and had the ILS frequencies set. It became obvious from the instructions ATC gave me that I was being directed to the west to land in approximately a reverse course from what I was heading. OK, ne sweat. I followeed ATC instructions as to course and altitude and then the final instruction was "Turn left to heading XXX. You are cleared land Runway YYY. STRAIGHT IN." Or words to that effect. Unfortunately, the last course the ATC gave me was at right angle to the glide path.

My question is: At what point do you ignore the ATC "STRAIGHT IN" ?

It's difficult to fly straiaght in to a runway that's 90 degrees from your flight path.

Thanks for any help. Maybe I'm paying too much attention to ATC.

7 Responses

Pro Member First Officer
Ed Reagle (edr1073) First Officer


When ATC guides you to another runway and they give clearance to another runway you need to set your course for that heading and go straight in that way. The wind direction has changed, traffic pattern has changed, etc...

Pro Member Trainee
LuckyBlunder Trainee

edr -

Understood. That's why I was vectored around the airport to the west to eventually land from south to north. But the last instruction I got put me on an easterly course. I figured the least they could do was line me up approx. with the runway.

I, maybe didn't explain it very well.

Pro Member Chief Captain
Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Thats not ATC's job as far as I know, well it certainly doesn't happen in the sim, they will vector you to as high as 90 degree angle to the runway, which hardly helps. This is where you have to use the ILS, ATC places you in a position that you can capture the glideslope at, and then descend, thats what it means by "fly straight in".

Pro Member First Officer
Ed Reagle (edr1073) First Officer

Yes. That is what I was trying to say. You have to find your Vector into the runway. They just get you close to it..?? I hope I am not telling you something that is incorrect. I hate that when it happens to me too.


Pro Member First Officer
Michael_H First Officer

If you do it again, listen carefully to the transmision from ATC. They will vector you in to that 90 degree angle to your runway and tell you to fly that heading and maintain whatever altitude they gave you until "established" on the localizer. Once you are established, you are cleared to fly straight in.

It's your job to turn onto the runway heading once the needle (the magenta diamond at the bottom of your outboard display which is your ILS approach reference giving you the localizer positition relative to your airplane) starts to move toward the center indicating that you are established

Last edited by Michael_H on Mon Mar 21, 2005 6:50 am, edited 1 time in total
Pro Member Trainee
LuckyBlunder Trainee

Thanks ALL !! The situation has been clarified. I don't like it, but at least I'll be able to avoid another missed approach.

I've since found out that you sometimes get to the glideslope before ATC gives you the final instructions.

Don Wood Guest

Maybe it will help to clarify that in the real world, ATC recognizes two types of approach to landing. You can either fly a "pattern" approach or a "straight in" approach. A pure pattern approach will have you established on the downwind leg within a mile or so of the runway for light aircraft and 1-2 miles for larger. You turn to base leg within 2-3 miles of the end of the runway and turn when necessary to intercept the center-line approach course for landing. There can often be variations such as initially establishing yourself on the base leg - the key is the distance from the runway you turn to final.

Straight in approaches establish you on the final approach course much further from the runway, often 10-15 miles but it can be much further. However, unless your aircraft was already established on the exact course for landing, there has to be some turning to establish yourself on final. When ATC issues the turn instructions, it is known as "vectoring". Regardless of the turning necessary to establish yourself on final, if you are on final outside of normal pattern distances, you are flying a straight in approach.

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