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An instructor recently told me a required radio call to ATC is to tell them when you are established on course on final approach. His point was that this tells ATC when to switch you to tower. While I see is point this seems more like technique than procedure. I have not been able to find this written anywhere. The AIM does provide a list of times when the pilot should make reports to ATC: 5-3-3.a.1. But this list does not mention reporting when established on a segment of an approach or when established on final. Is it written anywhere else what other required calls might be to ATC e.g. over the FAF, established on course on final?

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    $\begingroup$ Whenever you hear claims of a requirement you should respond, "interesting, I didn't know that, would you please show me where it says that so I can reference it in the future?" $\endgroup$ Nov 4, 2023 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ When not in radar contact you should report to ATC/FSS ..."when leaving final approach fix inbound on final approach (nonprecision approach) or when leaving the outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker inbound on final approach (precision approach)." ref: AIM 5.3.3 a.2 $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Nov 4, 2023 at 22:12

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It's absolutely not required, and would be a lot of needless clutter on the frequency.

Listen to LiveATC or something similar for the final controller at any busy airport like LAX or Atlanta or really anywhere with a continuous stream of aircraft being cleared for ILS approaches, and you'll find that pilots don't report any such thing.

The typical transmissions are,

  • Approach Controller: Bigjet 123, fly heading 030, 3000 feet until established, cleared the ILS 36L approach.
  • Aircraft: Bigjet 123, heading 030, 3000 until established, cleared ILS 36L
  • Controller: Bigjet 123, contact tower 127.85
  • Aircraft: Bigjet 123, tower 127.85

That's about it.

Now, if the controller tells you to report established on final, then obviously you'll do that. And if you're using non-radar procedures, those have a lot more calls. But for the typical case, reporting established on final isn't a thing, and would be extra radio traffic to no point, and/or creating confusion of "why are they reporting that???"

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In a radar environment (when in radar contact) ATC can see where you are. A report to ATC when you're established on final is not necessary (unless requested and then it becomes mandatory) - but see AIM 5.3.3 a.2. - Additional Reports when "not" in radar contact.

From: AIM 5.3.3 a.2: (Radio reports to ATC/FSS) When not in radar contact.

(a) When leaving final approach fix inbound on final approach (nonprecision approach) or when leaving the outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker inbound on final approach (precision approach).

However, I strongly recommend that you follow the radio reporting procedures shown in the AIM (even though some of the procedures only say that you "should" make the report), or as required by ATC. (including of course, the reports shown in AIM 5-3-2 and 5.3.3).

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