I'm looking at "exciting" approach plates, and I always come back to JFK VOR/GPS 13L/R. Approach Plate: VOR/GPS RWY 13L/13R - JFK

I think I have come to understand most of the elements of this unusual approach, and enjoy seeing flights make that "dramatic" right turn just before landing, but here is what I can't figure out, even after reading over the plate multiple times:

With such a long distance (relatively) from the MAP to the runway, and additional features such as lead-in lights involved, when and where should the pilot consider, or decide, to break off the approach and go missed (climb and head for DPK)? Upon crossing the MAP, is it sufficient to have the ground and/or first set of lead-in lights in sight? Should the pilot see more than that, such as the actual runway? If weather temporarily (about 3 to 5 seconds) blocks off the view of the ground or lead-in lights can he continue? Basically, what is the minimum criteria for being able to continue the approach, after the MAP? Must the runway be in sight at all times, or is knowledge of position (based on lead-in lights, etc.) enough?


2 Answers 2


This approach is different than most others, in that it has a fly visual section of the approach, as noted in the lower portion of the plan view:

When visual reference established, fly visual to airport via lead-in lights to Rwy 13L or 13R.

When flying the approach, the pilot must have visual contact with the ground, and be able to maintain visual flight by reference to the ground. Arriving at DMYHL, the flight visibility must be at least two miles, and there must be at least an 800-foot ceiling. Considering that DMYHL is either 2.6 or 3.6 NM from the landing runway, it's entirely legal to continue flight without the runway in sight. Without ground contact and the required visibility and ceiling, a missed approach must be executed at DMYHL.

After passing DMYHL, any time the pilot loses visual contact with the ground, or is unable to fly the Fly Visual path as charted (if, for instance, they could see the ground near them but not the lead-in lights) they must execute the missed approach at that time. Note that continuous ground contact must exist - the lead-in lights could disappear behind a small cloud for 3-5 seconds if the pilots still had the approach path in sight, but the aircraft would not be permitted to enter a cloud after the MAP.

For reference, the AIM contains the following information about Fly Visual segments (AIM 5-4-5(l), page 5-4-19 or 345):

l. In isolated cases, an IAP may contain a published visual flight path. These procedures are annotated “Fly Visual to Airport” or “Fly Visual.” A dashed arrow indicating the visual flight path will be included in the profile and plan views with an approximate heading and distance to the end of the runway.

1. The depicted ground track associated with the “Fly Visual to Airport” segment should be flown as a “Dead Reckoning” course. When executing the “Fly Visual to Airport” segment, the flight visibility must not be less than that prescribed in the IAP; the pilot must remain clear of clouds and proceed to the airport maintaining visual contact with the ground. Altitude on the visual flight path is at the discretion of the pilot, and it is the responsibility of the pilot to visually acquire and avoid obstacles in the “Fly Visual to Airport” segment.

2. Missed approach obstacle clearance is assured only if the missed approach is commenced at the published MAP. Before initiating an IAP that contains a “Fly Visual to Airport” segment, the pilot should have preplanned climb out options based on aircraft performance and terrain features. Obstacle clearance is the responsibility of the pilot when the approach is continued beyond the MAP.

NOTE− The FAA Administrator retains the authority to approve instrument approach procedures where the pilot may not necessarily have one of the visual references specified in 14 CFR §91.175 and related rules. It is not a function of procedure design to ensure compliance with §91.175. The annotation “Fly Visual to Airport” provides relief from §91.175 requirements that the pilot have distinctly visible and identifiable visual references prior to descent below MDA/DA.

  • $\begingroup$ Would it be safe to say that in this particular plate, obstacle clearance is guaranteed anytime a missed approach is commence at or even beyond DMYHL, even though usually "Missed approach obstacle clearance is assured only if the missed approach is commenced at the published MAP" as stated in the AIM? $\endgroup$
    – NFI857
    Nov 3, 2016 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ It looks like there is obstacle clearance: the missed approach path goes over the airport, and in a direction where the highest obstacle within 25 NM is between 1700 and 1800'. However, not every obstacle is printed on the chart, and while you're probably safe, "guaranteed obstacle clearance" has a specific meaning that is not necessarily satisfied after the MAP. $\endgroup$
    – NathanG
    Nov 3, 2016 at 17:03

Your MAP is going to be DMYHL waypoint at 2.6NM DME/GPS from Canarsie VOR-DME (CRI) on the CRI 041° radial. It is also defined at the intersection between CRI 041° radial and Kennedy VOR-DME (JFK) 295° radial.

Also see the upper right corner of the plate:

“MISSED APPROACH: At or beyond MAP, climbing right turn to 4000 and heading 100° to DPK VOR/DME and hold.”

I suspect the unusual configuarion is due to traffic congestion for approaches and departures on those parallel runways to expidite the flow of traffic trying to fly a non precision approach - but don't quote me on that!


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