I'm following a much heavier aircraft on an ILS approach to a large airport.

Ideally I'd like to stay a bit above the glide path and land late, both to avoid the turbulence and also get off the runway quicker.

Is that actually a good idea, and how would I do that in IMC?

  • $\begingroup$ By "IMC" do you mean an approach to minimums? $\endgroup$ May 7, 2017 at 0:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No. Instrument Meterological Conditions $\endgroup$ May 7, 2017 at 0:40
  • $\begingroup$ @CarloFelicione -- I understand what the acronym means -- I'm talking about the context of the question. There's a huge difference between breaking out shortly after the FAF and having to shoot all the way down to minimums (esp. if this was a NPA vs a PA, but that's neither here nor there) $\endgroup$ May 7, 2017 at 1:58
  • $\begingroup$ @UnrecognizedFallingObject, yes, basically worst case. $\endgroup$ May 7, 2017 at 18:59

3 Answers 3


Other bodies may advise differently but I will answer for the FAA.

The FAA covers this in their wake turbulence handbook as well as many other scenarios you can look over.

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Basically you can fly above the glide slope as you have assumed but you should always take precaution as it cant be known if the leading aircraft is at or above slope.

As in similar situations, separation services may be provided, load permitting. Air Traffic Control Assist

Air traffic controllers are able to provide sepa- ration distance information to pilots when workload permits and they have radar dis- plays in the control tower. They can provide airspeed differential between aircraft and may advise pilots following another aircraft when they are overtaking the preceding aircraft.

The document outlines some other methods and is worth a read.

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    $\begingroup$ The thinking pilot will also consider surface winds and low level winds which, for example, if a tail wind, could put wake turbulence into play even if the pilot flew above the glide path. However, in my experience flying into heavy traffic NE US airports, the controllers have always provided adequate horizontal spacing, and then even asked if that was acceptable. $\endgroup$
    – mongo
    May 7, 2017 at 13:10

Your concerns are valid and any competent approach controller is going to provide adequate spacing for light aircraft flying an approach. However if you don't feel comfortable accepting an approach clearance, request additional spacing to minimize wake turbulence hazards. A good controller will offer additional radar vector or send you to a hold in order to provide acceptable sequencing.


To avoid danger due to wake turbulence by preceding aircraft the so called Wake Turbulence Separation is used by ATCOs.

This takes into consideration the wake turbulence categories of both you and the preceding aircraft by this table:

Wake Turbulence Separation Minima (ivao.de)

If a case (eg. light - light) is not on the table normal radar separation (3nm) is used.


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