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I have always requested practice instrument approaches while maintaining VFR (with a safety pilot or instructor). But I was wondering if there are any issues (legal or otherwise) with requesting multiple approaches in actual weather at the end of a short IFR flight. Assuming, there are no safety or controller workload issues. In other words, assuming weather is well above minimums and controlling facility is not busy (during off peak hours).

I realize I could just make multiple missed approaches, and get the extra approaches that way, but that is not what I'm asking.

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  • $\begingroup$ I assume you either have your IR or would be flying with someone who does? $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Jul 20 '17 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Instrument rated and current. I just never thought about this or have ever heard of anyone doing it, but can't think of a reason why it wouldn't be permitted assuming safety and workload issues permit as mentioned. $\endgroup$ – Devil07 Jul 20 '17 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ I suppose you could make a request to the controller. They could always just deny it $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Jul 20 '17 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Devil07, IFR practice approaches in IMC happens frequently at some airports. I'm familiar with this in the Sacramento, CA area, Southern CA area (e.g. Burbank, Long Beach, Santa Ana). Many other places in the U.S. as well. Usually at an airport with a low volume of Air Carrier/ high performance aircraft. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Jul 20 '17 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ Please do request it if you are planning to perform multiple approaches. "I could just make multiple missed approaches" - this would be really annoying for the controllers. We really like to be able to plan ahead, so please tell us what your plan is. $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Jul 21 '17 at 5:00
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Certainly you can request practice approaches in IMC on an IFR flight plan. ATC will accommodate aircraft on a first come, first served basis. It is legal, and appropriate if ATC can accommodate it based on traffic (or noise or NOTAM restrictions).

Of course there will be some difficulty if you attempt to do practice approaches at Los Angeles (LAX) or New York (JFK). ATC would not likely accommodate this at these or similarly busy high performance aircraft airports. But again, unless it was otherwise restricted (e.g., noise abatement requirements or NOTAM restrictions) you can certainly request this type of IFR/IMC handling.

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Approaches in actual IMC aren't really "practice": you're an IFR aircraft doing IFR stuff, which just happens to be multiple instrument approaches. It isn't anything to be ashamed of - everyone in the system learns by doing at some point. The controller you're talking to may be a trainee, too, and learning something at the same time you are. It's nice to be considerate and not show up in the middle of an inbound rush to a major airport (or even an airport close to a major airport, since controllers are responsible for a wide area and you'll be part of their workload regardless...), but they get paid to provide a service and you're entirely within your rights to request multiple approaches. Military aircraft do that all the time - for example, a B52 coming back from a 7-hour training flight may spend another hour or two doing approaches with a civil approach control before landing. Just tell ATC what you want to do, and pay attention in case they issue alternate missed approach instructions.

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  • $\begingroup$ That is a good point. Its not a "practice" approach, its a request for multiple IFR approaches. The fact that I'm doing it for practice is only from my perspective. Point well taken. $\endgroup$ – Devil07 Jul 21 '17 at 18:46
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If you have an instrument rating or are under training from an IR rated instructor then there's no problem asking for as many instrument approaches as you want. It's good training to fly in real IR conditions rather than simulated. There's nothing like real cloud to concentrate the mind.

It would be very much against the rules to fly in instrument conditions without an IR though.

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They absolutely will let you fly practice instrument approaches in IMC. You will have to be an instrument rated pilot with an IFR equipped aircraft and file a local IFR flight plan with your intended route of flight and approaches with terminations.

Along with full motion simulator time, this is a good way to maintain IFR currency, especially if you live in an area with frequent and harmless IFR conditions e.g. low stratus clouds free of icing, embedded thunderstorms, etc. in addition flying multiple approaches and holds, one right after the other, is more work intensive than a real IFR CC flight in IMC.

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