# What does a 10nm/20nm circle on instrument approach charts mean?

A lot of instrument aproach charts (VOR or ILS) have a circle around the navaid. It can be 10/20 NM or in km, like the 20km circle in the image. What does this circle mean?

• You may want to ask what it's used for rather than what it means, as I think you know it shows the distance that is 10 NM from the centre. Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 21:33
• Yeap. Because, as I understood from the answer below (as Annex 4 says), it shows only radial scale. I thought, it has some additional function. Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 15:41

It can be 20 km, or 10 NM.

Since you've shown an ICAO-style plate, ICAO Annex 4 Aeronautical Charts says:

11.3.3.1 Except where this is not practicable, a distance circle with a radius of 20 km (10 NM) centred on a DME located on or close to the aerodrome, or on the aerodrome reference point where no suitable DME is available, shall be shown; its radius shall be indicated on the circumference.

So whenever possible, this circle must be shown.

• But why is it required? To quickly estimate the relative distance? Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 20:40

https://www.flightliteracy.com/instrument-approach-procedure-charts-part-two/

Normally, approach features within the plan view are shown to scale; however, only the data within the reference circle is always drawn to scale.

• Wow, after 3 years! Congrats. Not sure that this is the fundamental reason for the reference circle, but-- definitely a good insight there, Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 7:43