# How late can a landing clearance be given?

I regularly fly VFR in an (EASA-) airport where the tower is sometimes rather busy and the frequency full which led a few times to me receiving landing clearances as late as 10-20ft AGL above the threshold.

I was wondering, if (EASA) regulations say anything about when you have to / should perform a go around on approach when you still didn’t get a clearance. I’m not asking about how to deal with those situations when flying, I’m just asking about what’s in the regulations about this.

• Hopefully before you touch down! Jul 17 '19 at 23:29

Short answer: for visual approaches, it is not yet set in EASA regulations, but a draft recommends that the landing clearance be issued somewhere from downwind to short final (dashed line in the diagram below).

The relevant distance I found only applies to radar approaches:

8.9.6.1.7 Clearance to land or any alternative clearance received from the aerodrome controller or, when applicable, the procedural controller should normally be passed to the aircraft before it reaches a distance of 4 km (2 NM) from touchdown.$$^1$$

As for visual approaches it says:

7.10.1 (...) a landing aircraft will not normally be permitted to cross the runway threshold on its final approach until the preceding departing aircraft has crossed the end of the runway-in-use, or has started a turn, or until all preceding landing aircraft are clear of the runway-in-use.$$^2$$

Reference: EASA PANS ATM Checklist

$$^1$$ Transposed from ICAO Doc 4444 as GM3 to AMC2 ATS.TR.160(d)(3)
$$^2$$ Transposed from ICAO Doc 4444 in various AMCs to ATS.TR.210(c) and ATS.TR.220

A note on EASA regulations: Generally, for air traffic services EASA uses the text of ICAO Doc 4444 as Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) to the regulations, hence the transposition here.

A 2017 EASA draft (not yet regulation) discusses where you should ideally receive the landing clearance:

GM5 ATS.TR.210(a)(3) Operation of air traffic control service

DESIGNATED POSITIONS OF AIRCRAFT IN THE AERODROME TRAFFIC AND TAXI CIRCUIT IN RELATION TO AERODROME CONTROL TOWER CLEARANCES

The following positions of aircraft in the traffic and taxi circuits, as shown in Figure 1, are the positions where aircraft normally receive aerodrome control tower clearances. Aircraft should be watched closely as they approach these positions so that proper clearances may be issued without delay. Where practicable, all clearances should be issued without waiting for aircraft to initiate the call.

(...)

— Position 4. Clearance to land is issued here as practicable.

(...)

• thanks for the great answer! Mar 20 '19 at 8:21

The approach clearance (be it VFR or IFR) has a clearance limit until over the threshold. So, you cannot cross the landing runway threshold unless you have received landing clearance.

Approach clearance always includes clearance to fly the missed approach procedure.

• Since Florian is asking specifically about EASA regulations, it would be a good idea if you could cite the relevant regulation(s) in your answer. Mar 20 '19 at 7:19
• Not true. You can't LAND without a clearance to do so, but clearance for an approach is also clearance to fly the missed approach if you can't land (for whatever reason), so you absolutely DO have clearance to overfly the threshold, having been cleared for the approach. Mar 20 '19 at 10:58
• @RalphJ You are absolutely correct. I left it out on purpose as the question was only about landing, but I'll edit my answer to include this. Mar 20 '19 at 15:31