For example: If you request a visual approach and get approved, but you meant to request an ILS approach, are you not allowed to change it?

Is there some type of penalty for changing approaches after you've already received one?

For example in the video, "PilotsEYE.tv - A380 Landing KSFO San Francisco", the copilot misread a visual approach as ILS, and was given the ILS, but despite the captain's disapproval, they didn't make another call requesting the change.


2 Answers 2


There is no penalty per se, but visual approaches in particular have lower separation requirements, so having to switch you back to a non-visual approach may require ATC to make corrections (e.g. delay vectors, speed control or, in extreme cases, a missed approach), which may feel like a penalty.

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    $\begingroup$ This is only true in the US. In most cases, the separation minima are the same regardless of the type of approach flown. $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2020 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ Hello, I accidentally reversed the approaches! I just re edited. In case you wanted to make changes to your answer, I apologize! $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2020 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Firefighter1: It's the same answer but in reverse :) Pilots can deny any procedure they don't want, simple as that. I'll edit the question to include the new info, but in a way that doesn't invalidate the answers (the right way to do it). $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Jan 21, 2020 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall It was clumsy wording, and the question has changed significantly since it was posted. In any case, the point is that once the tower was agreed on and planning for a visual approach by the aircraft it's less hassle and less confusion for everyone if they simply follow through with that rather than changing their mind shortly afterwards. $\endgroup$
    – J...
    Jan 21, 2020 at 22:05

It's no problem, just tell Approach you have the airport in sight & request the visual. They'll give it to you almost always. A visual approach is generally a little less restrictive for the controller than an instrument approach is.


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