§135.225(a) states that, "...no pilot may begin an instrument approach procedure to an airport unless— (1) That airport has a weather reporting facility operated by the U.S. National Weather Service, a source approved by U.S. National Weather Service, or a source approved by the Administrator..."

Assuming that a part 135 pilot is operating to an airport where the weather reporting is out of service, and the pilot is not conducting eligible on-demand in accordance with §135.225(b). What portion of an IAP (if any), can be flown in this case without violating the intent? Is the IAP considered to "begin" at the IAF, IF or, for the intent of this regulation, at the FAF? Or, does it begin at the point ATC says, "cleared for the approach?" In a case such as this, the 135 pilot is needing a descent to VFR weather, since an IFR arrival (including visual or contact approach) is not authorized. Being able to descend to a the initial or intermediate segment altitude would obviously be an advantage.

If a local (or designated facility) altimeter setting is not available, terrain clearance would not be guaranteed when descending to the initial and intermediate altitudes. In that case I believe that ATC could not give a clearance for descent to those altitudes.

  • $\begingroup$ You should be more specific in the title. If you question is "when does the approach described in far 135 begin?", the title should be "when does the approach described in far 135 begin?" $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 8:50
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, revised. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ Being vectored is a totally independent phase of flight, generally considered en-route thus you are not on any part of the approach while being vectored. However if you enter the approach at an IAF then that would be on the approach as your only lost comms/own-nav solution is then to fly the whole approach through the missed. So it seems reasonable that being both cleared for an approach and exiting the enroute environment (those bits which are not on a low alt. chart) would be entering the approach. $\endgroup$
    – Max Power
    Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 23:05

1 Answer 1


Beginning an instrument approach would mean being established on any segment of that approach, whether the initial, intermediate, or final approach segments, and they have received ATC clearance to do so.

  • $\begingroup$ That makes sense to me, though I would love to see a source reference. I've been unable to find any letter of interpretation or reference that defines "beginning" or "initiating" an approach. It's not unusual for a pilot to be cleared to fly the initial and intermediate segments of an approach, including descent to the segment minimum altitudes, without the phrase "cleared for the approach." Perhaps the legal point of "beginning" is at the point ATC says "cleared for the approach," and that could be at any point prior to the FAF. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ I agree that flying any portion of the published approach means you have begun that approach. Reference? The published procedure, and the fact that you are flying the profile means you have begun. I wouldn't play a semantics game with the word "cleared" either. In the event of a mishap or other incident would you feel comfortable defending your decision to fly a published approach procedure without weather because the controller said you could "continue", but didn't actually clear you? Better have a good lawyer if a passenger is suing... $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ Well both items are required to fly an instrument approach, Michael $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ I have been inside of an initial fix plenty of times and been told to continue and expect clearance. i.e. “XXX, continue on the localizer, expect ILS clearance in 1 mile.” Either way, the point made is that if you are flying any segment of the approach you have begun that approach. Spoken words do not alter that reality. Furthermore, as soon as you request the approach and accept a clearance you have established an intent to fly it. If you did so knowing that the weather station was inoperative I believe you could be held liable for any resulting unpleasantness. But that's a legal question. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Carlo Felicione, BTW I agree with your answer and upvoted it. My "semantics game" comment was actually directed at Robert for his comment on your answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 22:28

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