As the title says: which of the many circling approaches in the US National Airspace System holds the title of "circling approach that is flown most frequently?" My guess is it's the KTEB ILS 6, circle to RWY 1 procedure, but I don't know what other circling approaches in the NAS are frequently/commonly flown aside from the ones at KASE, which aren't really within the scope of this list, since the only reason they don't have straight-in minima is due to the excessive descent rate required for a straight-in approach.

As to why I'm asking this: it seems that the Part 142 training and ATPL checkride standards for circling approaches are causing a bunch of negative learning, as the training too often asks jet pilots to throw stabilized approach criteria in the dustbin. As a result, I was thinking it would be better to use a realistic form of circling (such as KTEB ILS 6 circling to RWY 1) when testing the ability of line ATPLs to fly circling approaches "in the box", as opposed to the downright unrealistic setups currently used (such as KMEM or KJFK, where the circling procedures are never actually used), as well as using night visual conditions for circling training and checking vs. trying to make people circle at minimums, which is dicey at best given current circling minimums.

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe a better question would be to ask which circling approaches have the most accidents. There might be actual data there from the NTSB. The sim training should aim to figure out what happened and how to prevent it. Current FAA standards require the visual systems to be adequate for the pilots to keep the airport in sight. This would preclude most circles to the opposite runway. $\endgroup$
    – wbeard52
    Jul 12, 2023 at 6:12

1 Answer 1


This is not information you are likely to find anywhere mostly because its not really recorded by anyone but individual pilots and there is no regulation (that I know of) to report these statistics out to any authority.

But I think there is a misunderstanding in your question, circling approaches are flown in many cases and there are lots of instances where they may be used at lots of airports, here are some examples Ive encountered in practice:

Some airports only have approaches to one runway like KDXR only has approaches into RW08 due to terrain but the winds most generally favor RW26. Thus its not uncommon to utilize the 08 approaches and do a north bound circle to land to 26.

One of the most common "circle" requests I have made was the time I spent flying out of KOAK. The hangar was off the end of RW15 but generally traffic is sequenced in to RW30 or RW28L/R. If its IFR (or even on a VFR day) and I had the minimums I would "circle 33" and roll out right to the hangar. This was a matter of convince for not only me but kept my little PA-28 out of the taxi ways the big boys were using.

Before the RNAV/GPS days which made it much easier to chart approaches into fields there were less approaches. Since there is no GPS requirement for IFR operations in the NAS there are plenty of IFR capable aircraft flying out there that can only fly ILS/LOC/VOR approaches. For example KDYL only has a VOR approach into (the general direction of) RW 24 since its a VOR-A level approach which only has circling minimum. The winds there are highly variable and you are likely to often have to circle to RW05 if you don't have GPS to fly the RNAV approach.

Training scenarios are not always created because they are used frequently but because they test challenging situations. Flying a circling approach at KJFK may be more difficult but thats the point, if you can fly that you can easily fly the ILS to RW1 at KTWB then circle to land RW06.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the final paragraph. $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2023 at 18:54

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