Flying halfway around the world is great, but unless you can accurately find your for way those last few hundred feet to the runway, it’s all a bit pointless. When the weather is good, pilots are able to see the airport from several miles away. However, what do we do when there is low cloud or snow reducing the visibility? Fortunately, most airfields have some sort of approach system in place which enables us to safely descend the aircraft towards the runway. This is how we do it.
What stops pilots from making an approach?
For every approach to a runway, there is minimum weather criteria which pilots must legally abide by. This is to ensure the safety of the aircraft and to prevent pilots from “chancing it” in the hope that they might still be able to land.
This criteria varies from approach to approach, runway to runway and aircraft to aircraft. There are two elements to the approach: the visibility and the Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA)/ Decision Altitude (DA). These values are published at the bottom of the relevant approach chart which is available to the pilots.
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