Here are the most common ways you’ll join final on an instrument approach.

1) Radar Vectors

The most common way to join an instrument approach is by radar vectors. ATC will direct you to the final approach course with a series of headings, before issuing you an intercept heading and approach clearance.

2) Present Position Direct

ATC can clear you direct to a fix along an RNAV approach. Once established inbound, you can continue on the final approach course.

3) Procedure Turns

When you read an instrument approach chart, you’ll often find a published procedure turn. It’s a course reversal to help you line yourself up on the final approach course of an instrument approach. These procedure turns are flown in the direction indicated by the graphically depicted barbed arrow.

4) Arcs

With the arc, you don’t need to worry about combining turns and descents like a procedure turn. Things also happen at a slower pace on the arc, because in almost all cases, you’re covering more distance on the arc than you are in the procedure turn. That means you have more time to fly the plane and prepare for your next turn and course intercept.

5) STAR To Approach

In Cleveland, for example, the TRYBE TWO RNAV STAR spits you out at a fix called BUDRW. This also happens to be an initial approach fix on the Runway 24R ILS and RNAV approach. In this case, the STAR and transition route align you with the final approach course.

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