Of all the situations in which ATC may issue a clearance, I’d argue the clearance for an instrument approach is the most hectic. There you are on a base leg to the instrument final approach course. You are relatively low to the ground. The approach controller is rattling off instructions to other aircraft in the radar pattern. You are running a busy instrument crosscheck.
Though you know it’s coming, your instrument approach clearance usually arrives quicker than anticipated. It’s filled with a lot of information at a time when you are already laser focused on the data on your instrument panel. You don’t need me to tell you that listening to, digesting, reading back, and then executing an instrument approach is very demanding.
Fortunately, an approach clearance, like most ATC clearances, follows a very specific format that rarely changes. Once you master that format, following through on an approach clearance becomes not necessarily easy but less stressful. Here’s a collection of tips and techniques to help you make sense of approach clearance copying.
If you’d like hands-on practice copying approach clearances, keep an eye on my newest course in development, Cleared for the Approach (CFA). This online course will let you practice copying ATC vectors to final while sitting at home or in your office. The course will include video and audio instruction filled with essential information to make your flight in the radar pattern a whole lot easier.