Contact/Visual/Timed Approach

Contact vs Visual vs Timed

What is a Contact Approach?

Actually very simple. You can derive the requirements from its name.
In order to fly a contact approach, you must have constant contact with the airport or any other familiar references that you will be able to keep insight during your approach phase all the way to your landing. Besides, the pilot will be completely responsible for the safety of the flight.
A contact approach must or can only be requested by the pilot! The Flight or Ground Visibility must be at least ‘1SM and Clear of Clouds’ and the airport of intended landing must also have a STD or SPECIAL IAP (Instrumen Approach Procedure). In other words, a Contact Approach can be chosen by the pilot instead of an IAP.

What is a Visual Approach?

Also, as the name implies, a Visual Approach will be flown visually, which means, it’s basically a normal VFR approach, but still considered an IFR maneuver. During  the approach, the aircraft and/or airport ahead of you must be insight. If the airport is insight but not the aircraft to be followed, you can still be cleared for a ‘visual’ but ATC will remain responsible for aircraft separation. Furthermore, being cleared for a Visual Approach is not going to terminate your IFR Flight Plan.
An ATC clearance may be as follows: ‘N1234E, cleared for the Visual RWY … ‘
In comparison, a normal clearance during VFR/VMC flight conditions would be as follows:
‘N1234E, cleared to land RWY…’.

The entire airport environment is also required to have a Ceiling (CIG) of at least 1000ft and 3SM of visibility.
If a visual approach clearance is accepted by the pilot, he is going to be responsible for the safety of the Flight all the way to touch-down.
Although it’s a Visual Approach, it may be part of an IAP.
Since its a visual approach, and not an IAP, there’s no MAP (Missed Approach Point). A decision to go around or missed totally relies on the pilot.
Therefore, at uncontrolled airports, aircraft are required to remain COC (Clear of Clouds) at all times.

What is a timed approach?

As the name of the approach already says, it’s timed. In other words, pilots are given times (UTC) when to depart a fix to complete the approach and landing. This fix can be the FAF for a Non-Precision Approach, such as VOR, NDB. For an ILS, it can be an Outer Marker (OM), or one used in lieu (instead) of that. It’s often used at busy airports to make communications easier or to lessen them. Separation of aircraft will be around 2 minutes or miles. 3min/6miles for a small aircraft behind a big aircraft.
The airport must have ATC and 2 way communications must be established prior to this approach.
If a Procedure Turn exists on the IAP, the pilot should NOT fly it when cleared for the approach.
Pilots should depart fixes as close as possible to the time issued by the ATC.