Sydney Airport Independent Visual Approaches (IVAs)

Sydney airport operates two parallel runways which are closely spaced at 1,037m apart.  

Through using a procedure called Independent Visual Approaches (or IVA’s), two aircraft can be on adjacent final approaches at the same time. This allows for more efficient use of the runways so that more flights can pass through Sydney airport than without them.   

They use internationally recognised procedures to ensure the safe operation of aircraft.  They may be used at Sydney during parallel operations in the runway 16 or runway 34 direction. When meteorological conditions allow, an IVA may be initiated from a heading to join final or from a straight-in instrument approach once the pilot is visual. International aircraft can only conduct an IVA when established on final approach and visual. The procedures are safe and efficient to perform, however, a thorough understanding of the rules and procedures by all pilots is vital.  

A thorough understanding of the rules and procedures by all pilots is vital. Below is a list of important instructions and advisory information for conducting IVAs at Sydney:

  • report visual and/or runway in sight as soon as possible
  • manage your airspeed on the base leg of the circuit to ensure you do not overshoot the centreline
  • fly accurate headings when being vectored to final approach
  • the vector for final will not be greater than 30 degrees
  • remain on the 'Director' frequency until you are established on final approach
  • ATC will provide surveillance or vertical separation until cleared for an IVA
  • do not pass through your assigned runway centreline
  • other aircraft will be operating on the adjacent approach
  • traffic information will be provided if another aircraft is within 1NM on final approach
  • flight crew must respond to any TCAS alerts in accordance with the procedures in the aircraft’s flight manual
  • the phraseology will include “cleared independent visual approach”
  • accurately track the extended runway centreline
  • once you are cleared for the IVA, then the requirements of the procedure must be followed
  • if for any reason, including radio failure or radio congestion, contact cannot be established or maintained with Director preventing instructions being issued by ATC or a vectoring request being made by the flight crew to enable intercept of the final approach course for the assigned runway, then an aircraft should initiate a turn in order to track the extended centreline of the assigned runway
  • the layout of Sydney Airport has shown that wake turbulence encounters are possible even through the required standard is in place
  • the ILS critical area is not protected.

Pilots must remember that it is imperative they are fully aware of their responsibility to fly accurate heading and fly onto final without overshooting the runway centreline.

Useful references

Information on IVAs can be found at - Aeronautical Information Package (AIP)
AIP DAP East Sydney IVA user guide page 1 and page 2
AIP ENR 1.1. - 7.2 Pilot notification
AIP ENR 1.1 - 7.4 Parallel visual approaches
AIP GEN 2.2 - Definition of IVAs