Cleared for a visual approach to one left means that you are no longer flying under instrument flight rules. Meaning you no longer must follow an assigned course and altitude. You are now operating under visual flight rules and providing you can maintain the required distance from clouds you are on your own. This expedites the flow of traffic when the weather is good. For instance, if you were being vectored on downwind at Dulles, your example airport, if you were to remain IFR, the controller would have to take you out beyond five miles before he could turn you back onto base and final. But if he clears you for the visual approach, you can turn when you want and land. You're on your own. You also now have the responsibility to see and avoid other aircraft. The pilot does not have to accept the clearance however. And typically, the pilot will continue to take advantage of ILS approach information. It's good information.
· 1 decade ago