The CIRCLING Approach is used when you need to circle around the field to align with the intended runway. It can be used if there are no approaches published for the runway you want to land on.
It is also used when the inbound course does NOT align within 30° of the runway direction.
Example: In this approach, we would use the CIRCLING approach if we wanted to circle around the field and land in the opposite direction of rwy 25, onto Runway 7.
Because circling approaches wander around the airfield, they MUST have weather minimums that will provide obstacle clearance all around the area. Because of this, CIRCLING approaches TYPICALLY have altitude and visibility minimums GREATER than other approaches. Precision approaches such as ILS approaches, normally have weather and altitude minimums much less than CIRCLING and Straight-in approaches.
In this example, the CIRCLING and S-25 approaches have the SAME minima (unusual).