General Requirements

Airport Planning is the starting point for any instrument approach, and airport sponsors must make a number of decisions about the airport's future development, compatibility with airport neighbors, instrument approach minimums (cloud ceiling and visibility), and investment in the safety-related equipment and facilities to support the improved capability.

Early coordination with the FAA Airports office and Flight Procedures Office can help decide which runway ends should have an instrument approach procedure and the standards the airport must meet. This may already be depicted on an FAA approved Airport Layout Plan required at federally-obligated airports. If the airport has not already been approved for instrument operations, coordinate with the FAA Airports office for an aeronautical study on changing the airport from visual to instrument, then budget for and install the facilities needed, such as holding position signs and marking.

When all the instrument approach procedure prerequisites of Appendix 16 have been met, the Airport Layout Plan can be updated and submitted to the FAA for review and approval. When the airport has met the standards and provided all the needed information, the Flight Procedures Office can start the design process.

Survey Requirements

Survey data may be the single most important criteria necessary to facilitate the timely development of an IFP. The National Geodetic Survey has a web site that can provide additional information regarding survey requirements.

The foundation for an instrument approach is airport data. The data includes:

  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • Elevation information for the runways

These coordinates must be expressed in North American Datum 1983 (NAD 83 or WGS 1984) and elevations must be expressed in North American Vertical Datum of 1988. These coordinates must be to the nearest one hundredth (1/100) of a second. Runway length and bearing must be consistent with submitted runway end coordinates. Elevations of each runway end above mean sea level (MSL) must be to the nearest whole foot. A touchdown zone elevation (the highest elevation along the first 3000 feet of the runway) must be shown to the nearest whole foot for each end of the runway. The elevation of the highest point along all runways (the Airport elevation) to the nearest whole foot above MSL is also needed. A professional land surveyor must be used to determine the coordinates and elevations for the airport. You should include this survey report, stamped with the surveyor's professional seal, with your submission.

Survey List (MS Excel)

Airport Data Requirements

Sponsors of federally-obligated airports have agreed to develop and keep current an Airport Layout Plan, which contains the data and planning information list in Appendix 7 of Advisory Circular AC 150/5300-13, Airport Design. Part of the data confirms that specific standards are met in order to support an instrument approach procedure. Non-obligated airports will be required to supply survey and environmental data.

Appendix 16 of the AC, New Instrument Approach Procedures, lists the safety-related standards in a Table, with more stringent standards applying to lower minimums (descent altitude and visibility). A sponsor can choose the minimums desired and from the Table, can determine the applicable safety standards. The minimums are also based on other standards, such as FAA's Terminal instrument Procedures (TERPS) criteria, so just meeting the list of airport standards does not guarantee that those minimums can be approved.

The operational safety standards include a minimum runway length, runway markings, holding positions signs and marking, runway lighting (for night minima), a parallel taxiway in some cases, an clear Obstacle Free Zone, and a landing threshold location that meets the FAA's threshold siting criteria.

Environmental Requirements

In 2009 the Air Traffic and Flight Standards organizations began an initiative to streamline and standardize the Instrument Flight Procedure (IFP) approval process. The process starts with a proponent's request to design a new or to update an existing instrument approach procedure, and culminates in either the publication or implementation of the procedure by the FAA. Environmental review is a primary component of the IFP approval process. With the realignment of several organizations within ATO Operations into the ATO Mission Support Services organization, ATO Mission Support senior management, as part of the NAV Lean program, established the Process Re-engineering Work Group. The Work Group was tasked to review and reengineer the environmental review process for IFP approval within the ATO in order to meet our National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. The Work Group effort resulted in development of a standardized environmental review process using a Pre-screening Filter (PDF) to help guide the proponent through the environmental portion of the IFP approval process.

As required by NEPA all major federal actions must undergo some level of environmental review before an action is undertaken. This new environmental review process for IFPs has been designed to be consistent, repeatable, and efficient across all ATO offices. The diagram below depicts the high level process steps beginning with the need for an aircraft procedure through either publication or implementation.

Flow chart of something.

At the center of this new process is the Environmental Pre-screening Filter that collects procedure information to determine the next steps in completing the environmental review process. The Filter provides the FAA information that will be used to identify if the procedure approval qualifies for a Categorical Exclusion or if additional environmental review is required. The proponent for an IFP must complete the screening filter and submit the results in conjunction with their request. NEPA requirements and other environmental training as it relates to use of the pre-screening filter is provided in the table below. A review of this information will assist the proponent in entering the best information for the most accurate output.

Environmental Pre-screening Filter Training
Title Date Added
Environmental Pre-screening Training NEPA CEQ (Module 1) (MS PowerPoint) Nov. 15, 2013
Environmental Pre-screening Training FAA Order 1050 (Module 2) (MS PowerPoint) Nov. 15, 2013
Environmental Pre-screening Training Noise Review (Module 3) (MS PowerPoint) Nov. 15, 2013
Environmental Pre-screening Training Process Overview (Module 4) (MS PowerPoint) Nov. 15, 2013

Funding and Reimbursement


For information in regards to funding, contact the appropriate FAA Airport office. State aviation agencies also have grant programs for public airports on a cost-sharing basis. Private airports can contact the appropriate State Aviation Office for more information. The Airports Division may provide additional funding information.

New technologies should be considered in lieu of an ILS. However, the considerations for a Federally funded ILS are:

  • Cost/Benefit Ratio
  • ILS Frequency availability
  • Funding availability


When a new IFP has been determined to be for private use only, the FAA, proponent, or agent of the proponent may develop the IFP. Regardless of who develops the new IFP the FAA must perform the quality control and flight inspection of the IFP. Therefore a Reimbursable Agreement must be established with the FAA to cover the FAA's costs.

Under certain conditions a proponent may desire to have an existing private IFP converted into a public IFP. This type of IFP is called a Convertible Special. Under this process a reimbursable agreement is also required.

The reimbursable agreement process begins when the proponent contacts the appropriate Flight Procedure Office and provides the following data.

  • All existing instrument approaches at location identified. (if applicable)
  • The sponsor's (owners/proponent) name, address, and telephone number. note: The name and address provided will be used to bill your organization for services.

The reimbursement cost of developing an private IFP can vary depending on the complexity of the project.

Rewrite Pending

Other factors that may affect the cost of an IFP are:

  • The type and complexity of the procedure.
  • The availability of private or public navigational aids.
  • The intended use of the procedure.
  • Associated terrain and or obstacles.
  • The need for an Airport Layout Plan (ALP) or survey data.
  • Indirect costs

For more information regarding the reimbursable process contact the appropriate FPO.

Other Information

A local altimeter setting source may lower landing minimums. An approved altimeter setting source must meet the requirements of FAA Advisory Circular 91-14D, "Altimeter Setting Sources." Contact the nearest Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) for further details.

For private airports: You may develop an IFP through private means or enter into a reimbursable agreement with the FAA. A signed reimbursable agreement between the FAA and your organization must be on file. You may begin the reimbursable agreement process by contacting the appropriate FPO.