Section 4. Arrival Procedures
Standard Terminal Arrival (STAR) Procedures
A STAR is an ATC coded IFR arrival route established for application to arriving IFR aircraft destined for certain airports. STARs simplify clearance delivery procedures, and also facilitate transition between en route and instrument approach procedures.
STAR procedures may have mandatory speeds and/or crossing altitudes published. Other STARs may have planning information depicted to inform pilots what clearances or restrictions to “expect.” “Expect” altitudes/speeds are not considered STAR procedures crossing restrictions unless verbally issued by ATC. Published speed restrictions are independent of altitude restrictions and are mandatory unless modified by ATC. Pilots should plan to cross waypoints with a published speed restriction, at the published speed, and should not exceed this speed past the associated waypoint unless authorized by ATC or a published note to do so.
The “expect” altitudes/speeds are published so that pilots may have the information for planning purposes. These altitudes/speeds must not be used in the event of lost communications unless ATC has specifically advised the pilot to expect these altitudes/speeds as part of a further clearance.
14 CFR Section 91.185(c)(2)(iii).
Pilots navigating on, or navigating a published route inbound to, a STAR procedure must maintain last assigned altitude until receiving authorization to descend so as to comply with all published/issued restrictions. This authorization will contain the phraseology “DESCEND VIA.” If vectored or cleared to deviate off a STAR, pilots must consider the STAR canceled, unless the controller adds “expect to resume STAR”; pilots should then be prepared to rejoin the STAR at a subsequent fix or procedure leg. If a descent clearance has been received that included a crossing restriction, pilots should expect the controller to issue an altitude to maintain. If the STAR contains published altitude and/or speed restrictions, those restrictions are canceled and pilots will receive an altitude to maintain and, if necessary, a speed.
Clearance to “descend via” authorizes pilots to:
- Descend at pilot's discretion to meet published restrictions and laterally navigate on a STAR.
- When cleared to a waypoint depicted on a STAR, to descend from a previously assigned altitude at pilot's discretion to the altitude depicted at that waypoint.
Once established on the depicted arrival, to descend and to meet all published or assigned altitude and/or speed restrictions.
- When otherwise cleared along a route or procedure that contains published speed restrictions, the pilot must comply with those speed restrictions independent of any descend via clearance.
- ATC anticipates pilots will begin adjusting speed the minimum distance necessary prior to a published speed restriction so as to cross the waypoint/fix at the published speed. Once at the published speed, ATC expects pilots will maintain the published speed until additional adjustment is required to comply with further published or ATC assigned speed restrictions or as required to ensure compliance with 14 CFR Section 91.117.
- The “descend via” is used in conjunction with STARs to reduce phraseology by not requiring the controller to restate the altitude at the next waypoint/fix to which the pilot has been cleared.
- Air traffic will assign an altitude to cross the waypoint/ fix, if no altitude is depicted at the waypoint/fix, for aircraft on a direct routing to a STAR. Air traffic must ensure obstacle clearance when issuing a “descend via” instruction to the pilot.
- Minimum en route altitudes (MEA) are not considered restrictions; however, pilots must remain above all MEAs, unless receiving an ATC instruction to descend below the MEA.
- Lateral/routing clearance only.
“Cleared Tyler One arrival.”
In Example 1, pilots are cleared to fly the lateral path of the procedure. Compliance with any published speed restrictions is required. No descent is authorized.
- Routing with assigned altitude.
“Cleared Tyler One arrival, descend and maintain flight level two four zero.”
“Cleared Tyler One arrival, descend at pilot's discretion, maintain flight level two four zero.”
In Example 2, the first clearance requires the pilot to descend to FL 240 as directed, comply with any published speed restrictions, and maintain FL 240 until cleared for further vertical navigation with a newly assigned altitude or a“descend via” clearance.
The second clearance authorizes the pilot to descend to FL 240 at his discretion, to comply with any published speed restrictions, and then maintain FL 240 until issued further instructions.
- Lateral/routing and vertical navigation clearance.
“Descend via the Eagul Five arrival.”
“Descend via the Eagul Five arrival, except, cross Vnnom at or above one two thousand.”
In Example 3, the first clearance authorized the aircraft to descend at pilot's discretion on the Eagul Five arrival; the pilot must descend so as to comply with all published altitude and speed restrictions.
The second clearance authorizes the same, but requires the pilot to descend so as to cross at Vnnom at or above 12,000.
- Lateral/routing and vertical navigation clearance when assigning altitude not published on procedure.
“Descend via the Eagul Five arrival, except after Geeno, maintain one zero thousand.”
“Descend via the Eagul Five arrival, except cross Geeno at one one thousand then maintain seven thousand.”
In Example 4, the first clearance authorized the aircraft to track laterally on the Eagul Five Arrival and to descend at pilot's discretion so as to comply with all altitude and speed restrictions until reaching Geeno and then maintain 10,000. Upon reaching 10,000, aircraft should maintain 10,000 until cleared by ATC to continue to descend.
The second clearance requires the same, except the aircraft must cross Geeno at 11,000 and is then authorized to continue descent to and maintain 7,000.
- Direct routing to intercept a STAR and vertical navigation clearance.
“Proceed direct Leoni, descend via the Leoni One arrival.”
“Proceed direct Denis, cross Denis at or above flight level two zero zero, then descend via the Mmell One arrival.”
In Example 5, in the first clearance an altitude is published at Leoni; the aircraft proceeds to Leoni, crosses Leoni at the published altitude and then descends via the arrival. If a speed restrictions is published at Leoni, the aircraft will slow to comply with the published speed.
In the second clearance, there is no altitude published at Denis; the aircraft must cross Denis at or above FL200, and then descends via the arrival.
Pilots cleared for vertical navigation using the phraseology “descend via” must inform ATC upon initial contact with a new frequency, of the altitude leaving, “descending via (procedure name),” the runway transition or landing direction if assigned, and any assigned restrictions not published on the procedure.
- Delta 121 is cleared to descend via the Eagul Five arrival, runway 26 transition:
“Delta One Twenty One leaving flight level one niner zero, descending via the Eagul Five arrival runway two-six transition.”
- Delta 121 is cleared to descend via the Eagul Five arrival, but ATC has changed the bottom altitude to 12,000:
“Delta One Twenty One leaving flight level one niner zero for one two thousand, descending via the Eagul Five arrival, runway two-six transition.”
- (JetBlue 602 is cleared to descend via the Ivane Two arrival, landing south):
“JetBlue six zero two leaving flight level two one zero descending via the Ivane Two arrival landing south.”
- Delta 121 is cleared to descend via the Eagul Five arrival, runway 26 transition:
- Clearance to “descend via” authorizes pilots to:
- STAR procedures may have mandatory speeds and/or crossing altitudes published. Other STARs may have planning information depicted to inform pilots what clearances or restrictions to “expect.” “Expect” altitudes/speeds are not considered STAR procedures crossing restrictions unless verbally issued by ATC. Published speed restrictions are independent of altitude restrictions and are mandatory unless modified by ATC. Pilots should plan to cross waypoints with a published speed restriction, at the published speed, and should not exceed this speed past the associated waypoint unless authorized by ATC or a published note to do so.
- Pilots of IFR aircraft destined to locations for which STARs have been published may be issued a clearance containing a STAR whenever ATC deems it appropriate.
- Use of STARs requires pilot possession of at least the approved chart. RNAV STARs must be retrievable by the procedure name from the aircraft database and conform to charted procedure. As with any ATC clearance or portion thereof, it is the responsibility of each pilot to accept or refuse an issued STAR. Pilots should notify ATC if they do not wish to use a STAR by placing “NO STAR” in the remarks section of the flight plan or by the less desirable method of verbally stating the same to ATC.
- STAR charts are published in the Terminal Procedures Publications (TPP) and are available on subscription from the National Aeronautical Charting Office.
- Public PBN STARs are normally designed using RNAV 1, RNP 1, or A-RNP NavSpecs. These procedures require system performance currently met by GPS or DME/DME/IRU PBN systems that satisfy the criteria discussed in AC 90-100A, U.S. Terminal and En Route Area Navigation (RNAV) Operations. These procedures, using RNAV 1 and RNP 1 NavSpecs, must maintain a total system error of not more than 1 NM for 95% of the total flight time. Minimum values for A-RNP procedures will be charted in the PBN box (for example, 1.00 or 0.30).
- In the U.S., a specific procedure's PBN requirements will be prominently displayed in separate, standardized notes boxes. For procedures with PBN elements, the “PBN box” will contain the procedure's NavSpec(s); and, if required: specific sensors or infrastructure needed for the navigation solution, any additional or advanced functional requirements, the minimum RNP value, and any amplifying remarks. Items listed in this PBN box are REQUIRED for the procedure's PBN elements.
- A STAR is an ATC coded IFR arrival route established for application to arriving IFR aircraft destined for certain airports. STARs simplify clearance delivery procedures, and also facilitate transition between en route and instrument approach procedures.
Local Flow Traffic Management Program
- This program is a continuing effort by the FAA to enhance safety, minimize the impact of aircraft noise and conserve aviation fuel. The enhancement of safety and reduction of noise is achieved in this program by minimizing low altitude maneuvering of arriving turbojet and turboprop aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds and, by permitting departure aircraft to climb to higher altitudes sooner, as arrivals are operating at higher altitudes at the points where their flight paths cross. The application of these procedures also reduces exposure time between controlled aircraft and uncontrolled aircraft at the lower altitudes in and around the terminal environment. Fuel conservation is accomplished by absorbing any necessary arrival delays for aircraft included in this program operating at the higher and more fuel efficient altitudes.
- A fuel efficient descent is basically an uninterrupted descent (except where level flight is required for speed adjustment) from cruising altitude to the point when level flight is necessary for the pilot to stabilize the aircraft on final approach. The procedure for a fuel efficient descent is based on an altitude loss which is most efficient for the majority of aircraft being served. This will generally result in a descent gradient window of 250-350 feet per nautical mile.
- When crossing altitudes and speed restrictions are issued verbally or are depicted on a chart, ATC will expect the pilot to descend first to the crossing altitude and then reduce speed. Verbal clearances for descent will normally permit an uninterrupted descent in accordance with the procedure as described in paragraph b above. Acceptance of a charted fuel efficient descent (Runway Profile Descent) clearance requires the pilot to adhere to the altitudes, speeds, and headings depicted on the charts unless otherwise instructed by ATC. PILOTS RECEIVING A CLEARANCE FOR A FUEL EFFICIENT DESCENT ARE EXPECTED TO ADVISE ATC IF THEY DO NOT HAVE RUNWAY PROFILE DESCENT CHARTS PUBLISHED FOR THAT AIRPORT OR ARE UNABLE TO COMPLY WITH THE CLEARANCE.
- Approach control is responsible for controlling all instrument flight operating within its area of responsibility. Approach control may serve one or more airfields, and control is exercised primarily by direct pilot and controller communications. Prior to arriving at the destination radio facility, instructions will be received from ARTCC to contact approach control on a specified frequency.
Radar Approach Control.
Where radar is approved for approach control service, it is used not only for radar approaches (Airport Surveillance Radar [ASR] and Precision Approach Radar [PAR]) but is also used to provide vectors in conjunction with published nonradar approaches based on radio NAVAIDs (ILS, VOR, NDB, TACAN). Radar vectors can provide course guidance and expedite traffic to the final approach course of any established IAP or to the traffic pattern for a visual approach. Approach control facilities that provide this radar service will operate in the following manner:
- Arriving aircraft are either cleared to an outer fix most appropriate to the route being flown with vertical separation and, if required, given holding information or, when radar handoffs are effected between the ARTCC and approach control, or between two approach control facilities, aircraft are cleared to the airport or to a fix so located that the handoff will be completed prior to the time the aircraft reaches the fix. When radar handoffs are utilized, successive arriving flights may be handed off to approach control with radar separation in lieu of vertical separation.
- After release to approach control, aircraft are vectored to the final approach course (ILS, RNAV, GLS, VOR, ADF, etc.). Radar vectors and altitude or flight levels will be issued as required for spacing and separating aircraft. Therefore, pilots must not deviate from the headings issued by approach control. Aircraft will normally be informed when it is necessary to vector across the final approach course for spacing or other reasons. If approach course crossing is imminent and the pilot has not been informed that the aircraft will be vectored across the final approach course, the pilot should query the controller.
- The pilot is not expected to turn inbound on the final approach course unless an approach clearance has been issued. This clearance will normally be issued with the final vector for interception of the final approach course, and the vector will be such as to enable the pilot to establish the aircraft on the final approach course prior to reaching the final approach fix.
- In the case of aircraft already inbound on the final approach course, approach clearance will be issued prior to the aircraft reaching the final approach fix. When established inbound on the final approach course, radar separation will be maintained and the pilot will be expected to complete the approach utilizing the approach aid designated in the clearance (ILS, RNAV, GLS, VOR, radio beacons, etc.) as the primary means of navigation. Therefore, once established on the final approach course, pilots must not deviate from it unless a clearance to do so is received from ATC.
- After passing the final approach fix on final approach, aircraft are expected to continue inbound on the final approach course and complete the approach or effect the missed approach procedure published for that airport.
- ARTCCs are approved for and may provide approach control services to specific airports. The radar systems used by these centers do not provide the same precision as an ASR/PAR used by approach control facilities and towers, and the update rate is not as fast. Therefore, pilots may be requested to report established on the final approach course.
- Whether aircraft are vectored to the appropriate final approach course or provide their own navigation on published routes to it, radar service is automatically terminated when the landing is completed or when instructed to change to advisory frequency at uncontrolled airports, whichever occurs first.
- Where radar is approved for approach control service, it is used not only for radar approaches (Airport Surveillance Radar [ASR] and Precision Approach Radar [PAR]) but is also used to provide vectors in conjunction with published nonradar approaches based on radio NAVAIDs (ILS, VOR, NDB, TACAN). Radar vectors can provide course guidance and expedite traffic to the final approach course of any established IAP or to the traffic pattern for a visual approach. Approach control facilities that provide this radar service will operate in the following manner:
Advance Information on Instrument Approach
- When landing at airports with approach control services and where two or more IAPs are published, pilots will be provided in advance of their arrival with the type of approach to expect or that they may be vectored for a visual approach. This information will be broadcast either by a controller or on ATIS. It will not be furnished when the visibility is three miles or better and the ceiling is at or above the highest initial approach altitude established for any low altitude IAP for the airport.
- The purpose of this information is to aid the pilot in planning arrival actions; however, it is not an ATC clearance or commitment and is subject to change. Pilots should bear in mind that fluctuating weather, shifting winds, blocked runway, etc., are conditions which may result in changes to approach information previously received. It is important that pilots advise ATC immediately they are unable to execute the approach ATC advised will be used, or if they prefer another type of approach.
Aircraft destined to uncontrolled airports, which have automated weather data with broadcast capability, should monitor the ASOS/AWOS frequency to ascertain the current weather for the airport. The pilot must advise ATC when he/she has received the broadcast weather and state his/her intentions.
- ASOS/AWOS should be set to provide one-minute broadcast weather updates at uncontrolled airports that are without weather broadcast capability by a human observer.
- Controllers will consider the long line disseminated weather from an automated weather system at an uncontrolled airport as trend and planning information only and will rely on the pilot for current weather information for the airport. If the pilot is unable to receive the current broadcast weather, the last long line disseminated weather will be issued to the pilot. When receiving IFR services, the pilot/aircraft operator is responsible for determining if weather/visibility is adequate for approach/landing.
- When making an IFR approach to an airport not served by a tower or FSS, after ATC advises “CHANGE TO ADVISORY FREQUENCY APPROVED” you should broadcast your intentions, including the type of approach being executed, your position, and when over the final approach fix inbound (nonprecision approach) or when over the outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker inbound (precision approach). Continue to monitor the appropriate frequency (UNICOM, etc.) for reports from other pilots.
Instrument Approach Procedure (IAP) Charts
14 CFR Section 91.175(a), Instrument approaches to civil airports, requires the use of SIAPs prescribed for the airport in 14 CFR Part 97 unless otherwise authorized by the Administrator (including ATC). If there are military procedures published at a civil airport, aircraft operating under 14 CFR Part 91 must use the civil procedure(s). Civil procedures are defined with “FAA” in parenthesis; e.g., (FAA), at the top, center of the procedure chart. DoD procedures are defined using the abbreviation of the applicable military service in parenthesis; e.g., (USAF), (USN), (USA). 14 CFR Section 91.175(g), Military airports, requires civil pilots flying into or out of military airports to comply with the IAPs and takeoff and landing minimums prescribed by the authority having jurisdiction at those airports. Unless an emergency exists, civil aircraft operating at military airports normally require advance authorization, commonly referred to as “Prior Permission Required” or “PPR.” Information on obtaining a PPR for a particular military airport can be found in the Chart Supplement U.S.
Civil aircraft may conduct practice VFR approaches using DoD instrument approach procedures when approved by the air traffic controller.
- IAPs (standard and special, civil and military) are based on joint civil and military criteria contained in the U.S. Standard for TERPS. The design of IAPs based on criteria contained in TERPS, takes into account the interrelationship between airports, facilities, and the surrounding environment, terrain, obstacles, noise sensitivity, etc. Appropriate altitudes, courses, headings, distances, and other limitations are specified and, once approved, the procedures are published and distributed by government and commercial cartographers as instrument approach charts.
- Not all IAPs are published in chart form. Radar IAPs are established where requirements and facilities exist but they are printed in tabular form in appropriate U.S. Government Flight Information Publications.
The navigation equipment required to join and fly an instrument approach procedure is indicated by the title of the procedure and notes on the chart.
- Straight-in IAPs are identified by the navigational system providing the final approach guidance and the runway to which the approach is aligned (e.g., VOR RWY 13). Circling only approaches are identified by the navigational system providing final approach guidance and a letter (e.g., VOR A). More than one navigational system separated by a slash indicates that more than one type of equipment must be used to execute the final approach (e.g., VOR/DME RWY 31). More than one navigational system separated by the word “or” indicates either type of equipment may be used to execute the final approach (e.g., VOR or GPS RWY 15).
In some cases, other types of navigation systems including radar may be required to execute other portions of the approach or to navigate to the IAF (e.g., an NDB procedure turn to an ILS, an NDB in the missed approach, or radar required to join the procedure or identify a fix). When radar or other equipment is required for procedure entry from the en route environment, a note will be charted in the planview of the approach procedure chart (e.g., RADAR REQUIRED or ADF REQUIRED). When radar or other equipment is required on portions of the procedure outside the final approach segment, including the missed approach, a note will be charted in the notes box of the pilot briefing portion of the approach chart (e.g., RADAR REQUIRED or DME REQUIRED). Notes are not charted when VOR is required outside the final approach segment. Pilots should ensure that the aircraft is equipped with the required NAVAID(s) in order to execute the approach, including the missed approach.
Some military (i.e., U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy) IAPs have these “additional equipment required" notes charted only in the planview of the approach procedure and do not conform to the same application standards used by the FAA.
- The FAA has initiated a program to provide a new notation for LOC approaches when charted on an ILS approach requiring other navigational aids to fly the final approach course. The LOC minimums will be annotated with the NAVAID required (e.g., “DME Required” or “RADAR Required”). During the transition period, ILS approaches will still exist without the annotation.
- Many ILS approaches having minima based on RVR are eligible for a landing minimum of RVR 1800. Some of these approaches are to runways that have touchdown zone and centerline lights. For many runways that do not have touchdown and centerline lights, it is still possible to allow a landing minimum of RVR 1800. For these runways, the normal ILS minimum of RVR 2400 can be annotated with a single or double asterisk or the dagger symbol “†”; for example “** 696/24 200 (200/1/2).” A note is included on the chart stating “**RVR 1800 authorized with use of FD or AP or HUD to DA.” The pilot must use the flight director, or autopilot with an approved approach coupler, or head up display to decision altitude or to the initiation of a missed approach. In the interest of safety, single pilot operators should not fly approaches to 1800 RVR minimums on runways without touchdown and centerline lights using only a flight director, unless accompanied by the use of an autopilot with an approach coupler.
- The naming of multiple approaches of the same type to the same runway is also changing. Multiple approaches with the same guidance will be annotated with an alphabetical suffix beginning at the end of the alphabet and working backwards for subsequent procedures (e.g., ILS Z RWY 28, ILS Y RWY 28, etc.). The existing annotations such as ILS 2 RWY 28 or Silver ILS RWY 28 will be phased out and replaced with the new designation. The Cat II and Cat III designations are used to differentiate between multiple ILSs to the same runway unless there are multiples of the same type.
- RNAV (GPS) approaches to LNAV, LP, LNAV/VNAV and LPV lines of minima using WAAS and RNAV (GPS) approaches to LNAV and LNAV/VNAV lines of minima using GPS are charted as RNAV (GPS) RWY (Number) (e.g., RNAV (GPS) RWY 21).
- Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) Box. As charts are updated, a procedure's PBN requirements and conventional equipment requirements will be prominently displayed in separate, standardized notes boxes. For procedures with PBN elements, the PBN box will contain the procedure's navigation specification(s); and, if required: specific sensors or infrastructure needed for the navigation solution, any additional or advanced functional requirements, the minimum Required Navigation Performance (RNP) value, and any amplifying remarks. Items listed in this PBN box are REQUIRED for the procedure's PBN elements. For example, an ILS with an RNAV missed approach would require a specific capability to fly the missed approach portion of the procedure. That required capability will be listed in the PBN box. The separate Equipment Requirements box will list ground-based equipment requirements. On procedures with both PBN elements and equipment requirements, the PBN requirements box will be listed first. The publication of these notes will continue incrementally until all charts have been amended to comply with the new standard.
Approach minimums are based on the local altimeter setting for that airport, unless annotated otherwise; e.g., Oklahoma City/Will Rogers World approaches are based on having a Will Rogers World altimeter setting. When a different altimeter source is required, or more than one source is authorized, it will be annotated on the approach chart; e.g., use Sidney altimeter setting, if not received, use Scottsbluff altimeter setting. Approach minimums may be raised when a nonlocal altimeter source is authorized. When more than one altimeter source is authorized, and the minima are different, they will be shown by separate lines in the approach minima box or a note; e.g., use Manhattan altimeter setting; when not available use Salina altimeter setting and increase all MDAs 40 feet. When the altimeter must be obtained from a source other than air traffic a note will indicate the source; e.g., Obtain local altimeter setting on CTAF. When the altimeter setting(s) on which the approach is based is not available, the approach is not authorized. Baro-VNAV must be flown using the local altimeter setting only. Where no local altimeter is available, the LNAV/VNAV line will still be published for use by WAAS receivers with a note that Baro-VNAV is not authorized. When a local and at least one other altimeter setting source is authorized and the local altimeter is not available Baro-VNAV is not authorized; however, the LNAV/VNAV minima can still be used by WAAS receivers using the alternate altimeter setting source.
Barometric Vertical Navigation (baro-VNAV). An RNAV system function which uses barometric altitude information from the aircraft's altimeter to compute and present a vertical guidance path to the pilot. The specified vertical path is computed as a geometric path, typically computed between two waypoints or an angle based computation from a single waypoint. Further guidance may be found in Advisory Circular 90-105.
- A pilot adhering to the altitudes, flight paths, and weather minimums depicted on the IAP chart or vectors and altitudes issued by the radar controller, is assured of terrain and obstruction clearance and runway or airport alignment during approach for landing.
- IAPs are designed to provide an IFR descent from the en route environment to a point where a safe landing can be made. They are prescribed and approved by appropriate civil or military authority to ensure a safe descent during instrument flight conditions at a specific airport. It is important that pilots understand these procedures and their use prior to attempting to fly instrument approaches.
TERPS criteria are provided for the following types of instrument approach procedures:
- Precision Approach (PA). An instrument approach based on a navigation system that provides course and glidepath deviation information meeting the precision standards of ICAO Annex 10. For example, PAR, ILS, and GLS are precision approaches.
- Approach with Vertical Guidance (APV). An instrument approach based on a navigation system that is not required to meet the precision approach standards of ICAO Annex 10 but provides course and glidepath deviation information. For example, Baro-VNAV, LDA with glidepath, LNAV/VNAV and LPV are APV approaches.
- Nonprecision Approach (NPA). An instrument approach based on a navigation system which provides course deviation information, but no glidepath deviation information. For example, VOR, NDB and LNAV. As noted in subparagraph k, Vertical Descent Angle (VDA) on Nonprecision Approaches, some approach procedures may provide a Vertical Descent Angle as an aid in flying a stabilized approach, without requiring its use in order to fly the procedure. This does not make the approach an APV procedure, since it must still be flown to an MDA and has not been evaluated with a glidepath.
The method used to depict prescribed altitudes on instrument approach charts differs according to techniques employed by different chart publishers. Prescribed altitudes may be depicted in four different configurations: minimum, maximum, mandatory, and recommended. The U.S. Government distributes charts produced by National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and FAA. Altitudes are depicted on these charts in the profile view with underscore, overscore, both or none to identify them as minimum, maximum, mandatory or recommended.
- Minimum altitude will be depicted with the altitude value underscored. Aircraft are required to maintain altitude at or above the depicted value, e.g., 3000.
- Maximum altitude will be depicted with the altitude value overscored. Aircraft are required to maintain altitude at or below the depicted value, e.g., 4000.
- Mandatory altitude will be depicted with the altitude value both underscored and overscored. Aircraft are required to maintain altitude at the depicted value, e.g., 5000.
Recommended altitude will be depicted with no overscore or underscore. These altitudes are depicted for descent planning, e.g., 6000.
- Pilots are cautioned to adhere to altitudes as prescribed because, in certain instances, they may be used as the basis for vertical separation of aircraft by ATC. When a depicted altitude is specified in the ATC clearance, that altitude becomes mandatory as defined above.
- The ILS glide slope is intended to be intercepted at the published glide slope intercept altitude. This point marks the PFAF and is depicted by the ”lightning bolt” symbol on U.S. Government charts. Intercepting the glide slope at this altitude marks the beginning of the final approach segment and ensures required obstacle clearance during descent from the glide slope intercept altitude to the lowest published decision altitude for the approach. Interception and tracking of the glide slope prior to the published glide slope interception altitude does not necessarily ensure that minimum, maximum, and/or mandatory altitudes published for any preceding fixes will be complied with during the descent. If the pilot chooses to track the glide slope prior to the glide slope interception altitude, they remain responsible for complying with published altitudes for any preceding stepdown fixes encountered during the subsequent descent.
- Approaches used for simultaneous (parallel) independent and simultaneous close parallel operations procedurally require descending on the glideslope from the altitude at which the approach clearance is issued (refer to 5-4-15 and 5-4-16). For simultaneous close parallel (PRM) approaches, the Attention All Users Page (AAUP) may publish a note which indicates that descending on the glideslope/glidepath meets all crossing restrictions. However, if no such note is published, and for simultaneous independent approaches (4300 and greater runway separation) where an AAUP is not published, pilots are cautioned to monitor their descent on the glideslope/path outside of the PFAF to ensure compliance with published crossing restrictions during simultaneous operations.
- When parallel approach courses are less than 2500 feet apart and reduced in-trail spacing is authorized for simultaneous dependent operations, a chart note will indicate that simultaneous operations require use of vertical guidance and that the pilot should maintain last assigned altitude until established on glide slope. These approaches procedurally require utilization of the ILS glide slope for wake turbulence mitigation. Pilots should not confuse these simultaneous dependent operations with (SOIA) simultaneous close parallel PRM approaches, where PRM appears in the approach title.
- Altitude restrictions depicted at stepdown fixes within the final approach segment are applicable only when flying a Non-Precision Approach to a straight-in or circling line of minima identified as an MDA (H). These altitude restrictions may be annotated with a note “LOC only” or “LNAV only.” Stepdown fix altitude restrictions within the final approach segment do not apply to pilots using Precision Approach (ILS) or Approach with Vertical Guidance (LPV, LNAV/VNAV) lines of minima identified as a DA(H), since obstacle clearance on these approaches is based on the aircraft following the applicable vertical guidance. Pilots are responsible for adherence to stepdown fix altitude restrictions when outside the final approach segment (i.e., initial or intermediate segment), regardless of which type of procedure the pilot is flying. (See FIG 5-4-1.)
- The Minimum Safe Altitudes (MSA) is published for emergency use on IAP or departure procedure (DP) graphic charts. MSAs provide 1,000 feet of clearance over all obstacles, but do not necessarily assure acceptable navigation signal coverage. The MSA depiction on the plan view of an approach chart or on a DP graphic chart contains the identifier of the center point of the MSA, the applicable radius of the MSA, a depiction of the sector(s), and the minimum altitudes above mean sea level which provide obstacle clearance. For conventional navigation systems, the MSA is normally based on the primary omnidirectional facility on which the IAP or DP graphic chart is predicated, but may be based on the airport reference point (ARP) if no suitable facility is available. For RNAV approaches or DP graphic charts, the MSA is based on an RNAV waypoint. MSAs normally have a 25 NM radius; however, for conventional navigation systems, this radius may be expanded to 30 NM if necessary to encompass the airport landing surfaces. A single sector altitude is normally established, however when the MSA is based on a facility and it is necessary to obtain relief from obstacles, an MSA with up to four sectors may be established.
Terminal Arrival Area (TAA)
- The TAA provides a transition from the en route structure to the terminal environment with little required pilot/air traffic control interface for aircraft equipped with Area Navigation (RNAV) systems. A TAA provides minimum altitudes with standard obstacle clearance when operating within the TAA boundaries. TAAs are primarily used on RNAV approaches but may be used on an ILS approach when RNAV is the sole means for navigation to the IF; however, they are not normally used in areas of heavy concentration of air traffic.
- The basic design of the RNAV procedure underlying the TAA is normally the “T” design (also called the “Basic T”). The “T” design incorporates two IAFs plus a dual purpose IF/IAF that functions as both an intermediate fix and an initial approach fix. The T configuration continues from the IF/IAF to the final approach fix (FAF) and then to the missed approach point (MAP). The two base leg IAFs are typically aligned in a straight-line perpendicular to the intermediate course connecting at the IF/IAF. A Hold-in-Lieu-of Procedure Turn (HILPT) is anchored at the IF/IAF and depicted on U.S. Government publications using the “hold-in-lieu -of-PT” holding pattern symbol. When the HILPT is necessary for course alignment and/or descent, the dual purpose IF/IAF serves as an IAF during the entry into the pattern. Following entry into the HILPT pattern and when flying a route or sector labeled “NoPT," the dual-purpose fix serves as an IF, marking the beginning of the Intermediate Segment. See FIG 5-4-2 and FIG 5-4-3 for the Basic “T” TAA configuration.
- The standard TAA based on the “T” design consists of three areas defined by the Initial Approach Fix (IAF) legs and the intermediate segment course beginning at the IF/IAF. These areas are called the straight-in, left-base, and right-base areas. (See FIG 5-4-4). TAA area lateral boundaries are identified by magnetic courses TO the IF/IAF. The straight-in area can be further divided into pie-shaped sectors with the boundaries identified by magnetic courses TO the (IF/ IAF), and may contain stepdown sections defined by arcs based on RNAV distances from the IF/IAF. (See FIG 5-4-5). The right/left-base areas can only be subdivided using arcs based on RNAV distances from the IAFs for those areas.
Entry from the terminal area onto the procedure is normally accomplished via a no procedure turn (NoPT) routing or via a course reversal maneuver. The published procedure will be annotated “NoPT” to indicate when the course reversal is not authorized when flying within a particular TAA sector. Otherwise, the pilot is expected to execute the course reversal under the provisions of 14 CFR Section 91.175. The pilot may elect to use the course reversal pattern when it is not required by the procedure, but must receive clearance from air traffic control before beginning the procedure.
- ATC should not clear an aircraft to the left base leg or right base leg IAF within a TAA at an intercept angle exceeding 90 degrees. Pilots must not execute the HILPT course reversal when the sector or procedure segment is labeled “NoPT.”
ATC may clear aircraft direct to the fix labeled IF/IAF if the course to the IF/IAF is within the straight-in sector labeled “NoPT” and the intercept angle does not exceed 90 degrees. Pilots are expected to proceed direct to the IF/IAF and accomplish a straight-in approach. Do not execute HILPT course reversal. Pilots are also expected to fly the straight-in approach when ATC provides radar vectors and monitoring to the IF/IAF and issues a “straight-in” approach clearance; otherwise, the pilot is expected to execute the HILPT course reversal.
AIM, Para 5-4-6, Approach Clearance.
On rare occasions, ATC may clear the aircraft for an approach at the airport without specifying the approach procedure by name or by a specific approach (for example, “cleared RNAV Runway 34 approach”) without specifying a particular IAF. In either case, the pilot should proceed direct to the IAF or to the IF/IAF associated with the sector that the aircraft will enter the TAA and join the approach course from that point and if required by that sector (i.e., sector is not labeled “NoPT), complete the HILPT course reversal.
If approaching with a TO bearing that is on a sector boundary, the pilot is expected to proceed in accordance with a “NoPT” routing unless otherwise instructed by ATC.
Altitudes published within the TAA replace the MSA altitude. However, unlike MSA altitudes the TAA altitudes are operationally usable altitudes. These altitudes provide at least 1,000 feet of obstacle clearance, more in mountainous areas. It is important that the pilot knows which area of the TAA the aircraft will enter in order to comply with the minimum altitude requirements. The pilot can determine which area of the TAA the aircraft will enter by determining the magnetic bearing of the aircraft TO the fix labeled IF/IAF. The bearing should then be compared to the published lateral boundary bearings that define the TAA areas. Do not use magnetic bearing to the right-base or left-base IAFs to determine position.
- An ATC clearance direct to an IAF or to the IF/IAF without an approach clearance does not authorize a pilot to descend to a lower TAA altitude. If a pilot desires a lower altitude without an approach clearance, request the lower TAA altitude from ATC. Pilots not sure of the clearance should confirm their clearance with ATC or request a specific clearance. Pilots entering the TAA with two-way radio communications failure (14 CFR Section 91.185, IFR Operations: Two-way Radio Communications Failure), must maintain the highest altitude prescribed by Section 91.185(c)(2) until arriving at the appropriate IAF.
- Once cleared for the approach, pilots may descend in the TAA sector to the minimum altitude depicted within the defined area/subdivision, unless instructed otherwise by air traffic control. Pilots should plan their descent within the TAA to permit a normal descent from the IF/IAF to the FAF. In FIG 5-4-5, pilots within the left or right-base areas are expected to maintain a minimum altitude of 6,000 feet until within 17 NM of the associated IAF. After crossing the 17 NM arc, descent is authorized to the lower charted altitudes. Pilots approaching from the northwest are expected to maintain a minimum altitude of 6,000 feet, and when within 22 NM of the IF/IAF, descend to a minimum altitude of 2,000 feet MSL until crossing the IF/IAF.
- U.S. Government charts depict TAAs using icons located in the plan view outside the depiction of the actual approach procedure. (See FIG 5-4-6). Use of icons is necessary to avoid obscuring any portion of the “T” procedure (altitudes, courses, minimum altitudes, etc.). The icon for each TAA area will be located and oriented on the plan view with respect to the direction of arrival to the approach procedure, and will show all TAA minimum altitudes and sector/radius subdivisions. The IAF for each area of the TAA is included on the icon where it appears on the approach to help the pilot orient the icon to the approach procedure. The IAF name and the distance of the TAA area boundary from the IAF are included on the outside arc of the TAA area icon.
TAAs may be modified from the standard size and shape to accommodate operational or ATC requirements. Some areas may be eliminated, while the other areas are expanded. The “T” design may be modified by the procedure designers where required by terrain or ATC considerations. For instance, the “T” design may appear more like a regularly or irregularly shaped “Y,” upside down “L,” or an “I.”
- FIG 5-4-7 depicts a TAA without a left base leg and right base leg. In this generalized example, pilots approaching on a bearing TO the IF/IAF from 271 clockwise to 089 are expected to execute a course reversal because the amount of turn required at the IF/IAF exceeds 90 degrees. The term “NoPT” will be annotated on the boundary of the TAA icon for the other portion of the TAA.
- FIG 5-4-8 depicts another TAA modification that pilots may encounter. In this generalized example, the left base area and part of the straight-in area have been eliminated. Pilots operating within the TAA between 210 clockwise to 360 bearing TO the IF/IAF are expected to proceed direct to the IF/IAF and then execute the course reversal in order to properly align the aircraft for entry onto the intermediate segment or to avoid an excessive descent rate. Aircraft operating in areas from 001 clockwise to 090 bearing TO the IF/IAF are expected to proceed direct to the right base IAF and not execute course reversal maneuver. Aircraft cleared direct the IF/IAF by ATC in this sector will be expected to accomplish HILTP. Aircraft operating in areas 091 clockwise to 209 bearing TO the IF/IAF are expected to proceed direct to the IF/IAF and not execute the course reversal. These two areas are annotated “NoPT” at the TAA boundary of the icon in these areas when displayed on the approach chart's plan view.
- FIG 5-4-9 depicts a TAA with right base leg and part of the straight-in area eliminated.
- When an airway does not cross the lateral TAA boundaries, a feeder route will be established from an airway fix or NAVAID to the TAA boundary to provide a transition from the en route structure to the appropriate IAF. Each feeder route will terminate at the TAA boundary and will be aligned along a path pointing to the associated IAF. Pilots should descend to the TAA altitude after crossing the TAA boundary and cleared for the approach by ATC. (See FIG 5-4-10).
- Each waypoint on the “T” is assigned a pronounceable 5-letter name, except the missed approach waypoint. These names are used for ATC communications, RNAV databases, and aeronautical navigation products. The missed approach waypoint is assigned a pronounceable name when it is not located at the runway threshold.
Minimum Vectoring Altitudes (MVAs) are established for use by ATC when radar ATC is exercised. MVA charts are prepared by air traffic facilities at locations where there are numerous different minimum IFR altitudes. Each MVA chart has sectors large enough to accommodate vectoring of aircraft within the sector at the MVA. Each sector boundary is at least 3 miles from the obstruction determining the MVA. To avoid a large sector with an excessively high MVA due to an isolated prominent obstruction, the obstruction may be enclosed in a buffer area whose boundaries are at least 3 miles from the obstruction. This is done to facilitate vectoring around the obstruction. (See FIG 5-4-11.)
The minimum vectoring altitude in each sector provides 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle in nonmountainous areas and 2,000 feet above the highest obstacle in designated mountainous areas. Where lower MVAs are required in designated mountainous areas to achieve compatibility with terminal routes or to permit vectoring to an IAP, 1,000 feet of obstacle clearance may be authorized with the use of ATC surveillance. The minimum vectoring altitude will provide at least 300 feet above the floor of controlled airspace.
OROCA is a published altitude which provides 1,000 feet of terrain and obstruction clearance in the U.S. (2,000 feet of clearance in designated mountainous areas). These altitudes are not assessed for NAVAID signal coverage, air traffic control surveillance, or communications coverage, and are published for general situational awareness, flight planning and in-flight contingency use.
- Because of differences in the areas considered for MVA, and those applied to other minimum altitudes, and the ability to isolate specific obstacles, some MVAs may be lower than the nonradar Minimum En Route Altitudes (MEAs), Minimum Obstruction Clearance Altitudes (MOCAs) or other minimum altitudes depicted on charts for a given location. While being radar vectored, IFR altitude assignments by ATC will be at or above MVA.
- The MVA/MIA may be lower than the TAA minimum altitude. If ATC has assigned an altitude to an aircraft that is below the TAA minimum altitude, the aircraft will either be assigned an altitude to maintain until established on a segment of a published route or instrument approach procedure, or climbed to the TAA altitude.
- The minimum vectoring altitude in each sector provides 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle in nonmountainous areas and 2,000 feet above the highest obstacle in designated mountainous areas. Where lower MVAs are required in designated mountainous areas to achieve compatibility with terminal routes or to permit vectoring to an IAP, 1,000 feet of obstacle clearance may be authorized with the use of ATC surveillance. The minimum vectoring altitude will provide at least 300 feet above the floor of controlled airspace.
Circling. Circling minimums charted on an RNAV (GPS) approach chart may be lower than the LNAV/VNAV line of minima, but never lower than the LNAV line of minima (straight-in approach). Pilots may safely perform the circling maneuver at the circling published line of minima if the approach and circling maneuver is properly performed according to aircraft category and operational limitations.
Example of LNAV and Circling Minima Lower Than LNAV/VNAV DA. Harrisburg International RNAV (GPS) RWY 13
FIG 5-4-13 provides a visual representation of an obstacle evaluation and calculation of LNAV MDA, Circling MDA, LNAV/VNAV DA.
- No vertical guidance (LNAV). A line is drawn horizontal at obstacle height and 250 feet added for Required Obstacle Clearance (ROC). The controlling obstacle used to determine LNAV MDA can be different than the controlling obstacle used in determining ROC for circling MDA. Other factors may force a number larger than 250 ft to be added to the LNAV OCS. The number is rounded up to the next higher 20 foot increment.
- Circling MDA. The circling MDA will provide 300 foot obstacle clearance within the area considered for obstacle clearance and may be lower than the LNAV/VNAV DA, but never lower than the straight in LNAV MDA. This may occur when different controlling obstacles are used or when other controlling factors force the LNAV MDA to be higher than 250 feet above the LNAV OCS. In FIG 5-4-12, the required obstacle clearance for both the LNAV and Circle resulted in the same MDA, but lower than the LNAV/VNAV DA. FIG 5-4-13 provides an illustration of this type of situation.
- Vertical guidance (LNAV/VNAV). A line is drawn horizontal at obstacle height until reaching the obstacle clearance surface (OCS). At the OCS, a vertical line is drawn until reaching the glide path. This is the DA for the approach. This method places the offending obstacle in front of the LNAV/VNAV DA so it can be seen and avoided. In some situations, this may result in the LNAV/VNAV DA being higher than the LNAV and/or Circling MDA.
The Visual Descent Point (VDP), identified by the symbol (V), is a defined point on the final approach course of a nonprecision straight-in approach procedure from which a stabilized visual descent from the MDA to the runway touchdown point may be commenced. The pilot should not descend below the MDA prior to reaching the VDP. The VDP will be identified by DME or RNAV along-track distance to the MAP. The VDP distance is based on the lowest MDA published on the IAP and harmonized with the angle of the visual glide slope indicator (VGSI) (if installed) or the procedure VDA (if no VGSI is installed). A VDP may not be published under certain circumstances which may result in a destabilized descent between the MDA and the runway touchdown point. Such circumstances include an obstacle penetrating the visual surface between the MDA and runway threshold, lack of distance measuring capability, or the procedure design prevents a VDP to be identified.
- VGSI systems may be used as a visual aid to the pilot to determine if the aircraft is in a position to make a stabilized descent from the MDA. When the visibility is close to minimums, the VGSI may not be visible at the VDP due to its location beyond the MAP.
- Pilots not equipped to receive the VDP should fly the approach procedure as though no VDP had been provided.
- On a straight-in nonprecision IAP, descent below the MDA between the VDP and the MAP may be inadvisable or impossible. Aircraft speed, height above the runway, descent rate, amount of turn, and runway length are some of the factors which must be considered by the pilot to determine if a safe descent and landing can be accomplished.
A visual segment obstruction evaluation is accomplished during procedure design on all IAPs. Obstacles (both lighted and unlighted) are allowed to penetrate the visual segment obstacle identification surfaces. Identified obstacle penetrations may cause restrictions to instrument approach operations which may include an increased approach visibility requirement, not publishing a VDP, and/or prohibiting night instrument operations to the runway. There is no implicit obstacle protection from the MDA/DA to the touchdown point. Accordingly, it is the responsibility of the pilot to visually acquire and avoid obstacles below the MDA/DA during transition to landing.
- Unlighted obstacle penetrations may result in prohibiting night instrument operations to the runway. A chart note will be published in the pilot briefing strip “Procedure NA at Night.”
- Use of a VGSI may be approved in lieu of obstruction lighting to restore night instrument operations to the runway. A chart note will be published in the pilot briefing strip “ Straight-in Rwy XX at Night, operational VGSI required, remain on or above VGSI glidepath until threshold.”
- The highest obstacle (man-made, terrain, or vegetation) will be charted on the planview of an IAP. Other obstacles may be charted in either the planview or the airport sketch based on distance from the runway and available chart space. The elevation of the charted obstacle will be shown to the nearest foot above mean sea level. Obstacles without a verified accuracy are indicated by a ± symbol following the elevation value.
Vertical Descent Angle (VDA). FAA policy is to publish a VDA/TCH on all nonprecision approaches except those published in conjunction with vertically guided minimums (i.e., ILS or LOC RWY XX) or no-FAF procedures without a step-down fix (i.e., on-airport VOR or NDB). A VDA does not guarantee obstacle protection below the MDA in the visual segment. The presence of a VDA does not change any nonprecision approach requirements.
Obstacles may penetrate the obstacle identification surface below the MDA in the visual segment of an IAP that has a published VDA/TCH. When the VDA/TCH is not authorized due to an obstacle penetration that would require a pilot to deviate from the VDA between MDA and touchdown, the VDA/TCH will be replaced with the note “Visual Segment- Obstacles” in the profile view of the IAP (See FIG 5-4-14). Accordingly, pilots are advised to carefully review approach procedures to identify where the optimum stabilized descent to landing can be initiated. Pilots that follow the previously published descent angle, provided by the RNAV system, below the MDA on procedures with this note may encounter obstacles in the visual segment. Pilots must visually avoid any obstacles below the MDA.
- VDA/TCH data is furnished by FAA on the official source document for publication on IAP charts and for coding in the navigation database unless, as noted previously, replaced by the note “Visual Segment - Obstacles.”
- Commercial chart providers and navigation systems may publish or calculate a VDA/TCH even when the FAA does not provide such data. Pilots are cautioned that they are responsible for obstacle avoidance in the visual segment regardless of the presence or absence of a VDA/TCH and associated navigation system advisory vertical guidance.
- The threshold crossing height (TCH) used to compute the descent angle is published with the VDA. The VDA and TCH information are charted on the profile view of the IAP following the fix (FAF/stepdown) used to compute the VDA. If no PA/APV IAP is established to the same runway, the VDA will be equal to or higher than the glide path angle of the VGSI installed on the same runway provided it is within instrument procedure criteria. A chart note will indicate if the VGSI is not coincident with the VDA. Pilots must be aware that the published VDA is for advisory information only and not to be considered instrument procedure derived vertical guidance. The VDA solely offers an aid to help pilots establish a continuous, stabilized descent during final approach.
- Pilots may use the published angle and estimated/actual groundspeed to find a target rate of descent from the rate of descent table published in the back of the U.S. Terminal Procedures Publication. This rate of descent can be flown with the Vertical Velocity Indicator (VVI) in order to use the VDA as an aid to flying a stabilized descent. No special equipment is required.
- A straight-in aligned procedure may be restricted to circling only minimums when an excessive descent gradient necessitates. The descent angle between the FAF/stepdown fix and the Circling MDA must not exceed the maximum descent angle allowed by TERPS criteria. A published VDA on these procedures does not imply that landing straight ahead is recommended or even possible. The descent rate based on the VDA may exceed the capabilities of the aircraft and the pilot must determine how to best maneuver the aircraft within the circling area in order to land safely.
- Obstacles may penetrate the obstacle identification surface below the MDA in the visual segment of an IAP that has a published VDA/TCH. When the VDA/TCH is not authorized due to an obstacle penetration that would require a pilot to deviate from the VDA between MDA and touchdown, the VDA/TCH will be replaced with the note “Visual Segment- Obstacles” in the profile view of the IAP (See FIG 5-4-14). Accordingly, pilots are advised to carefully review approach procedures to identify where the optimum stabilized descent to landing can be initiated. Pilots that follow the previously published descent angle, provided by the RNAV system, below the MDA on procedures with this note may encounter obstacles in the visual segment. Pilots must visually avoid any obstacles below the MDA.
In isolated cases, an IAP may contain a published visual flight path. These procedures are annotated “Fly Visual to Airport” or “Fly Visual.” A dashed arrow indicating the visual flight path will be included in the profile and plan views with an approximate heading and distance to the end of the runway.
- The depicted ground track associated with the “Fly Visual to Airport” segment should be flown as a “Dead Reckoning” course. When executing the “Fly Visual to Airport” segment, the flight visibility must not be less than that prescribed in the IAP; the pilot must remain clear of clouds and proceed to the airport maintaining visual contact with the ground. Altitude on the visual flight path is at the discretion of the pilot, and it is the responsibility of the pilot to visually acquire and avoid obstacles in the “Fly Visual to Airport” segment.
Missed approach obstacle clearance is assured only if the missed approach is commenced at the published MAP. Before initiating an IAP that contains a “Fly Visual to Airport” segment, the pilot should have preplanned climb out options based on aircraft performance and terrain features. Obstacle clearance is the responsibility of the pilot when the approach is continued beyond the MAP.
The FAA Administrator retains the authority to approve instrument approach procedures where the pilot may not necessarily have one of the visual references specified in 14 CFR § 91.175 and related rules. It is not a function of procedure design to ensure compliance with § 91.175. The annotation “Fly Visual to Airport” provides relief from § 91.175 requirements that the pilot have distinctly visible and identifiable visual references prior to descent below MDA/DA.
Area Navigation (RNAV) Instrument Approach Charts. Reliance on RNAV systems for instrument operations is becoming more commonplace as new systems such as GPS and augmented GPS such as the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) are developed and deployed. In order to support full integration of RNAV procedures into the National Airspace System (NAS), the FAA developed a new charting format for IAPs (See FIG 5-4-6). This format avoids unnecessary duplication and proliferation of instrument approach charts. The original stand alone GPS charts, titled simply “GPS,” are being converted to the newer format as the procedures are revised. One reason for the revision is the addition of WAAS based minima to the approach chart. The reformatted approach chart is titled “RNAV (GPS) RWY XX.” Up to four lines of minima are included on these charts. Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) Landing System (GLS) was a placeholder for future WAAS and LAAS minima, and the minima was always listed as N/A. The GLS minima line has now been replaced by the WAAS LPV (Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance) minima on most RNAV (GPS) charts. LNAV/VNAV (lateral navigation/vertical navigation) was added to support both WAAS electronic vertical guidance and Barometric VNAV. LPV and LNAV/VNAV are both APV procedures as described in paragraph 5-4-5a7. The original GPS minima, titled “S-XX,” for straight in runway XX, is retitled LNAV (lateral navigation). Circling minima may also be published. A new type of nonprecision WAAS minima will also be published on this chart and titled LP (localizer performance). LP will be published in locations where vertically guided minima cannot be provided due to terrain and obstacles and therefore, no LPV or LNAV/VNAV minima will be published. GBAS procedures are published on a separate chart and the GLS minima line is to be used only for GBAS. ATC clearance for the RNAV procedure authorizes a properly certified pilot to utilize any minimums for which the aircraft is certified (for example, a WAAS equipped aircraft utilizes the LPV or LP minima but a GPS only aircraft may not). The RNAV chart includes information formatted for quick reference by the pilot or flight crew at the top of the chart. This portion of the chart, developed based on a study by the Department of Transportation, Volpe National Transportation System Center, is commonly referred to as the pilot briefing.
The minima lines are:
- GLS. “GLS” is the acronym for GBAS Landing System. The U.S. version of GBAS has traditionally been referred to as LAAS. The worldwide community has adopted GBAS as the official term for this type of navigation system. To coincide with international terminology, the FAA is also adopting the term GBAS to be consistent with the international community. This line was originally published as a placeholder for both WAAS and LAAS minima and marked as N/A since no minima was published. As the concepts for GBAS and WAAS procedure publication have evolved, GLS will now be used only for GBAS minima, which will be on a separate approach chart. Most RNAV(GPS) approach charts have had the GLS minima line replaced by a WAAS LPV line of minima.
- LPV. “LPV” is the acronym for localizer performance with vertical guidance. RNAV (GPS) approaches to LPV lines of minima take advantage of the improved accuracy of WAAS lateral and vertical guidance to provide an approach that is very similar to a Category I Instrument Landing System (ILS). The approach to LPV line of minima is designed for angular guidance with increasing sensitivity as the aircraft gets closer to the runway. The sensitivities are nearly identical to those of the ILS at similar distances. This was done intentionally to allow the skills required to proficiently fly an ILS to readily transfer to flying RNAV (GPS) approaches to the LPV line of minima. Just as with an ILS, the LPV has vertical guidance and is flown to a DA. Aircraft can fly this minima line with a statement in the Aircraft Flight Manual that the installed equipment supports LPV approaches. This includes Class 3 and 4 TSO-C146 GPS/WAAS equipment.
- LNAV/VNAV. LNAV/VNAV identifies APV minimums developed to accommodate an RNAV IAP with vertical guidance, usually provided by approach certified Baro-VNAV, but with lateral and vertical integrity limits larger than a precision approach or LPV. LNAV stands for Lateral Navigation; VNAV stands for Vertical Navigation. This minima line can be flown by aircraft with a statement in the Aircraft Flight Manual that the installed equipment supports GPS approaches and has an approach-approved barometric VNAV, or if the aircraft has been demonstrated to support LNAV/VNAV approaches. This includes Class 2, 3 and 4 TSO-C146 GPS/WAAS equipment. Aircraft using LNAV/VNAV minimums will descend to landing via an internally generated descent path based on satellite or other approach approved VNAV systems. Since electronic vertical guidance is provided, the minima will be published as a DA. Other navigation systems may be specifically authorized to use this line of minima. (See Section A, Terms/Landing Minima Data, of the U.S. Terminal Procedures books.)
- LP. “LP” is the acronym for localizer performance. Approaches to LP lines of minima take advantage of the improved accuracy of WAAS to provide approaches, with lateral guidance and angular guidance. Angular guidance does not refer to a glideslope angle but rather to the increased lateral sensitivity as the aircraft gets closer to the runway, similar to localizer approaches. However, the LP line of minima is a Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) rather than a DA (H). Procedures with LP lines of minima will not be published with another approach that contains approved vertical guidance (LNAV/VNAV or LPV). It is possible to have LP and LNAV published on the same approach chart but LP will only be published if it provides lower minima than an LNAV line of minima. LP is not a fail-down mode for LPV. LP will only be published if terrain, obstructions, or some other reason prevent publishing a vertically guided procedure. WAAS avionics may provide GNSS-based advisory vertical guidance during an approach to an LP line of minima. Barometric altimeter information remains the primary altitude reference for complying with any altitude restrictions. WAAS equipment may not support LP, even if it supports LPV, if it was approved before TSO-C145b and TSO-C146b. Receivers approved under previous TSOs may require an upgrade by the manufacturer in order to be used to fly to LP minima. Receivers approved for LP must have a statement in the approved Flight Manual or Supplemental Flight Manual including LP as one of the approved approach types.
LNAV. This minima is for lateral navigation only, and the approach minimum altitude will be published as a minimum descent altitude (MDA). LNAV provides the same level of service as the present GPS stand alone approaches. LNAV minimums support the following navigation systems: WAAS, when the navigation solution will not support vertical navigation; and, GPS navigation systems which are presently authorized to conduct GPS approaches.
GPS receivers approved for approach operations in accordance with: AC 20-138, Airworthiness Approval of Positioning and Navigation Systems, qualify for this minima. WAAS navigation equipment must be approved in accordance with the requirements specified in TSO-C145() or TSO-C146() and installed in accordance with Advisory Circular AC 20-138.
Other systems may be authorized to utilize these approaches. See the description in Section A of the U.S. Terminal Procedures books for details. Operational approval must also be obtained for Baro-VNAV systems to operate to the LNAV/VNAV minimums. Baro-VNAV may not be authorized on some approaches due to other factors, such as no local altimeter source being available. Baro-VNAV is not authorized on LPV procedures. Pilots are directed to their local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) for additional information.
RNAV and Baro-VNAV systems must have a manufacturer supplied electronic database which must include the waypoints, altitudes, and vertical data for the procedure to be flown. The system must be able to retrieve the procedure by name from the aircraft navigation database, not just as a manually entered series of waypoints.
ILS or RNAV (GPS) charts.
Some RNAV (GPS) charts will also contain an ILS line of minima to make use of the ILS precision final in conjunction with the RNAV GPS capabilities for the portions of the procedure prior to the final approach segment and for the missed approach. Obstacle clearance for the portions of the procedure other than the final approach segment is still based on GPS criteria.
Some GPS receiver installations inhibit GPS navigation whenever ANY ILS frequency is tuned. Pilots flying aircraft with receivers installed in this manner must wait until they are on the intermediate segment of the procedure prior to the PFAF (PFAF is the active waypoint) to tune the ILS frequency and must tune the ILS back to a VOR frequency in order to fly the GPS based missed approach.
Charting. There are charting differences between ILS, RNAV (GPS), and GLS approaches.
- The LAAS procedure is titled “GLS RWY XX” on the approach chart.
- The VDB provides information to the airborne receiver where the guidance is synthesized.
- The LAAS procedure is identified by a four alpha-numeric character field referred to as the RPI or approach ID and is similar to the IDENT feature of the ILS.
- The RPI is charted.
- Most RNAV(GPS) approach charts have had the GLS (NA) minima line replaced by an LPV line of minima.
- Since the concepts for LAAS and WAAS procedure publication have evolved, GLS will now be used only for LAAS minima, which will be on a separate approach chart.
- Some RNAV (GPS) charts will also contain an ILS line of minima to make use of the ILS precision final in conjunction with the RNAV GPS capabilities for the portions of the procedure prior to the final approach segment and for the missed approach. Obstacle clearance for the portions of the procedure other than the final approach segment is still based on GPS criteria.
Required Navigation Performance (RNP).
- Pilots are advised to refer to the “TERMS/LANDING MINIMUMS DATA” (Section A) of the U.S. Government Terminal Procedures books for aircraft approach eligibility requirements by specific RNP level requirements.
- Some aircraft have RNP approval in their AFM without a GPS sensor. The lowest level of sensors that the FAA will support for RNP service is DME/DME. However, necessary DME signal may not be available at the airport of intended operations. For those locations having an RNAV chart published with LNAV/VNAV minimums, a procedure note may be provided such as “DME/DME RNP-0.3 NA.” This means that RNP aircraft dependent on DME/DME to achieve RNP-0.3 are not authorized to conduct this approach. Where DME facility availability is a factor, the note may read “DME/DME RNP-0.3 Authorized; ABC and XYZ Required.” This means that ABC and XYZ facilities have been determined by flight inspection to be required in the navigation solution to assure RNP-0.3. VOR/DME updating must not be used for approach procedures.
- Decision Altitude (DA) replaces the familiar term Decision Height (DH). DA conforms to the international convention where altitudes relate to MSL and heights relate to AGL. DA will eventually be published for other types of instrument approach procedures with vertical guidance, as well. DA indicates to the pilot that the published descent profile is flown to the DA (MSL), where a missed approach will be initiated if visual references for landing are not established. Obstacle clearance is provided to allow a momentary descent below DA while transitioning from the final approach to the missed approach. The aircraft is expected to follow the missed instructions while continuing along the published final approach course to at least the published runway threshold waypoint or MAP (if not at the threshold) before executing any turns.
- Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) has been in use for many years, and will continue to be used for the LNAV only and circling procedures.
- Threshold Crossing Height (TCH) has been traditionally used in “precision” approaches as the height of the glide slope above threshold. With publication of LNAV/VNAV minimums and RNAV descent angles, including graphically depicted descent profiles, TCH also applies to the height of the “descent angle,” or glidepath, at the threshold. Unless otherwise required for larger type aircraft which may be using the IAP, the typical TCH is 30 to 50 feet.
The MINIMA FORMAT will also change slightly.
- Each line of minima on the RNAV IAP is titled to reflect the level of service available; e.g., GLS, LPV, LNAV/VNAV, LP, and LNAV. CIRCLING minima will also be provided.
The minima title box indicates the nature of the minimum altitude for the IAP. For example:
- DA will be published next to the minima line title for minimums supporting vertical guidance such as for GLS, LPV or LNAV/VNAV.
- MDA will be published as the minima line on approaches with lateral guidance only, LNAV, or LP. Descent below the MDA must meet the conditions stated in 14 CFR Section 91.175.
- Where two or more systems, such as LPV and LNAV/VNAV, share the same minima, each line of minima will be displayed separately.
Chart Symbology changed slightly to include:
Descent Profile. The published descent profile and a graphical depiction of the vertical path to the runway will be shown. Graphical depiction of the RNAV vertical guidance will differ from the traditional depiction of an ILS glide slope (feather) through the use of a shorter vertical track beginning at the decision altitude.
- It is FAA policy to design IAPs with minimum altitudes established at fixes/waypoints to achieve optimum stabilized (constant rate) descents within each procedure segment. This design can enhance the safety of the operations and contribute toward reduction in the occurrence of controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accidents. Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently emphasized that pilots could benefit from publication of the appropriate IAP descent angle for a stabilized descent on final approach. The RNAV IAP format includes the descent angle to the hundredth of a degree; e.g., 3.00 degrees. The angle will be provided in the graphically depicted descent profile.
- The stabilized approach may be performed by reference to vertical navigation information provided by WAAS or LNAV/VNAV systems; or for LNAV-only systems, by the pilot determining the appropriate aircraft attitude/groundspeed combination to attain a constant rate descent which best emulates the published angle. To aid the pilot, U.S. Government Terminal Procedures Publication charts publish an expanded Rate of Descent Table on the inside of the back hard cover for use in planning and executing precision descents under known or approximate groundspeed conditions.
- Visual Descent Point (VDP). A VDP will be published on most RNAV IAPs. VDPs apply only to aircraft utilizing LP or LNAV minima, not LPV or LNAV/VNAV minimums.
- Missed Approach Symbology. In order to make missed approach guidance more readily understood, a method has been developed to display missed approach guidance in the profile view through the use of quick reference icons. Due to limited space in the profile area, only four or fewer icons can be shown. However, the icons may not provide representation of the entire missed approach procedure. The entire set of textual missed approach instructions are provided at the top of the approach chart in the pilot briefing. (See FIG 5-4-6).
- Waypoints. All RNAV or GPS stand-alone IAPs are flown using data pertaining to the particular IAP obtained from an onboard database, including the sequence of all WPs used for the approach and missed approach, except that step down waypoints may not be included in some TSO-C129 receiver databases. Included in the database, in most receivers, is coding that informs the navigation system of which WPs are fly-over (FO) or fly-by (FB). The navigation system may provide guidance appropriately - including leading the turn prior to a fly-by WP; or causing overflight of a fly-over WP. Where the navigation system does not provide such guidance, the pilot must accomplish the turn lead or waypoint overflight manually. Chart symbology for the FB WP provides pilot awareness of expected actions. Refer to the legend of the U.S. Terminal Procedures books.
- TAAs are described in paragraph 5-4-5d, Terminal Arrival Area (TAA). When published, the RNAV chart depicts the TAA areas through the use of “icons” representing each TAA area associated with the RNAV procedure (See FIG 5-4-6). These icons are depicted in the plan view of the approach chart, generally arranged on the chart in accordance with their position relative to the aircraft's arrival from the en route structure. The WP, to which navigation is appropriate and expected within each specific TAA area, will be named and depicted on the associated TAA icon. Each depicted named WP is the IAF for arrivals from within that area. TAAs may not be used on all RNAV procedures because of airspace congestion or other reasons.
Published Temperature Limitations. There are currently two temperature limitations that may be published in the notes box of the middle briefing strip on an instrument approach procedure (IAP). The two published temperature limitations are:
- A temperature range limitation associated with the use of baro-VNAV that may be published on a United States PBN IAP titled RNAV (GPS) or RNAV (RNP); and/or
- A Cold Temperature Airport (CTA) limitation designated by a snowflake ICON and temperature in Celsius (C) that is published on every IAP for the airfield.
- WAAS Channel Number/Approach ID. The WAAS Channel Number is an optional equipment capability that allows the use of a 5-digit number to select a specific final approach segment without using the menu method. The Approach ID is an airport unique 4-character combination for verifying the selection and extraction of the correct final approach segment information from the aircraft database. It is similar to the ILS ident, but displayed visually rather than aurally. The Approach ID consists of the letter W for WAAS, the runway number, and a letter other than L, C or R, which could be confused with Left, Center and Right, e.g., W35A. Approach IDs are assigned in the order that WAAS approaches are built to that runway number at that airport. The WAAS Channel Number and Approach ID are displayed in the upper left corner of the approach procedure pilot briefing.
At locations where outages of WAAS vertical guidance may occur daily due to initial system limitations, a negative W symbol () will be placed on RNAV (GPS) approach charts. Many of these outages will be very short in duration, but may result in the disruption of the vertical portion of the approach. The symbol indicates that NOTAMs or Air Traffic advisories are not provided for outages which occur in the WAAS LNAV/VNAV or LPV vertical service. Use LNAV or circling minima for flight planning at these locations, whether as a destination or alternate. For flight operations at these locations, when the WAAS avionics indicate that LNAV/VNAV or LPV service is available, then vertical guidance may be used to complete the approach using the displayed level of service. Should an outage occur during the procedure, reversion to LNAV minima may be required. As the WAAS coverage is expanded, the will be removed.
Properly trained and approved, as required, TSO-C145() and TSO-C146() equipped users (WAAS users) with and using approved baro-VNAV equipment may plan for LNAV/VNAV DA at an alternate airport. Specifically authorized WAAS users with and using approved baro-VNAV equipment may also plan for RNP 0.3 DA at the alternate airport as long as the pilot has verified RNP availability through an approved prediction program.
- Descent Profile. The published descent profile and a graphical depiction of the vertical path to the runway will be shown. Graphical depiction of the RNAV vertical guidance will differ from the traditional depiction of an ILS glide slope (feather) through the use of a shorter vertical track beginning at the decision altitude.
- The minima lines are:
- 14 CFR Section 91.175(a), Instrument approaches to civil airports, requires the use of SIAPs prescribed for the airport in 14 CFR Part 97 unless otherwise authorized by the Administrator (including ATC). If there are military procedures published at a civil airport, aircraft operating under 14 CFR Part 91 must use the civil procedure(s). Civil procedures are defined with “FAA” in parenthesis; e.g., (FAA), at the top, center of the procedure chart. DoD procedures are defined using the abbreviation of the applicable military service in parenthesis; e.g., (USAF), (USN), (USA). 14 CFR Section 91.175(g), Military airports, requires civil pilots flying into or out of military airports to comply with the IAPs and takeoff and landing minimums prescribed by the authority having jurisdiction at those airports. Unless an emergency exists, civil aircraft operating at military airports normally require advance authorization, commonly referred to as “Prior Permission Required” or “PPR.” Information on obtaining a PPR for a particular military airport can be found in the Chart Supplement U.S.
- An aircraft which has been cleared to a holding fix and subsequently “cleared . . . approach” has not received new routing. Even though clearance for the approach may have been issued prior to the aircraft reaching the holding fix, ATC would expect the pilot to proceed via the holding fix (his/her last assigned route), and the feeder route associated with that fix (if a feeder route is published on the approach chart) to the initial approach fix (IAF) to commence the approach. WHEN CLEARED FOR THE APPROACH, THE PUBLISHED OFF AIRWAY (FEEDER) ROUTES THAT LEAD FROM THE EN ROUTE STRUCTURE TO THE IAF ARE PART OF THE APPROACH CLEARANCE.
- If a feeder route to an IAF begins at a fix located along the route of flight prior to reaching the holding fix, and clearance for an approach is issued, a pilot should commence the approach via the published feeder route; i.e., the aircraft would not be expected to overfly the feeder route and return to it. The pilot is expected to commence the approach in a similar manner at the IAF, if the IAF for the procedure is located along the route of flight to the holding fix.
- If a route of flight directly to the initial approach fix is desired, it should be so stated by the controller with phraseology to include the words “direct . . .,” “proceed direct” or a similar phrase which the pilot can interpret without question. When uncertain of the clearance, immediately query ATC as to what route of flight is desired.
- The name of an instrument approach, as published, is used to identify the approach, even though a component of the approach aid, such as the glideslope on an Instrument Landing System, is inoperative or unreliable. The controller will use the name of the approach as published, but must advise the aircraft at the time an approach clearance is issued that the inoperative or unreliable approach aid component is unusable, except when the title of the published approach procedures otherwise allows; for example, ILS Rwy 05 or LOC Rwy 05.
The following applies to aircraft on radar vectors and/or cleared “direct to” in conjunction with an approach clearance:
- Maintain the last altitude assigned by ATC until the aircraft is established on a published segment of a transition route, or approach procedure segment, or other published route, for which a lower altitude is published on the chart. If already on an established route, or approach or arrival segment, you may descend to whatever minimum altitude is listed for that route or segment.
- Continue on the vector heading until intercepting the next published ground track applicable to the approach clearance.
- Once reaching the final approach fix via the published segments, the pilot may continue on approach to a landing.
- If proceeding to an IAF with a published course reversal (procedure turn or hold-in-lieu of PT pattern), except when cleared for a straight in approach by ATC, the pilot must execute the procedure turn/hold-in-lieu of PT, and complete the approach.
- If cleared to an IAF/IF via a NoPT route, or no procedure turn/hold-in-lieu of PT is published, continue with the published approach.
In addition to the above, RNAV aircraft may be issued a clearance direct to the IAF/IF at intercept angles not greater than 90 degrees for both conventional and RNAV instrument approaches. Controllers may issue a heading or a course direct to a fix between the IF and FAF at intercept angles not greater than 30 degrees for both conventional and RNAV instrument approaches. In all cases, controllers will assign altitudes that ensure obstacle clearance and will permit a normal descent to the FAF. When clearing aircraft direct to the IF, ATC will radar monitor the aircraft until the IF and will advise the pilot to expect clearance direct to the IF at least 5 miles from the fix. ATC must issue a straight-in approach clearance when clearing an aircraft direct to an IAF/IF with a procedure turn or hold-in-lieu of a procedure turn, and ATC does not want the aircraft to execute the course reversal.
Refer to 14 CFR 91.175 (i).
RNAV aircraft may be issued a clearance direct to the FAF that is also charted as an IAF, in which case the pilot is expected to execute the depicted procedure turn or hold-in-lieu of procedure turn. ATC will not issue a straight-in approach clearance. If the pilot desires a straight-in approach, they must request vectors to the final approach course outside of the FAF or fly a published “NoPT” route. When visual approaches are in use, ATC may clear an aircraft direct to the FAF.
- In anticipation of a clearance by ATC to any fix published on an instrument approach procedure, pilots of RNAV aircraft are advised to select an appropriate IAF or feeder fix when loading an instrument approach procedure into the RNAV system.
- Selection of “Vectors-to-Final” or “Vectors” option for an instrument approach may prevent approach fixes located outside of the FAF from being loaded into an RNAV system. Therefore, the selection of these options is discouraged due to increased workload for pilots to reprogram the navigation system.
Arrival Holding. Some approach charts have an arrival holding pattern depicted at an IAF or at a feeder fix located along an airway. The arrival hold is depicted using a “thin line” since it is not always a mandatory part of the instrument procedure.
- Arrival holding is charted where holding is frequently required prior to starting the approach procedure so that detailed holding instructions are not required. The arrival holding pattern is not authorized unless assigned by ATC. Holding at the same fix may also be depicted on the en route chart.
Arrival holding is also charted where it is necessary to use a holding pattern to align the aircraft for procedure entry from an airway due to turn angle limitations imposed by procedure design standards. When the turn angle from an airway into the approach procedure exceeds the permissible limits, an arrival holding pattern may be published along with a note on the procedure specifying the fix, the airway, and arrival direction where use of the arrival hold is required for procedure entry. Unlike a hold-in-lieu of procedure turn, use of the arrival holding pattern is not authorized until assigned by ATC. If ATC does not assign the arrival hold before reaching the holding fix, the pilot should request the hold for procedure entry. Once established on the inbound holding course and an approach clearance has been received, the published procedure can commence. Alternatively, if using the holding pattern for procedure entry is not desired, the pilot may ask ATC for maneuvering airspace to align the aircraft with the feeder course.
Planview Chart Note: “Proc NA via V343 northeast bound without holding at JOXIT. ATC CLNC REQD.”
An RF leg is defined as a constant radius circular path around a defined turn center that starts and terminates at a fix. An RF leg may be published as part of a procedure. Since not all aircraft have the capability to fly these leg types, pilots are responsible for knowing if they can conduct an RNAV approach with an RF leg. Requirements for RF legs will be indicated on the approach chart in the notes section or at the applicable initial approach fix. Controllers will clear RNAV-equipped aircraft for instrument approach procedures containing RF legs:
- Via published transitions, or
- In accordance with paragraph e6 above, and
ATC will not clear aircraft direct to any waypoint beginning or within an RF leg, and will not assign fix/waypoint crossing speeds in excess of charted speed restrictions.
Controllers will not clear aircraft direct to THIRD because that waypoint begins the RF leg, and aircraft cannot be vectored or cleared to TURNN or vectored to intercept the approach segment at any point between THIRD and FORTH because this is the RF leg. (See FIG 5-4-15.)
- When necessary to cancel a previously issued approach clearance, the controller will advise the pilot “Cancel Approach Clearance” followed by any additional instructions when applicable.
Instrument Approach Procedures
- Aircraft approach category means a grouping of aircraft based on a speed of VREF at the maximum certified landing weight, if specified, or if VREF is not specified, 1.3VSO at the maximum certified landing weight. VREF, VSO, and the maximum certified landing weight are those values as established for the aircraft by the certification authority of the country of registry. A pilot must maneuver the aircraft within the circling approach protected area (see FIG 5-4-27) to achieve the obstacle and terrain clearances provided by procedure design criteria.
- In addition to pilot techniques for maneuvering, one acceptable method to reduce the risk of flying out of the circling approach protected area is to use either the minima corresponding to the category determined during certification or minima associated with a higher category. Helicopters may use Category A minima. If it is necessary to operate at a speed in excess of the upper limit of the speed range for an aircraft's category, the minimums for the higher category should be used. This may occur with certain aircraft types operating in heavy/gusty wind, icing, or non-normal conditions. For example, an airplane which fits into Category B, but is circling to land at a speed of 145 knots, should use the approach Category D minimums. As an additional example, a Category A airplane (or helicopter) which is operating at 130 knots on a straight-in approach should use the approach Category C minimums.
A pilot who chooses an alternative method when it is necessary to maneuver at a speed that exceeds the category speed limit (for example, where higher category minimums are not published) should consider the following factors that can significantly affect the actual ground track flown:
- Bank angle. For example, at 165 knots groundspeed, the radius of turn increases from 4,194 feet using 30 degrees of bank to 6,654 feet when using 20 degrees of bank. When using a shallower bank angle, it may be necessary to modify the flightpath or indicated airspeed to remain within the circling approach protected area. Pilots should be aware that excessive bank angle can lead to a loss of aircraft control.
- Indicated airspeed. Procedure design criteria typically utilize the highest speed for a particular category. If a pilot chooses to operate at a higher speed, other factors should be modified to ensure that the aircraft remains within the circling approach protected area.
- Wind speed and direction. For example, it is not uncommon to maneuver the aircraft to a downwind leg where the groundspeed will be considerably higher than the indicated airspeed. Pilots must carefully plan the initiation of all turns to ensure that the aircraft remains within the circling approach protected area.
- Pilot technique. Pilots frequently have many options with regard to flightpath when conducting circling approaches. Sound planning and judgment are vital to proper execution. The lateral and vertical path to be flown should be carefully considered using current weather and terrain information to ensure that the aircraft remains within the circling approach protected area.
- It is important to remember that 14 CFR Section 91.175(c) requires that “where a DA/DH or MDA is applicable, no pilot may operate an aircraft below the authorized MDA or continue an approach below the authorized DA/DH unless the aircraft is continuously in a position from which a descent to a landing on the intended runway can be made at a normal rate of descent using normal maneuvers, and for operations conducted under Part 121 or Part 135 unless that descent rate will allow touchdown to occur within the touchdown zone of the runway of intended landing.”
See the following category limits:
- Category A: Speed less than 91 knots.
- Category B: Speed 91 knots or more but less than 121 knots.
- Category C: Speed 121 knots or more but less than 141 knots.
- Category D: Speed 141 knots or more but less than 166 knots.
Category E: Speed 166 knots or more.
VREF in the above definition refers to the speed used in establishing the approved landing distance under the airworthiness regulations constituting the type certification basis of the airplane, regardless of whether that speed for a particular airplane is 1.3 VSO, 1.23 VSR, or some higher speed required for airplane controllability. This speed, at the maximum certificated landing weight, determines the lowest applicable approach category for all approaches regardless of actual landing weight.
When operating on an unpublished route or while being radar vectored, the pilot, when an approach clearance is received, must, in addition to complying with the minimum altitudes for IFR operations (14 CFR Section 91.177), maintain the last assigned altitude unless a different altitude is assigned by ATC, or until the aircraft is established on a segment of a published route or IAP. After the aircraft is so established, published altitudes apply to descent within each succeeding route or approach segment unless a different altitude is assigned by ATC. Notwithstanding this pilot responsibility, for aircraft operating on unpublished routes or while being radar vectored, ATC will, except when conducting a radar approach, issue an IFR approach clearance only after the aircraft is established on a segment of a published route or IAP, or assign an altitude to maintain until the aircraft is established on a segment of a published route or instrument approach procedure. For this purpose, the procedure turn of a published IAP must not be considered a segment of that IAP until the aircraft reaches the initial fix or navigation facility upon which the procedure turn is predicated.
Cross Redding VOR at or above five thousand, cleared VOR runway three four approach.
Five miles from outer marker, turn right heading three three zero, maintain two thousand until established on the localizer, cleared ILS runway three six approach.
- The altitude assigned will assure IFR obstruction clearance from the point at which the approach clearance is issued until established on a segment of a published route or IAP. If uncertain of the meaning of the clearance, immediately request clarification from ATC.
- An aircraft is not established on an approach while below published approach altitudes. If the MVA/MIA allows, and ATC assigns an altitude below an IF or IAF altitude, the pilot will be issued an altitude to maintain until past a point that the aircraft is established on the approach.
Several IAPs, using various navigation and approach aids may be authorized for an airport. ATC may advise that a particular approach procedure is being used, primarily to expedite traffic. If issued a clearance that specifies a particular approach procedure, notify ATC immediately if a different one is desired. In this event it may be necessary for ATC to withhold clearance for the different approach until such time as traffic conditions permit. However, a pilot involved in an emergency situation will be given priority. If the pilot is not familiar with the specific approach procedure, ATC should be advised and they will provide detailed information on the execution of the procedure.
AIM, Para 5-4-4, Advance Information on Instrument Approach.
- The name of an instrument approach, as published, is used to identify the approach, even though a component of the approach aid, such as the glideslope on an Instrument Landing System, is inoperative or unreliable. The controller will use the name of the approach as published, but must advise the aircraft at the time an approach clearance is issued that the inoperative or unreliable approach aid component is unusable, except when the title of the published approach procedures otherwise allows, for example, ILS or LOC.
- Except when being radar vectored to the final approach course, when cleared for a specifically prescribed IAP; i.e., “cleared ILS runway one niner approach” or when “cleared approach” i.e., execution of any procedure prescribed for the airport, pilots must execute the entire procedure commencing at an IAF or an associated feeder route as described on the IAP chart unless an appropriate new or revised ATC clearance is received, or the IFR flight plan is canceled.
- Pilots planning flights to locations which are private airfields or which have instrument approach procedures based on private navigation aids should obtain approval from the owner. In addition, the pilot must be authorized by the FAA to fly special instrument approach procedures associated with private navigation aids (see paragraph 5-4-8). Owners of navigation aids that are not for public use may elect to turn off the signal for whatever reason they may have; for example, maintenance, energy conservation, etc. Air traffic controllers are not required to question pilots to determine if they have permission to land at a private airfield or to use procedures based on privately owned navigation aids, and they may not know the status of the navigation aid. Controllers presume a pilot has obtained approval from the owner and the FAA for use of special instrument approach procedures and is aware of any details of the procedure if an IFR flight plan was filed to that airport.
- Pilots should not rely on radar to identify a fix unless the fix is indicated as “RADAR” on the IAP. Pilots may request radar identification of an OM, but the controller may not be able to provide the service due either to workload or not having the fix on the video map.
- If a missed approach is required, advise ATC and include the reason (unless initiated by ATC). Comply with the missed approach instructions for the instrument approach procedure being executed, unless otherwise directed by ATC.
Special Instrument Approach Procedures
Instrument Approach Procedure (IAP) charts reflect the criteria associated with the U.S. Standard for Terminal Instrument [Approach] Procedures (TERP), which prescribes standardized methods for use in developing IAPs. Standard IAPs are published in the Federal Register (FR) in accordance with Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 97, and are available for use by appropriately qualified pilots operating properly equipped and airworthy aircraft in accordance with operating rules and procedures acceptable to the FAA. Special IAPs are also developed using TERPS but are not given public notice in the FR. The FAA authorizes only certain individual pilots and/or pilots in individual organizations to use special IAPs, and may require additional crew training and/or aircraft equipment or performance, and may also require the use of landing aids, communications, or weather services not available for public use. Additionally, IAPs that service private use airports or heliports are generally special IAPs. FDC NOTAMs for Specials, FDC T-NOTAMs, may also be used to promulgate safety-of-flight information relating to Specials provided the location has a valid landing area identifier and is serviced by the United States NOTAM system. Pilots may access NOTAMs online or through an FAA Flight Service Station (FSS). FSS specialists will not automatically provide NOTAM information to pilots for special IAPs during telephone pre-flight briefings. Pilots who are authorized by the FAA to use special IAPs must specifically request FDC NOTAM information for the particular special IAP they plan to use.
Procedure Turn and Hold-in-lieu of Procedure Turn
A procedure turn is the maneuver prescribed when it is necessary to reverse direction to establish the aircraft inbound on an intermediate or final approach course. The procedure turn or hold-in-lieu-of-PT is a required maneuver when it is depicted on the approach chart, unless cleared by ATC for a straight-in approach. Additionally, the procedure turn or hold-in-lieu-of-PT is not permitted when the symbol “No PT” is depicted on the initial segment being used, when a RADAR VECTOR to the final approach course is provided, or when conducting a timed approach from a holding fix. The altitude prescribed for the procedure turn is a minimum altitude until the aircraft is established on the inbound course. The maneuver must be completed within the distance specified in the profile view. For a hold-in-lieu-of-PT, the holding pattern direction must be flown as depicted and the specified leg length/timing must not be exceeded.
The pilot may elect to use the procedure turn or hold-in-lieu-of-PT when it is not required by the procedure, but must first receive an amended clearance from ATC. If the pilot is uncertain whether the ATC clearance intends for a procedure turn to be conducted or to allow for a straight-in approach, the pilot must immediately request clarification from ATC (14 CFR Section 91.123).
- On U.S. Government charts, a barbed arrow indicates the maneuvering side of the outbound course on which the procedure turn is made. Headings are provided for course reversal using the 45 degree type procedure turn. However, the point at which the turn may be commenced and the type and rate of turn is left to the discretion of the pilot (limited by the charted remain within xx NM distance). Some of the options are the 45 degree procedure turn, the racetrack pattern, the teardrop procedure turn, or the 80 degree ↔ 260 degree course reversal. Racetrack entries should be conducted on the maneuvering side where the majority of protected airspace resides. If an entry places the pilot on the non-maneuvering side of the PT, correction to intercept the outbound course ensures remaining within protected airspace. Some procedure turns are specified by procedural track. These turns must be flown exactly as depicted.
- Descent to the procedure turn (PT) completion altitude from the PT fix altitude (when one has been published or assigned by ATC) must not begin until crossing over the PT fix or abeam and proceeding outbound. Some procedures contain a note in the chart profile view that says “Maintain (altitude) or above until established outbound for procedure turn” (See FIG 5-4-16). Newer procedures will simply depict an “at or above” altitude at the PT fix without a chart note (See FIG 5-4-17). Both are there to ensure required obstacle clearance is provided in the procedure turn entry zone (See FIG 5-4-18). Absence of a chart note or specified minimum altitude adjacent to the PT fix is an indication that descent to the procedure turn altitude can commence immediately upon crossing over the PT fix, regardless of the direction of flight. This is because the minimum altitudes in the PT entry zone and the PT maneuvering zone are the same.
- When the approach procedure involves a procedure turn, a maximum speed of not greater than 200 knots (IAS) should be observed from first overheading the course reversal IAF through the procedure turn maneuver to ensure containment within the obstruction clearance area. Pilots should begin the outbound turn immediately after passing the procedure turn fix. The procedure turn maneuver must be executed within the distance specified in the profile view. The normal procedure turn distance is 10 miles. This may be reduced to a minimum of 5 miles where only Category A or helicopter aircraft are to be operated or increased to as much as 15 miles to accommodate high performance aircraft.
- A teardrop procedure or penetration turn may be specified in some procedures for a required course reversal. The teardrop procedure consists of departure from an initial approach fix on an outbound course followed by a turn toward and intercepting the inbound course at or prior to the intermediate fix or point. Its purpose is to permit an aircraft to reverse direction and lose considerable altitude within reasonably limited airspace. Where no fix is available to mark the beginning of the intermediate segment, it must be assumed to commence at a point 10 miles prior to the final approach fix. When the facility is located on the airport, an aircraft is considered to be on final approach upon completion of the penetration turn. However, the final approach segment begins on the final approach course 10 miles from the facility.
- A holding pattern in lieu of procedure turn may be specified for course reversal in some procedures. In such cases, the holding pattern is established over an intermediate fix or a final approach fix. The holding pattern distance or time specified in the profile view must be observed. For a hold-in-lieu-of-PT, the holding pattern direction must be flown as depicted and the specified leg length/timing must not be exceeded. Maximum holding airspeed limitations as set forth for all holding patterns apply. The holding pattern maneuver is completed when the aircraft is established on the inbound course after executing the appropriate entry. If cleared for the approach prior to returning to the holding fix, and the aircraft is at the prescribed altitude, additional circuits of the holding pattern are not necessary nor expected by ATC. If pilots elect to make additional circuits to lose excessive altitude or to become better established on course, it is their responsibility to so advise ATC upon receipt of their approach clearance.
- A procedure turn is not required when an approach can be made directly from a specified intermediate fix to the final approach fix. In such cases, the term “NoPT” is used with the appropriate course and altitude to denote that the procedure turn is not required. If a procedure turn is desired, and when cleared to do so by ATC, descent below the procedure turn altitude should not be made until the aircraft is established on the inbound course, since some NoPT altitudes may be lower than the procedure turn altitudes.
Limitations on Procedure Turns
- In the case of a radar initial approach to a final approach fix or position, or a timed approach from a holding fix, or where the procedure specifies NoPT, no pilot may make a procedure turn unless, when final approach clearance is received, the pilot so advises ATC and a clearance is received to execute a procedure turn.
- When a teardrop procedure turn is depicted and a course reversal is required, this type turn must be executed.
- When a holding pattern replaces a procedure turn, the holding pattern must be followed, except when RADAR VECTORING is provided or when NoPT is shown on the approach course. The recommended entry procedures will ensure the aircraft remains within the holding pattern's protected airspace. As in the procedure turn, the descent from the minimum holding pattern altitude to the final approach fix altitude (when lower) may not commence until the aircraft is established on the inbound course. Where a holding pattern is established in-lieu-of a procedure turn, the maximum holding pattern airspeeds apply.
- The absence of the procedure turn barb in the plan view indicates that a procedure turn is not authorized for that procedure.
- A procedure turn is the maneuver prescribed when it is necessary to reverse direction to establish the aircraft inbound on an intermediate or final approach course. The procedure turn or hold-in-lieu-of-PT is a required maneuver when it is depicted on the approach chart, unless cleared by ATC for a straight-in approach. Additionally, the procedure turn or hold-in-lieu-of-PT is not permitted when the symbol “No PT” is depicted on the initial segment being used, when a RADAR VECTOR to the final approach course is provided, or when conducting a timed approach from a holding fix. The altitude prescribed for the procedure turn is a minimum altitude until the aircraft is established on the inbound course. The maneuver must be completed within the distance specified in the profile view. For a hold-in-lieu-of-PT, the holding pattern direction must be flown as depicted and the specified leg length/timing must not be exceeded.
Timed Approaches from a Holding Fix
TIMED APPROACHES may be conducted when the following conditions are met:
- A control tower is in operation at the airport where the approaches are conducted.
- Direct communications are maintained between the pilot and the center or approach controller until the pilot is instructed to contact the tower.
- If more than one missed approach procedure is available, none require a course reversal.
If only one missed approach procedure is available, the following conditions are met:
- Course reversal is not required; and,
- Reported ceiling and visibility are equal to or greater than the highest prescribed circling minimums for the IAP.
- When cleared for the approach, pilots must not execute a procedure turn. (14 CFR Section 91.175.)
- Although the controller will not specifically state that “timed approaches are in use,” the assigning of a time to depart the final approach fix inbound (nonprecision approach) or the outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker inbound (precision approach) is indicative that timed approach procedures are being utilized, or in lieu of holding, the controller may use radar vectors to the Final Approach Course to establish a mileage interval between aircraft that will ensure the appropriate time sequence between the final approach fix/outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker and the airport.
Each pilot in an approach sequence will be given advance notice as to the time they should leave the holding point on approach to the airport. When a time to leave the holding point has been received, the pilot should adjust the flight path to leave the fix as closely as possible to the designated time. (See FIG 5-4-19.)
At 12:03 local time, in the example shown, a pilot holding, receives instructions to leave the fix inbound at 12:07. These instructions are received just as the pilot has completed turn at the outbound end of the holding pattern and is proceeding inbound towards the fix. Arriving back over the fix, the pilot notes that the time is 12:04 and that there are 3 minutes to lose in order to leave the fix at the assigned time. Since the time remaining is more than two minutes, the pilot plans to fly a race track pattern rather than a 360 degree turn, which would use up 2 minutes. The turns at the ends of the race track pattern will consume approximately 2 minutes. Three minutes to go, minus 2 minutes required for the turns, leaves 1 minute for level flight. Since two portions of level flight will be required to get back to the fix inbound, the pilot halves the 1 minute remaining and plans to fly level for 30 seconds outbound before starting the turn back to the fix on final approach. If the winds were negligible at flight altitude, this procedure would bring the pilot inbound across the fix precisely at the specified time of 12:07. However, if expecting headwind on final approach, the pilot should shorten the 30 second outbound course somewhat, knowing that the wind will carry the aircraft away from the fix faster while outbound and decrease the ground speed while returning to the fix. On the other hand, compensating for a tailwind on final approach, the pilot should lengthen the calculated 30 second outbound heading somewhat, knowing that the wind would tend to hold the aircraft closer to the fix while outbound and increase the ground speed while returning to the fix.
- TIMED APPROACHES may be conducted when the following conditions are met:
- The only airborne radio equipment required for radar approaches is a functioning radio transmitter and receiver. The radar controller vectors the aircraft to align it with the runway centerline. The controller continues the vectors to keep the aircraft on course until the pilot can complete the approach and landing by visual reference to the surface. There are two types of radar approaches: Precision (PAR) and Surveillance (ASR).
- A radar approach may be given to any aircraft upon request and may be offered to pilots of aircraft in distress or to expedite traffic, however, an ASR might not be approved unless there is an ATC operational requirement, or in an unusual or emergency situation. Acceptance of a PAR or ASR by a pilot does not waive the prescribed weather minimums for the airport or for the particular aircraft operator concerned. The decision to make a radar approach when the reported weather is below the established minimums rests with the pilot.
PAR and ASR minimums are published on separate pages in the FAA Terminal Procedures Publication (TPP).
- Precision Approach (PAR). A PAR is one in which a controller provides highly accurate navigational guidance in azimuth and elevation to a pilot. Pilots are given headings to fly, to direct them to, and keep their aircraft aligned with the extended centerline of the landing runway. They are told to anticipate glidepath interception approximately 10 to 30 seconds before it occurs and when to start descent. The published Decision Height will be given only if the pilot requests it. If the aircraft is observed to deviate above or below the glidepath, the pilot is given the relative amount of deviation by use of terms “slightly” or “well” and is expected to adjust the aircraft's rate of descent/ascent to return to the glidepath. Trend information is also issued with respect to the elevation of the aircraft and may be modified by the terms “rapidly” and “slowly”; e.g., “well above glidepath, coming down rapidly.” Range from touchdown is given at least once each mile. If an aircraft is observed by the controller to proceed outside of specified safety zone limits in azimuth and/or elevation and continue to operate outside these prescribed limits, the pilot will be directed to execute a missed approach or to fly a specified course unless the pilot has the runway environment (runway, approach lights, etc.) in sight. Navigational guidance in azimuth and elevation is provided the pilot until the aircraft reaches the published Decision Height (DH). Advisory course and glidepath information is furnished by the controller until the aircraft passes over the landing threshold, at which point the pilot is advised of any deviation from the runway centerline. Radar service is automatically terminated upon completion of the approach.
Surveillance Approach (ASR). An ASR is one in which a controller provides navigational guidance in azimuth only. The pilot is furnished headings to fly to align the aircraft with the extended centerline of the landing runway. Since the radar information used for a surveillance approach is considerably less precise than that used for a precision approach, the accuracy of the approach will not be as great and higher minimums will apply. Guidance in elevation is not possible but the pilot will be advised when to commence descent to the Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) or, if appropriate, to an intermediate step-down fix Minimum Crossing Altitude and subsequently to the prescribed MDA. In addition, the pilot will be advised of the location of the Missed Approach Point (MAP) prescribed for the procedure and the aircraft's position each mile on final from the runway, airport or heliport or MAP, as appropriate. If requested by the pilot, recommended altitudes will be issued at each mile, based on the descent gradient established for the procedure, down to the last mile that is at or above the MDA. Normally, navigational guidance will be provided until the aircraft reaches the MAP. Controllers will terminate guidance and instruct the pilot to execute a missed approach unless at the MAP the pilot has the runway, airport or heliport in sight or, for a helicopter point-in-space approach, the prescribed visual reference with the surface is established. Also, if, at any time during the approach the controller considers that safe guidance for the remainder of the approach cannot be provided, the controller will terminate guidance and instruct the pilot to execute a missed approach. Similarly, guidance termination and missed approach will be effected upon pilot request and, for civil aircraft only, controllers may terminate guidance when the pilot reports the runway, airport/heliport or visual surface route (point-in-space approach) in sight or otherwise indicates that continued guidance is not required. Radar service is automatically terminated at the completion of a radar approach.
The published MDA for straight-in approaches will be issued to the pilot before beginning descent. When a surveillance approach will terminate in a circle-to-land maneuver, the pilot must furnish the aircraft approach category to the controller. The controller will then provide the pilot with the appropriate MDA.
- NO-GYRO Approach. This approach is available to a pilot under radar control who experiences circumstances wherein the directional gyro or other stabilized compass is inoperative or inaccurate. When this occurs, the pilot should so advise ATC and request a No-Gyro vector or approach. Pilots of aircraft not equipped with a directional gyro or other stabilized compass who desire radar handling may also request a No-Gyro vector or approach. The pilot should make all turns at standard rate and should execute the turn immediately upon receipt of instructions. For example, “TURN RIGHT,” “STOP TURN.” When a surveillance or precision approach is made, the pilot will be advised after the aircraft has been turned onto final approach to make turns at half standard rate.
Radar Monitoring of Instrument Approaches
- PAR facilities operated by the FAA and the military services at some joint-use (civil and military) and military installations monitor aircraft on instrument approaches and issue radar advisories to the pilot when weather is below VFR minimums (1,000 and 3), at night, or when requested by a pilot. This service is provided only when the PAR Final Approach Course coincides with the final approach of the navigational aid and only during the operational hours of the PAR. The radar advisories serve only as a secondary aid since the pilot has selected the navigational aid as the primary aid for the approach.
- Prior to starting final approach, the pilot will be advised of the frequency on which the advisories will be transmitted. If, for any reason, radar advisories cannot be furnished, the pilot will be so advised.
Advisory information, derived from radar observations, includes information on:
Passing the final approach fix inbound (nonprecision approach) or passing the outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker inbound (precision approach).
At this point, the pilot may be requested to report sighting the approach lights or the runway.
Trend advisories with respect to elevation and/or azimuth radar position and movement will be provided.
Whenever the aircraft nears the PAR safety limit, the pilot will be advised that the aircraft is well above or below the glidepath or well left or right of course. Glidepath information is given only to those aircraft executing a precision approach, such as ILS. Altitude information is not transmitted to aircraft executing other than precision approaches because the descent portions of these approaches generally do not coincide with the depicted PAR glidepath.
- If, after repeated advisories, the aircraft proceeds outside the PAR safety limit or if a radical deviation is observed, the pilot will be advised to execute a missed approach unless the prescribed visual reference with the surface is established.
- Passing the final approach fix inbound (nonprecision approach) or passing the outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker inbound (precision approach).
- Radar service is automatically terminated upon completion of the approach.
Simultaneous Approaches to Parallel Runways
Simultaneous Approaches (Approach Courses Parallel and Offset between 2.5 and 3.0 degrees)
- ATC procedures permit ILS/RNAV/GLS instrument approach operations to dual or triple parallel runway configurations. ILS/RNAV/GLS approaches to parallel runways are grouped into three classes: Simultaneous Dependent Approaches; Simultaneous Independent Approaches; and Simultaneous Close Parallel PRM Approaches. RNAV approach procedures that are approved for simultaneous operations require GPS as the sensor for position updating. VOR/DME, DME/DME and IRU RNAV updating is not authorized. The classification of a parallel runway approach procedure is dependent on adjacent parallel runway centerline separation, ATC procedures, and airport ATC final approach radar monitoring and communications capabilities. At some airports, one or more approach courses may be offset up to 3 degrees. ILS approaches with offset localizer configurations result in loss of Category II/III capabilities and an increase in decision altitude/height (50').
- Depending on weather conditions, traffic volume, and the specific combination of runways being utilized for arrival operations, a runway may be used for different types of simultaneous operations, including closely spaced dependent or independent approaches. Pilots should ensure that they understand the type of operation that is being conducted, and ask ATC for clarification if necessary.
- Parallel approach operations demand heightened pilot situational awareness. A thorough Approach Procedure Chart review should be conducted with, as a minimum, emphasis on the following approach chart information: name and number of the approach, localizer frequency, inbound localizer/azimuth course, glideslope/glidepath intercept altitude, glideslope crossing altitude at the final approach fix, decision height, missed approach instructions, special notes/procedures, and the assigned runway location/proximity to adjacent runways. Pilots are informed by ATC or through the ATIS that simultaneous approaches are in use.
- The close proximity of adjacent aircraft conducting simultaneous independent approaches, especially simultaneous close parallel PRM approaches mandates strict pilot compliance with all ATC clearances. ATC assigned airspeeds, altitudes, and headings must be complied with in a timely manner. Autopilot coupled approaches require pilot knowledge of procedures necessary to comply with ATC instructions. Simultaneous independent approaches, particularly simultaneous close parallel PRM approaches necessitate precise approach course tracking to minimize final monitor controller intervention, and unwanted No Transgression Zone (NTZ) penetration. In the unlikely event of a breakout, ATC will not assign altitudes lower than the minimum vectoring altitude. Pilots should notify ATC immediately if there is a degradation of aircraft or navigation systems.
- Strict radio discipline is mandatory during simultaneous independent and simultaneous close parallel PRM approach operations. This includes an alert listening watch and the avoidance of lengthy, unnecessary radio transmissions. Attention must be given to proper call sign usage to prevent the inadvertent execution of clearances intended for another aircraft. Use of abbreviated call signs must be avoided to preclude confusion of aircraft with similar sounding call signs. Pilots must be alert to unusually long periods of silence or any unusual background sounds in their radio receiver. A stuck microphone may block the issuance of ATC instructions on the tower frequency by the final monitor controller during simultaneous independent and simultaneous close parallel PRM approaches. In the case of PRM approaches, the use of a second frequency by the monitor controller mitigates the “stuck mike” or other blockage on the tower frequency.
- Use of Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) provides an additional element of safety to parallel approach operations. Pilots should follow recommended TCAS operating procedures presented in approved flight manuals, original equipment manufacturer recommendations, professional newsletters, and FAA publications.
Simultaneous Dependent Approaches
- Simultaneous dependent approaches are an ATC procedure permitting approaches to airports having parallel runway centerlines separated by at least 2,500 feet up to 9,000 feet. Integral parts of a total system are ILS or other system providing approach navigation, radar, communications, ATC procedures, and required airborne equipment. RNAV equipment in the aircraft or GLS equipment on the ground and in the aircraft may replace the required airborne and ground based ILS equipment. Although non-precision minimums may be published, pilots must only use those procedures specifically authorized by chart note. For example, the chart note “LNAV NA during simultaneous operations,” requires vertical guidance. When given a choice, pilots should always fly a precision approach whenever possible.
- A simultaneous dependent approach differs from a simultaneous independent approach in that, the minimum distance between parallel runway centerlines may be reduced; there is no requirement for radar monitoring or advisories; and a staggered separation of aircraft on the adjacent final course is required.
- A minimum of 1.0 NM radar separation (diagonal) is required between successive aircraft on the adjacent final approach course when runway centerlines are at least 2,500 feet but no more than 3,600 feet apart. A minimum of 1.5 NM radar separation (diagonal) is required between successive aircraft on the adjacent final approach course when runway centerlines are more than 3,600 feet but no more than 8,300 feet apart. When runway centerlines are more than 8,300 feet but no more than 9,000 feet apart a minimum of 2 NM diagonal radar separation is provided. Aircraft on the same final approach course within 10 NM of the runway end are provided a minimum of 3 NM radar separation, reduced to 2.5 NM in certain circumstances. In addition, a minimum of 1,000 feet vertical or a minimum of three miles radar separation is provided between aircraft during turn on to the parallel final approach course.
Whenever parallel approaches are in use, pilots are informed by ATC or via the ATIS that approaches to both runways are in use. The charted IAP also notes which runways may be used simultaneously. In addition, the radar controller will have the interphone capability of communicating with the tower controller where separation responsibility has not been delegated to the tower.
ATC will not specifically identify these operations as being dependent when advertised on the ATIS.
At certain airports, simultaneous dependent approaches are permitted to runways spaced less than 2,500 feet apart. In this case, ATC will provide no less than the minimum authorized diagonal separation with the leader always arriving on the same runway. The trailing aircraft is permitted reduced diagonal separation, instead of the single runway separation normally utilized for runways spaced less than 2,500 feet apart. For wake turbulence mitigation reasons:
- Reduced diagonal spacing is only permitted when certain aircraft wake category pairings exist; typically when the leader is either in the large or small wake turbulence category, and
All aircraft must descend on the glideslope from the altitude at which they were cleared for the approach during these operations.
When reduced separation is authorized, the IAP briefing strip indicates that simultaneous operations require the use of vertical guidance and that the pilot should maintain last assigned altitude until intercepting the glideslope. No special pilot training is required to participate in these operations.
Either simultaneous dependent approaches with reduced separation or SOIA PRM approaches may be conducted to Runways 28R and 28L at KSFO spaced 750 feet apart, depending on weather conditions and traffic volume. Pilots should use caution so as not to confuse these operations. Plan for SOIA procedures only when ATC assigns a PRM approach or the ATIS advertises PRM approaches are in use. KSFO is the only airport where both procedures are presently conducted.
Simultaneous Independent ILS/RNAV/GLS Approaches
System. An approach system permitting simultaneous approaches to parallel runways with centerlines separated by at least 4,300 feet. Separation between 4,300 and 9,000 feet (9,200' for airports above 5,000') utilizing NTZ final monitor controllers. Simultaneous independent approaches require NTZ radar monitoring to ensure separation between aircraft on the adjacent parallel approach course. Aircraft position is tracked by final monitor controllers who will issue instructions to aircraft observed deviating from the assigned final approach course. Staggered radar separation procedures are not utilized. Integral parts of a total system are radar, communications, ATC procedures, and ILS or other required airborne equipment. A chart note identifies that the approach is authorized for simultaneous use.
When simultaneous operations are in use, it will be advertised on the ATIS. When advised that simultaneous approaches are in use, pilots must advise approach control immediately of malfunctioning or inoperative receivers, or if a simultaneous approach is not desired. Although non-precision minimums may be published, pilots must only use those procedures specifically authorized by chart note. For example, the chart note “LNAV NA during simultaneous operations,” requires vertical guidance. When given a choice, pilots should always fly a precision approach whenever possible.
ATC does not use the word independent or parallel when advertising these operations on the ATIS.
Radar Services. These services are provided for each simultaneous independent approach.
During turn on to parallel final approach, aircraft are normally provided 3 miles radar separation or a minimum of 1,000 feet vertical separation. The assigned altitude must be maintained until intercepting the glidepath, unless cleared otherwise by ATC. Aircraft will not be vectored to intercept the final approach course at an angle greater than thirty degrees.
Some simultaneous operations permit the aircraft to track an RNAV course beginning on downwind and continuing in a turn to intercept the final approach course. In this case, separation with the aircraft on the adjacent final approach course is provided by the monitor controller with reference to an NTZ.
- The final monitor controller will have the capability of overriding the tower controller on the tower frequency.
- Pilots will be instructed to contact the tower frequency prior to the point where NTZ monitoring begins.
Aircraft observed to overshoot the turn-on or to continue on a track which will penetrate the NTZ will be instructed to return to the correct final approach course immediately. The final monitor controller may cancel the approach clearance, and issue missed approach or other instructions to the deviating aircraft.
“(Aircraft call sign) YOU HAVE CROSSED THE FINAL APPROACH COURSE. TURN (left/right) IMMEDIATELY AND RETURN TO THE FINAL APPROACH COURSE,”
“(aircraft call sign) TURN (left/right) AND RETURN TO THE FINAL APPROACH COURSE.”
If a deviating aircraft fails to respond to such instructions or is observed penetrating the NTZ, the aircraft on the adjacent final approach course (if threatened), will be issued a breakout instruction.
“TRAFFIC ALERT (aircraft call sign) TURN (left/right) IMMEDIATELY HEADING (degrees), (climb/descend) AND MAINTAIN (altitude).”
Radar monitoring will automatically be terminated when visual separation is applied, the aircraft reports the approach lights or runway in sight, or the aircraft is 1 NM or less from the runway threshold. Final monitor controllers will not advise pilots when radar monitoring is terminated.
Simultaneous independent approaches conducted to runways spaced greater than 9,000 feet (or 9,200' at airports above 5,000') do not require an NTZ. However, from a pilot's perspective, the same alerts relative to deviating aircraft will be provided by ATC as are provided when an NTZ is being monitored. Pilots may not be aware as to whether or not an NTZ is being monitored.
- During turn on to parallel final approach, aircraft are normally provided 3 miles radar separation or a minimum of 1,000 feet vertical separation. The assigned altitude must be maintained until intercepting the glidepath, unless cleared otherwise by ATC. Aircraft will not be vectored to intercept the final approach course at an angle greater than thirty degrees.
- System. An approach system permitting simultaneous approaches to parallel runways with centerlines separated by at least 4,300 feet. Separation between 4,300 and 9,000 feet (9,200' for airports above 5,000') utilizing NTZ final monitor controllers. Simultaneous independent approaches require NTZ radar monitoring to ensure separation between aircraft on the adjacent parallel approach course. Aircraft position is tracked by final monitor controllers who will issue instructions to aircraft observed deviating from the assigned final approach course. Staggered radar separation procedures are not utilized. Integral parts of a total system are radar, communications, ATC procedures, and ILS or other required airborne equipment. A chart note identifies that the approach is authorized for simultaneous use.
Simultaneous Close Parallel PRM Approaches and Simultaneous Offset Instrument Approaches (SOIA)
PRM is an acronym for the high update rate Precision Runway Monitor surveillance system which is required to monitor the No Transgression Zone (NTZ) for specific parallel runway separations used to conduct simultaneous close parallel approaches. PRM is also published in the title as part of the approach name for IAPs used to conduct Simultaneous Close Parallel approaches. “PRM” alerts pilots that specific airborne equipment, training, and procedures are applicable.
Because Simultaneous Close Parallel PRM approaches are independent, the NTZ and normal operating zone (NOZ) airspace between the final approach courses is monitored by two monitor controllers, one for each approach course. The NTZ monitoring system (final monitor aid) consists of a high resolution ATC radar display with automated tracking software which provides monitor controllers with aircraft identification, position, speed, and a ten-second projected position, as well as visual and aural NTZ penetration alerts. A PRM high update rate surveillance sensor is a component of this system only for specific runway spacing. Additional procedures for simultaneous independent approaches are described in paragraph 5-4-15, Simultaneous Independent ILS/RNAV/GLS Approaches.
Simultaneous Close Parallel PRM approaches, whether conducted utilizing a high update rate PRM surveillance sensor or not, must meet all of the following requirements: pilot training, PRM in the approach title, NTZ monitoring utilizing a final monitor aid, radar display, publication of an AAUP, and use of a secondary PRM communications frequency. PRM approaches are depicted on a separate IAP titled (Procedure type) PRM Rwy XXX (Simultaneous Close Parallel or Close Parallel).
ATC does not use the word “independent” when advertising these operations on the ATIS.
Simultaneous ILS PRM Runway 33 left and ILS PRM Runway 33 right approaches in use.
- The pilot may request to conduct a different type of PRM approach to the same runway other than the one that is presently being used; for example, RNAV instead of ILS. However, pilots must always obtain ATC approval to conduct a different type of approach. Also, in the event of the loss of ground-based NAVAIDS, the ATIS may advertise other types of PRM approaches to the affected runway or runways.
- The Attention All Users Page (AAUP) will address procedures for conducting PRM approaches.
- PRM is an acronym for the high update rate Precision Runway Monitor surveillance system which is required to monitor the No Transgression Zone (NTZ) for specific parallel runway separations used to conduct simultaneous close parallel approaches. PRM is also published in the title as part of the approach name for IAPs used to conduct Simultaneous Close Parallel approaches. “PRM” alerts pilots that specific airborne equipment, training, and procedures are applicable.
Requirements and Procedures. Besides system requirements and pilot procedures as identified in subparagraph a1 above, all pilots must have completed special training before accepting a clearance to conduct a PRM approach.
Pilot Training Requirement. Pilots must complete special pilot training, as outlined below, before accepting a clearance for a simultaneous close parallel PRM approach.
- For operations under 14 CFR Parts 121, 129, and 135, pilots must comply with FAA-approved company training as identified in their Operations Specifications. Training includes the requirement for pilots to view the FAA training slide presentation, “Precision Runway Monitor (PRM) Pilot Procedures.” Refer to https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/training/prm/ or search key words “FAA PRM” for additional information and to view or download the slide presentation.
For operations under Part 91:
- Pilots operating transport category aircraft must be familiar with PRM operations as contained in this section of the AIM. In addition, pilots operating transport category aircraft must view the slide presentation, “Precision Runway Monitor (PRM) Pilot Procedures.” Refer to https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/training/prm/ or search key words “FAA PRM” for additional information and to view or download the slide presentation.
Pilots not operating transport category aircraft must be familiar with PRM and SOIA operations as contained in this section of the AIM. The FAA strongly recommends that pilots not involved in transport category aircraft operations view the FAA training slide presentation, “Precision Runway Monitor (PRM) Pilot Procedures.” Refer to https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/training/prm/ or search key words “FAA PRM” for additional information and to view or download the slide presentation.
Depending on weather conditions, traffic volume, and the specific combination of runways being utilized for arrival operations, a runway may be used for different types of simultaneous operations, including closely spaced dependent or independent approaches. Use PRM procedures only when the ATIS advertises their use. For other types of simultaneous approaches, see paragraphs 5-4-14 and 5-4-15.
- Pilot Training Requirement. Pilots must complete special pilot training, as outlined below, before accepting a clearance for a simultaneous close parallel PRM approach.
- ATC Directed Breakout. An ATC directed “breakout” is defined as a vector off the final approach course of a threatened aircraft in response to another aircraft penetrating the NTZ.
- Dual Communications. The aircraft flying the PRM approach must have the capability of enabling the pilot/s to listen to two communications frequencies simultaneously. To avoid blocked transmissions, each runway will have two frequencies, a primary and a PRM monitor frequency. The tower controller will transmit on both frequencies. The monitor controller's transmissions, if needed, will override both frequencies. Pilots will ONLY transmit on the tower controller's frequency, but will listen to both frequencies. Select the PRM monitor frequency audio only when instructed by ATC to contact the tower. The volume levels should be set about the same on both radios so that the pilots will be able to hear transmissions on the PRM frequency if the tower is blocked. Site-specific procedures take precedence over the general information presented in this paragraph. Refer to the AAUP for applicable procedures at specific airports.
- During turn on to parallel final approach, aircraft will be provided 3 miles radar separation or a minimum of 1,000 feet vertical separation. The assigned altitude must be maintained until intercepting the glideslope/glidepath, unless cleared otherwise by ATC. Aircraft will not be vectored to intercept the final approach course at an angle greater than thirty degrees.
- The final monitor controller will have the capability of overriding the tower controller on the tower frequency as well as transmitting on the PRM frequency.
- Pilots will be instructed to contact the tower frequency prior to the point where NTZ monitoring begins. Pilots will begin monitoring the secondary PRM frequency at that time (see Dual VHF Communications Required below).
- To ensure separation is maintained, and in order to avoid an imminent situation during PRM approaches, pilots must immediately comply with monitor controller instructions.
Aircraft observed to overshoot the turn or to continue on a track which will penetrate the NTZ will be instructed to return to the correct final approach course immediately. The final monitor controller may cancel the approach clearance, and issue missed approach or other instructions to the deviating aircraft.
“(Aircraft call sign) YOU HAVE CROSSED THE FINAL APPROACH COURSE. TURN (left/right) IMMEDIATELY AND RETURN TO THE FINAL APPROACH COURSE,”
“(Aircraft call sign) TURN (left/right) AND RETURN TO THE FINAL APPROACH COURSE.”
If a deviating aircraft fails to respond to such instructions or is observed penetrating the NTZ, the aircraft on the adjacent final approach course (if threatened) will be issued a breakout instruction.
“TRAFFIC ALERT (aircraft call sign) TURN (left/right) IMMEDIATELY HEADING (degrees), (climb/descend) AND MAINTAIN (altitude).”
- Radar monitoring will automatically be terminated when visual separation is applied, or the aircraft reports the approach lights or runway in sight or within 1 NM of the runway threshold. Final monitor controllers will not advise pilots when radar monitoring is terminated.
Attention All Users Page (AAUP). At airports that conduct PRM operations, the AAUP informs pilots under the “General” section of information relative to all the PRM approaches published at a specific airport, and this section must be briefed in its entirety. Under the “Runway Specific” section, only items relative to the runway to be used for landing need be briefed. (See FIG 5-4-24.) A single AAUP is utilized for multiple PRM approach charts at the same airport, which are listed on the AAUP. The requirement for informing ATC if the pilot is unable to accept a PRM clearance is also presented. The “General” section of AAUP addresses the following:
- Review of the procedure for executing a climbing or descending breakout;
- Breakout phraseology beginning with the words, “Traffic Alert;”
- Descending on the glideslope/glidepath meets all crossing restrictions;
- Briefing the PRM approach also satisfies the non-PRM approach briefing of the same type of approach to the same runway; and
Description of the dual communications procedure.
The “Runway Specific” section of the AAUP addresses those issues which only apply to certain runway ends that utilize PRM approaches. There may be no Runway Specific procedures, a single item applicable to only one runway end, or multiple items for a single or multiple runway end/s. Examples of SOIA runway specific procedures are as follows:
Simultaneous Offset Instrument Approach (SOIA).
- SOIA is a procedure used to conduct simultaneous approaches to runways spaced less than 3,000 feet, but at least 750 feet apart. The SOIA procedure utilizes a straight-in PRM approach to one runway, and a PRM offset approach with glideslope/glidepath to the adjacent runway. In SOIA operations, aircraft are paired, with the aircraft conducting the straight-in PRM approach always positioned slightly ahead of the aircraft conducting the offset PRM approach.
- The straight-in PRM approach plates used in SOIA operations are identical to other straight-in PRM approach plates, with an additional note, which provides the separation between the two runways used for simultaneous SOIA approaches. The offset PRM approach plate displays the required notations for closely spaced approaches as well as depicts the visual segment of the approach.
- Controllers monitor the SOIA PRM approaches in exactly the same manner as is done for other PRM approaches. The procedures and system requirements for SOIA PRM approaches are identical with those used for simultaneous close parallel PRM approaches until near the offset PRM approach missed approach point (MAP), where visual acquisition of the straight-in aircraft by the aircraft conducting the offset PRM approach occurs. Since SOIA PRM approaches are identical to other PRM approaches (except for the visual segment in the offset approach), an understanding of the procedures for conducting PRM approaches is essential before conducting a SOIA PRM operation.
- In SOIA, the approach course separation (instead of the runway separation) meets established close parallel approach criteria. (See FIG 5-4-25 for the generic SOIA approach geometry.) A visual segment of the offset PRM approach is established between the offset MAP and the runway threshold. Aircraft transition in visual conditions from the offset course, beginning at the offset MAP, to align with the runway and can be stabilized by 500 feet above ground level (AGL) on the extended runway centerline. A cloud ceiling for the approach is established so that the aircraft conducting the offset approach has nominally at least 30 seconds or more to acquire the leading straight-in aircraft prior to reaching the offset MAP. If visual acquisition is not accomplished prior to crossing the offset MAP, a missed approach must be executed.
Flight Management System (FMS) coding of the offset RNAV PRM and GLS PRM approaches in a SOIA operation is different than other RNAV and GLS approach coding in that it does not match the initial missed approach procedure published on the charted IAP. In the SOIA design of the offset approach, lateral course guidance terminates at the fictitious threshold point (FTP), which is an extension of the final approach course beyond the offset MAP to a point near the runway threshold. The FTP is designated in the approach coding as the MAP so that vertical guidance is available to the pilot to the runway threshold, just as vertical guidance is provided by the offset LDA glideslope. No matter what type of offset approach is being conducted, reliance on lateral guidance is discontinued at the charted MAP and replaced by visual maneuvering to accomplish runway alignment.
- As a result of this approach coding, when executing a missed approach at and after passing the charted offset MAP, a heading must initially be flown (either hand-flown or using autopilot “heading mode”) before engaging LNAV. If the pilot engages LNAV immediately, the aircraft may continue to track toward the FTP instead of commencing a turn toward the missed approach holding fix. Notes on the charted IAP and in the AAUP make specific reference to this procedure.
- Some FMSs do not code waypoints inside of the FAF as part of the approach. Therefore, the depicted MAP on the charted IAP may not be included in the offset approach coding. Pilots utilizing those FMSs may identify the location of the waypoint by noting its distance from the FTP as published on the charted IAP. In those same FMSs, the straight-in SOIA approach will not display a waypoint inside the PFAF. The same procedures may be utilized to identify an uncoded waypoint. In this case, the location is determined by noting its distance from the runway waypoint or using an authorized distance as published on the charted IAP.
Because the FTP is coded as the MAP, the FMS map display will depict the initial missed approach course as beginning at the FTP. This depiction does not match the charted initial missed approach procedure on the IAP. Pilots are reminded that charted IAP guidance is to be followed, not the map display. Once the aircraft completes the initial turn when commencing a missed approach, the remainder of the procedure coding is standard and can be utilized as with any other IAP.
The stabilized approach point is a design point along the extended centerline of the intended landing runway on the glide slope/glide path at 500 feet above the runway threshold elevation. It is used to verify a sufficient distance is provided for the visual maneuver after the offset course approach DA to permit the pilots to conform to approved, stabilized approach criteria. The SAP is not published on the IAP.
Offset Course DA
The point along the LDA, or other offset course, where the course separation with the adjacent ILS, or other straight-in course, reaches the minimum distance permitted to conduct closely spaced approaches. Typically that minimum distance will be 3,000 feet without the use of high update radar; with high update radar, course separation of less than 3,000 ft may be used when validated by a safety study. The altitude of the glide slope/glide path at that point determines the offset course approach decision altitude and is where the NTZ terminates. Maneuvering inside the DA is done in visual conditions.
Visual Segment Angle
Angle, as determined by the SOIA design tool, formed by the extension of the straight segment of the calculated flight track (between the offset course MAP/DA and the SAP) and the extended runway centerline. The size of the angle is dependent on the aircraft approach categories (Category D or only selected categories/speeds) that are authorized to use the offset course approach and the spacing between the runways.
Distance from the offset course approach DA to runway threshold in statute mile.
The aircraft on the offset course approach must see the runway-landing environment and, if ATC has advised that traffic on the straight-in approach is a factor, the offset course approach aircraft must visually acquire the straight-in approach aircraft and report it in sight to ATC prior to reaching the DA for the offset course approach.
The Clear of Clouds point is the position on the offset final approach course where aircraft first operate in visual meteorological conditions below the ceiling, when the actual weather conditions are at, or near, the minimum ceiling for SOIA operations. Ceiling is defined by the Aeronautical Information Manual.
SOIA PRM approaches utilize the same dual communications procedures as do other PRM approaches.
At KSFO, pilots conducting SOIA operations select the monitor frequency audio when communicating with the final radar controller, not the tower controller as is customary. In this special case, the monitor controller's transmissions, if required, override the final controller's frequency. This procedure is addressed on the AAUP.
- SOIA utilizes the same AAUP format as do other PRM approaches. The minimum weather conditions that are required are listed. Because of the more complex nature of instructions for conducting SOIA approaches, the “Runway Specific” items are more numerous and lengthy.
Examples of SOIA offset runway specific notes:
- Aircraft must remain on the offset course until passing the offset MAP prior to maneuvering to align with the centerline of the offset approach runway.
Pilots are authorized to continue past the offset MAP to align with runway centerline when:
- the straight-in approach traffic is in sight and is expected to remain in sight,
- ATC has been advised that “traffic is in sight.” (ATC is not required to acknowledge this transmission),
- the runway environment is in sight. Otherwise, a missed approach must be executed. Between the offset MAP and the runway threshold, pilots conducting the offset PRM approach must not pass the straight-in aircraft and are responsible for separating themselves visually from traffic conducting the straight-in PRM approach to the adjacent runway, which means maneuvering the aircraft as necessary to avoid that traffic until landing, and providing wake turbulence avoidance, if applicable. Pilots maintaining visual separation should advise ATC, as soon as practical, if visual contact with the aircraft conducting the straight-in PRM approach is lost and execute a missed approach unless otherwise instructed by ATC.
Examples of SOIA straight-in runway specific notes:
- To facilitate the offset aircraft in providing wake mitigation, pilots should descend on, not above, the glideslope/glidepath.
- Conducting the straight-in approach, pilots should be aware that the aircraft conducting the offset approach will be approaching from the right/left rear and will be operating in close proximity to the straight-in aircraft.
The following are differences between widely spaced simultaneous approaches (at least 4,300 feet between the runway centerlines) and Simultaneous PRM close parallel approaches which are of importance to the pilot:
- Runway Spacing. Prior to PRM simultaneous close parallel approaches, most ATC-directed breakouts were the result of two aircraft in-trail on the same final approach course getting too close together. Two aircraft going in the same direction did not mandate quick reaction times. With PRM closely spaced approaches, two aircraft could be alongside each other, navigating on courses that are separated by less than 4,300 feet and as close as 3,000 feet. In the unlikely event that an aircraft “blunders” off its course and makes a worst case turn of 30 degrees toward the adjacent final approach course, closing speeds of 135 feet per second could occur that constitute the need for quick reaction. A blunder has to be recognized by the monitor controller, and breakout instructions issued to the endangered aircraft. The pilot will not have any warning that a breakout is imminent because the blundering aircraft will be on another frequency. It is important that, when a pilot receives breakout instructions, the assumption is made that a blundering aircraft is about to (or has penetrated the NTZ) and is heading toward his/her approach course. The pilot must initiate a breakout as soon as safety allows. While conducting PRM approaches, pilots must maintain an increased sense of awareness in order to immediately react to an ATC (breakout) instruction and maneuver (as instructed by ATC) away from a blundering aircraft.
- Communications. Dual VHF communications procedures should be carefully followed. One of the assumptions made that permits the safe conduct of PRM approaches is that there will be no blocked communications.
- Hand-flown Breakouts. The use of the autopilot is encouraged while flying a PRM approach, but the autopilot must be disengaged in the rare event that a breakout is issued. Simulation studies of breakouts have shown that a hand-flown breakout can be initiated consistently faster than a breakout performed using the autopilot.
TCAS. The ATC breakout instruction is the primary means of conflict resolution. TCAS, if installed, provides another form of conflict resolution in the unlikely event other separation standards would fail. TCAS is not required to conduct a closely spaced approach.
The TCAS provides only vertical resolution of aircraft conflicts, while the ATC breakout instruction provides both vertical and horizontal guidance for conflict resolutions. Pilots should always immediately follow the TCAS Resolution Advisory (RA), whenever it is received. Should a TCAS RA be received before, during, or after an ATC breakout instruction is issued, the pilot should follow the RA, even if it conflicts with the climb/descent portion of the breakout maneuver. If following an RA requires deviating from an ATC clearance, the pilot must advise ATC as soon as practical. While following an RA, it is extremely important that the pilot also comply with the turn portion of the ATC breakout instruction unless the pilot determines safety to be factor. Adhering to these procedures assures the pilot that acceptable “breakout” separation margins will always be provided, even in the face of a normal procedural or system failure.
Simultaneous Converging Instrument Approaches
- ATC may conduct instrument approaches simultaneously to converging runways; i.e., runways having an included angle from 15 to 100 degrees, at airports where a program has been specifically approved to do so.
- The basic concept requires that dedicated, separate standard instrument approach procedures be developed for each converging runway included. These approaches can be identified by the letter “V” in the title; for example, “ILS V Rwy 17 (CONVERGING)”. Missed Approach Points must be at least 3 miles apart and missed approach procedures ensure that missed approach protected airspace does not overlap.
- Other requirements are: radar availability, nonintersecting final approach courses, precision approach capability for each runway and, if runways intersect, controllers must be able to apply visual separation as well as intersecting runway separation criteria. Intersecting runways also require minimums of at least 700 foot ceilings and 2 miles visibility. Straight in approaches and landings must be made.
- Whenever simultaneous converging approaches are in use, aircraft will be informed by the controller as soon as feasible after initial contact or via ATIS. Additionally, the radar controller will have direct communications capability with the tower controller where separation responsibility has not been delegated to the tower.
RNP AR (Authorization Required) Instrument Procedures
- RNP AR procedures require authorization analogous to the special authorization required for Category II or III ILS procedures. All operators require specific authorization from the FAA to fly any RNP AR approach or departure procedure. The FAA issues RNP AR authorization via operations specification (OpSpec), management specification (MSpec), or letter of authorization (LOA). There are no exceptions. Operators can find comprehensive information on RNP AR aircraft eligibility, operating procedures, and training requirements in AC 90-101, Approval Guidance for RNP Procedures with AR.
- Unique characteristics of RNP AR Operations Approach title. The FAA titles all RNP AR instrument approach procedures (IAP) as “RNAV (RNP) RWY XX.” Internationally, operators may find RNP AR IAPs titled “RNP RWY XX (AR).” All RNP AR procedures will clearly state “Authorization Required” on the procedure chart.
- RNP value. RNP AR procedures are characterized by use of a lateral Obstacle Evaluation Area (OEA) equal to two times the RNP value (2 x RNP) in nautical miles. No secondary lateral OEA or additional buffers are used. RNP AR procedures require a minimum lateral accuracy value of RNP 0.30. Each published line of minima in an RNP AR procedure has an associated RNP value that defines the procedure's lateral performance requirement in the Final Approach Segment. Each approved RNP AR operator's FAA-issued authorization will identify a minimum authorized RNP approach value. This value may vary depending on aircraft configuration or operational procedures (e.g., use of flight director or autopilot).
- Radius-to-fix (RF) legs. Many RNP AR IFPs contain RF legs. Aircraft eligibility for RF legs is required in any authorization for RNP AR operations.
- Missed Approach RNP value less than 1.00 NM. Some RNP AR IFPs require an RNP lateral accuracy value of less than 1.00 NM in the missed approach segment. The operator's FAA-issued RNP AR authorization will specify whether the operator may fly a missed approach procedure requiring a lateral accuracy value less than 1.00 NM. AC 90-101 identifies specific operating procedures and training requirements applicable to this aspect of RNP AR procedures.
- Non-standard speeds or climb gradients. RNP AR approaches may require non-standard approach speeds and/or missed approach climb gradients. RNP AR approach charts will reflect any non-standard requirements and pilots must confirm they can meet those requirements before commencing the approach.
RNP AR Departure Procedures (RNP AR DP). RNP AR approach authorization is a mandatory prerequisite for an operator to be eligible to perform RNP AR DPs. RNP AR DPs can utilize a minimum RNP value of RNP 0.30, may include higher than standard climb gradients, and may include RF turns. Close in RF turns associated with RNP AR DPs may begin as soon as the departure end of the runway (DER). For specific eligibility guidance, operators should refer to AC 90-101.
Example of an RNP AR DP
- ATC may authorize a standard instrument approach procedure which serves either one of parallel runways that are separated by 1,200 feet or less followed by a straight-in landing on the adjacent runway.
Aircraft that will execute a side-step maneuver will be cleared for a specified approach procedure and landing on the adjacent parallel runway. Example, “cleared ILS runway 7 left approach, side-step to runway 7 right.” Pilots are expected to commence the side-step maneuver as soon as possible after the runway or runway environment is in sight. Compliance with minimum altitudes associated with stepdown fixes is expected even after the side-step maneuver is initiated.
Side-step minima are flown to a Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) regardless of the approach authorized.
- Landing minimums to the adjacent runway will be based on nonprecision criteria and therefore higher than the precision minimums to the primary runway, but will normally be lower than the published circling minimums.
Approach and Landing Minimums
- Landing Minimums. The rules applicable to landing minimums are contained in 14 CFR Section 91.175. TBL 5-4-1 may be used to convert RVR to ground or flight visibility. For converting RVR values that fall between listed values, use the next higher RVR value; do not interpolate. For example, when converting 1800 RVR, use 2400 RVR with the resultant visibility of 1/2 mile.
Obstacle Clearance. Final approach obstacle clearance is provided from the start of the final segment to the runway or missed approach point, whichever occurs last. Side-step obstacle protection is provided by increasing the width of the final approach obstacle clearance area.
Circling approach protected areas are defined by the tangential connection of arcs drawn from each runway end (see FIG 5-4-27). Circling approach protected areas developed prior to late 2012 used fixed radius distances, dependent on aircraft approach category, as shown in the table on page B2 of the U.S. TPP. The approaches using standard circling approach areas can be identified by the absence of the “negative C" symbol on the circling line of minima. Circling approach protected areas developed after late 2012 use the radius distance shown in the table on page B2 of the U.S. TPP, dependent on aircraft approach category, and the altitude of the circling MDA, which accounts for true airspeed increase with altitude. The approaches using expanded circling approach areas can be identified by the presence of the “negative C" symbol on the circling line of minima (see FIG 5-4-28). Because of obstacles near the airport, a portion of the circling area may be restricted by a procedural note; for example, “Circling NA E of RWY 17-35.” Obstacle clearance is provided at the published minimums (MDA) for the pilot who makes a straight-in approach, side-steps, or circles. Once below the MDA the pilot must see and avoid obstacles. Executing the missed approach after starting to maneuver usually places the aircraft beyond the MAP. The aircraft is clear of obstacles when at or above the MDA while inside the circling area, but simply joining the missed approach ground track from the circling maneuver may not provide vertical obstacle clearance once the aircraft exits the circling area. Additional climb inside the circling area may be required before joining the missed approach track. See paragraph 5-4-21, Missed Approach, for additional considerations when starting a missed approach at other than the MAP.
Circling approach area radii vary according to approach category and MSL circling altitude due to TAS changes—see FIG 5-4-28.
Precision Obstacle Free Zone (POFZ). A volume of airspace above an area beginning at the runway threshold, at the threshold elevation, and centered on the extended runway centerline. The POFZ is 200 feet (60m) long and 800 feet (240m) wide. The POFZ must be clear when an aircraft on a vertically guided final approach is within 2 nautical miles of the runway threshold and the official weather observation is a ceiling below 250 feet or visibility less than 3/4 statute mile (SM) (or runway visual range below 4,000 feet). If the POFZ is not clear, the MINIMUM authorized height above touchdown (HAT) and visibility is 250 feet and 3/4 SM. The POFZ is considered clear even if the wing of the aircraft holding on a taxiway waiting for runway clearance penetrates the POFZ; however, neither the fuselage nor the tail may infringe on the POFZ. The POFZ is applicable at all runway ends including displaced thresholds.
Precision Obstacle Free Zone (POFZ)
- Circling approach protected areas are defined by the tangential connection of arcs drawn from each runway end (see FIG 5-4-27). Circling approach protected areas developed prior to late 2012 used fixed radius distances, dependent on aircraft approach category, as shown in the table on page B2 of the U.S. TPP. The approaches using standard circling approach areas can be identified by the absence of the “negative C" symbol on the circling line of minima. Circling approach protected areas developed after late 2012 use the radius distance shown in the table on page B2 of the U.S. TPP, dependent on aircraft approach category, and the altitude of the circling MDA, which accounts for true airspeed increase with altitude. The approaches using expanded circling approach areas can be identified by the presence of the “negative C" symbol on the circling line of minima (see FIG 5-4-28). Because of obstacles near the airport, a portion of the circling area may be restricted by a procedural note; for example, “Circling NA E of RWY 17-35.” Obstacle clearance is provided at the published minimums (MDA) for the pilot who makes a straight-in approach, side-steps, or circles. Once below the MDA the pilot must see and avoid obstacles. Executing the missed approach after starting to maneuver usually places the aircraft beyond the MAP. The aircraft is clear of obstacles when at or above the MDA while inside the circling area, but simply joining the missed approach ground track from the circling maneuver may not provide vertical obstacle clearance once the aircraft exits the circling area. Additional climb inside the circling area may be required before joining the missed approach track. See paragraph 5-4-21, Missed Approach, for additional considerations when starting a missed approach at other than the MAP.
- Straight-in Minimums are shown on the IAP when the final approach course is within 30 degrees of the runway alignment and a normal descent can be made from the IFR altitude shown on the IAP to the runway surface. When either the normal rate of descent or the runway alignment factor of 30 degrees is exceeded, a straight-in minimum is not published and a circling minimum applies. The fact that a straight-in minimum is not published does not preclude pilots from landing straight-in if they have the active runway in sight and have sufficient time to make a normal approach for landing. Under such conditions and when ATC has cleared them for landing on that runway, pilots are not expected to circle even though only circling minimums are published. If they desire to circle, they should advise ATC.
- Side-Step Maneuver Minimums. Landing minimums for a side-step maneuver to the adjacent runway will normally be higher than the minimums to the primary runway.
- Published Approach Minimums. Approach minimums are published for different aircraft categories and consist of a minimum altitude (DA, DH, MDA) and required visibility. These minimums are determined by applying the appropriate TERPS criteria. When a fix is incorporated in a nonprecision final segment, two sets of minimums may be published: one for the pilot that is able to identify the fix, and a second for the pilot that cannot. Two sets of minimums may also be published when a second altimeter source is used in the procedure. When a nonprecision procedure incorporates both a stepdown fix in the final segment and a second altimeter source, two sets of minimums are published to account for the stepdown fix and a note addresses minimums for the second altimeter source.
Circling Minimums. In some busy terminal areas, ATC may not allow circling and circling minimums will not be published. Published circling minimums provide obstacle clearance when pilots remain within the appropriate area of protection. Pilots should remain at or above the circling altitude until the aircraft is continuously in a position from which a descent to a landing on the intended runway can be made at a normal rate of descent using normal maneuvers. Circling may require maneuvers at low altitude, at low airspeed, and in marginal weather conditions. Pilots must use sound judgment, have an indepth knowledge of their capabilities, and fully understand the aircraft performance to determine the exact circling maneuver since weather, unique airport design, and the aircraft position, altitude, and airspeed must all be considered. The following basic rules apply:
- Maneuver the shortest path to the base or downwind leg, as appropriate, considering existing weather conditions. There is no restriction from passing over the airport or other runways.
- It should be recognized that circling maneuvers may be made while VFR or other flying is in progress at the airport. Standard left turns or specific instruction from the controller for maneuvering must be considered when circling to land.
At airports without a control tower, it may be desirable to fly over the airport to observe wind and turn indicators and other traffic which may be on the runway or flying in the vicinity of the airport.
AC 90-66A, Recommended Standards Traffic patterns for Aeronautical Operations at Airports without Operating Control Towers.
- The missed approach point (MAP) varies depending upon the approach flown. For vertically guided approaches, the MAP is at the decision altitude/decision height. Non-vertically guided and circling procedures share the same MAP and the pilot determines this MAP by timing from the final approach fix, by a fix, a NAVAID, or a waypoint. Circling from a GLS, an ILS without a localizer line of minima or an RNAV (GPS) approach without an LNAV line of minima is prohibited.
- Instrument Approach at a Military Field. When instrument approaches are conducted by civil aircraft at military airports, they must be conducted in accordance with the procedures and minimums approved by the military agency having jurisdiction over the airport.
- When a landing cannot be accomplished, advise ATC and, upon reaching the missed approach point defined on the approach procedure chart, the pilot must comply with the missed approach instructions for the procedure being used or with an alternate missed approach procedure specified by ATC.
- Obstacle protection for missed approach is predicated on the missed approach being initiated at the decision altitude/decision height (DA/DH) or at the missed approach point and not lower than minimum descent altitude (MDA). A climb gradient of at least 200 feet per nautical mile is required, (except for Copter approaches, where a climb of at least 400 feet per nautical mile is required), unless a higher climb gradient is published in the notes section of the approach procedure chart. When higher than standard climb gradients are specified, the end point of the non-standard climb will be specified at either an altitude or a fix. Pilots must preplan to ensure that the aircraft can meet the climb gradient (expressed in feet per nautical mile) required by the procedure in the event of a missed approach, and be aware that flying at a higher than anticipated ground speed increases the climb rate requirement (feet per minute). Tables for the conversion of climb gradients (feet per nautical mile) to climb rate (feet per minute), based on ground speed, are included on page D1 of the U.S. Terminal Procedures booklets. Reasonable buffers are provided for normal maneuvers. However, no consideration is given to an abnormally early turn. Therefore, when an early missed approach is executed, pilots should, unless otherwise cleared by ATC, fly the IAP as specified on the approach plate to the missed approach point at or above the MDA or DH before executing a turning maneuver.
- If visual reference is lost while circling-to-land from an instrument approach, the missed approach specified for that particular procedure must be followed (unless an alternate missed approach procedure is specified by ATC). To become established on the prescribed missed approach course, the pilot should make an initial climbing turn toward the landing runway and continue the turn until established on the missed approach course. Inasmuch as the circling maneuver may be accomplished in more than one direction, different patterns will be required to become established on the prescribed missed approach course, depending on the aircraft position at the time visual reference is lost. Adherence to the procedure will help assure that an aircraft will remain laterally within the circling and missed approach obstruction clearance areas. Refer to paragraph h concerning vertical obstruction clearance when starting a missed approach at other than the MAP. (See FIG 5-4-30.)
- At locations where ATC radar service is provided, the pilot should conform to radar vectors when provided by ATC in lieu of the published missed approach procedure. (See FIG 5-4-31.)
- Some locations may have a preplanned alternate missed approach procedure for use in the event the primary NAVAID used for the missed approach procedure is unavailable. To avoid confusion, the alternate missed approach instructions are not published on the chart. However, the alternate missed approach holding pattern will be depicted on the instrument approach chart for pilot situational awareness and to assist ATC by not having to issue detailed holding instructions. The alternate missed approach may be based on NAVAIDs not used in the approach procedure or the primary missed approach. When the alternate missed approach procedure is implemented by NOTAM, it becomes a mandatory part of the procedure. The NOTAM will specify both the textual instructions and any additional equipment requirements necessary to complete the procedure. Air traffic may also issue instructions for the alternate missed approach when necessary, such as when the primary missed approach NAVAID fails during the approach. Pilots may reject an ATC clearance for an alternate missed approach that requires equipment not necessary for the published approach procedure when the alternate missed approach is issued after beginning the approach. However, when the alternate missed approach is issued prior to beginning the approach the pilot must either accept the entire procedure (including the alternate missed approach), request a different approach procedure, or coordinate with ATC for alternative action to be taken, i.e., proceed to an alternate airport, etc.
- When approach has been missed, request clearance for specific action; i.e., to alternative airport, another approach, etc.
- Pilots must ensure that they have climbed to a safe altitude prior to proceeding off the published missed approach, especially in nonradar environments. Abandoning the missed approach prior to reaching the published altitude may not provide adequate terrain clearance. Additional climb may be required after reaching the holding pattern before proceeding back to the IAF or to an alternate.
A clearance for an instrument approach procedure includes a clearance to fly the published missed approach procedure, unless otherwise instructed by ATC. The published missed approach procedure provides obstacle clearance only when the missed approach is conducted on the missed approach segment from or above the missed approach point, and assumes a climb rate of 200 feet/NM or higher, as published. If the aircraft initiates a missed approach at a point other than the missed approach point (see paragraph 5-4-5b), from below MDA or DA (H), or on a circling approach, obstacle clearance is not necessarily provided by following the published missed approach procedure, nor is separation assured from other air traffic in the vicinity.
Prior to initiating an instrument approach procedure, the pilot should assess the actions to be taken in the event of a balked (rejected) landing beyond the missed approach point or below the MDA or DA (H) considering the anticipated weather conditions and available aircraft performance. 14 CFR 91.175(e) authorizes the pilot to fly an appropriate missed approach procedure that ensures obstruction clearance, but it does not necessarily consider separation from other air traffic. The pilot must consider other factors such as the aircraft's geographical location with respect to the prescribed missed approach point, direction of flight, and/or minimum turning altitudes in the prescribed missed approach procedure. The pilot must also consider aircraft performance, visual climb restrictions, charted obstacles, published obstacle departure procedure, takeoff visual climb requirements as expressed by nonstandard takeoff minima, other traffic expected to be in the vicinity, or other factors not specifically expressed by the approach procedures.
Use of Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS) on Instrument Approaches
Introduction. During an instrument approach, an EFVS can enable a pilot to see the approach lights, visual references associated with the runway environment, and other objects or features that might not be visible using natural vision alone. An EFVS uses a head-up display (HUD), or an equivalent display that is a head-up presentation, to combine flight information, flight symbology, navigation guidance, and a real-time image of the external scene to the pilot. Combining the flight information, navigation guidance, and sensor imagery on a HUD (or equivalent display) allows the pilot to continue looking forward along the flightpath throughout the entire approach, landing, and rollout.
An EFVS operation is an operation in which visibility conditions require an EFVS to be used in lieu of natural vision to perform an approach or landing, determine enhanced flight visibility, identify required visual references, or conduct a rollout. There are two types of EFVS operations:
- EFVS operations to touchdown and rollout.
- EFVS operations to 100 feet above the touchdown zone elevation (TDZE).
- EFVS Operations to Touchdown and Rollout. An EFVS operation to touchdown and rollout is an operation in which the pilot uses the enhanced vision imagery provided by an EFVS in lieu of natural vision to descend below DA or DH to touchdown and rollout. (See FIG 5-4-32.) These operations may be conducted only on Standard Instrument Approach Procedures (SIAP) or special IAPs that have a DA or DH (for example, precision or APV approach). An EFVS operation to touchdown and rollout may not be conducted on an approach that has circling minimums. The regulations for EFVS operations to touchdown and rollout can be found in 14 CFR § 91.176(a).
- EFVS Operations to 100 Feet Above the TDZE. An EFVS operation to 100 feet above the TDZE is an operation in which the pilot uses the enhanced vision imagery provided by an EFVS in lieu of natural vision to descend below DA/DH or MDA down to 100 feet above the TDZE. (See FIG 5-4-33.) To continue the approach below 100 feet above the TDZE, a pilot must have sufficient flight visibility to identify the required visual references using natural vision and must continue to use the EFVS to ensure the enhanced flight visibility meets the visibility requirements of the IAP being flown. These operations may be conducted on SIAPs or special IAPs that have a DA/DH or MDA. An EFVS operation to 100 feet above the TDZE may not be conducted on an approach that has circling minimums. The regulations for EFVS operations to 100 feet above the TDZE can be found in 14 CFR § 91.176(b).
- EFVS Equipment Requirements. An EFVS that is installed on a U.S.-registered aircraft and is used to conduct EFVS operations must conform to an FAA-type design approval (i.e., a type certificate (TC), amended TC, or supplemental type certificate (STC)). A foreign-registered aircraft used to conduct EFVS operations that does not have an FAA-type design approval must be equipped with an EFVS that has been approved by either the State of the Operator or the State of Registry to meet the requirements of ICAO Annex 6. Equipment requirements for an EFVS operation to touchdown and rollout can be found in 14 CFR § 91.176(a)(1), and the equipment requirements for an EFVS operation to 100 feet above the TDZE can be found in 14 CFR § 91.176(b)(1). An operator can determine the eligibility of their aircraft to conduct EFVS operations by referring to the Airplane Flight Manual, Airplane Flight Manual Supplement, Rotorcraft Flight Manual, or Rotorcraft Flight Manual Supplement as applicable.
Operating Requirements. Any operator who conducts EFVS operations to touchdown and rollout (14 CFR § 91.176(a)) must have an OpSpec, MSpec, or LOA that specifically authorizes those operations. Parts 91K, 121, 125, 129, and 135 operators who conduct EFVS operations to 100 feet above the TDZE (14 CFR § 91.176(b))must have an OpSpec, MSpec, or LOA that specifically authorizes the operation. Part 91 operators (other than 91K operators) are not required to have an LOA to conduct EFVS operations to 100 feet above the TDZE in the United States. However, an optional LOA is available to facilitate operational approval from foreign Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA). To conduct an EFVS operation to touchdown and rollout during an authorized Category II or III operation, the operator must have:
- An OpSpec, MSpec, or LOA authorizing EFVS operations to touchdown and rollout (14 CFR § 91.176(a)); and
- An OpSpec, MSpec, or LOA authorizing Category II or Category III operations.
- EFVS Operations in Rotorcraft. Currently, EFVS operations in rotorcraft can only be conducted on IAPs that are flown to a runway. Instrument approach criteria, procedures, and appropriate visual references have not yet been developed for straight-in landing operations below DA/DH or MDA under IFR to heliports or platforms. An EFVS cannot be used in lieu of natural vision to descend below published minimums on copter approaches to a point in space (PinS) followed by a “proceed visual flight rules (VFR)” visual segment, or on approaches designed to a specific landing site using a “proceed visually” visual segment.
- EFVS Pilot Requirements. A pilot who conducts EFVS operations must receive ground and flight training specific to the EFVS operation to be conducted. The training must be obtained from an authorized training provider under a training program approved by the FAA. Additionally, recent flight experience and proficiency or competency check requirements apply to EFVS operations. These requirements are addressed in 14 CFR §§ 61.66, 91.1065, 121.441, Appendix F to Part 121, 125.287, and 135.293.
- Enhanced Flight Visibility and Visual Reference Requirements. To descend below DA/DH or MDA during EFVS operations under 14 CFR § 91.176(a) or (b), a pilot must make a determination that the enhanced flight visibility observed by using an EFVS is not less than what is prescribed by the IAP being flown. In addition, the visual references required in 14 CFR § 91.176(a) or (b) must be distinctly visible and identifiable to the pilot using the EFVS. The determination of enhanced flight visibility is a separate action from that of identifying required visual references, and is different from ground-reported visibility. Even though the reported visibility or the visibility observed using natural vision may be less, as long as the EFVS provides the required enhanced flight visibility and a pilot meets all of the other requirements, the pilot can continue descending below DA/DH or MDA using the EFVS. Suitable enhanced flight visibility is necessary to ensure the aircraft is in a position to continue the approach and land. It is important to understand that using an EFVS does not result in obtaining lower minima with respect to the visibility or the DA/DH or MDA specified in the IAP. An EFVS simply provides another means of operating in the visual segment of an IAP. The DA/DH or MDA and the visibility value specified in the IAP to be flown do not change.
- Flight Planning and Beginning or Continuing an Approach Under IFR. A Part 121, 125, or 135 operator's OpSpec or LOA for EFVS operations may authorize an EFVS operational credit dispatching or releasing a flight and for beginning or continuing an instrument approach procedure. When a pilot reaches DA/DH or MDA, the pilot conducts the EFVS operation in accordance with 14 CFR § 91.176(a) or (b) and their authorization to conduct EFVS operations.
- Missed Approach Considerations. In order to conduct an EFVS operation, the EFVS must be operable. In the event of a failure of any required component of an EFVS at any point in the approach to touchdown, a missed approach is required. However, this provision does not preclude a pilot's authority to continue an approach if continuation of an approach is considered by the pilot to be a safer course of action.
- Light Emitting Diode (LED) Airport Lighting Impact on EFVS Operations. Incandescent lamps are being replaced with LEDs at some airports in threshold lights, taxiway edge lights, taxiway centerline lights, low intensity runway edge lights, windcone lights, beacons, and some obstruction lighting. Additionally, there are plans to replace incandescent lamps with LEDs in approach lighting systems. Pilots should be aware that LED lights cannot be sensed by infrared-based EFVSs. Further, the FAA does not currently collect or disseminate information about where LED lighting is installed.
- Other Vision Systems. Unlike an EFVS that meets the equipment requirements of 14 CFR § 91.176, a Synthetic Vision System (SVS) or Synthetic Vision Guidance System (SVGS) does not provide a real-time sensor image of the outside scene and also does not meet the equipment requirements for EFVS operations. A pilot cannot use a synthetic vision image on a head-up or a head-down display in lieu of natural vision to descend below DA/DH or MDA. An EFVS can, however, be integrated with an SVS, also known as a Combined Vision System (CVS). A CVS can be used to conduct EFVS operations if all of the requirements for an EFVS are satisfied and the SVS image does not interfere with the pilot's ability to see the external scene, to identify the required visual references, or to see the sensor image.
- Additional Information. Operational criteria for EFVS can be found in Advisory Circular (AC) 90-106, Enhanced Flight Vision System Operations, and airworthiness criteria for EFVS can be found in AC 20-167, Airworthiness Approval of Enhanced Vision System, Synthetic Vision System, Combined Vision System, and Enhanced Flight Vision System Equipment.
- Introduction. During an instrument approach, an EFVS can enable a pilot to see the approach lights, visual references associated with the runway environment, and other objects or features that might not be visible using natural vision alone. An EFVS uses a head-up display (HUD), or an equivalent display that is a head-up presentation, to combine flight information, flight symbology, navigation guidance, and a real-time image of the external scene to the pilot. Combining the flight information, navigation guidance, and sensor imagery on a HUD (or equivalent display) allows the pilot to continue looking forward along the flightpath throughout the entire approach, landing, and rollout.
- A visual approach is conducted on an IFR flight plan and authorizes a pilot to proceed visually and clear of clouds to the airport. The pilot must have either the airport or the preceding identified aircraft in sight. This approach must be authorized and controlled by the appropriate air traffic control facility. Reported weather at the airport must have a ceiling at or above 1,000 feet and visibility 3 miles or greater. ATC may authorize this type of approach when it will be operationally beneficial. Visual approaches are an IFR procedure conducted under IFR in visual meteorological conditions. Cloud clearance requirements of 14 CFR Section 91.155 are not applicable, unless required by operation specifications. When conducting visual approaches, pilots are encouraged to use other available navigational aids to assist in positive lateral and vertical alignment with the runway.
- Operating to an Airport Without Weather Reporting Service. ATC will advise the pilot when weather is not available at the destination airport. ATC may initiate a visual approach provided there is a reasonable assurance that weather at the airport is a ceiling at or above 1,000 feet and visibility 3 miles or greater (e.g., area weather reports, PIREPs, etc.).
Operating to an Airport With an Operating Control Tower. Aircraft may be authorized to conduct a visual approach to one runway while other aircraft are conducting IFR or VFR approaches to another parallel, intersecting, or converging runway. ATC may authorize a visual approach after advising all aircraft involved that other aircraft are conducting operations to the other runway. This may be accomplished through use of the ATIS.
- When operating to parallel runways separated by less than 2,500 feet, ATC will ensure approved separation is provided unless the succeeding aircraft reports sighting the preceding aircraft to the adjacent parallel and visual separation is applied.
- When operating to parallel runways separated by at least 2,500 feet but less than 4,300 feet, ATC will ensure approved separation is provided until the aircraft are issued an approach clearance and one pilot has acknowledged receipt of a visual approach clearance, and the other pilot has acknowledged receipt of a visual or instrument approach clearance, and aircraft are established on a heading or established on a direct course to a fix or cleared on an RNAV/instrument approach procedure which will intercept the extended centerline of the runway at an angle not greater than 30 degrees.
When operating to parallel runways separated by 4,300 feet or more, ATC will ensure approved separation is provided until one of the aircraft has been issued and the pilot has acknowledged receipt of the visual approach clearance, and each aircraft is assigned a heading, or established on a direct course to a fix, or cleared on an RNAV/instrument approach procedure which will allow the aircraft to intercept the extended centerline of the runway at an angle not greater than 30 degrees.
The intent of the 30 degree intercept angle is to reduce the potential for overshoots of the final and to preclude side-by-side operations with one or both aircraft in a belly-up configuration during the turn-on.
- Clearance for Visual Approach. At locations with an operating control tower, ATC will issue approach clearances that will include an assigned runway. At locations without an operating control tower or where a part-time tower is closed, ATC will issue a visual approach clearance to the airport only.
- Separation Responsibilities. If the pilot has the airport in sight but cannot see the aircraft to be followed, ATC may clear the aircraft for a visual approach; however, ATC retains both separation and wake vortex separation responsibility. When visually following a preceding aircraft, acceptance of the visual approach clearance constitutes acceptance of pilot responsibility for maintaining a safe approach interval and adequate wake turbulence separation.
- A visual approach is not an IAP and therefore has no missed approach segment. If a go-around is necessary for any reason, aircraft operating at controlled airports will be issued an appropriate clearance or instruction by the tower to enter the traffic pattern for landing or proceed as otherwise instructed. In either case, the pilot is responsible to maintain terrain and obstruction avoidance until reaching an ATC assigned altitude if issued, and ATC will provide approved separation or visual separation from other IFR aircraft. At uncontrolled airports, aircraft are expected to remain clear of clouds and complete a landing as soon as possible. If a landing cannot be accomplished, the aircraft is expected to remain clear of clouds and contact ATC as soon as possible for further clearance. Separation from other IFR aircraft will be maintained under these circumstances.
- Visual approaches reduce pilot/controller workload and expedite traffic by shortening flight paths to the airport. It is the pilot's responsibility to advise ATC as soon as possible if a visual approach is not desired.
Authorization to conduct a visual approach is an IFR authorization and does not alter IFR flight plan cancellation responsibility.
AIM, Para 5-1-15, Canceling IFR Flight Plan.
- Radar service is automatically terminated, without advising the pilot, when the aircraft is instructed to change to advisory frequency.
Charted Visual Flight Procedure (CVFP)
- CVFPs are charted visual approaches established for environmental/noise considerations, and/or when necessary for the safety and efficiency of air traffic operations. The approach charts depict prominent landmarks, courses, and recommended altitudes to specific runways. CVFPs are designed to be used primarily for turbojet aircraft.
- These procedures will be used only at airports with an operating control tower.
- Most approach charts will depict some NAVAID information which is for supplemental navigational guidance only.
- Unless indicating a Class B airspace floor, all depicted altitudes are for noise abatement purposes and are recommended only. Pilots are not prohibited from flying other than recommended altitudes if operational requirements dictate.
- When landmarks used for navigation are not visible at night, the approach will be annotated “PROCEDURE NOT AUTHORIZED AT NIGHT.”
- CVFPs usually begin within 20 flying miles from the airport.
- Published weather minimums for CVFPs are based on minimum vectoring altitudes rather than the recommended altitudes depicted on charts.
- CVFPs are not instrument approaches and do not have missed approach segments.
- ATC will not issue clearances for CVFPs when the weather is less than the published minimum.
- ATC will clear aircraft for a CVFP after the pilot reports siting a charted landmark or a preceding aircraft. If instructed to follow a preceding aircraft, pilots are responsible for maintaining a safe approach interval and wake turbulence separation.
- Pilots should advise ATC if at any point they are unable to continue an approach or lose sight of a preceding aircraft. Missed approaches will be handled as a go-around.
- When conducting visual approaches, pilots are encouraged to use other available navigational aids to assist in positive lateral and vertical alignment with the assigned runway.
- Pilots operating in accordance with an IFR flight plan, provided they are clear of clouds and have at least 1 mile flight visibility and can reasonably expect to continue to the destination airport in those conditions, may request ATC authorization for a contact approach.
Controllers may authorize a contact approach provided:
The contact approach is specifically requested by the pilot. ATC cannot initiate this approach.
Request contact approach.
- The reported ground visibility at the destination airport is at least 1 statute mile.
- The contact approach will be made to an airport having a standard or special instrument approach procedure.
Approved separation is applied between aircraft so cleared and between these aircraft and other IFR or special VFR aircraft.
Cleared contact approach (and, if required) at or below (altitude) (routing) if not possible (alternative procedures) and advise.
- The contact approach is specifically requested by the pilot. ATC cannot initiate this approach.
- A contact approach is an approach procedure that may be used by a pilot (with prior authorization from ATC) in lieu of conducting a standard or special IAP to an airport. It is not intended for use by a pilot on an IFR flight clearance to operate to an airport not having a published and functioning IAP. Nor is it intended for an aircraft to conduct an instrument approach to one airport and then, when “in the clear,” discontinue that approach and proceed to another airport. In the execution of a contact approach, the pilot assumes the responsibility for obstruction clearance. If radar service is being received, it will automatically terminate when the pilot is instructed to change to advisory frequency.
A clearance for a specific type of approach (ILS, RNAV, GLS, ADF, VOR or Visual Approach) to an aircraft operating on an IFR flight plan does not mean that landing priority will be given over other traffic. ATCTs handle all aircraft, regardless of the type of flight plan, on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Therefore, because of local traffic or runway in use, it may be necessary for the controller in the interest of safety, to provide a different landing sequence. In any case, a landing sequence will be issued to each aircraft as soon as possible to enable the pilot to properly adjust the aircraft's flight path.
Overhead Approach Maneuver
Pilots operating in accordance with an IFR flight plan in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) may request ATC authorization for an overhead maneuver. An overhead maneuver is not an instrument approach procedure. Overhead maneuver patterns are developed at airports where aircraft have an operational need to conduct the maneuver. An aircraft conducting an overhead maneuver is considered to be VFR and the IFR flight plan is canceled when the aircraft reaches the initial point on the initial approach portion of the maneuver. (See FIG 5-4-34.) The existence of a standard overhead maneuver pattern does not eliminate the possible requirement for an aircraft to conform to conventional rectangular patterns if an overhead maneuver cannot be approved. Aircraft operating to an airport without a functioning control tower must initiate cancellation of an IFR flight plan prior to executing the overhead maneuver. Cancellation of the IFR flight plan must be accomplished after crossing the landing threshold on the initial portion of the maneuver or after landing. Controllers may authorize an overhead maneuver and issue the following to arriving aircraft:
Pattern altitude and direction of traffic. This information may be omitted if either is standard.
PATTERN ALTITUDE (altitude). RIGHT TURNS.
Request for a report on initial approach.
“Break” information and a request for the pilot to report. The “Break Point” will be specified if nonstandard. Pilots may be requested to report “break” if required for traffic or other reasons.
BREAK AT (specified point).
- Pattern altitude and direction of traffic. This information may be omitted if either is standard.
- Pilots operating in accordance with an IFR flight plan in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) may request ATC authorization for an overhead maneuver. An overhead maneuver is not an instrument approach procedure. Overhead maneuver patterns are developed at airports where aircraft have an operational need to conduct the maneuver. An aircraft conducting an overhead maneuver is considered to be VFR and the IFR flight plan is canceled when the aircraft reaches the initial point on the initial approach portion of the maneuver. (See FIG 5-4-34.) The existence of a standard overhead maneuver pattern does not eliminate the possible requirement for an aircraft to conform to conventional rectangular patterns if an overhead maneuver cannot be approved. Aircraft operating to an airport without a functioning control tower must initiate cancellation of an IFR flight plan prior to executing the overhead maneuver. Cancellation of the IFR flight plan must be accomplished after crossing the landing threshold on the initial portion of the maneuver or after landing. Controllers may authorize an overhead maneuver and issue the following to arriving aircraft: