NBAA Proposal to Simplify FAA IAP Charts

Many instrument approach procedure charts are cluttered with notes and multiple lines of minimums to accommodate a range of possible lighting failures, remote altimeter settings, and other factors.

NBAA has submitted a recommendation document (PDF) to the Aeronautical Charting Meeting. The ACM will consider the proposal to simply FAA IAP charts at its October 2018 meeting.

To comment on the proposal, see the contact information in the recommendation document.

The proposal begins by noting that:

U.S. Government (FAA) instrument approach charts (IAPs) have become increasingly complex and difficult for pilots to use and interpret. This complexity results from TERPS and PBN requirements, multiple lines of minima, voluminous chart notes, just to name a few. As a result, pilots find it difficult to extract necessary information to fly the approach. Several FAA initiatives are currently underway or proposed to simplify the FAA IAP charts. Currently underway is the deployment of the PBN and Equipment Requirements Box. In addition, at the 1801 ACF meeting, there was discussion about the removal of the airport sketch on the FAA’s IAP chart. NBAA believes that these changes are long overdue. We believe it is necessary to look at Chart Notes, the Minima depiction, and adjustments to these minima resulting from inoperative components or remote altimeter setting source (RASS).

NBAA offers four suggestions:

  1. Removal of the Airport Sketch from the IAP chart and replace it with a stand-alone Airport Diagram chart for every airport entry in the TPP. This proposal not only reduces chart clutter and returns valuable “white space” to the chart, it will also provide for a larger airport diagram assisting pilots with ground surface operations and reduces the risks associated with runway incursions and excursions. Removal of the Airport Sketch has been discussed at a prior ACF; however, it is incorporated into this recommendation as a prerequisite for IAP modernization.
  2. Eliminate Military Minimums. Concerning military minimums, the ceiling is easily derived from other information already present on the chart and a parenthetical Statute Mile (SM) visibility for RVR would be provided.
  3. Eliminate RASS chart note and incorporate the RASS as a separate line of minima applicable to the altimeter source.
  4. Incorporate the effects of inoperative components into the lines of minima for each approach category. The purpose of this proposed change is to furnish the pilot with a Minima Table providing minimums for all situations. Today, the pilot must refer to the Inoperative Components Table of the TPP to determine corrections to the published visibility and to the MDA or DA with the failure of the approach lighting system, runway touchdown zone or centerline lights, or RVR systems.

The following illustration shows how proposal (3) would consolidate and clarify notes related to remote altimeter settings.

NBAA-IAP-RASS-Notes-01
NBAA asserts that:

The advantages of these changes are clear. The benefit of this proposed change is to furnish the pilot with a Minima Table providing minimums for all situations without the need for pilot computations or references to other pages within the TPP. The increased use of EFB products makes referencing ancillary pages difficult and time consuming.

NBAA proposes two options, side-by-side and stacked, to present minimums when all components of the approach lights are working, and when some are inoperative.

NBAA-IAP-minima options-01

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The Annual Extra 300L Migration

Each year I fly the Extra 300L between its summer base at Boeing Field (KBFI) in Seattle and its winter home at Boulder City, NV (KBVU).

N105MM_1214-1024.jpg

The usual route takes me from KBFI across the Cascade Mountains for fuel stops at Bend, OR (KBDN) and Yerington, NV (O43), before the last leg to KBVU. Those three legs total about 870 nm, and at a cruise speed of 160 KTAS, require 5.5 to 6.0 hours of flying time.

KBFI-KBVU-Extra300L

Here’s a highlight video from the first leg (KBFI-KBDN) in late September.

To see scenes from the entire route, watch this video from the same flight in September 2017.

 

New AC for ATDs

FAA has published AC 61-136B, FAA Approval of Aviation Training Devices and Their Use for Training and Experience, an update to the previous edition of the advisory circular.

I wrote about the earlier update to this AC in 2013, here. See also New IFR Currency Rules and Other Changes to 14 CFR Part 61.

OneG-foundation

The Foundation from one-G, an AATD based on the C172, is among the newest FAA-approved ATDs.

This AC provides information and guidance for Aviation Training Device (ATD) manufacturers seeking Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval of a basic aviation training device (BATD) or advanced aviation training device (AATD)…

This AC also provides information and guidance for those persons who intend to use a BATD or AATD for activities involving pilot training and experience, other than for practical tests, aircraft-type-specific training, or an aircraft type rating.

For most pilots, flight schools, and flight instructors, the most relevant section is Appendix D, Training Content and Logging Provisions, which includes a syllabus for integrated training using ATDs.

That appendix also clarifies how pilots and CFI should log time when using ATDs.

Logging Training Time and Experience. Authorized instructors utilizing an FAA-approved ATD for airmen training, pilot time, and experience requirements are required to log the time as dual instruction and as basic aviation training device (BATD) or advanced aviation training device (AATD) time appropriately. Any columns that reference flight time should remain blank when logging ATD time. ATD time can only be logged as Instruction Received (Dual), Instrument Time, or Total Time as reflected on the pilot time section of FAA Form 8710-1, Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application. Simulated instrument time can be logged in an ATD, but only during the time when the visual component of the training session is configured for instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) and the pilot is maintaining control solely by reference to the flight instruments. Logging time in this fashion will allow a pilot to credit this time towards the aeronautical experience and instrument experience requirements as specified in part 61 or part 141. It is required under § 61.51(b)(1)(iv) that the type and identification of the ATD be included when logging pilot time as described in the letter of authorization (LOA)….

Note: There are no restrictions on the amount of training accomplished and logged in training devices. However, the regulatory limitations on maximum credit allowed for the minimum pilot certification requirements are specified by parts 61 and 141 and in the LOA. No approvals or authorizations are provided for aircraft type ratings using ATDs.

FAA Plans for FSS Modernization

FAA wants to overhaul the way it provides preflight briefings and related services to general aviation users. The agency has published a request for proposals for providers interested in offering services now available primarily through Leidos (via telephone at 1-800-wxbrief and the web at www.1800wxbrief.com) and via apps, such as ForeFlight, Garmin Pilot, FltPlan.com, FlyQ, and others.

AOPA has a summary of the proposal on its website, here. The key background document is the FAA Future Flight Services (FFS) Strategic Plan (PDF). For more information about this shift, see Declining Demand for FSS Services at BruceAir.

The FAA Future Flight Services (FFS) Strategic Plan notes that pilots are rapidly adopting tablet, mobile, and web-based services for flight planning and related tasks:

Over the last decade, Flight Service users are trending towards self-assisted service delivery methods as technology improves and industry-provided services become more widely available. Voice services constitute a small percentage of transactions and a majority of the cost to the FAA, while automated services constitute the majority of transactions.

The FAA’s Future Flight Services Program (FFSP) vision is to transform and modernize the delivery of flight services over a 15-year period. The FAA believes that costs can be reduced by focusing on changing user behavior and migrating to automated, self-assisted service delivery models, while still maintaining quality of service and safety. Through FFSP, the FAA seeks to create a long-term contract vehicle and establish a relationship with the Service Provider, industry and user groups to better position the agency to take advantage of user behavior changes and improved technology.

Together, government and industry will work to realize three strategic goals:

1. Reduce the FAA cost to provide flight services, with a target reduction over 65%

2. Encourage the use of technology, industry best practices, and authoritative flight data accessed through the System-Wide Information Management (SWIM) Program to improve efficiency and quality of service delivery

3. Facilitate and gain stakeholder acceptance of changes in Flight Service delivery

The FAA is confident that a collaborative relationship among Flight Service users and stakeholders, the Flight Service Provider and the FAA will be the foundation for successful delivery of improved flight services at a price that fits within the FAA’s budget and at a level of safety and quality of service that meets or exceeds what is delivered today…

3.1 USER TRENDS TOWARDS AUTOMATION
The last decade has seen a steady increase in the use of self-service applications to the point that automated transactions outnumber human-assisted calls by 3 to 1 and 90% of flight plans are filed using automated means. The degree to which pilots rely on automation on the ground and in the cockpit runs the gamut from historic aircraft with little or no avionics to sophisticated flight planning software and electronic flight bags for high-end users.

A table in the strategic plan offers more details.

FSS-StrategicPlan-Table-1-1

The strategic plan doesn’t provide specific proposals about how FSS services will change in the near future, but you can read additional background at the FSS page at the FAA website.

Use of GPS on Conventional Approaches (Update)

Users of Garmin GTN navigators may now use the GPS CDI for guidance along the final approach course of a VOR or NDB approach, provided they monitor the ground-based navaid to ensure that they’re tracking the proper final approach course. Previous editions of the AFM supplement for GTN avionics required you to display the VOR CDI on your HSI or PFD even if you could monitor the ground-based navaid on a separate CDI or by using a bearing pointer.

Note that you must still display the VOR/LOC (“green needles”) CDI to fly the final approach segment of an approach based on a localizer or any other type of navaid except a VOR or NDB.

For more information about setting the CDI while flying approaches, see
Setting the CDI on a Conventional Approach (The “Kill Switch”). For general background, see Use of Suitable Area Navigation (RNAV) Systems on Conventional Procedures and Routes

The updated language in the AFM supplement for the GTN series (see below) synchronizes the limitations in the AFM supplement with a 2016 update to AIM 1−2−3. Use of Suitable Area Navigation (RNAV) Systems on Conventional Procedures and Routes (see Use of IFR GPS on Conventional Approaches).

The change comes with a recent update to the system software for the GTN line of GPS navigators (more information about the new features at BruceAir here).

The new software brings a significant change to the language in the approved Airplane Flight Manual Supplement for the GTN boxes (the PDF of the new AFM supplement for the GTN 750 is available here).

Section 2.10 Instrument Approaches in that AFM supplement now notes the following:

…c) The navigation equipment required to join and fly an instrument approach procedure is indicated by the title of the procedure and notes on the IAP chart. Navigating the final approach segment (that segment from the final approach fix to the missed approach point) of an ILS, LOC, LOC-BC, LDA, SDF, MLS, VOR, TACAN approach, or any other type of approach not approved for GPS, is not authorized with GPS navigation guidance. GPS guidance can only be used for approach procedures with GPS or RNAV in the procedure title. When using the Garmin LOC/GS receivers to fly the final approach segment, LOC/GS navigation data must be selected and presented on the CDI of the pilot flying. When using the VOR or ADF receiver to fly the final approach segment of a VOR or NDB approach, GPS may be the selected navigation source so long as the VOR or NDB station is operational and the signal is monitored for final approach segment alignment. [Emphasis added]

A test of the new software in the free Garmin PC-based trainer indicates that the message warning the pilot to switch the CDI from GPS to VOR has also been removed. The following captures show the VOR-A approach at Paine Field (KPAE) north of Seattle flown with the CDI with GPS selected. Note the cyan bearing pointer behind the magenta GPS CDI.KPAE-VOR-A-XUKRE-G500TXi.jpg

KPAE-VOR-A-ARC-GTN750KPAE-VOR-A-ECEPO-G500TXiKPAE-VOR-A-ECEPO-GTN750KPAE-VOR-A-YAVUR-G500TXi KPAE-VOR-A-XUKRE-G500TXi

New Garmin GTN 750 Features

Garmin has released system software 6.50 for its GTN 750 and GTN 650 navigators. The new software adds several features, including:

  • Vertical navigation (VNAV) capability when flying STARS and the initial stages of instrument approaches
  • Along-track offsets in flight plan segments
  • Destination airport remains in the flight plan when an approach is loaded (but the destination airport is removed when the approach is activated)
  • A shortcut to the airport info page added to all procedure headers
  • Load the approach NAV frequency from the approach header in the flight plan
  • QWERTY keyboard option

The following sections highlight some of these features. For more details on how to use the functions, see the latest editions of the GTN guides, available in my Aviation Documents folder at OneDrive and from Garmin’s product pages.

The details about this update to the GTN series are in ASDN Service Bulletin 1860 and the GTN 725/750 SOFTWARE v6.50 PILOT’S GUIDE UPGRADE SUPPLEMENT.

Garmin also released system software updates for the G500/600 PFD/MFD and associated hardware. For details on those updates, see ASDN Service Bulletin 1861.

Garmin has also updated its free Windows-based trainer for the GTN series.

Note that these system updates must be performed by an authorized Garmin dealer or avionics shop unless you are flying a experimental-homebuilt aircraft.

VNAV Capability

The new software adds several vertical navigation features, best illustrated with examples.

Suppose you are flying the RNAV RWY 08 approach at Lewiston, ID (KLWS), joining the procedure at the BIDDY initial approach fix northwest of the airport. The NoPT feeder route from BIDDY specifies an an altitude of at or above 5000 ft to EVOYU, followed by a descent to at or above 4000 ft to MABIZ, and then at or above 3400 ft to the FAF at GIYES.

KLWS-RNAV-RWY08

With the new GTN system software, those segment altitudes appear in the flight plan page for the procedure.

GTN750-KLWS-RNAV08-FltPlan-01
The VNAV feature appears as a magenta vertical guidance cue  next to the altitude tape on a PFD such as the new Garmin G500Txi (shown here) or the G500. Note that at this point in the approach, the LPV glidepath is a dim white diamond behind the magenta VNAV cue because the FAF is not the active waypoint and LPV is not yet annunciated on the HSI.

The VNAV cue simply provides advisory guidance to help you smoothly descend to each charted altitude as you fly the initial stages of the approach.

GTN750-KLWS-RNAV08-TXi-01
The LPV glidepath marker that displays approved vertical guidance replaces the VNAV cue when the FAF is active and the GTN system confirms that LPV minimums are available, as shown below.

GTN750-KLWS-RNAV08-TXi-02

Similar VNAV information and cues are available when flying a STAR, such as the MADEE FOUR arrival at Bellingham, WA (KBLI).

KBL-MADEE-4

Note that the altitudes shown in the GTN flight plan list for this STAR are for turbojet aircraft. But you can easily edit the altitude if ATC assigns a more appropriate altitude when you’re flying a typical piston-powered light aircraft.

GTN750-KBLI-MADDEE-4-01

GTN750-KBLI-MADDEE-4-02

If you are flying an approach based on an ILS, LOC, or VOR, you can quickly retrieve the navaid frequency by touching the approach title, as shown below for the ILS RWY 16 at KBLI.

GTN750-KBLI-ILS-RWY16-01.jpg

Along-Track Offsets

Suppose you are flying northeast along V2 at 13,000 ft. between ELN and MWH when Seattle Center clears you to cross 20 nm west of MWH at 9000 ft.

IFR-Low-ELN-MWH.jpg

With the new software, you can easily enter an along-track offset and display advisory vertical guidance to help you meet the restriction.

Touch MWH in the flight plan, and then touch the new Along Track button.

GTN750-AlongTrack-ELN-MWH-01

To create a waypoint for VNAV guidance, fill in the information that corresponds to your new clearance.

GTN750-AlongTrack-ELN-MWH-02GTN750-AlongTrack-ELN-MWH-03GTN750-AlongTrack-ELN-MWH-04GTN750-AlongTrack-ELN-MWH-05

Airport Information

An earlier version of the GTN system software included behavior that frustrated many pilots. When you loaded an approach into a flight plan, the destination airport was removed. If you hadn’t noted details such as the tower frequency, extracting that information from the GTN’s database was cumbersome.

In version 6.50, Garmin has added an APT Info button next to the approach title in the flight plan list.

GTN750-Procedure-AirportInfoButton-01
Touching that button shows the familiar information window that provides touch access to details about the airport, including frequencies, weather, and other data.

GTN750-Procedure-AirportInfoButton-02
QWERTY Keyboard

You can also choose a QWERTY keyboard instead of the alphabetical layout in previous versions of the GTN software. The option is available on the System Setup page.

GTN750-Qwerty-01GTN750-Qwerty-02

IFR Lost Communications

All instrument pilots learn the rules (14 CFR §91.185) that apply if you lose two-way radio communications while operating under IFR. But most discussions of that regulation overlook three key paragraphs in the AIM and their practical implications.

DA40-IFR_0259a

Note: This original text for this post first appeared in the February 2018 issue of the American Bonanza Society magazine.

First, to review the basics, see 14 CFR §91.185 and the Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA H-8083-15B), which describes the details of the regulation in “Communication/Navigation System Malfunction” (p. 11-8).

14CFR91.185

To simplify matters, most of us employ a mnemonic such as Avenue F MEA to aid recall of the key details of the route and altitude to fly (assuming you are not flying in VMC, do not encounter VMC after losing two-way communications, and that you cannot hear or respond to ATC via voice over a navaid, squawking IDENT, turning to headings, or other means).

Avenue F (Route)

  • Assigned: Last assigned heading, or—
  • Vectored: Fly the last vector to the ATC-specified fix or route, or—
  • Expected: Fly the route ATC last told you to expect (e.g., join an airway, feeder route, localizer, etc.), or—
  • Filed: If you haven’t received an updated clearance or route from ATC, fly the route that you filed.

MEA (Altitude)

  • The minimum en-route altitude for the segment of the route you’re flying, or—
  • The expected altitude ATC told you to anticipate, or—
  • The assigned altitude that ATC included in your original clearance

To the route and altitude, add timing, so that you arrive at your intended destination when ATC is expecting you, per the details in the regulation and the AIM.

To these guidelines, I add the specific lost communications procedures that are typically included as notes for published IFR departure procedures. For example, see the chart for the YELM THREE departure at the Olympia, WA (KOLM) airport.

YELM-lostcomm
Practical Advice from the AIM

Instructors and DPEs enjoy posing lost-communications scenarios that require careful parsing of 14 CFR §91.185 and scrutiny of IFR charts.

AIMTitlePage.jpg

But in focusing on the regulation itself, we often overlook what is arguably the most important practical guidance for such situations, found in AIM 6−4−1: Two-way Radio Communications Failure.

The first three paragraphs of that section note that:

a. It is virtually impossible to provide regulations and procedures applicable to all possible situations associated with two-way radio communications failure. During two-way radio communications failure, when confronted by a situation not covered in the regulation, pilots are expected to exercise good judgment in whatever action they elect to take. Should the situation so dictate they should not be reluctant to use the emergency action contained in 14 CFR Section 91.3(b).

b. Whether two-way communications failure constitutes an emergency depends on the circumstances, and in any event, it is a determination made by the pilot. 14 CFR Section 91.3(b) authorizes a pilot to deviate from any rule in Subparts A and B to the extent required to meet an emergency.

c. In the event of two-way radio communications failure, ATC service will be provided on the basis that the pilot is operating in accordance with 14 CFR Section 91.185. A pilot experiencing two-way communications failure should (unless emergency authority is exercised) comply with 14 CFR Section 91.185….

Note also that the Instrument Rating ACS places lost communications procedures in section VII Emergency Operations. The standards for Task A in that section state that you must understand and demonstrate the:

Procedures to be followed in the event of lost communication during various phases of flight, including techniques for reestablishing communications, when it is acceptable to deviate from an IFR clearance, and when to begin an approach at the destination.

The AIM text recognizes and implicitly suggests several issues that you must consider if you lose two-way communications while operating IFR in IMC. For example:

  • What caused the communications failure? Just broken radios? A fault somewhere in the electrical system?
  • Will proceeding according to the regulation require you to continue the flight–perhaps for an extended time–over potentially hazardous terrain or through challenging weather?
  • Are you currently operating within or near busy airspace, such as Class B? Will your cleared IFR route take you near or into such airspace?

Suppose, for example, that you lose communications after you level off westbound following a departure from Spokane International Airport (KGEG) in Washington state en route to Boeing Field (KBFI) in Seattle.

KGEG-KBFI-IFRLow

Your clearance will take you via V2 across the Cascade Mountains to Boeing Field (KBFI) in Seattle. You are not on fire or aware of any other issue with the airplane that demands an immediate precautionary landing. Weather at airports along or near your route is IMC but at or above published minimums for the approaches available to you.

Adhering to the letter of 14 CFR §91.185 would require you to continue along your last cleared route at the appropriate altitudes to arrive as close as possible to your ETA at KBFI.

But the introductory paragraphs to AIM 6-4-1 give you broad support to exercise your emergency authority as PIC.

For example, diverting to an airport such as Moses Lake (KMWH) and flying one of its many available approaches would be far more reasonable than continuing across the mountains and then descending into the congested airspace that surrounds Seattle—and perhaps holding near KBFI to arrive near your ETA.

BANDR-KBFI.jpg

Whether or not you continue strictly according to the regulations, ATC will clear the airspace around you until your intentions are clear and they’re able track you or confirm that you’re on the ground. Assuming that they can still observe you—even if as only a primary target on their traffic displays—they will be happy to watch you descend into a relatively quiet airport like KMWH rather than, like members of a curling team, furiously sweep the path in front you all the way to your filed and cleared destination.