FAA Publishes MVA and MIA Charts

The FAA has published minimum vectoring altitude and minimum IFR altitude charts on its website, here (scroll to the bottom of the page for the links to each category).

e. 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. (AIM 5−4−5)

The charts are PDFs, sorted alphabetically by facility.

Note the disclaimers on the main page:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Minimum Vectoring Altitude (MVA) charts and Minimum IFR Altitude (MIA) charts are being made available on this website in PDF format for users to identify the sector designs and minimum altitudes on charts used by Air Traffic Control. These charts are not geo-referenced and are not to be used for navigation. In the next two years, as Air Traffic Facilities update current MVA and MIA charts, they will be made available in AIXM 5.1 format.

FAA Publishes List of Instrument Approaches Set for Cancellation

FAA has published the latest list of 736 VOR and NDB approaches that it wants to cancel. You can download a Microsoft Excel worksheet that includes all of the procedures here.

According to the April 13, 2015 announcement in the Federal Register:

This action proposes to remove certain redundant or underutilized ground-based non-directional beacon and very high frequency, omnidirectional radio range Standard Instrument Approach Procedures based on the criteria established by the FAA’s Policy for Discontinuance of Certain Instrument Approach Procedures.

The announcement offers additional details as background:

On June 27, 2014, the FAA published a policy establishing criteria for cancelling instrument approach procedures (79 FR 36576). Cancelling certain ground-based non-directional beacon (NDB), and very high frequency (VHF), omnidirectional radio range (VOR) SIAPs is one integral part of right-sizing the quantity and type of procedures in the National Airspace System (NAS). As new technology facilitates the introduction of area navigation (RNAV) instrument approach procedures, the number of procedures available in the National Airspace System has nearly doubled over the past decade. The complexity and cost to the FAA of maintaining the existing ground based navigational infrastructure while expanding the new RNAV capability is not sustainable. Therefore, the FAA is proposing the following list of SIAPs for cancellation based on the criteria established in the Policy.

The proposal is open for comments until May 28, 2015.

You can find details about the current inventory of instrument approaches and related procedures at the Instrument Flight Procedures (IFP) Inventory Summary website.

To learn more about specific procedures and procedures in development, visit the Instrument Flight Procedures Information Gateway.

Stylus for iPad and ForeFlight ScratchPads

ForeFlight, the most popular aviation app for the iOS phones and tablets, includes a handy ScratchPad feature, described in this post at the ForeFlight blog. A video that shows the feature in more detail is also available at YouTube.

ForeFlight ScratchPads

I experimented with the ScratchPad the other day as I flew with an IFR customer. It’s a handy feature, with built-templates, but I quickly found that using my stubby index finger to scribble clearances and ATIS data didn’t work well. It was hard to write quickly and clearly.

Off to Amazon I went in search of a stylus designed for iOS devices. After a quick search and scan of customer reviews, I settled on the Bargains Depot pack of two styluses (with six replacement tips), for $5.99. Many other options are available at Amazon, generally at prices well below $10 for packs of 2-5 styluses.

I’ve now tested these tablet-pens with ForeFlight and other apps, and I’m pleased. The tips are soft enough not to damage the screen, but they also make writing on the tablet seem natural. They also work well as pointing devices when you need to tap on a menu or the map, scroll, or close a window.

If you use a tablet or smartphone in the cockpit, I recommend that you keep at least a couple of styluses handy. They’ll never run out of ink.