FAA Publishes Final Policy on Cancelation of Certain Circling Approach Minimums

FAA has established its final policy for a program to reduce the number of circle-to-land approaches. The notice was published in the Federal Register on July 28, 2018. FAA had previously advised its intent to reduce the number of such approaches in 2016.

According to the new notice:

The FAA’s policy is not intended to ensure straight-in IAPs for every runway end, but rather minimizing IFP redundancy in the NAS. The FAA acknowledges that with the cancellation of some circling procedures, there may be reduced airport accessibility, but no reduction in runway availability.

FAA’s reasons for the new policy are spelled out in the notice:

As new technology has facilitated the introduction of area navigation (RNAV) instrument approach procedures over the past decade, the number of procedures available in the NAS has nearly doubled. The complexity and cost to the FAA of maintaining the instrument flight procedures inventory while expanding the new RNAV capability is not sustainable. Managing two versions of the NAS requires excess manpower, infrastructure, and information management which is costly and unsupportable in the long-term. To mitigate these costs, the FAA has a number of efforts underway to effectively transition from the legacy to the NextGen NAS. One area of focus for this transition is instrument flight procedures (IFPs). The FAA seeks to ensure an effective transition from ground-based IFPs to greater availability and use of satellite-based IFPs while maintaining NAS safety…

As of March 29, 2018, there are 12,068 IAPs in publication, consisting of 33,825 lines of minima, 11,701 of which are circling lines of minima. This represents a nearly 9 percent increase in IAP lines of minima from September 18, 2014. Circling procedures account for approximately one-third of all lines of minima for IAPs in the NAS.

Here are the key points in the new policy:

All circling procedures will continue to be reviewed through the established IAP periodic review process. As part of that review process, each circling procedure will be evaluated against the following questions:

  • Is this the only IAP at the airport?
  • Is this procedure a designated MON airport procedure?
  • If multiple IAPs serve a single runway end, does this procedure provide the lowest circling minima for that runway?
  • If the RNAV circling minima is not the lowest, but is within 50′ of the lowest, the FAA would give the RNAV preference.
  • Would cancellation result in removal of circling minima from all conventional NAVAID procedures at an airport? If circling minima exists for multiple Conventional NAVAID procedures, preference would be to retain ILS circling minima.
  • Would cancellation result in all circling minima being removed from all airports within 20 NMs? This particular criterion recognizes the circling content of the Instrument Rating—Airplane Airman Certification Standards (ACS).
  • Will removal eliminate lowest landing minima to an individual runway?

The following questions are applicable only to circling-only procedures:

  • Does this circling-only procedure exist because of high terrain or an obstacle which makes a straight-in procedure infeasible or which would result in the straight-in minimums being higher than the circling minima?
  • Is this circling-only procedure (1) at an airport where not all runway ends have a straight-in IAP, and (2) does it have a Final Approach Course not aligned within 45 degrees of a runway which has a straight-in IAP?
  • Further consideration for cancellation under this policy will be terminated if any of the aforementioned questions are answered in the affirmative. If all questions are answered in the negative, the procedure will be processed as described in the following paragraph.

When a candidate has been identified for cancellation, Aeronautical Information Services will post the proposed cancellation on the Instrument Flight Procedures Information Gateway (IFP Gateway). Comments regarding the aforementioned circling procedure should be submitted via email to: AMC-ATO-IFP-Cancellations@faa.gov. Comments will only be considered and adjudicated when submitted prior to the comment deadline associated with the flight procedure as listed on the IFP Coordination tab of the Instrument Flight Procedures Information Gateway site. Aeronautical Information Services will adjudicate and respond to each comment within 30 days of being received. When a determination is made to cancel a part 97 instrument flight procedure or circling line of minima, the cancellation will be published in the Federal Register.

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