New Edition of Instrument Procedures Handbook

FAA has published a new edition of the Instrument Procedures Handbook (FAA-H-8083-16B). You can download a PDF of the IPH at the FAA website here.

The IPH is a complement to the Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8081-15B), available for download here.

A summary of changes in the new edition of the IPH is available as a PDF in my Aviation Documents folder, here.

IPH-Cover-2017

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Transiting Airspace with Flight Following

Pilots who are receiving radar advisories, better known as VFR Flight Following, often wonder if they will be cleared to enter airspace along their route.

For example, assume you’re flying VFR between Albany, OR (S12) and Scappoose, OR (KSCP).

(To see the route below on charts at SkyVector.com, click here.)

As you can see on the chart below, the direct route takes you over Salem (KSLE), a Class D airport; just west of the Class D airspace at Aurora, OR (KUAO); and later through the Class D airspace at Hillsboro. The course also tracks just west of the busy Class C airspace that surrounds Portland International Airport (KPDX).

Albany-Scappoose.jpg

After takeoff, you contact Cascade Approach for flight following, get a squawk code, and, without restrictions from ATC, proceed on the direct route to KSCP. An overcast layer at 3000 ft. MSL restricts your cruise to at or below 2500 ft.

Do you have to contact the towers at KSLE and KHIO for permission to transit their airspace? Although you’ll remain legally clear of the Class D airspace at KUAO if you can remain in the direct course, what if you need to zig and zag to avoid clouds? Should you contact Aurora Tower? What about the Class C airspace at KPDX?

The September 2017 issue of Air Traffic Procedures Bulletin (PDF), a newsletter for air traffic controllers published by the FAA, clarifies the roles of pilots and air traffic controllers when pilots are receiving flight following. The bulletin notes that pilots and controllers have shared responsibility.

VFR Aircraft Receiving Radar Advisories (VFR Flight Following) Approaching Class D

What are ATCs responsibilities? Who is responsible for the pilot’s communication responsibility within the Class D surface area?

Many times, pilots receiving VFR Radar Advisories believe that as long as they are talking to one ATC facility, they have fulfilled their responsibility for entering a Class D airspace. Pilots may believe that controllers will tell them when/if they are approaching a Class D surface area. As controllers, we have a responsibility to coordinate with the appropriate ATC facility having jurisdiction over the airspace.

First, controllers must follow the guidance in Air Traffic Control (JO 7110.65, PDF available here):

As controllers, we have a responsibility to coordinate with the appropriate ATC facility having jurisdiction over the airspace, FAA Order JO 7110.65W states:

2-1-16. SURFACE AREAS

b. Coordinate with the appropriate control tower for transit authorization when you are providing radar traffic advisory service to an aircraft that will enter another facility’s airspace.

NOTE− The pilot is not expected to obtain his/her own authorization through each area when in contact with a radar facility.

But the bulletin notes that pilots also have a regulatory requirement to establish two-way communications before entering Class D or Class C airspace, as noted in the AIM and other sources.

The pilot’s responsibility to meet their radio communication requirement to enter Class D airspace is NOT eliminated when receiving VFR Radar Advisories. The Aeronautical Information Manual, 3-2-1, states:

d. VFR Requirements. It is the responsibility of the pilot to ensure that ATC clearance or radio communication requirements are met prior to entry into Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace. The pilot retains this responsibility when receiving ATC radar advisories. (See 14 CFR Part 91.)

To resolve this conflict, the bulletin goes on to explain:

Since both the controller providing VFR Radar Advisories and the pilot who is receiving the advisories have a clear responsibility, there can be some confusion about which party is communicating with the ATC facility having jurisdiction over the Class D surface area. 14 CFR 91.129 includes language that specifies that it is the pilot’s overall responsibility for complying with the Class D communications requirement.

There are a few ways controllers can assist pilots when providing VFR Radar Advisories that will ultimately help with controller workload. Since the pilot is responsible for their Class D communication requirement, if the controller coordinates with the ATC facility having jurisdiction over the surface area, let the pilot know, so they do not query you. If you are too busy to coordinate, you are required to terminate VFR Radar Advisories in a timely manner so the pilot is able to contact the Class D ATC facility prior to entry.

It’s also important to note that air traffic control facilities have letters of agreement (LOA) to establish local procedures, such as entry and exit procedures at busy airports, handoffs between facilities, and similar matters. These LOA are not typically published for pilots. An LOA may allow an approach facility to send aircraft under its control through a Class D surface area at specific altitudes and along certain routes. Or the LOA may streamline the coordination required before one controller allows an aircraft to enter another controller’s airspace.

For more information on this topic, see BruceAir’s Guide to ATC Services for VFR Pilots.

An ILS that Requires GPS

You can still fly IFR in the U.S. without an IFR-approved GNSS (i.e., GPS), but being “slant G” (/G in the soon-to-be obsolete FAA domestic flight plan format) increasingly offers advantages, even if you fly only conventional procedures based on ground navaids. And sometimes an IFR-approved GNSS is required to fly even an ILS.

Consider the ILS Z OR LOC Z RWY 16R approach at Reno/Tahoe International Airport (KRNO). This procedure is not an Authorization Required approach–RNP doesn’t appear in the title, and you won’t find that restrictive note on the chart. (For more information about RNP procedures, see RNP Procedures and Typical Part 91 Pilots.)

KRNO-ILSorLOCZRwy16R

But the equipment required notes for this ILS approach include “RNAV-1 GPS required.”

KRNO-ILSorLOCZRwy16R-notes
A review of the plan view and missed approach track show why GPS is necessary to fly this procedure.

KRNO-ILSorLOCZRwy16R-Plan

First, you need GPS to fly transitions from most of initial fixes, which are RNAV waypoints marked by a star symbol.

RNAV-Waypoint-Symbol

Only LIBGE, directly north of the runway, is a non-RNAV IAF.

For example, HOBOA, KLOCK, BELBE, and WINRZ are all RNAV waypoints that serve as IAFs or IFs. Now, NORCAL Approach might provide vectors to the final approach course, but if you want to fly this procedure you should be prepared for a clearance direct to one of those fixes (see Avoiding the Vectors-to-Final Scramble).

Note also that entire missed approach track requires use of GNSS.

Two of the transitions are of special note. The “arcs” that begin at ZONBI and SLABS are radius-to-fix (RF) legs that are part of the transitions that begin at HOBOA and KLOCK. Each of those fixes is distinguished by the notes “RNP-1 GPS REQD” and “RF REQD.”

The first note means that your GPS must meet the RNP 1 standard, which is used for terminal procedures such as SIDs and STARs, the initial phases of approaches, and missed-approach segments. (For more information about RNP, see RNP Procedures and Typical Part 91 Pilots.)

Until recently, RF legs were included only in Authorization Required (AR) procedures. But as I explained in Garmin GTN Avionics and RF Legs, certain RF legs are now available if you have an appropriate GNSS navigator, updated system software, an electronic HSI, and other equipment. Some limitations on flying such RFs also apply, as described in that earlier post.

Suppose that you choose the less intimidating ILS X or LOC X RWY 16R to the same runway. A review of the notes and the plan view shows that even this conventional-looking ILS also requires RNAV 1 GPS, both to fly the transition from WINRZ and the missed approach track.

KRNO-ILSorLOCXRwy16R.jpg

 

New Edition of the Aeronautical Chart Users Guide

FAA has published a new edition of the Aeronautical Chart Users Guide, effective October 12, 2017.

ACUG-TPP-Complete
The new edition is available as a free PDF at the FAA website, here. This update includes a What’s New section, starting on page 5, that highlights changes from the previous edition.

The guide explains the symbols and terms used on VFR and IFR charts published by the FAA, including sectionals, IFR enroute charts, and terminal procedure charts (SIDs, STARs, and IAPs).

Clearances to GNSS Equipped Aircraft Below the MEA

FAA recently updated Air Traffic Control (JO 7110.65W) to allow IFR clearances to GNSS (i.e., GPS) equipped aircraft on airways below the published minimum en route altitude.

N JO 7110.741, published on September 25, 2017 (now incorporated in Air Traffic Control paragraph 4-5-6), explained that:

This notice…allow[s] IFR certified Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) equipped aircraft to be cleared below published Minimum En Route Altitudes (MEA)…

The notice explained that:

MEAs are based in part on ground-based navigational aid reception. The advent of satellite technology provides the opportunity for lower minimum altitudes along certain airways, allowing more altitudes to be usable for more aircraft. This change will facilitate IFR certified GNSS equipped aircraft to fly below published MEAs, but no lower than Minimum Obstruction Clearance Altitudes, Minimum IFR Altitudes, or Minimum Vectoring Altitudes, regardless of radar coverage. This would apply to all applicable airways, rather than being limited to those published with GNSS MEA minimums.

Note that the rule (in 14 CFR §91.177 Minimum altitudes for IFR operations) about flying at the MOCA  when you are using VORs still applies:

For aircraft using VOR, VORTAC or TACAN for navigation, this [i.e., flying at the MOCA] applies only within 22 miles of that NAVAID.

The low-altitude en route chart below points out examples of MEAs and MOCAs. (Click here to see the chart at SkyVector.com.)

MEA-MOCA

For example, along a segment of V187 between MOG and MSO, the MEA is 13000. The MOCA is 9900. There is no published GPS MEA (which would appear in blue with a G appended to the altitude). But if you are flying with an IFR-approved GPS, ATC could clear you to 9900, if, for example, you encountered ice.

Similarly, along V120 east of MLP, the MEA is 13000 and the MOCA is 9600, potentially giving you more than 3000 feet to work with if necessary.

Note, however, that not all airway segments have published MOCAs. For example, the only published IFR altitude between PUW and MLP is the MEA of 9100. You still might be cleared below that MEA if ATC has a lower minimum IFR altitudes or minimum vectoring altitudes available in that area, but those altitudes are not typically published on charts that pilots use.* You would just ask for a lower altitude, and the controller could clear you to the appropriate MVA or MIA.

The updated FAA handbook specifically notes that controllers may clear you to an MVA or MIA, but they must also issue lost communications instructions:

(a) In the absence of a published MOCA, assign altitudes at or above the MVA or MIA along the route of flight, and

(b) Lost communications instructions are issued.


*You can download MVA and MIA charts as PDFs from the FAA website, here. But at present, these charts are not available in a format that allows for easy integration with apps that pilots typically use or straightforward comparison with other aviation charts.

FAA Proposes Cuts to Circling Approach Minimums

The FAA has announced the early stages of plan to evaluate and then cut the number of circling minimums published for instrument approaches. According to a notice in the Federal Register on October 6, 2017:

In early 2015, the FAA requested the RTCA’s Tactical Operations Committee (TOC) with providing feedback and recommendations on criteria and processes for cancelling instrument flight procedures. Among the many recommendations provided by the TOC were criteria on how to identify circling procedures that would qualify as candidates for cancellation. As of the beginning of 2017, there are approximately 12,000 IAPs in publication, and there were nearly 10,600 circling lines of minima. Circling procedures account for approximately one-third of all lines of minima in the NAS.

In its continued effort to right-size the NAS through optimization and elimination of redundant and unnecessary IAPs, the FAA proposes the following criteria to guide the identification and selection of appropriate circling procedures to be considered for cancellation…

Proposed Policy

All circling procedures will continue to be reviewed through the established IAP periodic review process.As part of that review process, the FAA is proposing that each circling procedure would 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, is this the lowest circling minima for that runway? Note: 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? Note: 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?

—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 that makes a straight-in procedure unfeasible 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 would be terminated if any of the aforementioned questions are answered in the affirmative. If all questions are answered in the negative, the procedure would be processed as described in the following paragraph.

Flying the Extra: Seattle to Las Vegas

Each year around the end of September, I fly the Extra 300L from Boeing Field (KBFI) in Seattle to its winter base at Boulder City, NV (KBVU) outside Las Vegas. The video below shows highlights from the flight this year. Enjoy the dramatic changes in the landscape from the well-watered Puget Sound region to the desolate desert in southern Nevada.

BruceAir-Extra-009.jpgPhoto: Felix Knaack

The Extra isn’t designed for long-distance journeys, and I have to make two fuel stops to complete the journey of about 900 nm (1670 km). I usually stop at Bend, OR (KBDN) and Yerrington, NV (O43). The flight itself typically requires 5.5 – 6.0 hours; with the two stops the total block time is usually about 8 hours.

You can view the route that I flew at Skyvector.com here.