AOPA Focused Flight Review

The AOPA Air Safety Institute has a new free guide and resources for pilots who need a flight review.

AOPA-FocusedFlightReview

The Focused Flight Review includes several profiles that emphasize such areas as:

  • Positive Aircraft Control
  • Weather & CFIT
  • Fuel, Engine, & Other Systems
  • Instrument Proficiency
  • Takeoffs, Landings, & Go-Arounds
  • Mountain & Backcountry Flying

The AOPA information complements AC 61-98 Currency Requirements and Guidance for the Flight Review and Instrument Proficiency Check and Conducting an Effective Flight Review, both FAA publications.

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Declining Demand for FSS Services

The July/August 2018 issue of FAA Safety Briefing includes a note about the end of TIBS, the Telephone Information Briefing Service (TIBS) in the contiguous United States, effective Sept. 13, 2018.

(TIBS is recorded information, including weather reports and forecasts. Flight Service created TIBS when there was a large demand for briefings, with the potential for extremely long wait times. You can read about TIBS in AIM 7-1-8.)

The interesting news the in article, however, isn’t about TIBS, which most pilots don’t know about and therefore don’t use and won’t miss. Instead, there’s the following detail about how pilots are actually using FSS:

With the advent of the internet and other enabling technology, the demand for information from Flight Service specialists has declined. From more than 3,000 specialists in more than 300 facilities during the early 1980s, staffing has decreased to fewer than 400 specialists in three facilities. Radio contacts have dropped to less than 900 per day, from an average of 10,000 per day.

A chart from another FAA document shows the trend graphically:

FSS-RadioContacts

This trend led to the end of Flight Watch in 2015 and a program to reduce the number of remote communications outlets (RCO) for FSS.

As the article notes, complying with 14 CFR 91.103 Preflight Action doesn’t require calling FSS (for more background, see What Qualifies as an Official Preflight Briefing? at BruceAir):

There are multiple sources available to pilots to access weather and aeronautical information, which are often presented in an easier to understand graphical format. Pilots no longer need to call a Flight Service specialist to adhere to Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) section 91.103 to maintain awareness of weather and aeronautical information.

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.

Update on ATC Phone Numbers and IFR Clearances

FAA continues to publish ATC telephone numbers for pilots who need to get an IFR clearance or close an IFR flight plan at non-towered airports (background here at BruceAir).

Note that FAA is testing a system that would allow pilots to receive ATC clearances on mobile devices. For more information, see this article at AOPA.

An FAA representative briefed (full presentation here) the April 25-26, 2018 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum (complete meeting minutes here).

Highlights:

  • Chart Supplement (A/FD) entries for 656 airports have been updated with clearance delivery phone numbers.
  • 25 additional approach control facilities will participate in the program; the Chart Supplement entries for over 200 additional airports will be updated to include a clearance delivery phone number.
  • For all other uncontrolled airports without a GCO or radio outlet linking them to ATC or Flight Service, pilots will be able to obtain a clearance by calling the overlying ARTCC.

The September 2018 update to the AIM will include the following paragraph:

5-2-3. TAXI CLEARANCE
a. Pilots departing on an IFR flight plan should consult the Chart Supplement US airport/facility directory to determine the frequency or telephone number to use to contact clearance delivery. On initial contact pilots should advise the flight is IFR and state the destination airport.

Proposed Changes to Airport Diagrams

FAA is proposing to remove the inset airport diagrams from instrument procedure charts and the Chart Supplement (A/FD) and instead publish complete airport diagrams for all airports with IFR procedures.

The proposal (detailed FAA briefing here) was discussed at the April 25-26, 2018 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum (complete meeting minutes here).

FAA currently produces:

  • 700 airport diagrams
  • 3000 airport sketches in the Chart Supplement
  • 3000 inset diagrams on terminal procedure charts

AirportDiagrams-001

The detailed proposal includes the following key points:

  • Eliminate Terminal and Chart Supplement Sketches.
  • All hard-surfaced runway public use airports with IFR procedures will have a published airport diagram.
  • Eliminate cultural features such as trees, creeks, water and power lines etc.
  • Change diagram specifications to incorporate information from the chart supplement and terminal chart sketches.
  • Add geo-referenced information for real-world location and for future data driven product development.

FAA argued that the proposed charting change would:

  • Eliminate maintenance of three types of airport layouts.
  • Create a single standard Airport Diagram for all airports.
  • Print one diagram in one publication (currently printed 4 ways).
  • Free up space in the TPP plate for more relevant procedural information
  • Provide a more robust product.
  • Streamline internal production processes.
  • Deliver a more accurate and updated product.

An FAA representative noted that Jeppesen does not publish inset sketches on its terminal charts. Adopting this proposal would follow that practice.

The proposal generated detailed discussion, and FAA solicited comments from users and organizations such as AOPA.

Update on VOR Decommissioning

The FAA has updated its plans to shut down about 311 VORs (about 30% of the existing network of 873 navaids) by 2025. About 585 VORs will remain in the minimum operational network (MON).

I went through the list of VORs that have been shut down and those scheduled to be decommissioned through September 2018. This PDF includes links to each navaid at SkyVector so that you can see them on a chart.

Note that in all cases, several nearby VORs remain active. Some of the VORs retain the DME feature and remain named fixes that you can file and use (with GPS–or DME).

The primary impact of the shutdowns would seem to be VOR-based approaches and perhaps departure procedures. Low altitude Victor airways, where necessary, are being supplanted with T-routes.

As the slide below shows, most of the VORs set to be decommissioned are in the Eastern and Central regions; only 15 navaids in the Western region are on the list.

To see the full list of VORs on the shutdown list, visit this entry at BruceAir.

VOR-Mon-Chart-April 2018

At the April 25-26, 2018 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum (complete meeting minutes as PDF here), a representative of the VOR MON Program Office described progress on the plan (full presentation as PDF here). Here are some highlights:

  • As of April 2018, 23 VORs have been decommissioned (see list below).
  • 15 more VORs will be shut down by the fall of 2018 (see list below).
  • FAA is upgrading the remaining VORs to support a standard service volume of 70 nm at 5000 AGL.

 

The FAA plans to increase the standard service volume (SSV) of the VORs that remain in the MON. Specifically, SSV at 5000 AGL will increase from the present 40 nm to 70 nm to support IFR navigation during a GPS outage. The following slides compare VOR coverage under the current standard with coverage using the new SSV.

VOR MON 40nm

VOR MON 70nm

Here’s the list of VORs that have been decommissioned so far:

Discontinued-VORs-April 2018

Here’s the list of the VORs scheduled for shutdown by the fall of 2018:

Discontinued-VORs-Fall 2018

New Private Pilot, IFR, and Commercial ACS effective June 11, 2018

FAA has published new editions of the Airmen Certification Standards for the:

  • Private Pilot-Airplane
  • Commercial Pilot-Airplane
  • Instrument Rating-Airplane

The new ACS are effective June 11, 2018. The introductory material for each ACS document includes a summary of major changes. You can download free PDF editions of the new ACS from the FAA website.

A couple of items on the commercial pilot ACS are worth pointing out here:

  • Revised Area of Operation IV to require touch down at a proper pitch attitude.
  • Added the evaluator’s discretion to ask for a full stall in Area of Operation VII, Tasks B and C.

The descriptions for the approach stall now state:

  • Acknowledge the cues at the first indication of a stall (e.g., airplane buffet, stall horn, etc.).
  • Recover at the first indication of a stall or after a full stall has occurred, as specified by the evaluator.

The discussion of the landing task notes:

Touch down at a proper pitch attitude, within 200 feet beyond or on the specified point, with no side drift, and with the airplane’s longitudinal axis aligned with and over the runway center/landing path.