Loading Procedures from Databases

Most IFR pilots who use GNSS (GPS) are aware that they must load instrument approach procedures (IAPs) by name from the unit’s database. But there’s some confusion in IFR land about flying instrument departure procedures, arrivals, and other routes.

For more information about database currency, see Database Currency for IFR Operations here at BruceAir.

AIM 1−1−17. Global Positioning System (GPS), 2. IFR Use of GPS, includes the following paragraph about IAPs:

(3) All approach procedures to be flown must be retrievable from the current airborne navigation database supplied by the equipment manufacturer or other FAA−approved source. The system must be able to retrieve the procedure by name from the aircraft navigation database, not just as a manually entered series of waypoints. Manual entry of waypoints using latitude/longitude or place/bearing is not permitted for approach procedures. (p. 1−1−20)

That language specifically address IAPs, but it doesn’t mention DPs, STARs, or airways.

If you use an IFR-approved GNSS (see AIM 1−1−17. Global Positioning System (GPS), 2. IFR Use of GPS for the details), you should check the Aircraft Flight Manual Supplement or the AFM (if you fly an aircraft with an IFR-approved GNSS installed as original equipment) for the limitations associated with the unit(s) in your aircraft.

For example, the AFM supplement (a required document for a unit installed under an STC) for the Garmin GNS 530W includes the following language:

2.5 Flight Planning

Whenever possible, RNP and RNAV routes including Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs), and Standard Terminal Arrival (STAR), routes should be loaded into the flight plan from the database in their entirety, rather than loading route waypoints from the database into the flight plan individually. Selecting and inserting individual named fixes from the database is permitted, provided all fixes along the published route to be flown are inserted. Manual entry of waypoints using latitude/longitude or place/bearing is prohibited. (Garmin document 190-00357-03_F)

Similar language appears in the AFM supplements for the GNS 430, GTN 750, and GTN 650 units. For example:

2.4 Flight Planning

Whenever possible, RNP and RNAV routes including Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs), Standard Terminal Arrival (STAR), and enroute RNAV “Q” and RNAV “T” routes should be loaded into the flight plan from the database in their entirety, rather than loading route waypoints from the database into the flight plan individually. Selecting and inserting individual named fixes from the database is permitted, provided all fixes along the published route to be flown are inserted. Manual entry of waypoints using latitude/longitude or place/bearing is prohibited. (AFMS, Garmin GTN GPS/SBAS System, 190-01007-A2 Rev. 8)

You should take care, however, when entering a departure procedure as a series of fixes rather than by name from the database. A DP is more than a series of points defined by LAT/LON. A DP typically contains several types of legs, and you must ensure that you understand how each leg works and how the GNSS in your aircraft handles different leg types and interfaces with your autopilot.

You can find more information about leg types in Avoiding Confusion when Flying GPS Legs here at BruceAir. See also Chapter 6 of the Instrument Procedures Handbook.

Advertisements

Impact of Magnetic Variation on PBN Systems

If you use an IFR-approved GNSS (GPS), you’ve probably noticed that the courses shown on the GNSS usually don’t match the numerical values printed on charts, if only by a few degrees. For example, as you fly an instrument procedure, a WAAS GNSS prompts you at each turn point to turn to a new course, but the number displayed on the screen is probably 2-3 degrees different from the number on the chart.

These differences are explained in AIM 1−1−17. Global Positioning System (GPS) , paragraph k. Impact of Magnetic Variation on PBN Systems (p. 1-1-27):

(1) Differences may exist between PBN systems and the charted magnetic courses on ground−based NAVAID instrument flight procedures (IFP), enroute charts, approach charts, and Standard Instrument Departure/Standard Terminal Arrival (SID/STAR) charts. These differences are due to the magnetic variance used to calculate the magnetic course. Every leg of an instrument procedure is first computed along a desired ground track with reference to true north. A magnetic variation correction is then applied to the true course in order to calculate a magnetic course for publication. The type of procedure will determine what magnetic variation value is added to the true course. A ground−based NAVAID IFP applies the facility magnetic variation of record to the true course to get the charted magnetic course. Magnetic courses on PBN procedures are calculated two different ways. SID/STAR procedures use the airport magnetic variation of record, while IFR enroute charts use magnetic reference bearing. PBN systems make a correction to true north by adding a magnetic variation calculated with an algorithm based on aircraft position, or by adding the magnetic variation coded in their navigational database. This may result in the PBN system and the procedure designer using a different magnetic variation, which causes the magnetic course displayed by the PBN system and the magnetic course charted on the IFP plate to be different. It is important to understand, however, that PBN systems, (with the exception of VOR/DME RNAV equipment) navigate by reference to true north and display magnetic course only for pilot reference. As such, a properly functioning PBN system, containing a current and accurate navigational database, should fly the correct ground track for any loaded instrument procedure, despite differences in displayed magnetic course that may be attributed to magnetic variation application. Should significant differences between the approach chart and the PBN system avionics’ application of the navigation database arise, the published approach chart, supplemented by NOTAMs, holds precedence.

The key text is:

a properly functioning PBN system, containing a current and accurate navigational database, should fly the correct ground track for any loaded instrument procedure, despite differences in displayed magnetic course that may be attributed to magnetic variation application.

Paragraph 2 in that section of the AIM also notes that:

(2) The course into a waypoint may not always be 180 degrees different from the course leaving the previous waypoint, due to the PBN system avionics’ computation of geodesic paths, distance between waypoints, and differences in magnetic variation application. Variations in distances may also occur since PBN system distance−to−waypoint values are ATDs [along-track distances] computed to the next waypoint and the DME values published on underlying procedures are slant−ranged istances measured to the station. This difference increases with aircraft altitude and proximity to the NAVAID.

A similar question also arises when comparing DME and GNSS-derived distances, such as when flying holding patterns.

AIM 5−3−8. Holding provides further details on this issue in:

  • 5. Distance Measuring Equipment (DME)/GPS Along−Track Distance (ATD)
  • 6. Use of RNAV Distance in lieu of DME Distance

Substitution of RNAV computed distance to or from a NAVAID in place of DME distance is  permitted when holding. However, the actual holding location and pattern flown will be further from the NAVAID than designed due to the lack of slant range in the position solution (see FIG 5−3−7). This may result in a slight difference between RNAV distance readout in reference to the NAVAID and the DME readout, especially at higher altitudes. When used solely for DME substitution, the difference between RNAV distance to/from a fix and DME slant range distance can be considered negligible and no pilot action is required.

For more information about using GNSS to substitute for or to complement conventional navaids, see Use of GPS on Conventional Approaches (Update) and Use of Approved GPS (RNAV) Systems on Conventional Procedures and Routes here at BruceAir.

For more information about how the FAA assigns magnetic variation to VORs and other navaids, see FAA Order 8260.19H.

Jeppesen also discussed this issue in one of its Chart Clinic series: The Chart Clinic – Database Series.

VOR Status–Another Update

FAA provided another update on its plans to reduce the VOR network at the October 2018 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Meeting. The latest Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range (VOR) Minimum Operational Network (MON) Program update (PDF) includes the following key details:

  • 311 VORs (about 30 percent) will be shut down by 2025
  • 585 VORs will remain operational
  • Most of the VORs to be deactivated are in the East (133) and Central (163) regions; in the West, only 15 navaids are on the list to be turned off.
  • As of September 2018, 34 VORs, VOR/DME, and VORTACs have been shut down.
  • At the end of 2018, 34 of the 74 Phase 1 VORs have been shut down.
  • FAA plans to enhance the service volume of remaining VORs from 40 nm to 70 nm beginning at 5000 AGL. The enhanced VORs will be classified as VOR Low (VL) and VOR High (VH).  Documents such as the AIM will be updated as the enhancement program gets underway. The illustration below shows the coverage that the enhanced VORs will provide at or above 5000 AGL.

VOR-MON-70NM.jpg

As I’ve noted in several previous posts (e.g., here), the VOR MON program is designed to provide backup to GNSS (GPS). Specifically, within the contiguous United States the MON program will support conventional navigation in the event of a GPS outage by ensuring that pilots can:

  • Tune and identify a VOR at an altitude of 5,000 feet above site level and higher
  • Conduct VOR navigation through a GPS outage area
  • Navigate to a MON airport within 100 nautical miles to fly an Instrument
    Landing System (ILS), Localizer (LOC) or VOR instrument approach without
    GPS, DME, Automatic Direction Finder (ADF), or radar
  • Navigate along VOR Airways, especially in mountainous terrain, where
    Minimum En-route Altitudes (MEAs) make direct-to navigation impracticable

MON airports (i.e., those with conventional instrument procedures as described above) will be identified on en route charts, FAA Chart Supplements, and included in the National Airspace System Resource (NASR) Subscriber File data set for developers of electronic charts, apps, and so forth.

The FAA’s detailed policy for the transition was outlined in the Federal Register, here. More information about the program to reduce the VOR neworks is available at AOPA, here.

Here’s the list of next round of VORs scheduled to be shut down. I have provided links to the navaids at SkyVector.com so that you can see each location on a sectional chart. Note that in each case, several nearby VORs will remain in service:

BUU (BURBUN) Burlington, WI – Nov. 8, 2018
RUT (RUTLAND) Rutland, VT  – Nov. 8 2018
VNN (MT VERNON) Vernon, IL – Nov. 8, 2018
TVT (TIVERTON) Tiverton, OH  – Nov. 8, 2018
CSX (CARDINAL) St. Louis, MO – Jan. 3, 2019
ISQ (SCHOOLCRAFT CO) Manistique, MI – Jan. 3, 2019
MTO (MATTOON) Mattoon, IL – Jan. 3, 2019
ORD (CHICAGO O’HARE) Chicago, IL – Jan. 3, 2019
RID (RICHMOND) Richmond, IN – Jan. 3, 2019
FRM (FAIRMOUNT) Fairmont, MN – Feb. 28, 2019
GNP (GLENPOOL) Tulsa, OK – Feb. 28, 2019
LSE (LA CROSSE) La Crosse WI – Feb. 28, 2019
MTW (MANITOWOC) Manitowoc, WI – Feb. 28, 2019
GTH (GUTHERIE) Guthrie, TX – Apr. 25, 2019
HUB (HOBBY) Hobby, TX – Apr. 25
CZQ (CLOVIS) Clovis, in Fresno, CA – Apr. 25, 2019

Another Update on IPCs

Changes to the wording of 14 CFR Part 61.57(d) in July 2018 caused confusion among some flight instructors about which tasks are now required when administering an instrument proficiency check (IPC). I earlier wrote about a question that I posed to FAA and the agency’s response in Clarification of IPC Requirements.

As that post notes, the FAA still requires an IPC to include the tasks listed in Appendix A of the Instrument Rating-Airplane ACS.

FAA released an editorial update to AC 61-98D Currency Requirements and Guidance for the Flight Review and Instrument Proficiency Check, but Appendix J of that document still referenced the old language of 14 CFR Part 61.57(d), so I wrote FAA again to point out the error and ask for clarification.

Here’s part of the response that I received via email:

Background. As stated in the preamble discussion addressing the revised regulatory text language in § 61.57(d), “The FAA finds that this revision is not a substantive change because the areas of operation and instrument tasks required for an IPC remain unchanged. Thus, an IPC is still driven by the standards for the instrument rating practical test.” For instance, just as § 61.65(c) describes the areas of operation that a pilot must meet to complete the instrument rating practical test successfully, the ACS provides the required tasks, details, and level of proficiency for successful completion of that practical test. The Instrument Rating ACS also include the tasks that a pilot must accomplish for the successful completion of an IPC, as well as providing the associated proficiency standards applicable to the areas of operation identified in §61.57(d). Bear in mind that § 61.43(a)(3), Practical tests: General procedures, require examiners to conduct evaluations under approved standards. It states, “(a) Completion of the practical test for a certificate or rating consists of—3) Demonstrating proficiency and competency within the approved standards.” Applicable ACS/PTS documents provide FAA approved standards. In this same manner, the FAA provides the standards by which an authorized instructor must conduct an IPC. Therefore, the FAA still requires the use of applicable ACS/PTS to provide the tasks and standards for an IPC. The tasks required for an IPC are still driven by the approved standards for the instrument rating practical test.

Response. In review of your feedback, our office determined that your observation is correct. The FAA did not update the regulatory reference to § 61.57(d) in AC 61-98D, Appendix J, which can cause confusion. To correct this inaccuracy, we will:

  1. Revise AC 61-98D by correcting its reference to § 61.57(d) containing obsolete regulatory text and replace it with the current regulatory text in § 61.57(d);
  2. Provide additional information explaining the basis for the requirement to use the approved standards provided by ACS/PTS, as applicable, in the conduct of an IPC; and
  3. Submit an editorial revision correcting this matter at the time of the next approved revision period for AC 61-98D.

Garmin GTN Trainer Update

Garmin has updated the free Windows-based simulators for the GTN/G500/600/Txi products. Details here.

System Requirements
The following is required to install and operate the Garmin Aviation Trainer:
• 2.4GHz dual core processor or equivalent
• Windows 7 or later
• 10GB free hard disk space; 12-13GB during installation
• Microsoft DirectX 9.0 or later
• 256MB 3D accelerated graphics card or higher
• Screen resolution: 1280 x 1024 or higher recommended

Note that the trainer includes all the of updated user guides for the avionics and a guide to using the trainer itself.
GarminTrainerManuals

An IFR Flight: KBFI-KUAO

Here’s video from a recent IFR flight in the Bonanza from Boeing Field (KBFI) in Seattle, WA to Aurora, OR (KUAO) just south of Portland, OR.

I was in visual meterological conditions (VMC) for almost all of the trip, but the destination was shrouded in low fog when I departed Seattle. I arrived just as the mist was clearing.

I flew the NRVNA ONE departure procedure from KBFI and flew via the preferred low-altitude IFR route to the Portland area (OLM V165 UBG). At KUAO, I flew the RNAV RWY 35 approach, which provides LPV minimums for WAAS-capable aircraft like my A36, which is equipped with a Garmin GTN 750 navigator and G500 PFD/MFD. (To experiment with these avionics, you can download the free Garmin simulators for Windows.)

I also use the free Beechcraft Performance app for iOS to confirm takeoff and landing data and other important details.

Throughout this 20-minute video, I tried to verbalize my intentions, procedures, checklists to help you understand how I try to conduct a flight.

Clarification of IPC Requirements

FAA published several updates to IFR currency requirments in June 2018. One of the changes, to 14 CFR Part 61.57(d), removed the reference to the Instrument Rating ACS, which includes both guidance and a task table in appendix A that specifies the areas of operation that must be completed to accomplish an instrument proficiency check.

IFR ACS-IPC Task Table.jpg

The change to the language of 14 CFR Part 61.57(d), however, implied that the task table no longer applied, and I wrote the FAA to ask for clarification. Here is the response that I received on October 17, 2018:

Question 1.

Does the table in the IFR ACS (p. A-12) still apply? In other words, must an IPC candidate demonstrate all of the tasks specified in that table, or does the CFII administering the IPC have discretion (as when conducting a flight review) to select specific tasks from the areas codified in 61.57(d)?

Answer: Yes. The tasks identified on page A-12 of the Instrument ACS, for the successful completion of an Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC), is still applicable. Just as 61.65(c) describes the areas of operation that a pilot must show proficiency in for the instrument rating practical test, the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) provides the tasks, details, and level of proficiency required for successful completion of that practical test. This includes what tasks must be accomplished for the successful completion of a IPC, and the associated proficiency standards applicable to the areas of operation identified in 61.57(d).

Question 2.

Do the limitations on the use of ATDs and FTDs noted in the IFR ACS still apply? For example, most ATDs are not approved for circle-to-land approaches. But if a CFII chooses not to include c-t-l tasks during an IPC, can the instructor the IFR pilot receiving and IPC, complete the IPC in an FTD that is otherwise approved for instrument training and proficiency, especially given the changes to § 67.57(c) that will become effective in November?

Answer: Yes, those limitations still apply. The FAA letter of authorization (LOA) provided for each model ATD, references part 61.57(d) and the ACS/PTS requirements when accomplishing an IPC in an AATD. A flight instructor could complete the IPC in a qualified FTD that is approved for instrument training and proficiency. The revised 61.57 (d) rule that becomes effective November 27, 2018, allows for any combination of aircraft, FFS, FTD, and/or ATD to accomplish the instrument experience requirements.

Question 3.

Does the FAA plan to update its guidance for conducting IPCs in the IFR ACS, AC 61-98D, and IPC Guidance (v.1.1 March 2010)?

Answer: The guidance for the appropriate and successful conduct of a IPC, as described in AC 61-98D and the IPC Guidance, remains valid. It is possible that updates to this guidance may be provided, as input from the field and industry comes forward. We continue to promote scenario based training to proficiency, to otherwise improve safety during IFR flight operations and reduce the accident rate.

Sincerely,

Marcel Bernard
Aviation Safety Inspector
Aviation Training Device (ATD) National Program Manager

My original email to the FAA, which provided additional background, appears below.

14 CFR Part 61.57(d) governing IPCs was revised effective July 27, 2018. The text of the regulation now reads:

(d) Instrument proficiency check. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, a person who has failed to meet the instrument experience requirements of paragraph (c) of this section for more than six calendar months may reestablish instrument currency only by completing an instrument proficiency check. The instrument proficiency check must consist of at least the following areas of operation:

(i) Air traffic control clearances and procedures;

(ii) Flight by reference to instruments;

(iii) Navigation systems;

(iv) Instrument approach procedures;

(v) Emergency operations; and

(vi) Postflight procedures.

When the new regulations were published in the Federal Register, the discussion of the changes to § 61.57(d) included the following text:

In § 61.57(d), the FAA is removing the reference to the PTS. The FAA recognizes that it was inappropriate for § 61.57(d) to state that the areas of operation and instrument tasks were required in the instrument rating PTS. The PTS and ACS do not contain regulatory requirements. Therefore, rather than referencing the instrument rating ACS in § 61.57(d), the FAA is codifying in § 61.57(d) the areas of operation for an IPC. The FAA finds that this revision is not a substantive change because the areas of operation and instrument tasks required for an IPC remain unchanged. Thus, an IPC is still driven by the standards for the instrument rating practical test.

I am among the instructors who are confused by the above statement. As you know the current Instrument-Airplane ACS includes a table (p. A-12) that outlines the specific Tasks required to accomplish an IPC. Those Tasks include a circle-to-land approach, recoveries from unusual attitudes, and other “flight activities” that are also described, for example, in the checklist in AC 61-98D Appendix J.

The background text from the Federal Register notes that “…an IPC is still driven by the standards for the instrument rating practical test” (emphasis added). I take that to mean that pilots must meet the ACS standards for maintaining altitude, heading, speed, tracking courses, etc. while performing various tasks.

I note that the background text in the Federal Register says that “the areas of operation and instrument tasks required for an IPC remain unchanged.”

But the language of the revised language and the background text in the Federal Register support the idea that § 61.57(d) now codifies the areas of operation for an IPC. However, the list in the updated regulation does not specifically include a circle-to-land approach, recoveries from unusual attitudes, and other details listed in the ACS table and AC 61-98D. This disagreement raises two important questions:

1)     Does the table in the IFR ACS (p. A-12) still apply? In other words, must an IPC candidate demonstrate all of the tasks specified in that table, or does the CFII administering the IPC have discretion (as when conducting a flight review) to select specific tasks from the areas codified in 67.57(d)?

2)     Do the limitations on the use of ATDs and FTDs noted in the IFR ACS still apply? For example, most ATDs are not approved for circle-to-land approaches. But if a CFII chooses not to include c-t-l tasks during an IPC, can the instructor the IFR pilot receiving and IPC, complete the IPC in an FTD that is otherwise approved for instrument training and proficiency, especially given the changes to § 67.57(c) that will become effective in November?

Finally, to clarify the above questions, does the FAA plan to update its guidance for conducting IPCs in the IFR ACS, AC 61-98D, and IPC Guidance (v.1.1 March 2010)?