FAA Completes ATC Phone Number Plan

The February 25, 2019 issue of FAAST Blast includes the following item about FAA’s plan to publish ATC telephone numbers in the Chart Supplement. You can read more details and see examples at earlier entries here at BruceAir:

Leidos FSS has posted ARTCC clearance/cancelation phone numbers on its website, here.

FAA Completes Clearance Relay Initiative

Flight Service will complete the Clearance Relay initiative on June 20 when it publishes the remaining phone numbers for pilots to obtain IFR clearances at public- and private-use airports, from either the overlying Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) Flight Data Units, or an approach control facility. As part of modernization efforts to streamline service delivery and increase efficiency, pilots now call directly to obtain or cancel an IFR clearance, reducing the risk of potential errors.

Last year, Flight Service formalized a process already in place by publishing phone numbers for 30 approach controls covering 667 public use airports, providing pilots direct contact with the controlling facility. Last fall, another 26 approach control facilities covering 226 public-use and 3,000 private-use airports had numbers published in the Chart Supplement, US and subscriber files.

Leidos Flight Service will provide pilots with the name of the facility to contact or the correct phone number to obtain or cancel an IFR clearance. Pilots may continue to request clearances via radio from air traffic control or Flight Service.

You can find the phone numbers for clearance delivery in the remarks section of the entry for each airport in the Chart Supplement, US. This initiative does not affect pilots requesting clearances from Flight Service over Remote Communications Outlets (RCO), Ground Communication Outlets (GCO), or from locations in Alaska. For more information, visit https://go.usa.gov/x5wsR.

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.

NBAA Proposal to Simplify FAA IAP Charts

Many instrument approach procedure charts are cluttered with notes and multiple lines of minimums to accommodate a range of possible lighting failures, remote altimeter settings, and other factors.

NBAA has submitted a recommendation document (PDF) to the Aeronautical Charting Meeting. The ACM will consider the proposal to simply FAA IAP charts at its October 2018 meeting.

To comment on the proposal, see the contact information in the recommendation document.

The proposal begins by noting that:

U.S. Government (FAA) instrument approach charts (IAPs) have become increasingly complex and difficult for pilots to use and interpret. This complexity results from TERPS and PBN requirements, multiple lines of minima, voluminous chart notes, just to name a few. As a result, pilots find it difficult to extract necessary information to fly the approach. Several FAA initiatives are currently underway or proposed to simplify the FAA IAP charts. Currently underway is the deployment of the PBN and Equipment Requirements Box. In addition, at the 1801 ACF meeting, there was discussion about the removal of the airport sketch on the FAA’s IAP chart. NBAA believes that these changes are long overdue. We believe it is necessary to look at Chart Notes, the Minima depiction, and adjustments to these minima resulting from inoperative components or remote altimeter setting source (RASS).

NBAA offers four suggestions:

  1. Removal of the Airport Sketch from the IAP chart and replace it with a stand-alone Airport Diagram chart for every airport entry in the TPP. This proposal not only reduces chart clutter and returns valuable “white space” to the chart, it will also provide for a larger airport diagram assisting pilots with ground surface operations and reduces the risks associated with runway incursions and excursions. Removal of the Airport Sketch has been discussed at a prior ACF; however, it is incorporated into this recommendation as a prerequisite for IAP modernization.
  2. Eliminate Military Minimums. Concerning military minimums, the ceiling is easily derived from other information already present on the chart and a parenthetical Statute Mile (SM) visibility for RVR would be provided.
  3. Eliminate RASS chart note and incorporate the RASS as a separate line of minima applicable to the altimeter source.
  4. Incorporate the effects of inoperative components into the lines of minima for each approach category. The purpose of this proposed change is to furnish the pilot with a Minima Table providing minimums for all situations. Today, the pilot must refer to the Inoperative Components Table of the TPP to determine corrections to the published visibility and to the MDA or DA with the failure of the approach lighting system, runway touchdown zone or centerline lights, or RVR systems.

The following illustration shows how proposal (3) would consolidate and clarify notes related to remote altimeter settings.

NBAA-IAP-RASS-Notes-01
NBAA asserts that:

The advantages of these changes are clear. The benefit of this proposed change is to furnish the pilot with a Minima Table providing minimums for all situations without the need for pilot computations or references to other pages within the TPP. The increased use of EFB products makes referencing ancillary pages difficult and time consuming.

NBAA proposes two options, side-by-side and stacked, to present minimums when all components of the approach lights are working, and when some are inoperative.

NBAA-IAP-minima options-01

New Garmin GTN 750 Features

Garmin has released system software 6.50 (since updated to 6.51, which is a mandatory update) for its GTN 750 and GTN 650 navigators. The new software adds several features, including:

  • Vertical navigation (VNAV) capability when flying STARS and the initial stages of instrument approaches
  • Along-track offsets in flight plan segments
  • Destination airport remains in the flight plan when an approach is loaded (but the destination airport is removed when the approach is activated)
  • A shortcut to the airport info page added to all procedure headers
  • Load the approach NAV frequency from the approach header in the flight plan
  • QWERTY keyboard option

The following sections highlight some of these features. For more details on how to use the functions, see the latest editions of the GTN guides, available in my Aviation Documents folder at OneDrive and from Garmin’s product pages.

The details about this update to the GTN series are in ASDN Service Bulletin 1860, the 6.51 mandatory udpate, and the GTN 725/750 SOFTWARE v6.50 PILOT’S GUIDE UPGRADE SUPPLEMENT.

Garmin also released system software updates for the G500/600 PFD/MFD and associated hardware. For details on those updates, see ASDN Service Bulletin 1861.

Garmin has also updated its free Windows-based trainer for the GTN series.

Note that these system updates must be performed by an authorized Garmin dealer or avionics shop unless you are flying a experimental-homebuilt aircraft.

VNAV Capability

The new software adds several vertical navigation features, best illustrated with examples.

Suppose you are flying the RNAV RWY 08 approach at Lewiston, ID (KLWS), joining the procedure at the BIDDY initial approach fix northwest of the airport. The NoPT feeder route from BIDDY specifies an an altitude of at or above 5000 ft to EVOYU, followed by a descent to at or above 4000 ft to MABIZ, and then at or above 3400 ft to the FAF at GIYES.

KLWS-RNAV-RWY08

With the new GTN system software, those segment altitudes appear in the flight plan page for the procedure.

GTN750-KLWS-RNAV08-FltPlan-01
The VNAV feature appears as a magenta vertical guidance cue next to the altitude tape on a PFD such as the new Garmin G500Txi (shown here) or the G500. Note that at this point in the approach, the LPV glidepath is a dim white diamond behind the magenta VNAV cue because the FAF is not the active waypoint and LPV is not yet annunciated on the HSI.

The VNAV cue provides advisory guidance to help you smoothly descend to each charted altitude as you fly the initial stages of the approach.

GTN750-KLWS-RNAV08-TXi-01
The LPV glidepath marker that displays approved vertical guidance replaces the VNAV cue when the FAF is active and the GTN system confirms that LPV minimums are available, as shown below.

GTN750-KLWS-RNAV08-TXi-02

Similar VNAV information and cues are available when flying a STAR, such as the MADEE FOUR arrival at Bellingham, WA (KBLI).

KBL-MADEE-4

Note that the altitudes shown in the GTN flight plan list for this STAR are for turbojet aircraft. But you can easily edit the altitude if ATC assigns a more appropriate altitude when you’re flying a typical piston-powered light aircraft.

GTN750-KBLI-MADDEE-4-01

GTN750-KBLI-MADDEE-4-02

If you are flying an approach based on an ILS, LOC, or VOR, you can quickly retrieve the navaid frequency by touching the approach title, as shown below for the ILS RWY 16 at KBLI.

GTN750-KBLI-ILS-RWY16-01.jpg

Along-Track Offsets

Suppose you are flying northeast along V2 at 13,000 ft. between ELN and MWH when Seattle Center clears you to cross 20 nm west of MWH at 9000 ft.

IFR-Low-ELN-MWH.jpg

With the new software, you can easily enter an along-track offset and display advisory vertical guidance to help you meet the restriction.

Touch MWH in the flight plan, and then touch the new Along Track button.

GTN750-AlongTrack-ELN-MWH-01

To create a waypoint for VNAV guidance, fill in the information that corresponds to your new clearance.

GTN750-AlongTrack-ELN-MWH-02GTN750-AlongTrack-ELN-MWH-03GTN750-AlongTrack-ELN-MWH-04GTN750-AlongTrack-ELN-MWH-05

Airport Information

An earlier version of the GTN system software included behavior that frustrated many pilots. When you loaded an approach into a flight plan, the destination airport was removed. If you hadn’t noted details such as the tower frequency, extracting that information from the GTN’s database was cumbersome.

In version 6.50, Garmin has added an APT Info button next to the approach title in the flight plan list.

GTN750-Procedure-AirportInfoButton-01
Touching that button shows the familiar information window that provides touch access to details about the airport, including frequencies, weather, and other data.

GTN750-Procedure-AirportInfoButton-02
QWERTY Keyboard

You can also choose a QWERTY keyboard instead of the alphabetical layout in previous versions of the GTN software. The option is available on the System Setup page.

GTN750-Qwerty-01GTN750-Qwerty-02

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.

New Equipment Required Notes

FAA has published a charting notice (PDF) that describes how equipment requirements will be noted on terminal procedure charts. This change is based on a long discussion at the Aeronautical Charting Forum (see 13-02-312: Equipment Requirement Notes on Instrument Approach Procedure).

For procedures with PBN elements, the PBN box will contain the procedure’s navigation specification(s); and, if required: specific sensors or infrastructure needed for the navigation solution; any additional or advanced functional requirements; the minimum Required Navigation Performance (RNP) value and any amplifying remarks. Items listed in this PBN box are REQUIRED. The separate Equipment Requirements Box will list ground-based equipment requirements. On procedures with both PBN elements and ground-based equipment requirements, the PBN requirements box will be listed first.

The publication of the new notes will continue incrementally until all charts have been amended to comply with the new standard.

A sample of the new notes boxes is below.

PBN Requirements Notes

Here’s an example of the requirements box on the recently updated chart for the ILS RWY 28R approach at Billings, MT (KBIL):

KBIL-ILS-PlanView

Setting the CDI on a Conventional Approach (The “Kill Switch”)

If you fly an aircraft with an IFR-approved GNSS, you probably use that “suitable RNAV system” to help you fly all types of approaches, including ILS, LOC, and VOR procedures. In fact, if your aircraft isn’t equipped with DME or ADF, using an IFR-approved GNSS system may be the only way for you to fly many conventional procedures.

“Suitable RNAV systems” based on GNSS are described in AIM 1−2−3. Use of Suitable Area Navigation (RNAV) Systems on Conventional Procedures and Routes, AC 90−100, AC 90-108, and other FAA references.

For more information about the use of GPS along the final approach course of a VOR or NDB approach, see Use of GPS on Conventional Approaches (Update)

A critical step in flying conventional approaches while using GNSS to fly transitions/feeder routes is ensuring that the proper guidance is shown on the PFD/HSI as you intercept and then fly the final approach course.

For example, as shown below, when flying the LOC RWY 17 approach at Aurora, OR (KUAO), you could use the GNSS for course guidance as you fly the charted transition from the Battleground (BTG) VOR.

KUAO-LOCRWY17-Chart-01

KUAO-LOCRWY17-Transition-01

Some systems can automatically switch the CDI from the “magenta line” shown when using GNSS signals to “green needles,” usually labeled VOR/LOC, as you intercept final. But you must always monitor the avionics and, if necessary, use the CDI button (or other switch for your system) to change to VOR/LOC “green needles” before you join the final approach course.

KUAO-LOCRWY17-FinalApproach-01.jpg

For more information about guidance along the final approach course, see Use of IFR GPS on Conventional Approaches here at BruceAir.

Unfortunately, many pilots fail to confirm this critical step, which often occurs during a high-workload phase of an approach. For example, just as you are about to intercept the final approach course, ATC may issue a rapid-fire vector and approach clearance (“Fly heading 130, maintain 2,000 until established…”), you can be distracted while making a late configuration change, or while switching frequencies to the tower or CTAF.

In fact, this error is so common that many pilots and instructors call the CDI switch the “kill button” (or a similarly ominious name) to emphasize its importance.

I use a graphical reminder to help me ensure that I switch course guidance in plenty of time for a smooth intercept.

Like many pilots, I use a tablet and an aviation app (in my case, primarily ForeFlight) to display charts. Those apps typically have an annotation feature that lets you mark up charts to emphasize important information.

ForeFlightAnnotations

For example, on this chart for another approach at KUAO, I’ve noted a temporary change in minimums.

AnnotatedChart

To remind myself to switch the CDI to “green needles” on conventional approaches, I use the annotation feature to draw a transparent green line along the final approach course.

KUAO-LOCRWY17-Plan-GreenLine-01

I mark up the charts for conventional approaches during my preflight planning as I review weather, NOTAMs, procedures that I might fly, and other details.

I organize approaches that I fly often into binders in ForeFlight (other apps have a similar feature), and the markups are preserved between flights, so I don’t have to repeat this process for most of the procedures that I fly.

Because RNAV (GPS) approaches don’t require changing from GNSS guidance, I don’t highlight the final approach segment on those procedures.

To avoid cluttering charts, I also don’t mark the intial steps of a missed approach in magenta to signify that I can return to GNSS guidance to fly the miss, regardless of the type of approach. But if you’re in IFR training or new to using GNSS under IFR, highlighting the miss in magenta might be a useful reminder.