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.

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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.

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)?

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

Use of GPS on Conventional Approaches (Update)

Users of Garmin GTN navigators may now use the GPS CDI for guidance along the final approach course of a VOR or NDB approach, provided they monitor the ground-based navaid to ensure that they’re tracking the proper final approach course. Previous editions of the AFM supplement for GTN avionics required you to display the VOR CDI on your HSI or PFD even if you could monitor the ground-based navaid on a separate CDI or by using a bearing pointer.

Note that you must still display the VOR/LOC (“green needles”) CDI to fly the final approach segment of an approach based on a localizer or any other type of navaid except a VOR or NDB.

For more information about setting the CDI while flying approaches, see
Setting the CDI on a Conventional Approach (The “Kill Switch”). For general background, see Use of Suitable Area Navigation (RNAV) Systems on Conventional Procedures and Routes

The updated language in the AFM supplement for the GTN series (see below) synchronizes the limitations in the AFM supplement with a 2016 update to AIM 1−2−3. Use of Suitable Area Navigation (RNAV) Systems on Conventional Procedures and Routes (see Use of IFR GPS on Conventional Approaches).

The change comes with a recent update to the system software for the GTN line of GPS navigators (more information about the new features at BruceAir here).

The new software brings a significant change to the language in the approved Airplane Flight Manual Supplement for the GTN boxes (the PDF of the new AFM supplement for the GTN 750 is available here).

Section 2.10 Instrument Approaches in that AFM supplement now notes the following:

…c) The navigation equipment required to join and fly an instrument approach procedure is indicated by the title of the procedure and notes on the IAP chart. Navigating the final approach segment (that segment from the final approach fix to the missed approach point) of an ILS, LOC, LOC-BC, LDA, SDF, MLS, VOR, TACAN approach, or any other type of approach not approved for GPS, is not authorized with GPS navigation guidance. GPS guidance can only be used for approach procedures with GPS or RNAV in the procedure title. When using the Garmin LOC/GS receivers to fly the final approach segment, LOC/GS navigation data must be selected and presented on the CDI of the pilot flying. When using the VOR or ADF receiver to fly the final approach segment of a VOR or NDB approach, GPS may be the selected navigation source so long as the VOR or NDB station is operational and the signal is monitored for final approach segment alignment. [Emphasis added]

A test of the new software in the free Garmin PC-based trainer indicates that the message warning the pilot to switch the CDI from GPS to VOR has also been removed. The following captures show the VOR-A approach at Paine Field (KPAE) north of Seattle flown with the CDI with GPS selected. Note the cyan bearing pointer behind the magenta GPS CDI.KPAE-VOR-A-XUKRE-G500TXi.jpg

KPAE-VOR-A-ARC-GTN750KPAE-VOR-A-ECEPO-G500TXiKPAE-VOR-A-ECEPO-GTN750KPAE-VOR-A-YAVUR-G500TXi KPAE-VOR-A-XUKRE-G500TXi