FAA Changing Notes on Instrument Charts

The FAA is gradually changing notes on instrument procedure charts (SIDs, STARs, and approaches) to consolidate and clarify equipment required and PBN-related information.

AOPA has published a detailed summary with background on the changes here.

The AOPA summary also includes tables that can help pilots who use Garmin equipment understand the capabilities of the avionics installed in their aircraft.

 

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FAA Releases List of VORs to be Shut Down

FAA has published a list of 308 VORs that it plans to shut down in phases by 2025. The notice in the Federal Register appeared on July 26, 2016. The notice includes a list of VORs that the FAA wants to decommission.

This document provides the discontinuance selection criteria and candidate list of VOR Navigational Aids (NAVAIDs) targeted for discontinuance as part of the VOR MON Implementation Program and United States (U.S.) National Airspace System (NAS) Efficient Streamline Services Initiative. Additionally, this policy addresses the regulatory processes the FAA plans to follow to discontinue VORs.

For background on the FAA’s plans, see Latest Info on VOR Shutdowns here at BruceAir. Note that under this plan, only about one-third of the existing network of VORs will be decommissioned.

According to the FAA notice:

The following criteria were used by the FAA to determine which VORs would be retained as a part of the MON:

— Retain VORs to perform Instrument Landing System (ILS), Localizer (LOC), or VOR approaches supporting MON airports at suitable destinations within 100 NM of any location within the CONUS. Selected approaches would not require Automatic Direction Finder (ADF), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), Radar, or GPS.Show citation box

— Retain VORs to support international oceanic arrival routes.

— Retain VORs to provide coverage at and above 5,000 ft AGL.

— Retain most VORs in the Western U.S. Mountainous Area (WUSMA), specifically those anchoring Victor airways through high elevation terrain.

— Retain VORs required for military use.

— VORs outside of the CONUS were not considered for discontinuance under the VOR MON Implementation Program.

The following considerations were used to supplement the VOR MON criteria above:

— Only FAA owned/operated VORs were considered for discontinuance.

— Co-located DME and Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) systems will generally be retained when the VOR service is terminated.

— Co-located communication services relocated or reconfigured to continue transmitting their services.

According to the FAA notice:

The FAA remains committed to the plan to retain an optimized network of VOR NAVAIDs. The MON will enable pilots to revert from Performance Based Navigation (PBN) to conventional navigation for approach, terminal and en route operations in the event of a GPS outage…

The VOR MON is designed to enable aircraft, having lost Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) service, to revert to conventional navigation procedures. The VOR MON is further designed to allow aircraft to proceed to a MON airport where an ILS or VOR approach procedure can be flown without the necessity of GPS, DME, ADF, or Surveillance. Of course, any airport with a suitable instrument approach may be used for landing, but the VOR MON assures that at least one airport will be within 100 NM.

Use of IFR GPS on Conventional Approaches

FAA has published an update to the AIM, effective 26 May 2016, and it includes a big change if you have an IFR-approved GPS [i.e., a “suitable navigation system” as defined in AC 20-138 and AIM 1-2-3 (b).]

Now, if you fly a conventional approach based on a VOR or NDB (but not a localizer), you can fly the procedure entirely with the GPS, provided you can monitor (using a separate CDI or a bearing pointer) the VOR or NDB facility specified for the approach.

The new language is in section 1−2−3. Use of Suitable Area Navigation (RNAV) Systems on Conventional Procedures and Routes.

The summary of changes to this AIM update notes that:

This change allows for the use of a suitable RNAV system as a means to navigate on the final approach segment of an instrument approach procedure (IAP) based on a VOR, TACAN, or NDB signal. The underlying NAVAID must be operational and monitored for the final segment course alignment.

The new text in the AIM is in paragraph 5 of AIM 1-2-3:

5. Use of a suitable RNAV system as a means to navigate on the final approach segment of an instrument approach procedure based on a VOR, TACAN or NDB signal, is allowable. The underlying NAVAID must be operational and the NAVAID monitored for final segment course alignment.

This change is the result of a discussion at the Aeronautical Charting Forum in 2014.

Garmin GTN Avionics and RF Legs

The release of updated operating software for Garmin GTN-series avionics brings new capabilities to many typical general aviation pilots who fly under IFR. One of the new features is the ability to fly curved radius-to-fix (RF) legs on some instrument approaches.

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Until recently, RF legs were published only on so-called RNP procedures with authorization required (AR) restrictions (for more information, see AIM 5−4−18: RNP AR Instrument Approach Procedures). But FAA has started publishing some approaches with RF legs (like the example above) that are not designated as RNP AR procedures. And, with some limitations, pilots who fly aircraft equipped with GTN-series avionics should be able to fly the RF legs used as transitions/feeder routes on those approaches. (Note that so far, these approaches don’t require RF capability–conventional transitions/feeder routes and/or radar vectors are also available.)

For more information about RF legs, see RNP Procedures and Typical Part 91 Pilots and Garmin Radius to Fix Leg Project Report here at BruceAir. For additional background on GPS navigation and RNP procedures, see also Updated AC 90-105A.

The revised STC for the GTN series (document 190-01007-A5) notes that:

GPS/SBAS TSO-C146c Class 3 Operation
…The Garmin GNSS navigation system complies with the equipment requirements of AC 90-105 and meets the equipment performance and functional requirements to conduct RNP terminal departure and arrival procedures and RNP approach procedures including procedures with RF legs subject to the limitations herein [emphasis added].

Sections 2.12 RF Legs and 2.13.1 RNP 1.0 RF Leg Types of the STC add the following information:

2.12 RF Legs
This STC does not grant operational approval for RF leg navigation for those operators requiring operational approval. Additional FAA approval may be required for those aircraft intending to use the GTN as a means to provide RNP 1 navigation in accordance with FAA Advisory Circular AC 90-105. [Note that per AC 90-105A, domestic Part 91 operations do not require additional approval–only Part 91 subpart K operations and commercial operations need LOAs or the equivalent FAA approval.]

The following limitations apply to procedures with RF legs:

  • Aircraft is limited to 180 KIAS while on the RF leg
  • RF legs are limited to RNP 1 procedures. RNP AR and RNP <1 are not approved
  • Primary navigation guidance on RF legs must be shown on an EHSI indicator with auto-slew capability turned ON
  • GTN Moving Map, EHSI Map, or Distance to Next Waypoint information must be displayed to the pilot during the RF leg when flying without the aid of the autopilot or flight director.
  • The active waypoint must be displayed in the pilot’s primary field of view…

2.13.1 RNP 1.0 RF Leg Types
AC 90-105 states that procedures with RF legs must be flown using either a flight director or coupled to the autopilot.

This STC has demonstrated acceptable crew workload and Flight Technical Error for hand flown procedures with RF legs when the GTN installation complies with limitation set forth in Section 2.12 of this document. It is recommended to couple the autopilot for RF procedures, if available, but it is not required to do so. See section 4.5 of this manual to determine if this capability is supported in this installation.

At present, only a few non-AR approaches with RF legs meet the criteria in the STC and AC 90-105A. But RF legs could become more common on “standard” procedures to provide paths that offer better noise abatement, reduce airspace conflicts, and improve ATC efficiency, and pilots flying with GTN avionics (or similar navigators offered by other manufacturers) will be able to fly those procedures.

Latest Update on VOR Decommissioning Program

The latest update from FAA on its plans to decommission VORs includes the following details:

  • Decommission approximately 30% (308) of the current 957 VORs by 2025
  • 74 VORs will be shut down during phase 1 (FY2016 through FY2020)
  • Another 234 VORs will be decommissioned during phase 2 (FY2021 – FY2025)
  • Of the 308 VORs to be shut down, 15 will be in the West, 162 in the central U.S., and 131 in the East.
  • 649 VORs will remain in operation after 2025, forming the minimum operational network (MON).

The goals established for the MON include allowing pilots to:

  • Revert from PBN to conventional navigation in the event of a Global Positioning System (GPS) outage;
  • Tune and identify a VOR at an altitude of 5,000 feet or higher;
  • Navigate using VOR procedures through a GPS outage area;
  • Navigate to a MON airport within 100 nautical miles to fly an Instrument Landing System (ILS) or VOR instrument approach without Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), Automatic Direction Finder (ADF), surveillance, or GPS; and
  • Navigate along VOR Airways especially in mountainous terrain where surveillance services are not available and Minimum En Route Altitudes (MEAs) offer lower altitude selection for options in icing conditions.

Progress will be slow initially. Only 5 VORs are to be shut down by September 2016. Another 4 navaids will be decommissioned by September 2017, followed by 4 more through September 2018. In 2019, FAA plans to shut down an additional 25 VORs, followed by 36 more in 2020.

Phase 2 begins in FY2021. A total of 234 VORs will be shut down through 2025.

You can read more details about the MON plan in the minutes of the 15-02 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum.

 

Logging Instrument Approaches as a Flight Instructor

Aspen 1000I recently acted as a flight instructor for a customer who is learning new avionics (especially an Aspen Evolution PFD and a Garmin GTN750) recently installed in his 1970s vintage Cessna Turbo Centurion (T210).

For more information about logging flight time, see this item here at BruceAir.

Typical autumn weather prevailed in Seattle, so we conducted the entire flight under IFR, and we were in the clouds for most of the 1.5 hour flight. The owner flew two ILS approaches and one RNAV (GPS) procedure with LPV minimums. We also flew a hold-in-lieu of a procedure turn (see AIM 5-4-9).

Now, IFR pilots generally must meet the requirements of 14 CFR 61.57(c) to maintain their IFR currency. That regulation states:

…(c) Instrument experience. Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, a person may act as pilot in command under IFR or weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR only if:

…Within the 6 calendar months preceding the month of the flight, that person performed and logged at least the following tasks and iterations in an airplane, powered-lift, helicopter, or airship, as appropriate,…

(i) Six instrument approaches.

(ii) Holding procedures and tasks.

(iii) Intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems.

The question, often asked, is whether I, as the flight instructor, can log the approaches flown by the owner. FAA issued a legal interpretation on this specific issue in 2008. (You can search the FAA website for legal interpretations here.)

The 2008 letter states in part:

Am I correct in understanding that a CFII may log approaches that a student flies when the approaches are conducted in actual instrument conditions? Is there a reference to this anywhere in the rules?

Ref. § 61.51(g)(2); Yes, a CFII may log approaches that a student flies when those approaches are conducted in actual instrument flight conditions. And this would also permit that instructor who is performing as an authorized instructor to “log instrument time when conducting instrument flight instruction in actual instrument flight instructions” and this would count for instrument currency requirements under § 61.67(c).

The letter elaborates by noting that:

The FAA views the instructor’s oversight responsibility when instructing in actual instrument flight conditions to meet the obligation of 61.57(c) to have performed the approaches.

Although the letter does not specifically address the other requirements for IFR currency–holding procedures and tasks and intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems–the reasoning of the interpretation seems to support allowing an instrument instructor also to log those tasks when the aircraft is operating in actual IMC.

August 22 Update to the Aeronautical Information Manual

The FAA has released Change 3 to the Aeronautical Information Manual, effective 22 August 2013. You can download the PDF of the update here. It will be incorporated into the complete AIM later this month.

Here’s a quick review of two of the significant changes that affect typical general-aviation pilots who fly IFR:

  • 1−1−18. Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • 5−4−6. Approach Clearance

1−1−18. Global Positioning System (GPS)

The change to paragraph (g) expands options for pilots with non-WAAS, IFR-approved GPS equipment. If you must file an alternate (based on the requirements of § 91.167—Fuel requirements for flight in IFR conditions), you can now choose an alternate airport served only by RNAV (GPS) approaches if your destination has procedures predicated on ground-based navaids (e.g., ILS, LOC, VOR, or NDB). If your destination has only RNAV (GPS) approaches, then your alternate must have a ground-based approach procedure.

In addition, you must plan for applicable alternate airport using the LNAV or circling MDA; you can’t expect to use the DA(s) specified by any RNAV (GPS) approaches with vertical guidance (i.e., LPV or LNAV/VNAV minimums). In other words, for planning purposes, you must assume that the approaches at the alternate airport offer only non-precision minimums. There is an exception to this restriction for aircraft with baro-aided approach systems, but those are rare in typical light GA aircraft.

5−4−6. Approach Clearance

Paragraph (e) of this section explains that ATC can now clear RNAV-equipped aircraft direct to an IF or to fix between the IF and the FAF. If you file an RNAV equipment suffix in your flight plan (e.g., /G), you can expect such clearances when flying both conventional (ground-based) and RNAV (GPS) procedures.

The details of the new procedure are in the updated section of the AIM. Basically, the controller must advise you at least five miles from the IF or other fix that you can expect a clearance direct to the fix instead of vectors to final. The controller also must clear you “straight-in” if you are cleared to a fix and the controller does not want you to fly a charted hold-in-lieu of a procedure turn or other course reversal.

Max Trescott has also addressed this issue at his blog, here.

This change also makes it clear that you shouldn’t use the vectors-to-final option when loading approaches (either RNAV or conventional approaches). For more information about the vectors-to-final trap, see Avoiding the Vectors-to-Final Scramble here at my blog.

Specially, the new notes to this section explain that:

NOTE−

1. In anticipation of a clearance by ATC to any fix published on an instrument approach procedure, pilots of RNAV aircraft are advised to select an appropriate IAF or feeder fix when loading an instrument approach procedure into the RNAV system.

2. Selection of “Vectors-to-Final” or “Vectors” option for an instrument approach may prevent approach fixes located outside of the FAF from being loaded into an RNAV system. Therefore, the selection of these options is discouraged due to increased workload for pilots to reprogram the navigation system.