New Airport Info on FAA IFR Charts

The June 20, 2019 update to the Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide explains the new MON designator added to basic airport information displayed on IFR enroute charts

The new label is added to airports that are part of the VOR Minimum Operational Network plan that FAA is implementing as it gradually decommissions about 30 percent of the existing VOR network. (To review the latest update on the MON plan, see Next Round of VOR Shutdowns here at BruceAir.)

MONairportIFR

Effective June 20, 2019, IFR US Enroute Charts will symbolize VOR Minimum Operational Network (MON) airports with the VOR Minimum Operational Network (MON) Symboldesignator placed above the airport name in reverse negative text. The intent of the MON designation is to alert pilots, in the event of a GPS outage, of those airports that have retained ILS and VOR instrument approach procedures for safe recovery during such an outage.

More information about the VOR MON program and MON airports is in AIM 1-1-3 (f) VHF Omni-directional Range (VOR):

The VOR MON will retain sufficient VORs and increase VOR service volume to ensure that pilots will have nearly continuous signal reception of a VOR when flying at 5,000 feet AGL. A key concept of the MON is to ensure that an aircraft will always be within 100 NM of an airport with an instrument approach that is not dependent on GPS…If the pilot encounters a GPS outage, the pilot will be able to proceed via VOR-to-VOR navigation at 5,000 feet AGL through the GPS outage area or to a safe landing at a MON airport or another suitable airport, as appropriate.

Next Round of VOR Shutdowns

At the April 24-25, 2019 session of the Aeronautical Charting Meeting, FAA noted that the following VORs will be decommissioned in 2019 (to see each VOR on a VFR chart at SkyVector.com, click the links below):

1. [ASP] Au Sable, in Oscoda, MI – June 20, 2019
2. [CSX] Cardinal, in St. Louis, MO – June 20, 2019
3. [LSE] La Crosse, in La Crosse, WI – June 20, 2019
4. [MTO] Mattoon, in Mattoon/Charleston, IL – June 20, 2019
5. [BQM] Bowman, in Louisville, KY – Aug. 15, 2019
6. [CZQ] Clovis, in Fresno, CA – Aug. 15, 2019
7. [FRM] Fairmont, in Fairmont, MN – Aug. 15, 2019
8. [GRV] Grantsville, in Grantsville, MD – Aug. 15, 2019
9. [GTH] Guthrie, in Guthrie, TX – Aug. 15, 2019
10. [HUB] Hobby, in Houston, TX – Aug. 15, 2019
11. [IKK] Kankakee, in Kankakee, IL – Aug. 15, 2019
12. [ISQ] Schoolcraft County, in Manistique, MI – Aug. 15, 2019
13. [TPL] Temple, in Temple, TX – Aug. 15, 2019

These shutdowns are part of FAA’s Minimum Operational Network (MON) plan to decommission 311 (about 35%) of the existing VOR network by 2025, leaving some 585 VORs in operation. As of early June 2019, 42 VORs have been shut down.

You can review the latest update from the MON program office here (PDF) and find general information in AIM 1−1−3. VHF Omni−directional Range (VOR), paragraph f. The VOR Minimum Operational Network (MON).

More details about the FAAs plans are available at BruceAir: VOR Status–Another Update

A key part of the MON program is increasing the service volume of remaining VORs to 70 nm at 5000 AGL, as described in the program update.

VOR MON SV

 

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

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. For more information about the process that FAA follows, see this explanation at AOPA. More information is available in the FAA Navigation Programs Strategy (PDF).

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

Another Update on VOR Decommissioning

At the October 26-27, 2016 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum, FAA provided an update on its plans to decommission VORs as the aviation world transitions to performance based navigation (PBN) predicated on GPS.

AOPA provided an update on the FAA’s plans for VORs and the minimum operational network (MON) on October 31, 2017. You can read the news item here. You can learn more about the plans to reduce the number of VORs at this blog, here.

A discussion of the MON appears in AIM 1-1-3. VHF Omni-directional Range (VOR):

f. The VOR Minimum Operational Network (MON). As flight procedures and route structure based on VORs are gradually being replaced with Performance−Based Navigation (PBN) procedures, the FAA is removing selected VORs from service. PBN procedures are primarily enabled by GPS and its augmentation systems, collectively referred to as Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Aircraft that carry DME/DME equipment can also use RNAV which provides a backup to continue flying PBN during a GNSS disruption. For those aircraft that do not carry DME/DME, the FAA is retaining a limited network of VORs, called the VOR MON, to provide a basic conventional navigation service for operators to use if GNSS becomes unavailable. During a GNSS disruption, the MON will enable aircraft to navigate through the affected area or to a safe landing at a MON airport without reliance on GNSS. Navigation using the MON will not be as efficient as the new PBN route structure, but use of the MON will provide nearly continuous VOR signal coverage at 5,000 feet AGL across the NAS, outside of the Western U.S. Mountainous Area (WUSMA).

NOTE−
There is no plan to change the NAVAID and route structure in the WUSMA.

The VOR MON has been retained principally for IFR aircraft that are not equipped with DME/DME avionics. However, VFR aircraft may use the MON as desired. Aircraft equipped with DME/DME navigation systems would, in most cases, use DME/DME to continue flight using RNAV to their destination. However, these aircraft may, of course, use the MON.

1. Distance to a MON airport. The VOR MON will ensure that regardless of an aircraft’s position in the contiguous United States (CONUS), a MON airport (equipped with legacy ILS or VOR approaches) will be within 100 nautical miles. These airports are referred to as “MON airports” and will have an ILS approach or a VOR approach if an ILS is not available. VORs to support these approaches will be retained in the VOR MON. MON airports are charted on low−altitude en route charts and are contained in the Chart Supplement U.S. and other appropriate publications.

NOTE−
Any suitable airport can be used to land in the event of a VOR outage. For example, an airport with a DME−required ILS approach may be available and could be used by aircraft that are equipped with DME. The intent of the MON airport is to provide an approach that can be used by aircraft without ADF or DME when radar may not be available.

2. Navigating to an airport. The VOR MON will retain sufficient VORs and increase VOR service volume to ensure that pilots will have nearly continuous signal reception of a VOR when flying at 5,000 feet AGL. A key concept of the MON is to ensure that an aircraft will always be within 100 NM of an airport with an instrument approach that is not dependent on GPS. (See paragraph 1−1−8.) If the pilot encounters a GPS outage, the pilot will be able to proceed via VOR−to−VOR navigation at 5,000 feet AGL through the GPS outage area or to a safe landing at a MON airport or another suitable airport, as appropriate. Nearly all VORs inside of the WUSMA and outside the CONUS are being retained. In these areas, pilots use the existing (Victor and Jet) route structure and VORs to proceed through a GPS outage or to a landing.

3. Using the VOR MON.
(a) In the case of a planned GPS outage (for example, one that is in a published NOTAM), pilots may plan to fly through the outage using the MON as appropriate and as cleared by ATC. Similarly, aircraft not equipped with GPS may plan to fly and land using the MON, as appropriate and as cleared by ATC.

NOTE−
In many cases, flying using the MON may involve a more circuitous route than flying GPS−enabled RNAV.

(b) In the case of an unscheduled GPS outage, pilots and ATC will need to coordinate the best outcome for all aircraft. It is possible that a GPS outage could be disruptive, causing high workload and demand for ATC service. Generally, the VOR MON concept will enable pilots to navigate through the GPS outage or land at a MON airport or at another airport that may have an appropriate approach or may be in visual conditions.

(1) The VOR MON is a reversionary service provided by the FAA for use by aircraft that are unable to continue RNAV during a GPS disruption. The FAA has not mandated that preflight or inflight planning include provisions for GPS− or WAAS−equipped aircraft to carry sufficient fuel to proceed to a MON airport in case of an unforeseen GPS outage. Specifically, flying to a MON airport as a filed alternate will not be explicitly required. Of course, consideration for the possibility of a GPS outage is prudent during flight planning as is maintaining proficiency with VOR navigation.

(2) Also, in case of a GPS outage, pilots may coordinate with ATC and elect to continue through the outage or land. The VOR MON is designed to ensure that an aircraft is within 100 NM of an airport, but pilots may decide to proceed to any
appropriate airport where a landing can be made. WAAS users flying under Part 91 are not required to carry VOR avionics. These users do not have the ability or requirement to use the VOR MON. Prudent flight planning, by these WAAS−only aircraft, should consider the possibility of a GPS outage.

NOTE−
The FAA recognizes that non−GPS−based approaches will be reduced when VORs are eliminated, and that most airports with an instrument approach may only have GPS−or WAAS−based approaches. Pilots flying GPS− or WAAS−equipped aircraft that also have VOR/ILS avionics should be diligent to maintain proficiency in VOR and ILS approaches in the event of a GPS outage.

Latest Info on VOR Shutdowns

The FAA recently provided an update on its plans to decommission about 30 percent (308) of the existing network of 957 VORs by 2025. The presentation, made at the April 2016 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum, is available here (PDF).

Some highlights:

As I’ve noted in previous posts on this topic (e.g., here), the basic plan remains as follows:

  • Decommission about 308 VORs in two phases. Phase 1 runs from FY2016-FY2020. Phase 2 runs from FY2021-FY2025.
  • About 649 VORs will remain in service. In fact, many of those VORs will be upgraded to expand their service volumes.
  • Most of the VORs to be shut down will be in the Central (162) and Eastern (131) U.S. Only about 15 VORs will be decommissioned in the West.

The list of the first VORs to be shut down is available from AOPA here (PDF). AOPA also has good background about the program to decommission VORs on its website.

To provide backups should GPS signals fail or be disrupted, the FAA will retain a minimum operational network (MON) of VORs and MON airports that have ILS and/or VOR approaches.

Those MON airports and VORs are designed to enable pilots to:

  • Revert from PBN [i.e., GPS-based] to conventional navigation in the event of a Global Positioning System (GPS) outage;
  • Tune and identify a VOR at a minimum altitude of 5,000 feet above ground level or higher;
  • 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 where the capability currently exists; 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.

You can learn more about MON airports in this presentation (PDF) from the ACF meeting.

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.