more IFR procedures
Reversing Direction for Approach
The procedure turn was part of the
radio range system that preceded the VOR NDB, and ILS soon to be phased out by
GPS. The radio range sent out four radio beams in four quadrants. An A-N audible
tone could be heard to each side of a beam. A was -.; N was .-
when you were flying on the beam the tone was steady. Any deviation off course
gave either an A or N code indicating the direction required to correct.
At the juncture of the four
beams was the null or cone of silence. This told you exactly where you were.
From this point you fly outbound on a beam for a timed period, execute a
procedure turn, intercept the beam inbound and begin your descent, knowing that
you have obstacle clearance back to the null and the airport so long as you stay
on the A N beam.
This was the basic instrument procedure used up until the 1950's.
The same course reversal
procedure is used at most general aviation airports except when superseded by
radar vectors. Any course reversal procedure must be completed within 10 miles
of a designated fix usually the FAF. There are three types of full approaches
used to turn the plane back into the final approach course. AIM 5-48 NOS chart's
barbed arrow indicates only direction/side of outbound course. Point of
commencement, type and rate of turn is discretionary.
procedure turn may illustrate a 45-180-45 to final.
2)A published tear-drop pattern is required as published.
3)A holding pattern is also required as published. You do not need to
make the full loop if your entry allows you to become established inbound
You may use the "course-reversal" for your procedure turns or holding pattern
entries as long as you remain in protected airspace. I find these especially
good for ADF approaches.
On a published IAP any course reversal is mandatory for the pilot unless:
According to FAR 91.175(j)
1. Radar vectors are available
2. NoPT is published on plate
3. A timed approach from a holding fix with tower in operation and timing
procedures in use.
AIM 5-4-9. Procedure Turn
"New: Revised October 18, 2005
A procedure turn is the manoeuvre prescribed when it is necessary to reverse
direction to establish the aircraft inbound on an intermediate or final approach
course. The procedure turn or hold-in-lieu-of-PT is a required manoeuvre when it
is depicted on the approach chart. However, the procedure turn or
hold-in-lieu-of-PT is not permitted when the symbol "No PT" is depicted on the
initial segment being used, when a RADAR VECTOR to the final approach course is
provided, or when conducting a timed approach from a holding fix. The altitude
prescribed for the procedure turn is a minimum altitude until the aircraft is
established on the inbound course. The manoeuvre must be completed within the
distance specified in the profile view.
The pilot may elect to use the procedure turn or hold-in-lieu-of-PT when it is
not required by the procedure, but must first receive an amended clearance from
ATC. When ATC is Radar vectoring to the final approach course or to the
Intermediate Fix, ATC may specify in the approach clearance "CLEARED STRAIGHT-IN
(type) APPROACH" to insure the procedure turn or hold-in-lieu-of-PT is not to be
flown. If the pilot is uncertain whether the ATC clearance intends for a
procedure turn to be
conducted or to allow for a straight-in approach, the pilot shall immediately
request clarification from ATC (14 CFR Part 91.123).
The procedure turn is prescribed
as a method for turning an aircraft around and reversing its course when on the
intermediate or final approach parts of an instrument procedure. The approach
plate specifies the procedure turn fix, the inbound and outbound course, the
distance required for completion and the direction r/l of the turn. The
procedure turn is required except when the NoPT is indicated, radar vectors are
provided, when a holding pattern is shown in lieu or (rare) with timed
approaches. Only teardrop or holding pattern (racetrack) procedure turns are
The necessity for the teardrop
comes when a very narrow corridor requires a significant loss of altitude. This
procedure is known as a penetration turn due to the space and
altitude constraints. To make the intercept from a teardrop it is very important
that you know your distance from the FAF. A smooth turn at the nine mile
point should give a smooth intercept.
In every other case how the
procedure is accomplished within the allotted airspace as well as where to turn
and how to turn is discretionary to the pilot. To stay within bounds it is
important the descent to the procedure altitude and outbound route be at least
"bumped" before beginning the procedure turn outbound. Failure to do this could
take you outside protected airspace. You have ten miles from the
fix outbound to complete the turn. Allow at least one minute to get established
inbound to the fix.
If ATC does not specifically
state that you will be given radar vectors, you as PIC can decide if a procedure
turn is required. Being cleared for the approach by ATC means that they assume
that you know what to do. This includes, that you know you are required to
remain above the charted altitudes for the route. How you do it or if you do it
is up to you. Remember, if something goes wrong the FAA gets to second guess any
decision you make. See FAR 97.3 and AIM 5-48a. Once established inbound you can
descend to published inbound altitude. Established means that the intercept
needle is at least half way to centre. Cleared for the approach does NOT
include a clearance to land.
If a descent is required allow a
minute for every 500'. Turning from the outbound part of the turn to the
inbound part is a required reporting point. The inbound turn leg is when you
use the mid-point of any needle deflection to initiate descent to the inbound
altitude. You should be in approach configuration with your approach checklist
completed as you become inbound to the fix. At the fix use your Ts list. At MDA/DH
land or make the missed.
The manoeuvring zone is the wide
side of the allocated space from the course line for making the course reversal.
To the other side of the course line there is a primary area which is five nm
wide. Around the whole is a two nm secondary area. You have 8 nm of airspace
on the procedure turn side of the course line and 4 nm on the non-procedure side
both with at least 1000' of obstacle clearance at assigned altitude. The 10
nm turn requirement distance has 16 nm of protected space. Your knowledge of
this available space should reduce anxiety if you overshoot or
misjudge wind effect. It is the safest procedure to assure flight to the centre
of the procedure area.
The turn options that work are,
the often published 45-180 which requires diverted attention to timing, an
80-260 (90-270 course reversal) which does not require timing, and the Army 45
(for 40 seconds)-225. In strong crosswind conditions a 260-80 might be preferred
with the initial turn into the wind. Get the winds before you make the turn or
you had best go as published. When a crosswind exists at the point for the
procedure turn the 45 degree outbound leg should be 40 seconds plus lengthened
or shortened one second for every degree of wind correction required on the
NOS charts just show an arrow to
the turn side. Jeppesen uses the 45-180. Be sure to advise anyone in the cockpit
of what you plan to do. Try to use the procedure that will most reduce the
effect of the wind. ATC usually requests that you advise when 'procedure turn
An ILS should be timed (not
timing is not cause for flight test failure) passing the non-precision FAF
(Maltese cross). This guarantees
positional awareness if the glide slope fails and you need to continue with a
localizer-only approach. If the glide slope should fail you can climb but you
cannot turn until the localizer time runs out. The obstacle clearance
allowances are much narrower on the approach side of the localizer transmitter
than on the missed approach (back course side). The FAF for an ILS is the
point you intercept the glide slope at the designated altitude on the chart.
You can always ask ATC for a marker or fix call or even your position if you are
in a radar environment. (See Livermore chart) Every pilot flying an ILS must
understand the chart symbology both for a full ILS and for the Localizer
approach. There is a difference between a precision FAF and a non-precision FAF.
FAR 91.175(j) and AIM 5-4-8
Procedure turn limits says
hearing, ‘Radar vectored to...’ final approach course, or fix, a timed approach
from a holding fix, or an approach specifying ‘No PT you cannot make a procedure
turn unless cleared by ATC.
Radar vectors will include a
crossing restriction. Without the proper clearance you must fly the full
procedure. A clearance that is unclear must be challenged for clarification.
Time outbound for two minutes
if fix is on airport, three minutes if off the airport.
Not an FAR just to keep you inside the protected area. If you can measure
distance from the fix, use it. Try to turn inbound to intercept at least
one-mile and better 2-miles outside the fix.
The distance for the PT
completion is a compromise between the distance needed to change direction and
the airspace needed to provide separation. Standard PT completion distance is 10
NM. May be reduced to five for Category A aircraft only procedures and to
fifteen when required. Maximum PT speed is 200 knots. GPS area routes are
Calling the Procedure Turn Inbound
The procedure turn inbound occurs at the point when the reversal of the
outbound turn has been completed until the inbound course is intercepted. The
time of the radio call is used by ATC for air traffic spacing. Get to and
track inbound course by correcting wind drift. Get to outbound course by
correcting drift CAT check (course, altitude, turn direction) for course
NoPT (No Procedure Turn)
Procedure turns are charted at most
general aviation airports but are more often not required due to radar vectors.
The continue charting of the turns is because the possibility of radar failure
always exists. Flying the full procedure does train the positional awareness
that is frequently lost under radar vectors. Some GPS approaches will have
procedure turns to conform to historical practice and no other reason.
There is often confusion as to
whether or not a pilot is required to do a procedure turn and confusion on the
part of ATC when a pilot performs the manoeuvre when none is expected. ATC can
stop the confusion by making their approach clearances that are expected to be
straight in include the term "straight in".
If the procedure turn is
published and you are not vectored to the final approach course, you are
expected to fly the procedure so as to perform the procedure turn.
If confused about location, don’t descend. Climb for altitude.
Must be on
published route, or descend when: cleared for approach and
on a published route.
Do not descend flying direct to a fix unless on a published approach.
Never make descent below DH or MDA unless you can see at least one of
visual items required by FAR 91.175.
Clearance on Unpublished Route
gives minimum for crossing fix, or
Maintain last assigned altitude
MSA for emergencies only
Gear down at FAF or downwind.
Gear and Flaps at initial descent from cruise. This allows early detection of
gear/flap problems and allows
power to be retained to avoid shock cooling.
We usually have a single engine,
electrical source, and vacuum pump. There is nothing in the FARs that require
dual systems but many pilots have found comfort in having two of the above.
Other pilots have found some comfort is being capable of flying all of these on
a partial basis. Being prepared, trained, and capable of flying under partial
instruments, for awhile is part of flying competence. Most difficulties
occur when partial instrument flying occurs over a long time.
Descent (Decision) Height (DH)
This is the height at which a decision must be made during a precision
approach to either continue descent or to execute a missed approach. Since a
descent below the DH is not allowed unless the choice between the two decisions
is made, the choice must be made before reaching DH. This means that the
required visual references must be acquired before reaching DH. Every pilot
should have personal minimums as to the DH and should consider executing the
missed well before reaching the DH.
The ability of a Part 91
operation to do almost anything that is not in the IFR rules allows the pilot to
descend to DH and then take a look. Part 91 operations do not require the
pilot have reported weather at the destination. He can take a look. POH
performance charts are predicated on a TCH of 50' over the threshold. A
displaced ILS or VASI that result in a Threshold Crossing Height (TCH) greater
than 50' is going to affect your landing distance.
The decision height (DH) is the
lowest altitude to which we can descend on a glide slope. At this altitude you
much either execute a missed approach or land, depending on the visual landing
environment. Decision height is a point on the glide slope where a pilot
decides between two choices: (1) To continue the approach or (2) To proceed
with the missed approach. Once past the DH the pilot still need not be committed
to continue. The decision you make at the DH is the most important decision
other than those during an emergency.
Knowing what to expect at DH
will make what happens move slower only if you have guessed right. Stay on
the glide slope when looking for the breakout. Diving for the runway is
normal but wrong. You will not hit short if you stay with the slope. The ILS has
no visual descent point. On a non-precision approach don't start your landing
manoeuvres until you have the airport in sight.
Airport in Sight
There are many illusions associated
with the transition from IFR approach to the VFR landing. You don’t rely on
ground contact. Other illusions of distance, position, are both possible and
likely when looking for the airport and runway. Reaching minimums and then
finding the airport is not a recommended single pilot operation.
As a single pilot you want to
reach visual conditions before reaching MDA or DH. The sooner the better so as
to give you a better opportunity to locate the required runway indicators.
Regardless, you remain on the ILS, localizer, or heading that will take you to
the runway. If circling is required you must not lose sight of the airport
nor enter the clouds. Aircraft control is the essential ingredient.
The winning hand on any IFR
approach is to have the airport in sight. If visual conditions are marginal you
must have horizontal visibility, especially for circling to land. The
pre-determined missed approach option is always there as a choice.
IFR to VFR Transitions
Where no radar vectors exist
adherence to the published procedure is a must.
Having runway lights spaces irregularly can confuse pilot perceptions of
runway length and height.
Weather conditions are so dynamic that an approach may be possible for an
aircraft in one brief time frame and impossible the next.
The most critical transition segments of the final approach is from 500 feet
through the flare and touchdown. All aircraft should be established on a stable
approach during this segment and even more so if visibility is poor.
Only the ILS provides you a approach with an optimal landing position.
In the design of the ILS, Category A planes must have one-mile visibility
up to 880’. Above that 1 1/4 mile is required.
On an ILS approach, once you have descended below circling minimums as
given for the localizer approach there is no going back up.
ILS FAF in case you lose the glide slope. Punch your clock.
Failure to note the time at the Localizer FAF requires you to execute a
missed approach any time you lose the ILS glide slope inside the FAF.
This does not apply if you can identify the missed approach point by other
Move the throttle so that the changes can be heard.
Set the power to give the speed required during the descent. It is power
management that holds the glide slope.
A 3-4 degree heading change will change needle by one dot.
Tendency is to fly the needle instead of the heading indicator as you get
below 800 feet.
It is better to accept needle two dots off than to make violent manoeuvres.
The wind does not always decrease at lower altitudes.
Initial Approach Fix
The FAA has determined (1994) that
the IAF is a required route in a non-radar environment unless you have a
contrary clearance. The IAF can be part of the en route flight where the en
route 'feeds' traffic into the IAF. Sometimes these 'feeder routes' are not part
of the en route structure. The instrument approach begins at the IAF. The
IAF may be along an arc, radial, course, heading, vector, or any combination of
these. The IAP chart assures terrain and obstruction clearance and contact
with the airport.
Uncontrolled Airport Arrival
It is possible to operate IFR into
and out of just about any airport and you can get into some fields even if they
don't have approaches. You are filing an IFR flight plan into an uncontrolled
airport. There is no instrument approach. The airport has 50 mile visibility and
ceiling unlimited. An alternate airport is required! The use of or dependence on
a phone both to file and close can create problems since the "single-threading"
(one aircraft at a time) of traffic may effectively exclude other IFR traffic
due to phone communications failure.
If you should file an
alternate and decide to fly there instead of your primary destination, you must
re-file another alternate. The pop-up
and tower en route flight plan may not be considered by ATC as a legal flight
plan since no alternate is given. The correct way to file an IFR plan is through
Duats or an FSS. An air file should be done by relay to the FSS.
If in the course of a flight you
find that updating weather indicates that your alternate is not legal, find and
file for one that meets requirements. The new selection should appear in the
remarks section of the flight plan. Every IFR flight is required to have an
alternate for IFR operations if the destination is expected to be less than
2000’ ceiling and 3 mile visibility for one hour each side of your ETA. The
alternate must have either a precision approach with at least 600 and 2 or a
non-precision with 800 and 2.
AWOS/ASOS as now being installed
at uncontrolled airports gives a pilot a head start on predicting the need for
an alternate. Get the AWOS/ASOS as far away as possible and get an indication of
any trend. The trend can motivate an early departure for an alternate. When
planning a flight in near-minimum conditions remember the requirements, select
obtainable alternates and keep alternate alternates open. Failure to depart
for an alternate in a timely manner is an indication of poor planning and
The IFR clearance to an
uncontrolled airport is not a clearance to land. ATC would (normally) like you
to cancel IFR well before you get to the airport if conditions permit.
Otherwise, you must cancel by phone after landing. They have a way of suggesting
for you to close in flight. They remind you be sure to close after landing.
If there is the possibility of a missed approach do not cancel your approach
into an uncontrolled airport. In the event of an accident you will be out of
the system and ATC has no way of knowing that you are overdue. There are enough
cracks in the system without you falling through one of your own making. You may
still have advisories but any warning of minimum safe altitude (MSAW) and low
altitude alert (LAAS) will not be there.
It would be best to monitor the
advisory frequency during the approach for other traffic on your #2 radio. When
told to contact CTAF be sure to advise traffic that you are on the IFR approach.
If circling, manoeuvre shortest path to base or downwind that conforms with the
local direction of traffic so as to avoid conflict with a local requirement. Try
to over fly to determine runway and pattern. See and be seen applies. Use the
radio. Just because you are IFR does not mean that you have priority over VFR
traffic at an uncontrolled airport. Your IFR straight-in approach does not give
the traffic "see and be seen" advantages of the preferred 45 entry.
You file an IFR flight plan with
VFR-on-top. At 180 degrees magnetic course you should fly at even plus 500'
altitudes. A pilot must comply with VFR visibility, distance from cloud criteria
and minimum IFR altitudes from FAR Part 91. ATC services for separation in Class
B, Class C and TRSAs. FAR 91.159, AIM Para 266, and FAA Order 7110.65.
You can file (through the
remarks section) for a climb to VFR conditions with stated intention of
cancelling IFR on reaching VFR conditions. This clearance must be asked for by
the pilot. ATC will advise of any top reports if available. If you reach a
clearance limit before reaching VFR you can expect to hold. Don't ask for a
climb to VFR unless you are certain you will reach VFR at the altitude you've
When traffic prevents a climb or
descent on an IFR flight plan being made in visual conditions, you can request a
VFR-on-top. When the VFR-on-top is approved by ATC you must obey both IFR and
VFR FARs. Your altitude must be correct for VFR hemispheric rule and above IFR
minimums. VFR cloud clearances and visibility are required and you are liable
for your own traffic avoidance. IFR position reporting and following ATC
clearances is required. Altitude changes must be reported to ATC. When being
vectored by centre in an area where there is no MEA you should query ATC to
confirm that the MVA (minimum vectoring altitude is also the minimum IFR
A cruise clearance assigns a block
altitude from a minimum IFR altitude up to a specified maximum. Once leaving
and reporting leaving an altitude the aircraft may not be returned to that
altitude. The cruise clearance is for a short distance under the control of
one ATC specialist. Mandatory reporting points are required unless in radar
The cruise clearance has to do
with a maximum altitude and your reporting out of an altitude. Below that
assigned altitude you can descend all the way to an airport and back up again if
the clearance includes the word 'through'. You must remain above the
minimum instrument altitudes of one or two thousand depending on terrain. If
your clearance limit is an airport you can just fly the approach of your choice
and land. Once you have told ATC you have left an altitude you cannot go back.
You cannot file for a cruise clearance or a cruise through clearance, you must
ask for it direct from ATC. The controller must enter your clearance by hand.
You can also file two separate plans with the stop as a new departure. If the
plan is in the computer the controller will have less trouble with the cruise
through clearance. Cancel IFR on arrival and descend into Class G airspace.
Below 1002’ AGL at night you can operate with only one mile visibility and clear
of clouds in a an airport traffic pattern within one-half mile of the runway.
On a cruise clearance the
pilot can climb and descend at will, so long as he does not report to ATC that
an altitude has been left. Once ATC is
advised of a pilot leaving an altitude, that altitude may not be again reached
without ATC approval. Don’t report leaving altitudes.
The use of a cruise clearance is
for getting via IFR to airports without an IFR procedure. You can fly to the
airport at MIA and cancel for a VFR arrival. With a cruise clearance the MIA is
the pilot’s responsibility.
IFR charts now include OROCAs or
off-route obstruction clearance altitudes which allow a pilot to figure his own
MIA’s by adding 1000’ above an obstruction with at least 2000’ lateral height of
obstacle within four nautical miles. (FAR 91.177(a)(2) Current sectionals
required. MIAs can be obtained from a radar approach facility. ATC will not
voluntarily give you the MIA, you must ask.
Since a cruise clearance is
an IFR flight plan the pilot must close it as soon as the MIA is about to be
A cruise clearance allows a
pilot to fly from the minimum IFR published altitude up to the maximum specified
in the clearance. If you can't get there from here, refuse the clearance. If you
don't know minimum altitudes ask ATC.
Using En route Options
When flying IFR in partial VFR conditions consider asking for a block
altitude that will allow you to fly either as you wish. A block clearance
lets you climb, descend, and turn as you wish. As with all clearances you
must understand what you are getting.
Another optional clearance is
the Cruise Clearance. A cruise clearance allows you to descend as you wish
and even to climb up to your initial altitude. It is not until you report
leaving an altitude that you can never again climb back again. Don’t clear
yourself out of an altitude you may need again.
IFR operations have radar separation
that is not available to VFR operations. The assumption is that VFR aircraft can
only be in VFR conditions. Under certain mixed flight conditions these two
flights could merge with out warning. In Class B airspace the radar service must
provide separation. VFR traffic on a practice IFR approach places primary and
ultimate separation responsibility on the pilot. VFR traffic has a low
priority for radar separation.
The VFR-On-top is requested by
the pilot who is allowed to select an altitude below Class A airspace. This
clearance requires you to operate in basic VFR conditions while following IFR
strictures related to minimum altitudes and radio procedures. In Class B
airspace this clearance shows on radar as VFR but gives IFR separation
A pilot can reject or refuse an
ATC initiated visual approach. An accepted or initiated visual approach
requires the pilot to proceed visually and clear of clouds to the airport.
FAR 91.155 requirement for VFR minimums does not apply. The pilot may proceed
visually and clear of clouds. The visual approach does not contain a missed
procedure so you may need to expedite your request for an new clearance. The
visual approach may be given by ATC at uncontrolled airports when VFR conditions
are expected to prevail.
The Charted Visual Approach uses
an IFR chart to show a route at a minimum altitude which navigates by visual
markers as charted. The visual approach eliminates IFR procedures is NOT an IFR
procedure. The charted altitudes are minimums and suggested only. There is no
Radar service ends when changing
Flight plans must be closed by the pilot at uncontrolled fields.
Uncontrolled Airport Departure
IFR pilots tend to believe that ATC
will keep them clear of obstacles. Except for airports with published instrument
departure procedures, ATC does not provide terrain and obstruction
clearance--not until you reach a published route, minimum vectoring altitude
or minimum instrument altitude. In a mountainous area an aircraft may not have
the required IFR departure performance. Your option is to request a "visual"
(not VFR) which ATC understands to be visual climb as part of the IFR flight
during which the pilot is responsible for obstacle avoidance.
The only place you will find
terrain avoidance information will be on a current sectional or area chart.
Each airway has a useful IFR
flight area from above the MEA, MOCAs, MIRAs and MCAs up to 17,999 feet. MEAs
and MOCAs have either one or two thousand obstruction clearance depending on
terrain. The difference in their altitudes relates to communications.
When an MEA changes at an
intersection the airways have a T bar at the end.
Every airway has a changeover point. If it is not shown it is halfway. Five
letter CNFs or computer navigational fixes are being made at fixes for GPS use
but are not to be used in ATC communications.
Only 7% of airports have control
towers. For IFR you must know how to depart safely, how to get your clearance,
and what to do if you decide to go back. Some airports have approaches but no
departure procedure. Usually you will be told in your clearance to proceed to a
particular fix on entering controlled airspace. Use a departure procedure to do
this if it exists, otherwise, make your own safe routing. Controlled airspace is
not necessarily obstacle free. The IFR departure procedure is solely for
obstruction avoidance. On filing you have a choice of filing a DP or of
following the ATC departure procedure.
A pilot may do an approach to a
controlled airport but cancel on the approach in VFR and proceed to another
nearby airport. The ETE destination point on an IFR flight is the point of
intended landing. FAR 91.169 which refers you to FAR 91.153(a)(6). Pilots
often file to an IFR airport with intention to cancel and diverting to actual
You must show up at the place
and time ATC expects. How you get into controlled airspace and to minimum
vectoring altitude (MVA) is up to you but until you reach MVA obstacle
avoidance is a pilot responsibility. If you are in doubt about a heading
being a vector with ATC responsibility just tell ATC that you will fly the
(instrument departure procedure (IDP). In uncontrolled airspace you don't
need a clearance. Up to 700 or 1200' AGL you can fly in the fog but you must be
VFR above that.
There are several ways to get an
uncontrolled airport IFR departure clearance. A remote communications outlet (RCO)
may be within range, A nearby ATC facility (tower) may be used. You can use a
phone and get a void-time clearance or even depart and get your clearance in
uncontrolled airspace. Your initial clearance will be to a nearby fix not to
your destination. The fix location usually assures radar contact before
A departure procedure exists if
an obstacle is determined to affect plane of departure from either end of
runway. Minimum is 200 feet per nautical mile unless higher minimum rate is
specified. NOS uses T and Jeppesen lists it on airport page. Pilot is
responsible even if radar is available. Radar assumes responsibility for
obstacles only when initiating vectors.
Clearance Void Time
A clearance or clearance void time
at an uncontrolled airport must be obtained through ATC/FSS once your
reservation becomes available. A clearance void time (CVT) from an uncontrolled
airport requires that the takeoff occur before that time. Radio contact time is
not mentioned. Departure at that time is not authorized. FAR 91,173. The
void-time clearance usually has a 10 minutes or less time during which you are
expected depart to establish radio contact. In non-busy environments a longer
time may be requested. The void-time clearance will not contain departure
instructions but will tell you that on entering controlled airspace to proceed
to a certain fix. ATC must be advised within 30 minutes of intentions from
the ground if departure cannot be made before that time. If no ATC notification
is made the aircraft is considered missing. This automatically cancels the IFR
clearance but the IFR flight plan is still in effect.
A couple remarks about flying out of an uncontrolled airport on an IFR flight
plan. First, file your flight plan by phone. If airport has a RCO call clearance
and obtain a void time clearance. This means that you must takeoff and contact
approach before entering controlled airspace before the void clearance time. If
at an airport with no RCO, just call FSS file flight plan and get a clearance
void time. Then takeoff and contact departure.
A VFR departure with an
airborne IFR pick-up of a pop-up clearance is both practical and safe. It is
much more efficient than a void-time clearance and is to be preferred by pilots.
ATC likes it better, too. Void Time
clearances tie up a lot of airspace for excessive lengths of time.
Hold for Release
ATC has you in the starting position for your flight. You are under IFR
procedures now. You cannot depart (VFR or IFR) after being told to "hold for IFR
release" without ATC acknowledgment and concurrence.
An IFR clearance may take anywhere from five minutes to over thirty minutes.
Worse will be if ATC tries to hurry you into takeoff that has potential wake
turbulence. Don't feel obliged to exercise your right of way. Letting another
plane go first is good way to relieve any pressure that you may feel to hurry.
Clearance void times are notorious for the hurry up problems they create. ATC
is under tremendous time pressure to make valid departure times as short as
possible since they tie up considerable blocks of airspace.
Controlled Departure Time
This is not a clearance void time A
CDT is an ATC procedure to reduce traffic congestion. It is a reservation that
may or may not come on time. You are expected to allow 1000' vertical (2000' in
mountains) and 4 miles horizontal from highest obstacle.
Non-radar separation is premised
on timely and accurate radio position reports along with assigned altitudes.
If radar contact is lost while on an IFR flight, the pilot is expected to resume
reports at shaded triangle intersections (mandatory). Use PTAEN mnemonic for
position-time-altitude-estimate-next-name. On request position reports are
at open triangle intersections. See FAR 91.183.
When radar contact is lost you
are expected to revert to the non-radar position reporting of the solid
triangles centered at the VORs and positions specified by ATC. FAR 91.183 makes
the rules. AIM 5-3-2 tells you how to give the report. Should ATC fail to
advise you of the position reporting requirement just go ahead and do it as you
are supposed to.
If you should miss a mandatory
reporting call, the controller is required to query you after five minutes.
ATC is required to increase
separation when radar contact is lost. The controller has to make computational
estimates so that your aircraft, based on its past performance, will not
conflict with approaching, following, or crossing traffic. Standard separation
is 5 miles to the side, and 1K vertical to 29,000 where it becomes 2K. Without
radar separation must be 10 minutes or 20 DME. At this juncture it becomes
vital that pilots advise ATC when ETA change by three minutes or more. With a
change in ETA expect ATC to give more complicated clearances and holds.
Pilots can help in the non-radar
environment by limiting requests for deviations and by giving accurate position
reports and estimates. Non-compulsory points need be reported only on ATC
request but you may wish to report them anyway. It is always a good idea to make
periodic reports just to make sure ATC is still there and caring about you.
Mistakes in trip routes happen. Such errors can be picked up by ATC if your
position reporting follows the correct format.
You are IFR in controlled
airspace and the #1 VOR (only one with glide slope and localizer capability)
fails. #2 has no ILS capability. You should report the malfunction immediately.
When faced with a non-radar
transition in some remote areas or in event of a Centre radar failure as does
happen, you are expected to do the entire approach procedure unless:
1. You are vectored to final approach course or a segment of the initial
2. You are making a visual approach
3. You are making a contact approach
Any non-radar approach must
begin at an IAF followed by a course reversal unless charted as NPT, timed from
a holding fix, or not published course reversal. Go to and stay on published
routes to assure yourself obstacle clearance when out of radar contact.
If you are not getting vectors
you must have studied the published route to the transition to an approach. It
is well advised to contact the approach prior to becoming airborne to
pre-determine minimum instrument altitudes and minimum vectoring altitudes.Approaches at an airport may have different required transition altitudes.
Get too low and you may not be able to make every approach available. By staying
at published altitudes you are assured of both lateral and vertical obstacle
clearance but not that every approach is available. You may wish to stay
higher than published altitudes to retain all approach options. Without
radar it is the pilot who must avoid running into anything. When flying in
unknown areas this requires special effort. If the engine quits head for the
lowlands. There you will find people.
When flying a non-radar
procedure, you are expected to fly the charted approach along with the procedure
turn, if required. Even if VFR conditions prevail you must fly the entire
procedure unless you cancel IFR or get a visual/contact approach.
approach must begin at an IAF. Full procedure must be flown to assure
gradients, communication and safe obstruction avoidance.
A DME arc is not allowed as a substitute for an IAF.
A charted procedure turn in an approach is required if the pilot is cleared by ATC for the approach except when:
Radar vectored to final approach
Making a timed approach from a holding fix. A timed approach can only
be made with a tower open and ATC advising that such approaches are in progress
On a NoPT segment.
Where VOR head fails, 'OFF" flags will not appear.
ATC will provide separation and
seal off the airport airspace as the classification allows. If out of radar
contact you are expected to use AIM 5-3 reporting procedures. That means you
will continue to report leaving an altitude, missed approaches, VFR-on-top
altitude changes, holding reports, equipment failures, the FAF inbound and any
ATC requests such as procedure turn inbound, a specific fix and cancelling IFR.
Select a Heading
Reference Heading is the heading
that will keep the needle centred. Because of wind you must bracket this
heading through referral to the Heading Indicator One system uses 1/2 angle
corrections of ever decreasing amounts. (see instructor) Initial changes to find
the reference heading should be 5 degrees. (10 degrees only if 1/2 deflection.)
All turns by reference to heading indicator. Stabilize your heading and
airspeed based on the wind.
Visual Descent Point
Where a non-precision approach has DME, FAA policy is to give a visual
descent point VDP.
Pilots use of a VDP is optional. Localizer only is not to have VDPs.
VDP requires local altimeter setting.
You can adapt the approach time and the MDA given off the plates to a VDP.
Convert the first two digits of the altitude to seconds and subtract those
seconds from the approach time. You should be able to make a very normal
approach from the MDA from this reduction in time, providing the runway is in
A descent angle from 879 feet
and one mile is over 9.5 degrees. Thus only a VDP (visual descent point outside
of one mile will make the landing possible. To make any approach that requires
over a 3-degrees; you should make a VDP that makes the slope of the approach
within a stabilized capability. Any alignment with the runway factor just
compounds the difficulty of being stabilized. The last ten seconds become
critical both as being stable and aligned.
The descent angle can vary but
any approach of less than 2.5 degrees; is going to have a touch down point
accuracy problem. No small aircraft should use more than 5-degreesl;l approaches
from 5000’ HAT and the descent rate must be less than 1000 fpm. Most ILS slopes
are set at 3-degrees; unless obstacle clearance factors intervene. Non-precision
approaches have no vertical guidance and are often not aligned with the runway.
A direct clearance, sometimes called a random route, is ‘off airways.
It is nice to have a GPS or LORAN capability to fly direct. An IFR certified
RNAV or inertial system would work as well. Don't know how big a jump into IFR
ATC would allow dead reckoning. You are expected to maintain the centreline
between fixes. ATC may authorize a direct clearance beginning with "when able.
If the random route is to a navaid, ATC can initiate the process even beyond the
service volume (distance) of the navaid. Service volumes do not apply to airways
because they have been flight checked.
Check the OROCA (off-route
obstruction clearance altitudes). Even certified GPS is considered supplemental
and you must have VORs as well. ATC will issue direct clearances to navaids or
fixes that are IAP (initial approach fixes). A direct clearance can be
AIM 5-1-7 as reference
For filing purposes use only the departure, a single route waypoint, and
the IAF (initial approach fix).
ATC may offer you 'direct' or you may ask for it.
Regardless of clearance,
off airways is the standard if you only ask for
To go direct you must be in radar contact.
Refer to AF/D for restrictions on VOR use.
MVA (minimum vector altitude) is required for 'direct' in terminal areas.
MIA (Minimum Instrument altitude) is required for 'direct' when using Center.
All departures expect the pilot to avoid obstacles until established on
route or having "radar contact".
A "Direct when able" clearance requires pilot to avoid obstacles and getting
useable VOR signal.
ATC does not know or care if your GPS is certified to the legalities needed
to request a vector.
If you do not understand a clearance, ask for clarification.
When given 'direct' you may get a new squawk code as well. Means you now have
a new flight plan.
Advise ATC if you are GPS equipped.
Use the AF/D to get preferred routes for filing and then request 'direct'
IFR En route Navigation
1. ATC has a departure/arrival
procedure for all airports with an Instrument procedure. These procedures
invariably connect with Victor airways. The clearance procedure will usually
take you around Class C and B airspace. The en route procedures have various
altitudes of significant to the pilot and of even greater significance to the
aircraft since often the altitudes exceed the aircraft capability or equipment.
2. Flight planning depends on weather information. Any flight over 400 miles
in one direction will deal with a weather front. Most flights plan for
weather avoidance. Always be prepared to abandon the route to take advantage of
the nearest approach procedure.
3. Weather avoidance requires
planning alternatives. Alternatives include available approaches, services
available and hours of operation.
4. The last concern is the
terrain. Aircraft capability and occupant comfort can make a selection critical.
Included in this is the time of day to be flown. Unlike airline accidents, G.A.
accidents occur more frequently in the en route portion of a flight. Even IFR en
route flight is safer when flown in available VFR conditions.
TERPS Obstacle Clearance Chart
Segment Primary Secondary
Initial 1000' 500'
Intermediate 500' 500'
VOR/DME, VORW/FAF, straight-in 250' 250'
VOR/DME, radial or arc final 500' 500'
NDB on airport, no FAF, straight-in 350' 350'
NDB w FAF, straight-in 300' 300
Localizer, LDA, SDF 250' 250'
Circling 300' 0'
Holding (level) 1000' 500'
you depart consider flying the localizer back course as an easy to maintain
Basic tenet of the missed procedure is the "climb" on runway heading to an
altitude before turning.
Losing sight of the runway requires that you immediately climb to the MDA
before reaching the MAP.
Guarantees of obstacle clearance climb rates apply only if climb is initiated
at the MDA and MAP.
A VDP is of no value in making a circle to land arrival.
Descending at the VDP without the airport in sight will leave you low and
Once you have initiated the circling
procedure you must keep the airport in sight. If you don't you must establish
your self on the missed approach course and follow the missed procedure. This
will keep you in protected airspace so long as you can maintain a climb rate of
based of the MDA.
Required when approach course is greater than 30-degrees
Required when approach is unusually steep due to obstacles.
Obstacle clearance is certain only when above the minimum descent altitude (MDA).
MDA gives 300-foot obstacle clearance
While circling do not give up the altitude safety offered by the MDA.
CFIT accidents usually occur during non-precision approaches.
Most approach accidents occur within 10 miles of the runway.
Charts are giving stabilized descent rates for non-precision approaches to
prevent CFIT accidents.
Validity of dive-and-drive approach is to avoid ice and see runway sooner.
No criteria for obstacle clearance or a missed approach. the pilot is
responsible for his own obstacle clearance and if unable to maintain VFR
requirements must get an IFR clearance for the missed. Charted visual flight
procedures (CVFP) are for day unless landmarks are visible at night. It is
visual but may provide a vector to guidance.
There is no simulation of IFR that gives the benefit of actual
In the event of a RADAR outage you must know where you are.
Don't cheat on assigned headings, speeds or altitudes during the approach.
Use any outbound or downwind vector to determine the wind correction you will
use on the approach.
Expect that the required wind correction will be different inside and outside
The latest ATC controller's instruction erases previous instruction of a
When is a Procedure Turn not a Procedure Turn
NOS/NACO charts use a barbed
arrow pointing direction of PT and nothing more
Jeppesen shows PT as one-minute leg with 180 back to inbound course
How you make the PT reversal can be 40-second with a 225 inbound turn, an 80
to a 260 (90/270)
Any PT method
labelled ‘mandatory’ must be used. as must a procedural track
The teardrop is always mandatory
A holding pattern must be entered via the entry specified by the direction of
entry and time. (I question this)
A clearance is required for more than one turn in a holding pattern
Holding pattern speed are standard depending on altitude unless an icon
specifies an airspeed
Standard PT has specified 10-mile distance by 5-mile may be for category A
You must maintain published PT altitude until intercepting glideslope or
The line below the intercept altitude of the ILS is a minimum not mandatory
Interception of the glide slope from the PT is always from below
When radar is used or the feeder fix course is within 30-degrees of the final
course NoPT exists
If for some reason you need a PT, let ATC know
Initial approach segments using DME arcs do not require a PT
GPS does not require PT unless holding patterns exists at intermediate fix.
GPS that is overlaid on an non-precision approach uses underlying
Only with ATC approval can you make a PT where NoPT is published.
If you can make the approach without the PT published, get ATC approval
before doing without it
Under radar you can ask for anything you want regarding PTs
Using SVFR to Depart Controlled Airspace into IFR
Use a composite VFR/IFR flight plan
The contact approach if the airports has a SIAP
SVFR gets you out of controlled airspace into uncontrolled airspace
SVFR requires pilot responsibility for obstacle avoidance
SVFR pretty much limited to boundaries of classes D, C, and E
Best to limit SVFR to low ceiling unlimited visibility conditions
Request pop-up IFR out of SVFR if SVFR
doesn’t get you where you want to go.