Approaches (Part Nineteen)

Example Approach Briefing

During an instrument approach briefing, the name of the airport and the specific approach procedure should be identified to allow other crewmembers the opportunity to cross-reference the chart being used for the brief. This ensures that pilots intending to conduct an instrument approach have collectively reviewed and verified the information pertinent to the approach. Figure 4-27 gives an example of the items to be briefed and their sequence. Although the following example is based on multi-crew aircraft, the process is also applicable to single-pilot operations. A complete instrument approach and operational briefing example follows.

Figure 4-27. Example of approach chart briefing sequence.

Figure 4-27. Example of approach chart briefing sequence.


The approach briefing begins with a general discussion of the ATIS information, weather, terrain, NOTAMs, approaches in use, runway conditions, performance considerations, expected route to the final approach course, and the traffic situation. As the discussion progresses, the items and format of the briefing become more specific. The briefing can also be used as a checklist to ensure that all items have been set up correctly. Most pilots verbally brief the specific MAP so that it is fresh in their minds and there is no confusion as to who is doing what during a missed approach. Also, it is a very good idea to brief the published missed approach even if the tower is most likely to give you alternate instructions in the event of a missed approach. A typical approach briefing might sound like the following example for a flight inbound to the Monroe Regional Airport (KMLU):

ATIS: “Monroe Regional Airport Information Bravo, time 2253 Zulu, wind 360 at 10, visibility 1 mile, mist, ceiling 300 overcast, temperature 4, dew point 3, altimeter 29.73, ILS Runway 4 approach in use, landing and departing Runway 4, advise on initial contact that you have information Bravo.”

PF: “We’re planning an ILS approach to Runway 4 at Monroe Regional Airport, page 270, effective date 22 Sep 11 to 20 Oct 11. Localizer frequency is 109.5, SABAR Locator Outer Marker is 392, Monroe VOR is 117.2, final approach course is 042º. We’ll cross SABAR at 1,483 feet barometric, decision altitude is 278 feet barometric, touchdown zone elevation is 78 feet with an airport elevation of 79 feet. MAP is climb to 2,000 feet, then climbing right turn to 3,000 feet direct Monroe VOR and hold. The MSA is 2,200 feet to the north and along our missed approach course, and 3,100 feet to the south along the final approach course. ADF or DME is required for the approach and the airport has pilot controlled lighting when the tower is closed, which does not apply to this approach. The runway has a medium intensity approach lighting system with runway alignment indicator lights and a precision approach path indicator (PAPI). We need a half- mile visibility so with one mile we should be fine. Runway length is 7,507 feet. I’m planning a flaps 30 approach, auto- brakes 2, left turn on Alpha or Charlie 1 then Alpha, Golf to the ramp. With a left crosswind, the runway should be slightly to the right. I’ll use the autopilot until we break out and, after landing, I’ll slow the aircraft straight ahead until you say you have control and I’ll contact ground once we are clear of the runway. In the case of a missed approach, I’ll press TOGA (Take-off/Go-Around button used on some turbojets), call ‘go-around thrust, flaps 15, positive climb, gear up, set me up,’ climb straight ahead to 2,000 feet then climbing right turn to 3,000 feet toward Monroe or we’ll follow the tower’s instructions. Any questions?”

PM: “I’ll back up the auto-speedbrakes. Other than that, I don’t have any questions.”


Instrument Approach Procedure Segments

An instrument approach may be divided into as many as four approach segments: initial, intermediate, final, and missed approach. Additionally, feeder routes provide a transition from the en route structure to the IAF. FAA Order 8260.3 criteria provides obstacle clearance for each segment of an approach procedure as shown in Figure 4-28.

Figure 4-28. Approach segments and obstacle clearance.

Figure 4-28. Approach segments and obstacle clearance. [click image to enlarge]

Feeder Routes

By definition, a feeder route is a route depicted on IAP charts to designate routes for aircraft to proceed from the en route structure to the IAF. [Figure 4-29 ] Feeder routes, also referred to as approach transitions, technically are not considered approach segments but are an integral part of many IAPs. Although an approach procedure may have several feeder routes, pilots normally choose the one closest to the en route arrival point. When the IAF is part of the en route structure, there may be no need to designate additional routes for aircraft to proceed to the IAF.

Figure 4-29. Feeder routes.

Figure 4-29. Feeder routes.

When a feeder route is designated, the chart provides the course or bearing to be flown, the distance, and the minimum altitude. En route airway obstacle clearance criteria apply to feeder routes, providing 1,000 feet of obstacle clearance (2,000 feet in mountainous areas).


Terminal Routes

In cases where the IAF is part of the en route structure and feeder routes are not required, a transition or terminal route is still needed for aircraft to proceed from the IAF to the intermediate fix (IF). These routes are initial approach segments because they begin at the IAF. Like feeder routes, they are depicted with course, minimum altitude, and distance to the IF. Essentially, these routes accomplish the same thing as feeder routes but they originate at an IAF, whereas feeder routes terminate at an IAF. [Figure 4-30 ]

Figure 4-30. Terminal routes.

Figure 4-30. Terminal routes.

DME Arcs

DME arcs also provide transitions to the approach course, but DME arcs are actually approach segments while feeder routes, by definition, are not. When established on a DME arc, the aircraft has departed the en route phase and has begun the approach and is maneuvering to enter an intermediate or final segment of the approach. DME arcs may also be used as an intermediate or a final segment, although they are extremely rare as final approach segments.

An arc may join a course at or before the IF. When joining a course at or before the IF, the angle of intersection of the arc and the course is designed so it does not exceed 120°. When the angle exceeds 90°, a radial that provides at least 2 NM of lead will be identified to assist in leading the turn on to the intermediate course. DME arcs are predicated on DME collocated with a facility providing omnidirectional course information, such as a VOR. A DME arc cannot be based on an ILS or LOC DME source because omnidirectional course information is not provided.


The ROC along the arc depends on the approach segment. For an initial approach segment, a ROC of 1,000 feet is required in the primary area, which extends to 4 NM on either side of the arc. For an intermediate segment primary area, the ROC is 500 feet. The initial and intermediate segment secondary areas extend 2 NM from the primary boundary area edge. The ROC starts at the primary area boundary edge at 500 feet and tapers to zero feet at the secondary area outer edge. [Figure 4-31]

Figure 4-31. DME arc obstruction clearance.

Figure 4-31. DME arc obstruction clearance. [click image to enlarge]