Approaches (Part Seven)

Airports With an ATC Tower

Control towers are responsible for the safe, orderly, and expeditious flow of all traffic that is landing, taking off, operating on and in the vicinity of an airport and, when the responsibility has been delegated, towers also provide for the separation of IFR aircraft in terminal areas. Aircraft that are departing IFR are integrated into the departure sequence by the tower. Prior to takeoff, the tower controller coordinates with departure control to assure adequate aircraft spacing.


Airports Without A Control Tower

From a communications standpoint, executing an instrument approach to an airport that is not served by an ATC tower requires more attention and care than making a visual approach to that airport. Pilots are expected to self-announce their arrival into the vicinity of the airport no later than 10 NM from the field. Depending on the weather, as well as the amount and type of conflicting traffic that exists in the area, an approach to an airport without an operating ATC tower increases the difficulty of the transition to visual flight.

In many cases, a flight arriving via an instrument approach needs to mix in with VFR traffic operating in the vicinity of the field. For this reason, many companies require that flight crews make contact with the arrival airport CTAF or company operations personnel via a secondary radio over 25 NM from the field in order to receive traffic advisories. In addition, pilots should attempt to listen to the CTAF well in advance of their arrival in order to determine the VFR traffic situation.

Since separation cannot be provided by ATC between IFR and VFR traffic when operating in areas where there is no radar coverage, pilots are expected to make radio announcements on the CTAF. These announcements allow other aircraft operating in the vicinity to plan their departures and arrivals with a minimum of conflicts. In addition, it is very important for crews to maintain a listening watch on the CTAF to increase their awareness of the current traffic situation. Flights inbound on an instrument approach to a field without a control tower should make several self-announced radio calls during the approach:

  • Initial call within 4-10 minutes of the aircraft’s arrival at the IAF. This call should give the aircraft’s location as well as the crew’s approach intentions.
  • Departing the IAF, stating the approach that is being initiated.
  • Procedure turn (or equivalent) inbound.
  • FAF inbound, stating intended landing runway and maneuvering direction if circling.
  • Short final, giving traffic on the surface notification of imminent landing.

When operating on an IFR flight plan at an airport without a functioning control tower, pilots must initiate cancellation of the IFR flight plan with ATC or an AFSS. Remote communications outlets (RCOs) or ground communications outlets (GCOs), if available, can be used to contact an ARTCC or an AFSS after landing. If a frequency is not available on the ground, the pilot has the option to cancel IFR while in flight if VFR conditions can be maintained while in contact with ARTCC, as long as those conditions can be maintained until landing. Additionally, pilots can relay a message through another aircraft or contact flight service via telephone.

Primary NAVAID

Most conventional approach procedures are built around a primary final approach NAVAID; others, such as RNAV (GPS) approaches, are not. If a primary NAVAID exists for an approach, it should be included in the IAP briefing, set into the appropriate backup or active navigation radio, and positively identified at some point prior to being used for course guidance. Adequate thought should be given to the appropriate transition point for changing from FMS or other en route navigation over to the conventional navigation to be used on the approach. Specific company standards and procedures normally dictate when this changeover occurs; some carriers are authorized to use FMS course guidance throughout the approach, provided that an indication of the conventional navigation guidance is available and displayed. Many carriers, or specific carrier fleets, are required to change over from RNAV to conventional navigation prior to the FAF of an instrument approach.

Depending on the complexity of the approach procedure, pilots may have to brief the transition from an initial NAVAID to the primary and missed approach NAVAIDs. Figure 4-8 shows the Cheyenne, Wyoming, ILS Runway 27 approach procedure, which requires additional consideration during an IAP briefing.

Figure 4-8. Cheyenne Regional (KCYS), Cheyenne, Wyoming, ILS or LOC RWY 27.

Figure 4-8. Cheyenne Regional (KCYS), Cheyenne, Wyoming, ILS or LOC RWY 27. [click image to enlarge]

If the 15 DME arc of the CYS VOR is to be used as the transition to this ILS approach procedure, caution must be paid to the transition from en route navigation to the initial NAVAID and then to the primary NAVAID for the ILS approach. Planning when the transition to each of these NAVAIDs occurs may prevent the use of the incorrect NAVAID for course guidance during approaches where high pilot workloads already exist.


Equipment Requirements

The navigation equipment that is required to join and fly an IAP is indicated by the title of the procedure and notes on the chart. Straight-in IAPs are identified by the navigation system by providing the final approach guidance and the runway with which the approach is aligned (for example, VOR RWY 13). Circling-only approaches are identified by the navigation system by providing final approach guidance and a letter (for example, VOR A). More than one navigation system separated by a slant indicates that more than one type of equipment must be used to execute the final approach (for example, VOR/DME RWY 31). More than one navigation system separated by the word“or”indicates either type of equipment can be used to execute the final approach (for example, VOR or GPS RWY 15).

In some cases, other types of navigation systems, including radar, are required to execute other portions of the approach or to navigate to the IAF (for example, an NDB procedure turn to an ILS, or an NDB in the missed approach, or radar required to join the procedure or identify a fix). When ATC radar or other equipment is required for procedure entry from the en route environment, a note is charted in the plan view of the approach procedure chart (for example, RADAR REQUIRED or AUTOMATIC DIRECTION FINDER (ADF) REQUIRED). When radar or other equipment is required on portions of the procedure outside the final approach segment, including the missed approach, a note is charted in the notes box of the pilot briefing portion of the approach chart (for example, RADAR REQUIRED or DISTANCE MEASURING EQUIPMENT (DME) REQUIRED). Notes are not charted when VOR is required outside the final approach segment. Pilots should ensure that the aircraft is equipped with the required NAVAIDs to execute the approach, including the missed approach. Refer to the AIM paragraph 5-4-5 for additional options with regards to equipment requirements for IAPs.

RNAV systems may be used as a Substitute Means of Navigation when a very high frequency (VHF) Omni-directional Range (VOR), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN), VOR/TACAN (VORTAC), VOR/DME, non-directional radio beacon (NDB), or compass locator facility including locator outer marker and locator middle marker is out-of-service, i.e., the Navigation Aid (NAVAID) information is not available; an aircraft is not equipped with an automatic direction finder (ADF) or DME; or the installed ADF or DME on an aircraft is not operational. For example, if equipped with a suitable RNAV system, a pilot may hold over an out-of-service NDB. Refer to Advisory Circular 90-108, Use of Suitable RNAV System on Conventional Routes and Procedures, dated March 3, 2011 for additional guidance on the proper times and procedures for substituting a RNAV system for means of navigation.