Instrument Approach Briefings

When planning an instrument approach at your destination airport it is advisable to begin the process as early as possible while enroute to minimize workload during the approach phase. ATIS/AWOS can generally be received 30 NM from the airport provided your altitude is sufficient for radio reception. Once you select the appropriate approach procedure, advise ATC of your intentions and set your avionics.

 Next, complete an approach briefing. This step is critical to ensure you did not make errors setting the avionics as well as mentally review the procedure from the IAF to the missed approach holding pattern. The list below describes the critical items to be included in the approach brief. While briefing, verify each comm and nav is set correctly.

  1.  Verify the approach title is the correct procedure. It is very easy to mistake a VOR 32 with a VOR/DME 32 approach which may be two completely different procedures. Ensure that the approach plate is valid by checking the date on the plate and FDC Notams for your destination.
  2. Review all waypoints including step-down altitudes and course changes from the feeder route or IAF to the FAF. If using a GPS verify the waypoints on the approach plate match those loaded in the GPS flight plan. Ensure that you have tuned your radio to the proper frequency, identified the Morse Code, and set the appropriate course into your NAV display. If using marker beacons set auditory/visual indications on the audio panel.
  3. Identify the FAF, crossing altitude and distance from the runway for situation awareness. Make a mental note to establish the appropriate approach speed and aircraft configuration prior to reaching this point.
  4. Verify step-down altitudes and locations as appropriate. Compare the final approach course with runway alignment as some final approach courses are not aligned with the runway centerline.
  5. Determine appropriate MDA / DA, VDP and visibility requirements. If you have an altitude-alerter or altimeter bugs ensure they are set for 500’, 100’ and minimums. If no VDP is published it is highly recommended you calculate your own to determine an approximate point where normal maneuvering can be made for a straight-in landing.
  6. Check the available approach light system to anticipate what you will likely see when making visual contact with the airport environment. If lighting is pilot controlled make a mental note to turn on the lights when switching to advisory frequency at uncontrolled airports.
  7. Identify the MAP and compare to the VDP.
  8. Note the distance available for landing and the taxiway you plan to exit the runway.
  9. Review missed approach procedure including waypoints, courses, altitudes and holding pattern entry. If the missed approach utilizes a secondary navaid, have that frequency in the backup window. If alternate missed approach instructions are received make a note to ensure you comply with the correct instructions.
  10. Lastly, review the notes section for pertinent information such as circling restrictions or altimeter corrections.

After briefing the approach procedure complete the Descent and Approach/Before Landing checklists prior to reaching the IAF. This ensures everything is accomplished in a timely manner allowing you to focus all attention on flying the procedure safely.

 KCLM GPS RWY 26 Sample Briefing – CLM GPS 26

  1. We are flying the GPS approach runway 26 to Port Angeles airport. The plate is valid until February 10, 2011.
  2. From JAWBN intersection we will transition to COBUX on a 262° course and descend to 3700’ when cleared for the approach. From COBUX the course changes to 249° and a 3000’ minimum altitude. All waypoints are verified in the GPS.
  3. The FAF is FAMUV where we will be configured and on-speed crossing at 3000’.
  4. Crossing FAMUV the final approach course is 263° and we will descend to SEBTY crossing at 1600’ which is 3.9NM from the MAP.
  5. After SEBTY we will descend to a straight-in MDA of 940’ and need 1 SM mile of visibility. The TDZE is 282’ for runway 26 so we will be 658’ AGL at minimums. There is no published VDP but if we do not see the runway by 2.2 miles from the MAP it is unlikely we will be able to land straight in.
  6. Runway 26 has pilot-controlled MIRL and REIL.
  7. The MAP is the runway 26 threshold.
  8. Runway 26 is 6,347’ and we will exit at the first available taxiway to the left.
  9. If we do not see the runway we will apply full power and climb to 5400’ straight ahead to MAPUC. Reaching MAPUC we will turn right to a course of 288° to MIDWI. Reaching MIDWI we will turn left to a course of 249° and hold over YUCSU with 5NM legs and a parallel entry.
  10. Circling is not authorized south of the runway and the other notes do not apply.

ILS RWY 13R Sample Briefing – BFI ILS 13R

  1. We will be getting vectored to the ILS 13R approach at Boeing Field. The plate is valid until February 10, 2011.
  2. When cleared for the approach we will maintain 2200’ to ISOGE and 1600’ to TOGAE. The localizer frequency is set to 110.9 in Nav 1.
  3. The FAF is glideslope intercept where we will be configured and on-speed by 1600’.
  4. The final approach course is 130°.
  5. We will descend on glidepath to a straight-in DA of 291’ and need 5000 RVR or 1 mile visibility. The TDZE is 18’ for runway 13R so we will be 273’ AGL at minimums.
  6. Runway 13R has MALSF approach light system.
  7. The MAP is reaching 291’ on glideslope. If we see the approach lights at DA we can continue to 118’ and land if we see the runway environment. If we do not see the approach lights or runway we will immediately execute a missed approach.
  8. Runway 13R is 10,000’ and we will plan to exit to the left at A9.
  9. The missed approach procedure is to track the localizer back-course straight ahead climbing to 1500’. Once passing OCEZE we can continue the climb to 6400’ and intercept the 104° radial off the SEA VOR. We will track the SEA radial to BLAKO and hold as published. It will be a parallel entry.
  10. DME is required but the IFR GPS meets this requirement. We will disregard OM indications and the other notes do not apply. If at any point we lose the glide path information we will execute  a missed approach and request vectors for the LOC/DME 13R approach.
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