Instrument Flying Update, by John C. Eckalbar

Instrument Flying Update

by John C. Eckalbar

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Instrument Flying Update covers what every instrument pilot needs to know about the new rules on Approach Transitions, WAAS, LPV, LNAV/VNAV, RNAV SIDs, TAWS, and Much More.

Instrument flying is evolving at an incredible pace. New technologies (like WAAS and TAWS) are being applied, new rules (like those on transitioning onto RNAV approaches) are being written, and new procedures (like LPV approaches) are being developed. The big payoff is in unprecedented 3-D position accuracy and enhanced situational awareness as the aircraft position is displayed in relation to complex waypoint strings together with surrounding terrain and obstacles.

To navigate the new world of IFR safely and efficiently, pilots and controllers need to do their homework. We need to keep up with the nuances of the new equipment as well as the rules and procedures that evolve with the equipment. To cite the most important example, many thousands of pilots are about to upgrade from GPS to GPS/WAAS. With this upgrade comes the promise of vastly improved instrument approaches, but we also move into an environment which we have not yet been trained to enter–where, for example, we get strange messages from our avionics saying that LPV is unavailable because VPL exceeds VAL, or where LNAV/VNAV is available, but a knowledgeable pilot will know that, given the current weather, LNAV might be better. The relatively simple days when we tuned an NDB or VOR, identified it, and flew the chosen course are ending.

Safe and efficient operation in this new environment is going to take a commitment to continuing education. I hope this book will help.

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  • Chapter 1
    • investigates how WAAS is able to correct GPS position estimates.
  • Chapter 2
    • looks at the TERPS criteria for WAAS-based approaches.
  • Chapter 3
    • examines the topic of flying with WAAS.
  • Chapter 4
    • brings us up to date on recent changes in RNAV departure procedures and adds a brief section on RNAV Q- and T-routes.
  • Chapter 5
    • explains how TAWS works, what its various warning/alert messages mean, and what you can and should do in response. Most pilots are unaware that ATC has its own TAWS-like system called MSAW, Minimum Safe Altitude Warning system. MSAW alerts controllers when an aircraft is or is expected to be too low, and then controllers are supposed to alert pilots.
  • Chapter 6
    • what prompts the alert, and what are you supposed to do when you get one? Are you automatically getting MSAW protection when you are assigned a transponder code and talking to ATC? We will address these questions in Chapter 6.
  • Chapter 7
    • deals with radar vectors. Special attention is paid to the meaning of the MVA and the issue of when it is permissible for ATC to issue a vector when you are below the MVA.
  • Chapter 8
    • tests our knowledge of the above topics by examining the chain of events leading to an accident in San Diego during a night departure, when a Lear 35A impacted terrain while trying to maintain VFR under an overcast while following a vector below the MVA. If nothing in the last sentence strikes you as odd, you are likely to really benefit from reading this book.
  • Chapter 9
    • covers the surprisingly complex topic of transitioning onto an approach. What is permissible as you fly “GPS direct” from one fix to another toward the FAF, Final Approach Fix? Is it okay to go direct to the FAF from anywhere as long as you are so cleared? Is it okay for ATC to clear you GPS direct to the FAF or to issue a vector to the FAF? And, what is wrong with the following clearance? “...two miles from the outer marker, turn left heading 050, maintain 4000 until established, cleared ILS runway 36 left.” Hopefully, when Chapter 9 is finished, you will have a clear idea of some of the problems created by any of the above.
  • Chapter 10
    • we study the sad case of a relatively new instrument pilot struggling against a barrage of ATC handling mistakes as he tries to get established on an RNAV (GPS) approach. This accident touches on many of the major themes of the book; getting established, radar vectors, TAWS, MSAW, and more.


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