RNAV Approach Types - Instrument Procedures

RNAV encompasses a variety of underlying navigation systems and, therefore, approach criteria. This results in different sets of criteria for the final approach segment of various RNAV approaches. RNAV instrument approach criteria address the following procedures:
  • GPS overlay of pre-existing nonprecision approaches.
  • VOR/DME based RNAV approaches.
  • Stand-alone RNAV (GPS) approaches.
  • RNAV (GPS) approaches with vertical guidance (APV).
  • RNAV (GPS) precision approaches (WAAS and LAAS).

GPS Overlay of Nonprecision Approach

The original GPS approach procedures provided authorization to fly non-precision approaches based on conventional, ground-based NAVAIDs. Many of these approaches have been converted to stand-alone approaches, and the few that remain are identified by the name of the procedure and “or GPS.” These GPS non-precision approaches are predicated upon the design criteria of the ground-based NAVAID used as the basis of the approach. As such, they do not adhere to the RNAV design criteria for stand-alone GPS approaches, and are not considered part of the RNAV (GPS) approach classification for determining design criteria. [Figure 1]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 1. Traditional GPS approach overlay

GPS Stand-Alone/RNAV (GPS) Approach

The number of GPS stand-alone approaches continues to decrease as they are replaced by RNAV approaches. RNAV (GPS) approaches are named so that airborne navigation databases can use either GPS or RNAV as the title of the approach. This is required for non-GPS approach systems, such as VOR/DME based RNAV systems. In the past, these approaches were often referred to as "stand-alone GPS" approaches. They are considered non-precision approaches, offering only LNAV and circling minimums. Precision minimums are not authorized, although LNAV/ VNAV minimums may be published and used as long as the on-board system is capable of providing approach approved VNAV. The RNAV (GPS) Runway 14 approach for Lincoln, Nebraska, incorporates only LNAV and circling minimums. [Figure 2]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 2. Lincoln Muni KLNK Lincoln, Nebraska, RNAV GPS RWY 14 approach

For a non-vertically guided straight-in RNAV (GPS) approach, the final approach course must be aligned within 15° of the extended runway centerline. The final approach segment should not exceed 10 NM, and when it exceeds 6 NM, a stepdown fix is typically incorporated. A minimum of 250 feet obstacle clearance is also incorporated into the final approach segment for straight-in approaches, and a maximum 400-ft/NM descent gradient is permitted. The approach design criteria are different for approaches that use vertical guidance provided by a Baro-VNAV system. Because the Baro-VNAV guidance is advisory and not primary, Baro-VNAV approaches are not authorized in areas of hazardous terrain, nor are they authorized when a remote altimeter setting is required. Due to the inherent problems associated with barometric readings and cold temperatures, these procedures are also temperature limited. Additional approach design criteria for RNAV Approach Construction Criteria can be found in the appropriate FAA Order 8260-series orders.

RNAV (GPS) Approach Using WAAS

WAAS was commissioned in July 2003, with IOC. Although precision approach capability is still in the future, WAAS currently provides a type of APV known as LPV. WAAS can support the following minima types: LPV, LNAV/VNAV, LP, and LNAV. Approach minima as low as 200 feet HAT and 1/2 SM visibility is possible, even though LPV is not considered a precision approach. WAAS covers 95 percent of the country 95 percent of the time.

Note: WAAS avionics receive an airworthiness approval in accordance with Technical Standard Order (TSO) C145, Airborne Navigation Sensors Using the Global Positioning System (GPS) Augmented by the Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS), or TSO-146, Stand-Alone Airborne Navigation Equipment Using the Global Positioning System (GPS) Augmented by the Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS), and installed in accordance with AC 20-138C, Airworthiness Approval of Positioning and Navigation Systems.

Precision approach capability will become available as more GBAS (LAAS) approach types become operational. GBAS (LAAS) further increases the accuracy of GPS and improves signal integrity warnings. Precision approach capability requires obstruction planes and approach lighting systems to meet Part 77 standards for ILS approaches. This delays the implementation of RNAV (GPS) precision approach capability due to the cost of certifying each runway.

ILS Approaches

Notwithstanding emerging RNAV technology, the ILS is the most precise and accurate approach NAVAID currently in use throughout the NAS. An ILS CAT I precision approach allows approaches to be made to 200 feet above the TDZE and with visibilities as low as 1,800 RVR; with CAT II and CAT III approaches allowing descents and visibility minimums that are even lower. Non-precision approach alternatives cannot begin to offer the precision or flexibility offered by an ILS. In order to further increase the approach capacity of busy airports and exploit the maximum potential of ILS technology, many different applications are in use.

An ILS system can accommodate up to 29 arrivals per hour on a single runway. Two or three parallel runways operating independently can double or triple the capacity of the airport. For air commerce, this means greater flexibility in scheduling passenger and cargo service. Capacity is increased through the use of simultaneous or converging ILS approaches, which are explained further in the corresponding paragraphs below.

In order to successfully accomplish simultaneous or converging ILS approaches, flight crews and ATC have additional responsibilities. When simultaneous instrument approaches are in use, ATC advises flight crews either directly or through ATIS of the active runways. It is the pilot’s responsibility to inform ATC if unable or unwilling to execute a simultaneous approach. Pilots must comply with all ATC requests in a timely manner and maintain strict radio discipline, including using complete aircraft call signs. It is also incumbent upon the flight crew to notify ATC immediately of any problems relating to aircraft communications or navigation systems. At the very least, the approach procedure briefing should cover the entire procedure including the approach name, runway number, frequencies, final approach course, glideslope intercept altitude, DA or DH, and the missed approach instructions. The review of autopilot procedures is also appropriate when making coupled ILS approaches.

As with all approaches, the primary navigation responsibility falls upon the pilot in command. ATC instructions will be limited to ensuring aircraft separation. Additionally, MAPs are designed to diverge in order to protect all involved aircraft. ILS approaches of all types are afforded the same obstacle clearance protection and design criteria, no matter how capacity is affected by simultaneous ILS approaches. [Figure 3]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 3. ILS final approach segment design criteria

ILS Approach Categories

There are three general classifications of ILS approaches: CAT I, CAT II, and CAT III (autoland). The basic ILS approach is a CAT I approach and requires only that pilots be instrument rated and current, and that the aircraft be equipped appropriately. CAT II and CAT III ILS approaches have lower minimums and require special certification for operators, pilots, aircraft, and airborne/ground equipment. Because of the complexity and high cost of the equipment, CAT III ILS approaches are used primarily in air carrier and military operations. [Figure 4]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 4. ILS approach categories

CAT II and III Approaches

The primary authorization and minimum RVRs allowed for an air carrier to conduct CAT II and III approaches can be found in OpSpecs Part C. CAT II and III operations allow authorized pilots to make instrument approaches in weather that would otherwise be prohibitive.

While CAT I ILS operations permit substitution of midfield RVR for TDZ RVR (when TDZ RVR is not available), CAT II ILS operations do not permit any substitutions for TDZ RVR. The TDZ RVR system is required and must be used. The TDZ RVR is controlling for all CAT II ILS operations.

The weather conditions encountered in CAT III operations range from an area where visual references are adequate for manual rollout in CAT IIIa, to an area where visual references are inadequate even for taxi operations in CAT IIIc. To date, no U.S. operator has received approval for CAT IIIc in OpSpecs. Depending on the auto-flight systems, some aircraft require a DH to ensure that the aircraft is going to land in the TDZ and some require an Alert Height as a final cross-check of the performance of the auto-flight systems. These heights are based on radio altitude (RA) and can be found in the specific aircraft’s AFM. [Figure 5]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 5. Category III approach procedure

Both CAT II and III approaches require special ground and airborne equipment to be installed and operational, as well as special aircrew training and authorization. The OpSpecs of individual air carriers detail the requirements of these types of approaches, as well as their performance criteria. Lists of locations where each operator is approved to conduct CAT II and III approaches can also be found in the OpSpecs.

Special Authorization approaches are designed to take advantage of advances in flight deck avionics and technologies like Head-Up Displays (HUD) and automatic landings. There are extensive ground infrastructures and lighting requirements for standard CAT II/III, and the Special Authorization approaches mitigate the lack of some lighting with the modern avionics found in many aircraft today. Similar to standard CAT II/III, an air carrier must be specifically authorized to conduct Special Authorization CAT I/II in OpSpecs Part C.

Simultaneous Approaches To Parallel Runways

Airports that have two or more parallel runways may be authorized to use simultaneous parallel approaches to maximize the capacity of the airport. Depending on the runway centerline separation and ATC procedures, there are three classifications of simultaneous parallel approaches: Simultaneous dependent approaches, simultaneous independent approaches and simultaneous independent close parallel approaches. A simultaneous dependent approach differs from a simultaneous independent approach in that the minimum distance between parallel runway centerlines may be less. A staggered separation of aircraft on the adjacent final approach course is required; but there is no requirement for a No Transgression Zone (NTZ) or Final Monitor Controllers. An independent approach eliminates the need for staggered approaches and aircraft may be side by side or pass if speeds are different.

  1. Simultaneous approaches involving an RNAV approach may only be conducted when (GPS) appears in the approach title or a chart note states that GPS is required. See the “ILS Approaches” paragraph above for information about pilot responsibilities when simultaneous approaches are in use.
  2. Flight Director or Autopilot requirements for simultaneous operations will be annotated on the approach chart.
  3. Simultaneous approaches may only be conducted where instrument approach charts specifically authorize simultaneous approaches.

Simultaneous Dependent Approaches

When simultaneous dependent approaches are provided, ATC applies specific minimum diagonal separation criteria, depending on the runway separation, between aircraft on adjacent final approach courses. Aircraft will be staggered by a minimum of 1 NM diagonally on final, depending on the distance between runway centerlines. Greater separation standards are applied when the distance between runway centerlines is greater. [Figure 6]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 6. Classification of Simultaneous Parallel Approaches

At some airports, simultaneous dependent instrument approaches can be conducted with runways spaced less than 2,500 feet with specific centerline separations and threshold staggers. ATC is permitted to apply reduced diagonal separation and special wake turbulence procedures. The lead aircraft of the dependent pair is restricted to being small or large aircraft weight type and is cleared to the lower approach. The design of the approach, aircraft weight type, and lateral separation between the two approaches provide necessary wake turbulence avoidance for this type of operation. An example of approach design to help avoid wake turbulence is that some locations use different glide slope angles on adjacent approaches; also, if applicable, staggered thresholds help. An ATIS example is: “Simultaneous ILS Runway 28 Left and ILS Runway 28 Right in use.” For further information, see FAA Orders JO 7110.65 and JO 7110.308.

Where a simultaneous approach operation is approved, sometimes each approach chart indicates the other runway(s) with which simultaneous approaches can be conducted. For example, “Simultaneous approaches authorized with runway 12L”. As procedures are revised, the chart note will be modified to indicate “Simultaneous approach authorized” but will not list the other runways or approach types as that detailed information will normally be transmitted in the ATIS or by ATC. For example, pilots flying into Sacramento, California, may encounter parallel approach procedures. [Figure 7] When there is no chart note stating, “Simultaneous approaches authorized”, standard separation is used between aircraft on parallel approaches.

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 7. Sacramento International KSMF, Sacramento, California, ILS or LOC RWY 16L

Simultaneous Independent Approaches

Dual and triple simultaneous independent parallel instrument approaches, are authorized at certain airports with specified distances between parallel runway centerlines. As a part of the simultaneous independent approach approval, an NTZ must be established to ensure proper flight track boundaries for all aircraft. Outside of the NTZ, normal operating zones (NOZ) indicate the operating zone within which aircraft remain during normal approach operations. The NOZ between the final approach courses varies in width depending on the runway centerline spacing. The NTZ is defined as a 2,000-foot wide area located equidistant between the final approach courses in which flight is not allowed during the simultaneous operation. [Figure 8] Any time an aircraft breaches or is anticipated to breach the NTZ, ATC issues instructions for the threatened aircraft on the adjacent final approach course to break off the approach to avoid potential conflict.

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 8. Simultaneous Independent Approach Example Using ILS Approaches

A local controller for each runway is also required. Dedicated final monitor controllers for each runway monitor separation, track aircraft positions and issue instructions to pilots of aircraft observed deviating from the final approach course. [Figure 9] These operations are normally authorized for ILS, LDA and RNAV approach procedures with vertical guidance. For simultaneous parallel ILS approach operations, pilots should review the chart notes to determine whether the non-precision LOC procedure is authorized (in the event of glide slope equipment failure either in the aircraft or the ground). An example of a restriction on the use of a LOC procedure is shown in the notes on Figure 10: “LOC procedure NA during simultaneous operations”. Likewise, for RNAV (GPS) approaches, use of LNAV procedures are often restricted during simultaneous operations.

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 9. Charlotte Douglas International KCLT, Charlotte, North Carolina, ILS or LOC RWY 18L

Missed approach procedures for Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW)4
Figure 10 Missed approach procedures for Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW)4

Triple simultaneous independent approaches are authorized provided the runway centerlines are separated by at least 3900 feet for triple straight in approaches. If one or both outside runways have an offset approach course of 2.5° to 3.0°, the spacing between those outer runways and the center runway may be reduced to 3000 feet.

Simultaneous Close Parallel Precision Runway Monitor (PRM) Approaches

Simultaneous close parallel (independent) PRM approaches are authorized for use at designated airports that have parallel runways spaced less than 4,300 feet apart. [Figure 11]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 11. Simultaneous independent close parallel approach example using ILS PRM approaches

PRM procedures are the most efficient method of increasing approach capacity at airports with closely spaced, parallel runways. Use of PRM procedures increases airport capacity during periods of low visibility by providing ATC the capability to monitor simultaneous close parallel (independent) approaches. These PRM operations reduce delays and increase fuel savings. Traditionally the PRM system included a high-update rate radar, a high resolution ATC radar display, as well as software that can autonomously track aircraft in close to real time, with visual and aural alerts that depict the aircraft’s current position and velocity as well as displaying a ten-second projected position to the controllers. Today, most PRM operations are conducted without the need for high update rate radar, so long as all of the other requirements to conduct such approaches are met.

There are also special communications and ATC requirements for PRM approaches. PRM approaches require a final NTZ monitor controller for each runway, a separate tower controller for each runway, a PRM tower frequency, and a runway-specific PRM frequency. Each final monitor controller will have a dedicated PRM frequency, and the tower controller will have a separate common PRM frequency. Pilots transmit and receive on the common tower PRM frequency, but maintain listening watch on the final controller’s PRM frequency for their specified runway. The final monitor controller has override capability on their PRM frequency. In that way, if the common tower frequency is blocked, the monitor controller’s instructions will be heard by the pilot on the monitor controller’s PRM frequency. Pilot training is prescribed and required for pilots prior to using the PRM procedures. The FAA PRM website (http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/ training/ prm/) contains training information for PRM approaches and hosts PRM training materials for download or viewing online.”

When pilots or flight crews wish to decline a PRM approach, ATC must be notified immediately and the flight will be transitioned into the area at the convenience of ATC. Pilots who are unable to accept a PRM approach may be subject to delays.

The approach chart for the PRM approach requires review of the accompanying AAUP page, which outlines pilot, aircraft, and procedure requirements necessary to participate in PRM operations. [Figure 12]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 12. Example of Simultaneous close parallel instrument approach: Atlanta, Georgia, ILS PRM RWY 10 and AAUP

Pilots need to be aware of the differences associated with this type of approach. Differences, as compared to other simultaneous approaches, are listed below:
  • Immediately follow break out instructions as soon as safety permits.
  • Use of the AAUP.
  • Use of dual VHF communications.
  • Completion of required PRM training.
  • Hand flying any breakout instruction. It is important to note that descending breakouts, though rare, may be issued. Flight crews will never be issued breakout instructions that clear them to an altitude below the MVA, and they are not required to descend at more than 1,000 fpm.
  • Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) is not required to conduct a PRM approach. For aircraft so equipped, if the controller’s climb/descend instruction differs from the TCAS resolution advisory (RA), pilots must follow the RA while continuing to follow the controller’s turn instruction. Report this deviation to ATC as soon as practical.

Simultaneous Offset Instrument Approaches (SOIAs)

SOIAs allow simultaneous approaches to two parallel runways spaced at least 750 feet apart, but less than 3,000 feet. Traditionally, the SOIA procedure has used an ILS/ PRM approach to one runway and an offset localizer-type directional aid (LDA)/PRM approach with glideslope to the adjacent runway. Now, RNAV (GPS) and RNAV (RNP) approaches may also be used for SOIA.” Approach charts will include procedural notes, such as “Simultaneous Close Parallel approach authorized with LDA PRM RWY 28R and RNAV (GPS) PRM X RWY 28R.” or “Simultaneous approach authorized”. San Francisco had the first published SOIA approach. [Figure 13]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 13. Example of Approach and AAUP used for Simultaneous Offset Instrument Approach Procedure

The training, procedures, and system requirements for SOIA ILS/PRM and LDA/PRM approaches are identical with those used for simultaneous close parallel ILS/PRM approaches until near the LDA/PRM approach MAP, where visual acquisition of the ILS aircraft by the LDA aircraft must be accomplished. If visual acquisition is not accomplished prior to reaching the LDA MAP , a missed approach must be executed. A visual segment for the LDA/PRM approach is established between the LDA MAP and the runway threshold. Aircraft transition in visual conditions from the LDA course, beginning at the LDA MAP, to align with the runway and can be stabilized by 500 feet AGL on the extended runway centerline. Pilots are reminded that they are responsible for collision avoidance and wake turbulence mitigation between the LDA MAP and the runway.

The FAA website has additional information about PRM and SOIA approaches, including an instructional PowerPoint training presentation at http://www.faa.gov/training_ testing/training/prm/.

Converging ILS Approaches

Another method by which ILS approach capacity can be increased is through the use of converging approaches. Converging approaches may be established at airports that have runways with an angle between 15° and 100° and each runway must have an ILS. Additionally, separate procedures must be established for each approach, and each approach must have a MAP at least 3 NM apart with no overlapping of the protected missed approach airspace. Only straight-in approaches are approved for converging ILS procedures. If the runways intersect, the controller must be able to visually separate intersecting runway traffic.

Approaches to intersecting runways generally have higher minimums, commonly with 600-foot ceiling and 1 1/4 to 2 mile visibility requirements. Pilots are informed of the use of converging ILS approaches by the controller upon initial contact or through ATIS. [Figure 14]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 14. Converging approach criteria

Dallas/Fort Worth International airport is one of the few airports that makes use of converging ILS approaches because its runway configuration has multiple parallel runways and two offset runways. [Figure 15] The approach chart title indicates the use of converging approaches and the notes section highlights other runways that are authorized for converging approach procedures. Note the slight different in charting titles on the IAPs. Soon all Converging ILS procedures will be charted in the newer format shown in Figure 14, with the use of "V" in the title, and "CONVERGING" in parenthesis.

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 15. Dallas-Fort Worth KDFW, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, CONVERGING ILS RWY 35C

VOR Approach

The VOR is one of the most widely used non-precision approach types in the NAS. VOR approaches use VOR facilities both on and off the airport to establish approaches and include the use of a wide variety of equipment, such as DME and TACAN. Due to the wide variety of options included in a VOR approach, TERPS outlines design criteria for both on and off airport VOR facilities, as well as VOR approaches with and without a FAF. Despite the various configurations, all VOR approaches are non-precision approaches, require the presence of properly operating VOR equipment, and can provide MDAs as low as 250 feet above the runway. VOR also offers a flexible advantage in that an approach can be made toward or away from the navigational facility.

The VOR approach into Fort Rucker, Alabama, is an example of a VOR approach where the VOR facility is on the airport and there is no specified FAF. [Figure 16] For a straight-in approach, the final approach course is typically aligned to intersect the extended runway centerline 3,000 feet from the runway threshold, and the angle of convergence between the two does not exceed 30°. This type of VOR approach also includes a minimum of 300 feet of obstacle clearance in the final approach area. The final approach area criteria include a 2 NM wide primary area at the facility that expands to 6 NM wide at a distance of 10 NM from the facility. Additional approach criteria are established for courses that require a high altitude teardrop approach penetration.

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 16. Fort Rucker, Alabama, KOZR VOR RWY 6

When DME is included in the title of the VOR approach, operable DME must be installed in the aircraft in order to fly the approach from the FAF. The use of DME allows for an accurate determination of position without timing, which greatly increases situational awareness throughout the approach. Alexandria, Louisiana, is an excellent example of a VOR/DME approach in which the VOR is off the airport and a FAF is depicted. [Figure 17] In this case, the final approach course is a radial or straight-in final approach and is designed to intersect the runway centerline at the runway threshold with the angle of convergence not exceeding 30°.

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 17. Alexandria International (AEX), Alexandria, Louisiana, KAEX VOR DME RWY 32

The criteria for an arc final approach segment associated with a VOR/DME approach is based on the arc being beyond 7 NM and no farther than 30 NM from the VOR and depends on the angle of convergence between the runway centerline and the tangent of the arc. Obstacle clearance in the primary area, which is considered the area 4 NM on either side of the arc centerline, is guaranteed by at least 500 feet.

NDB Approach

Like the VOR approach, an NDB approach can be designed using facilities both on and off the airport, with or without a FAF, and with or without DME availability. At one time, it was commonplace for an instrument student to learn how to fly an NDB approach, but with the growing use of GPS, many pilots no longer use the NDB for instrument approaches. New RNAV approaches are also rapidly being constructed into airports that are served only by NDB. The long-term plan includes the gradual phase out of NDB facilities, and eventually, the NDB approach becomes nonexistent. Until that time, the NDB provides additional availability for instrument pilots into many smaller, remotely located airports.

The NDB Runway 35 approach at Carthage/Panola County Sharpe Field is an example of an NDB approach established with an on-airport NDB that does not incorporate a FAF. [Figure 18] In this case, a procedure turn or penetration turn is required to be a part of the approach design. For the NDB to be considered an on-airport facility, the facility must be located within one mile of any portion of the landing runway for straight-in approaches and within one mile of any portion of usable landing surface for circling approaches. The final approach segment of the approach is designed with a final approach area that is 2.5 NM wide at the facility and increases to 8 NM wide at 10 NM from the facility. Additionally, the final approach course and the extended runway centerline angle of convergence cannot exceed 30° for straight-in approaches. This type of NDB approach is afforded a minimum of 350 feet obstacle clearance.

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 18. Carthage/Panola County-Sharpe Field, Carthage, Texas, (K4F2), NDB RWY 35

When a FAF is established for an NDB approach, the approach design criteria changes. It also takes into account whether or not the NDB is located on or off the airport. Additionally, this type of approach can be made both moving toward or away from the NDB facility. The Tuscon Ryan Field, NDB/DME RWY 6 is an approach with a FAF using an on-airport NDB facility that also incorporates the use of DME. [Figure 19] In this case, the NDB has DME capabilities from the LOC approach system installed on the airport. While the alignment criteria and obstacle clearance remain the same as an NDB approach without a FAF, the final approach segment area criteria changes to an area that is 2.5 NM wide at the facility and increases to 5 NM wide, 15 NM from the NDB.

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 19. Tucson/Ryan Field, Tuscson, Arizona, (KRYN), NDB/DME or GPS RWY 6R

Radar Approaches

The two types of radar approaches available to pilots when operating in the NAS are precision approach radar (PAR) and airport surveillance radar (ASR). Radar approaches may be given to any aircraft at the pilot’s request. ATC may also offer radar approach options to aircraft in distress regardless of the weather conditions or as necessary to expedite traffic. Despite the control exercised by ATC in a radar approach environment, it remains the pilot’s responsibility to ensure the approach and landing minimums listed for the approach are appropriate for the existing weather conditions considering personal approach criteria certification and company OpSpecs.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of either type of radar approach is the ability to use radar to execute a no gyro approach. Assuming standard rate turns, ATC can indicate when to begin and end turns. If available, pilots should make use of this approach when the heading indicator has failed and partial panel instrument flying is required.

Information about radar approaches is published in tabular form in the front of the TPP booklet. PAR, ASR, and circling approach information including runway, DA, DH, or MDA, height above airport (HAA), HAT, ceiling, and visibility criteria are outlined and listed by specific airport.

Regardless of the type of radar approach in use, ATC monitors aircraft position and issues specific heading and altitude information throughout the entire approach. Particularly, lost communications procedures should be briefed prior to execution to ensure pilots have a comprehensive understanding of ATC expectations if radio communication were lost. ATC also provides additional information concerning weather and missed approach instructions when beginning a radar approach. [Figure 20]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 20. Asheville Regional KAVL, Asheville, North Carolina, radar instrument approach minimums

Precision Approach Radar (PAR)

PAR provides both vertical and lateral guidance, as well as range, much like an ILS, making it the most precise radar approach available. The radar approach, however, is not able to provide visual approach indications in the flight deck. This requires the flight crew to listen and comply with controller instructions. PAR approaches are rare, with most of the approaches used in a military setting; any opportunity to practice this type of approach is beneficial to any flight crew. The final approach course of a PAR approach is normally aligned with the runway centerline, and the associated glideslope is typically no less than 2.5° and no more than 3°. Obstacle clearance for the final approach area is based on the particular established glideslope angle and the exact formula is outlined in FAA Order 8260.3. [Figure 21]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 21. PAR final approach area criteria

Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR)

ASR approaches are typically only approved when necessitated for an ATC operational requirement or in an unusual or emergency situation. This type of radar only provides heading and range information, although the controller can advise the pilot of the altitude where the aircraft should be based on the distance from the runway. An ASR approach procedure can be established at any radar facility that has an antenna within 20 NM of the airport and meets the equipment requirements outlined in FAA Order 8200.1, U.S. Standard Flight Inspection Manual. ASR approaches are not authorized for use when Center Radar ARTS processing (CENRAP) procedures are in use due to diminished radar capability. The final approach course for an ASR approach is aligned with the runway centerline for straight-in approaches and aligned with the center of the airport for circling approaches. Within the final approach area, the pilot is also guaranteed a minimum of 250 feet obstacle clearance. ASR descent gradients are designed to be relatively flat, with an optimal gradient of 150 feet per mile and never exceeding 300 feet per mile.

Localizer Approaches

As an approach system, the localizer is an extremely flexible approach aid that, due to its inherent design, provides many applications for a variety of needs in instrument flying. An ILS glideslope installation may be impossible due to surrounding terrain. The localizer is able to provide four separate types of non-precision approaches from one approach system:
  • Localizer approach
  • Localizer/DME approach
  • Localizer back course approach
  • Localizer-type directional aid (LDA)

Localizer and Localizer DME

The localizer approach system can provide both precision and non-precision approach capabilities to a pilot. As a part of the ILS system, the localizer provides horizontal guidance for a precision approach. Typically, when the localizer is discussed, it is thought of as a non-precision approach due to the fact that either it is the only approach system installed, or the glideslope is out of service on the ILS. In either case, the localizer provides a non-precision approach using a localizer transmitter installed at a specific airport. [Figure 22]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 22. Vicksburg Tallulah Regional KTVR, Tallulah Vicksburg, Louisiana, LOC RWY 36

TERPS provides the same alignment criteria for a localizer approach as it does for the ILS, since it is essentially the same approach without vertical guidance stemming from the glideslope. A localizer is always aligned within 3° of the runway, and it is afforded a minimum of 250 feet obstacle clearance in the final approach area. In the case of a localizer DME (LOC DME) approach, the localizer installation has a collocated DME installation that provides distance information required for the approach. [Figure 23]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 23. Vicksburg Tallulah Regional KTVR, Tallulah Vicksburg, Louisiana, LOC RWY 36

Localizer Back Course

In cases where an ILS is installed, a back course may be available in conjunction with the localizer. Like the localizer, the back course does not offer a glideslope, but remember that the back course can project a false glideslope signal and the glideslope should be ignored. Reverse sensing occurs on the back course using standard VOR equipment.

With a horizontal situation indicator (HSI) system, reverse sensing is eliminated if it is set appropriately to the front course. [Figure 24]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 24. Dayton Beach International DAB, Dayton Beach, Florida, LOC BC RWY 25R

Localizer-Type Directional Aid (LDA)

The LDA is of comparable use and accuracy to a localizer but is not part of a complete ILS. The LDA course usually provides a more precise approach course than the similar simplified directional facility (SDF) installation, which may have a course width of 6° or 12°.

The LDA is not aligned with the runway. Straight-in minimums may be published where alignment does not exceed 30° between the course and runway. Circling minimums only are published where this alignment exceeds 30°.

A very limited number of LDA approaches also incorporate a glideslope. These are annotated in the plan view of the instrument approach chart with a note, “LDA/Glideslope.” These procedures fall under a newly defined category of approaches called Approach (Procedure) with Vertical Guidance (aviation) APVs. LDA minima for with and without glideslope is provided and annotated on the minima lines of the approach chart as S−LDA/GS and S−LDA. Because the final approach course is not aligned with the runway centerline, additional maneuvering is required compared to an ILS approach. [Figure 25]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 25. Hartford Brainard KHFD, Hartford, Connecticut, LDA RWY 2

Simplified Directional Facility (SDF)

The SDF provides a final approach course similar to that of the ILS localizer. It does not provide glideslope information. A clear understanding of the ILS localizer and the additional factors listed below completely describe the operational characteristics and use of the SDF. [Figure 26]

Aircraft RNAV Approach Types
Figure 26. Lebanon Floyd W Jones, Lebanon, Missouri, SDF RWY 36

The approach techniques and procedures used in an SDF instrument approach are essentially the same as those employed in executing a standard localizer approach except the SDF course may not be aligned with the runway and the course may be wider, resulting in less precision. Like the LOC type approaches, the SDF is an alternative approach that may be installed at an airport for a variety of reasons, including terrain. The final approach is provided a minimum of 250 feet obstacle clearance for straight-in approaches while in the final approach area, which is an area defined for a 6° course: 1,000 feet at or abeam the runway threshold expanding to 19,228 feet (10 NM) from the threshold. The same final approach area for a 12° course is larger. This type of approach is also designed with a maximum descent gradient of 400 feet per NM, unless circling only minimums are authorized.

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