Seasonal Safety: SANTA!

In keeping with the holiday spirit, I
thought I’d use this specially created instrument approach procedure (IAP)
chart that Jeppesen put out a couple years ago for the North Pole for this blog
article. Although the chart is clearly a figment of someone’s imagination, it
still can be used as a teaching aid in explaining the six basic parts of an
instrument approach chart.

Click this image to open a full pdf version in a new tab!

IAP charts have the same basic layout.
This means that certain information always appears in the same location
on the chart with a few exceptions.

The information
at the very top and at the very bottom of the chart is referred to as “marginal
data.” This would include the name of the approach, the airport name, and
latitude and longitude of the airport.
In the case of this fictitious approach chart, the name of the airport
is Santa’s Workshop International.
The name of the approach is North Pole Village RNAV (GPS) Rwy 18.

The second section is called the Pilot
Briefing Section.  It is imperative
that the pilot review this section of the approach chart prior to flying the
approach.  It is especially
important that the pilot review and understand the prescribed missed approach
procedure.  This section also can
contain notes to pilots such as “Reindeer and Elves in vicinity of the
runway.”  This section also
contains the frequencies the pilot will be using in the order of use.  For example, on the North Pole Village
approach chart, Center frequency is shown as 122.8.

The third section on an instrument
approach chart is called the Plan View.
This section contains a diagram of the entire approach procedure as
viewed from overhead (i.e., top down).
The Plan View can also contain special information such as “Temporary

The fourth section is the Profile
View.  This section contains
important information about altitude and distance.  For example, on this approach chart, the distance from the
outer maker to the missed approach point is 5.0 statute miles and the glide
path angle is 7%.

The fifth section is called the
Minimums Section.  This section looks
like a table with the information broken down by aircraft category and type of
approach to be flown.  On the North
Pole Village approach, if two or more reindeer are out of service, the pilot
can only fly a straight in localizer (LOC) approach down to a minimum decision
height (MDA) of 500 feet MSL.
Also, if Rudolph and radar are available, the pilot could make a
circle-to-land approach with four different minimums shown.

The last section on most instrument
approach procedure charts is an airport diagram that normally appears adjacent
to the Minimums Section.  However,
since nobody actually knows the real location of Santa’s Workshop
International, no airport diagram is shown on this chart, which was created by
Jeppesen in 2013.

When I was working on my own instrument
rating 40+ years ago, I can remember being very intimidated by the approach
charts because they contained so much information.  However, once I became an instrument instructor and had to
teach my students how to use these charts, it became much easier to understand
and properly use the information provided.

My best advice to any instrument-rated pilot is to spend as much time on the ground as possible going over your IAP charts because trying to figure out something you don’t understand in the air could become problematic.  Also, there is actual value in sitting in an armchair with your approach chart in front of you and simply imagining yourself flying the approach.  Our mind does not discriminate between things we actually do and things we “simulate” or rehearse.  I used this technique when I was in Army flight school working on my helicopter instrument rating and it really paid off for me. When the flight examiner took me to two airports the day of my check ride that I had never flown instrument approaches to except in my mind, I totally nailed the approach.   From that day forward, I’ve used “armchair simulation” with all of my instrument students to help them learn to accurately read charts and cement the procedures in their mind.  Please give this learning technique a try!

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Author: Sherry Rossiter

I’ve been fortunate to have found a way to merge two different career paths, aviation and psychology. My aviation credentials include ATP, CFI, and CFI-I in both airplanes and helicopters. I’m also a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and currently teach undergraduate psychology courses for Embry Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide Campus. Additionally, I served as a Board Member for SAFE (you can too).

About the author

David St. George

David St. George is an FAA DPE (Sport to Multi ATP) and a Part 135 charter pilot flying the Pilatus PC-12 in the NYC area. He recently renewed his Master Instructor for the tenth time and is a Charter member of SAFE. Formerly a 141 Chief Instructor for over 25 years, with a Gold Seal CFI. David started flying at 16 and has logged over 15,000 hours. He owns a 1946 7AC Aeronca Champ and wrote the SAFE Toolkit app.

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