Chart Wise: PDK RNAV (GPS) Y Runway 21L

When winds blow south or west, look for this approach.

With Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) notorious as the busiest airport in the US—with passengers carried at just over 103 million—the air traffic in the Atlanta area can, at times, be intense. DeKalb-Peachtree (PDK), just 17 nautical miles northeast, is a perfect GA airport for anyone visiting the metro area interested in avoiding ATL traffic. When PDK winds blow from the west and south, the RNAV (GPS) Y Runway 21L is regularly used during IFR conditions—and often just to establish a stable arrival during VFR conditions.

A. AWSON Arrival

Pilots en route to Atlanta from the northeast should note the (GPS) Y procedure “is not authorized for arrivals at AWSON [while] on V5-311-417 westbound.” From a planning perspective, an arriving pilot might want to consider including AWSON in their flight plan. Arrivals from the north are commonly assigned the DEHAN ONE arrival, which uses AWSON as one of the intermediate transition points directly feeding the IAF at WODUS.

B. MAP Not at the Runway

The missed approach point on the 21L GPS procedure might look as if it’s at the end of the runway, but a closer look shows it’s not. The actual MAP is JOPUN intersection 0.4 miles from the runway’s end.

C. No Glideslope

This approach does not include LPV minimums created with a precisionlike glideslope. Pilots should plan to fly a stabilized nonprecision descent to step-down points along the way. While doing so, a visual descent point is depicted at 1 mile from JOPUN, or approximately 1.4 miles from the runway threshold. A VDP is a point along a straight-in, nonprecision approach from which the pilot can descend below the MDA, as long as they have the required visual reference. If not, the only option is a missed approach. Pay close attention to the note near the No. 2 in the profile that indicates the VDP is only authorized with a local altimeter setting in hand. The baro from nearby Fulton County Airport-Brown Field won’t suffice.

D. A Standby ASOS

With so many restrictions on the approach—especially when the PDK control tower is closed—a handy frequency to have stored in a standby radio might be 120.175, the ATIS for nearby Charlie Brown Field (as Fulton County Airport is also locally known).

E. Straight-In—Almost

Also note No. 8 indicating the approach. While labeled as a straight-in, it’s actually 15.04 degrees offset from the runway alignment. This is important because pilots must remember the runway will most likely not be right in front of them when they break out of the clouds, and a final turn will be needed to align with the runway centerline.

F. Circle to Land

A pilot shooting this approach with a tailwind is unable to use this procedure to circle to runways 03L or 16 at night, according to note No. 1.

G. Right on Missed Approach

To ensure there are no conflicts between an airplane executing a missed approach from 21L and traffic at nearby ATL, the missed approach calls for an immediate climbing right turn—more than 100 degrees—to the BAPPY intersection to hold unless instructed otherwise by ATC. The tight turn of nearly 120 degrees as the aircraft is climbing to 4,000 feet can certainly increase the pilot’s workload.

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of Flying Magazine


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