FAA Should Halt Instrument Approach Decommissioning, for Now

Don’t leave airports short of valuable iAP options, NBAA says.

The NBAA has asked the FAA to “hit the pause button” on decommissioning old circling approaches, as well as those with circling minima, until the agency evaluates recent glitches in some FMS and navigational databases. The FAA said new area navigation technologies have fostered a doubling of usable approach procedures in the past decade and hence the agency’s efforts to drop unnecessary IAPs.

The call for further analysis is tied to snags that recently caused Rockwell Collins to pull some 10,000 individual approach procedures from the Jeppesen and Lufthansa type, 6, 7 and 8 databases. Rockwell Collins uncovered a problem with its manually edited and temperature compensated “climb to” altitudes that might have sent aircraft headed in the wrong direction under certain conditions. NBAA wants to be certain agency efforts to save money through decommissioning don’t leave some airports short of good usable approach options.

Approach decommissioning was outlined in Docket FAA-2017-0879, because “The complexity and cost to the FAA of maintaining the instrument flight procedures inventory, while expanding the new RNAV capability is not sustainable,” the agency said.

The NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure, Heidi Williams said the association is urging the FAA to move cautiously on continued approach removal. She said while remaining sensitive to the agency’s need to eliminate unnecessary approaches, “… we would like to task the FAA to take another look at the recent database issues to determine how they factor into approach cancellation criteria.”


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