St. Paul Downtown ILS/LOC Runway 32 Approach

A straightforward approach, with some things to watch out for.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Inter-national Airport (KMSP) ranks 16th in the nation for air traffic, a constant mix of airline, business aviation and military airplanes. It’s harried enough to also challenge some general aviation pilots. A great alternative to KMSP sits just five miles northeast, St. Paul’s Downtown Holman Airport. KSTP’s Runway 32 stretches 6,500 feet and is served by the ILS/LOC 32 approach, and offers circling opportunities to the airport’s other two Runways, 27 and 31. Additional approaches are available as well.

Chart Wise
St. Paul Downtown ILS/LOC Runway 32 ApproachFlying

A. Those Cross Radials

Before flying this approach, pilots who regularly fly without a GPS or with one that’s not IFR-certified may want to refresh their VOR intercept and tracking skills. They’ll be needed to identify intersections along the localizer like KIKKY, RULDE and HOVIN that pinpoint the IAF and the FAF, as well as stepdown fixes for added situational awareness. It’s important to understand the DME fixes along this approach are generated on the IBAO localizer frequency — 111.5 — highlighted by the “ILS DME” and the “IBAO” notes next to each DME fix.

B. DME or RADAR Required

Note No. 1 makes it clear that radar or DME is required to execute this approach although it might appear a bit confusing since the plan view includes the singular note “radar is required for procedure entry from the en route environment.” The point is there’s no clear method for pilots to establish themselves onto this approach heading toward an initial approach fix without either being vectored by radar or using a GPS to identify the waypoint.

C. Two Possible Missed Approaches

Once an aircraft flying the missed approach reaches the WHISK intersection, there are two possible directions to head. One asks the pilot to enter a holding pattern created on the MSP VOR 037 radial. The pilot actually establishes the airplane on the reciprocal, 217-degree heading inbound. Alternately, upon reaching WHISK, the aircraft might fly a different holding pattern using the 011-degree radial from the Farmington VOR (FGT) using the reciprocal, the 191-degree heading inbound toward FGT. You can expect ATC to assign the alternate hold if either the MSP or the Gopher (GEP) VORs are out of service and the aircraft is not equipped with an IFR-certified GPS that could be used to substitute identification of a holding point.

D. Visual Descent Point

The “V” at D2.3 IBAO indicates a visual descent point — a practical solution created to help pilots avoid a steep descent at the last moment when they are already close to the ground. If pilots have not spotted the runway environment by the time they reach the visual descent point, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to execute a landing using a normal rate of descent. If an unusual maneuver might be required to reach the touchdown zone, the appropriate response is to fly a missed approach.

E. 0 DME Doesn't Indicate the MAP

Even though the DME indicated at the missed-approach point is generated on the localizer frequency, that does not mean the MAP has been reached when the DME reaches 0. That's because the antenna generating the DME is not installed at the approach end of the runway. Pilots flying a localizer approach that would use a minimum descent altitude and time can be prepared to execute a missed approach when the DME reads 1.1 because that's when the aircraft is actually crossing the runway's end. During a localizer-only approach, the MAP is reached at the expiration of time calculated for the aircraft to fly inbound once it passed the FAF at RULDE, as long as the speed is maintained.
When using an IFR GPS to sequence the approach, in many cases the distance will count down to 0 at the MAP. That's because the GPS is counting down from an FMS-based waypoint, not the localizer's DME distance.