Brief the Approach

Know what to expect before you begin this busy flight segment.

Approach
Approach

Flying instrument approaches in IMC is one of the busiest times we pilots face, so it makes sense for us to do as much preparation as possible beforehand. An important part of this process is briefing the approach so that you and your right-seater (if you’re luck enough to have one) know exactly what you’re about to get yourselves into.

A thorough approach briefing includes the following: the name of the airport; the type of approach; the runway number (as well as its length and elevation); the final approach course; all the necessary frequencies you’ll use for navigation and communication; the altimeter setting; speeds to be flown; step-down fixes, procedure turns, decent points, turning fixes and so on; the final approach fix; approach times if required; decision altitude or minimum descent altitude; and, finally, the missed approach procedure.

You can brief the approach quickly and easily by holding the approach plate in your lap and starting at the top and working your way down the page. With a little practice, you’ll be able to brief an approach in less than a minute. Doing so will ensure you understand the approach in its entirety and aren’t faced with any unwelcome surprises once things start getting busy.