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Qestion about Approach Plates

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I have seen many cockpit videos where pilots discuss their approach and missed approach during ther arrival briefing on a runway specific approach plate before landing. It seems that once they are on the approach, they are relying on ATC vectors rather then the actual plate which is always clipped to the yoke. They seem to ignore the plate. Why is this? Am I missing something? Thanks.

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I think your terminology got mixed up a bit and this is your main problem. At least in the USA great majority of approaches are flown with radar assistance - pilots do not have to fly full procedure-turn approaches since they are vectored immediately for the final approach course. So one thing they can truly ignore are the procedure turns (if any). But once vectored to intercept the approach course they are on their own - no more vectors from ATC. And though at this point they may seem they never look at the plate again - in fact by now they must have memorized some key data from the plate - all altitudes, MDA, DH, etc and last but not least - the missed approach procedure. NO - they do not ignore the plate, I can assure you.Michael J.http://www.reality-xp.com/community/nr/rsc/rxp-higher.jpg

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"they are relying on ATC vectors rather then the actual plate"The main reason for this is spacing. If every aircraft was coming into the airport from the same direction, then the center controller could handle the spacing and just have the pilots fly the published route. However, most airports have at least 4 different arrival gates. Vectors are not only for getting the airplanes to the airport, but to insure only one aircraft is landing on a given runway at any one time. :-)Now, once spacing is no longer a problem, then the controller will clear the aircraft for an approach. Now is when it becomes the pilots reponsibility to fly the remainder of the approach as published. And it's always a good idea to have the plate in front of you. I've attached a plate for Kennedy's 4R. I've added some highlights to the plate to show why the pilots should not ignore the plate. At the fix "EBBEE" (ORANGE DOT) the aircraft should be at 1,500 ft MSL. At "CONDA" (GREEN DOT) the aircraft should be at 921 ft MSL. In between the 2 dots you'll notice I've added a RED line which follows the coastline. This is a VFR corridor. VFR aircraft are permitted to fly thru this corridor without ever contacting ATC. They are restricted to 500 ft MSL however (this is below the BRAVO airspace).I don't think I need to tell you the results if anyone should happen to stray from the published procedures.Chris

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>>The main reason for this is spacing. I beg to differ. In majority of general aviation airports across the country spacing is not even an issue - yet you still get ATC vectors.It may be one of the reasons, but definitely not the main one. Michael J.

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From the 7110.65N2-1-1 ATC SERVICEThe primary purpose of the ATC system is to prevent a collision between aircraft operating in the system and to organize and expedite the flow of traffic...2-1-2 DUTY PRIORITYa. Give first priority to separating aircraft and issuing safety alerts as required in this order. Good judgment shall be used in prioritizing all other provisions of this order based on the requirements of the situation at hand.http://www2.faa.gov/atpubs/ATC/index.htmChris

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Correct. This is why ATC exists.Another critical mission of ATC is to help pilots locate runways or simplify their life during busy approach (like you quoted above "organizing and expediting").The fact remains that once aircraft arrive through your "feeder gates" they are already properly spaced - center already provided the spacing -if they did their job correctly there is no need for tracon controlers to do more spacing. But vectors are issued for approach.That is why controllers in Cleveland centers are so busy - spacing stream of flights arriving at JFK and IAD and other airports. Those mega airports simply have no capacity to absorb any more delay in their Tracon areas.The original question was about vectors during the actual approach - and those vectors in 95% cases have NOTHING to do with spacing.I work with ATC every day - we write software for them ...Michael J.

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If you have four aircraft entering your airspace from four different controllers from four different directions how can they possibly be properly spaced? And for what it's worth, an aircraft is not on approach until the controller clears him for an approach and once that happens then no further vectors will be provided, unless for some strange reason a pilot requests a further vector. The main reason for vectors is for separation(spacing). Although there are some other reasons.We'll go back to the .65 so you can tell your buddies you've learned something.Section 6 VECTORING5-6-1. APPLICATION Vector aircraft: a. In controlled airspace for separation, safety, noise abatement, operational advantage, or when a pilot requests. Allow aircraft operating on an RNAV route to remain on their own navigation to the extent possible."I work with ATC every day - we write software for them ..."I feel much safer now.Chris

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.. and how many IFR approaches you shot in your life Chris ? Another arm-chair pilot. Oh well...good night.

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wait I'm not done yet...From the AIM5-4-3b. Radar Approach Control.(:( After release to approach control, aircraft are vectored to the final approach course (ILS, MLS, VOR, ADF, etc.). RADAR VECTORS AND ALTITUDE OR FLIGHT LEVELS WILL BE ISSUED AS REQUIRED FOR SPACING AND SEPARATING AIRCRAFT. Therefore, pilots must not deviate from the headings issued by approach control. Aircraft will normally be informed when it is necessary to vector across the final approach course for spacing or other reasons. If approach course crossing is imminent and the pilot has not been informed that the aircraft will be vectored across the final approach course, the pilot should query the controller. © The pilot is not expected to turn inbound on the final approach course unless an approach clearance has been issued. This clearance will normally be issued with the final vector for interception of the final approach course, and the vector will be such as to enable the pilot to establish the aircraft on the final approach course prior to reaching the final approach fix. (d) In the case of aircraft already inbound on the final approach course, approach clearance will be issued prior to the aircraft reaching the final approach fix. When established inbound on the final approach course, radar separation will be maintained and the pilot will be expected to complete the approach utilizing the approach aid designated in the clearance (ILS, MLS, VOR, radio beacons, etc.) as the primary means of navigation. Therefore, once established on the final approach course, pilots must not deviate from it unless a clearance to do so is received from ATC. (e) After passing the final approach fix on final approach, aircraft are expected to continue inbound on the final approach course and complete the approach or effect the missed approach procedure published for that airport.Now I'm done.Good night,Chris

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