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Guest DNelson

Basic Approach Plates Question

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I often go to the EchoFlight website for my approach plates. The problem is that no matter where I look for certain plates, they don't seem to exist anywhere. Let's take Las Vegas for example (LAS). It seems that no matter where I look for approach plates for RNWY 07L or R, it doesn't seem to exist anywhere. Is this because ther ARE no plates for 07? Hard to believe. If this is true, since it is an ILS runway, am I supposed to use it's reciprocal for localizer info & just ignore all glideslope info?. Also, I see a plate labeled "VOR/DME A." What does this correspond to? What does the letter A mean. The runway plate seems to be for RNWY 01 possibly (either L or R).Next, I often see plates that say GPS 19. Does this mean that I just type in the 5 letter fix in my 757 FMC & then try to track it based on the radial info the plate shows?One other example of missing runways seems to be at Sacramento (KSAC). It seems the only charts I can find anywhere on the internet is for runway 02 - but there are three different runways (& 6 plates needed of course). These consistently missing runways on the websites makes me think that I am missing some knowledge that pilots know of - like what they would do in these scenarios. I am a bit confused for now. If anyone can answer these questions, I would be greatly appreciative.Thank you all,Chris Catalano

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Hey Chris,It's not always possible to create an instrument approach for every runway at an airport. The reasons can be many, but usually have to do with terrain, obstructions, prevailing winds, noise abatement, or interferrence with other the airspace at other airports. I don't know what the case is at KLAS.A good example conflicts with other airports is the San Carlos GPS RWY 30 approach, which Bay Approach will never give you because the missed approach requires a holding pattern over the SFO VOR.When an approach has a letter in it's title, such as VOR A or VOR/DME B, that means that the final approach course is more than 30 degrees offset from any runway heading. These are always circling approaches and only circling minimums will be specified. You fly the approach to the Missed Approach Point and if you see the runway, you then circle to land on the appropriate runway given the winds. You can read up on the circling procedures at http://www.faa.gov/atpubs/aim/Chap5/aim0504.html#5-4-7I often fly approaches into Sacramento Executive and RWY 2 is the only one with published approaches (ILS, VOR or GPS, and NDB). Often, I get cleared for the ILS RWY 2, circle to land runway 20. That means at circling minimums, you enter a tight downwind leg and land on the opposite runway. The tower controller is the one who usually tells you whether to circle east or west.Don't know about the 757 FMC, so I can't answer that question. With an IFR certified GPS, you usually request to load an approach once you're within 30nm of the destination airport and it will give you a selection of approaches to choose from. You select the one you want and it will then sequence the various approach waypoints at the appropriate time.Hope that helps.John

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Chris,As John states, not all runways have instrument approaches.As far as LAS is concerned, there are no ILS or Localizer approaches for either 07L or 07R, so if Fly! has a Localizer for them, they don't belong there.Under instrument conditions that would require those runways because of surface winds, the Rwy 25 ILS approaches are probably used, followed by a circling approach to those runways (or the VOR approaches with circling).

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I believe that another factor in deciding what airports and runways to equip with instrument approaches is the prevailing weather. Even though LAS and Phoenix are busy air carrier airports, they enjoy lots of sunshine and unrestricted visibilities. Weather that requires instrument operations is extremely rare, maybe a few days a year (guess on my part). On the other hand, less busy airports (Portland OR and Spokane WA come to mind) have quite a bit of fog and low weather and are equipped with Cat II or Cat III approaches. Those approaches require very costly infrastructure on the ground, which is why you'll never see them at airports in the desert southwest no matter how busy the airport is.Dan

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