IFR Fix: A real KLUTZ

December 17, 2012

Flying home from holiday visiting in post-snowstorm squalls, you tune in the automated terminal information—and hear some surprising news. Radar is out for the destination.

That explains an oddity in your clearance. Today’s routing goes a step beyond the accustomed transition followed by vectors, instead taking you all the way to KLUTZ intersection. Not the KLUTZ intersection that your instructor used to jokingly describe as your intended destination—but the real KLUTZ. It’s the initial approach fix for the LOC RWY 7 approach to the Westerly, R.I., airport.

The clearance reminds you that you’d better review the IAP, because now it will be necessary to fly the full approach. Studying it, you note that you will arrive via the Groton VOR 120-degree radial at KLUTZ, identified as the 7.3 DME fix (and the intersection of the I-RLS localizer course and 5.6 DME).

Then fly a direct entry to the holding pattern that serves as the procedure turn. Once established back inbound to KLUTZ (now serving as the final approach fix), descend to 1,700 feet until passing the FAF.

The approach’s design, employing a holding pattern as procedure turn, helps reduce pilot workload by sparing you the need to track two minutes outbound on the localizer course—with reversed sensing—before turning back inbound.

If you have ever idly flipped through newly arrived approach plates, you may have observed how many ILS and LOC approaches employ “racetracks,” not “barbs” for procedure turns. That kind of course reversal to be used depends on many considerations or may not be authorized at all. Many pilots faced with a nonradar approach would still probably be happy to skip the reverse-sensed navigation exercise, if possible.

What’s the catch in Westerly?

It’s that should it become necessary to fly the three-step missed approach, step two requires you to fly the localizer’s southwest course—that is, the reciprocal of the final approach course—back to KLUTZ.

So don’t scrap your reversed-sensed navigating skills just yet.

A MUGGY mystery

No grinch stole Christmas this year—but did one abscond with the initial approach fix (IAF) to a New Hampshire airport?

Seems so, based on this original-issue ILS approach plate. Perplexed pilots parsing the paradox can pore over a notam instructing them, among other things, to “chart MUGGY int as MUGGY (IF/IAF).”

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.