Air Traffic Services and Technology
Elements for Consideration in the Development of an Instrument Approach
Factors: In addition to the aforementioned analysis, there are several other factors that must be taken into consideration prior to, and in conjunction with, the development of an instrument approach procedure. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Obstruction evaluations
- Airport requirements/capacity
- Approach light systems
- Alterations in traffic patterns
- Compatibility with the existing airport master plan
- Runway dimensions and weight-bearing capacity
- Noise and environmental issues
- Impact to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system
- Airspace changes (i.e. the addition/modification of Class E airspace to protect an approach)
- Conflicts with Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) traffic
- Probable minimums
- Effect on other instrument approaches
- NAVAID support and limitations
- Location of existing and proposed NAVAIDs
- IFR wind rose data
- Availability of weather information
Participants: In addition to the airport sponsor and the party requesting the approach (who may or may not be one in the same), there are five major participants within the FAA's Regional Offices. Representatives of each office will comprise the Regional Procedures Team (RPT) responsible for much of the evaluation process associated with the development of a new approach. The duties of each office are outlined below.
Regional Flight Procedures Office (FPO): Typically the initial point of contact and coordination, the Regional FPO will work closely with the Regional Air Traffic and Airports Offices during the initial evaluation process. Such proposals are handled in a fashion similar to changes in the airport layout plan or other airport projects outlined under Part 157 (See Regional Airports Office). The Regional FPO is also tasked with the following:
- Coordinating with all other offices of interest
- Maintaining a record of coordination
- Evaluating the runway(s) to be used in the instrument procedure
- Determining the practicality of establishing an approach and the acceptability of the airport environment for the proposed procedure
- Evaluating and commenting on all airport proposals related to IFR impact
Contact information for each regional FPO may be found at the AVN link provided below (12).
Regional Flight Standards Office: In addition to the flight safety review associated with the airport's change in status, the Regional Flight Standards Office will perform the following:
- Review the proposal to determine the impact to VFR flight operations.
- Conduct an on-site evaluation as required.
- Advise the Air Traffic Office when obstructions and/or terrain that prove to cause significant safety problems are identified.
Regional Airway Facilities: The Airway Facilities Office will review all proposed changes in airport status (if changing from a Visual Flight Rules (VFR) to IFR facility) to ensure there is no effect on their functional responsibilities. Normally the work of the Airways Facilities Office is associated with the installation of new equipment, in particular components for an instrument landing system. Although this falls outside the scope of this document, Airway Facilities is usually concerned with issues such as electromagnetic or line-of-sight interference, feasibility of equipment installation, and if the existing or proposed structures would obstruct the tower's view of aircraft on the airport. Once completed, the results of the study are forwarded to the Airports Office.
Regional Air Traffic Office: The Air Traffic Office is responsible for conducting an airspace review to determine the effect of a procedure on the safe and efficient utilization of airspace. This office will also coordinate proposals with other affected air traffic offices and facilities as appropriate. As with all entities involved in this process, the efforts required by the Air Traffic personnel may vary greatly depending on the action necessary for the establishment of a given instrument procedure. The duties of the Air Traffic Office include:
- Nonrule or rulemaking circularization and associated actions
- Evaluating obstructions
- Convening an informal airspace meeting with interested parties as necessary
- Evaluating the need for communications
- Determining weather reporting needs
- Assessing the capability of providing air traffic control services
- Determining the effect of the proposed procedure on existing or proposed IFR or VFR aeronautical operations at the airport in question and/or any adjacent facilities
Note: The evaluation of aeronautical effect includes everything from noise consideration to the safety of persons and property on the ground. The Air Traffic Office will work closely with Flight Standards to analyze these factors, along with the potential impact of existing or planned instrument approaches.
Regional Airports Office: The Airports Office is responsible for formulating and issuing the official determination. An alteration to an existing airport, in this case the addition of an instrument flight procedure (and possible change in status), follows a process similar to that required for new airport construction. The Airports Office will coordinate with the airport owner/sponsor to resolve any issues that may arise at public-use airports.
If an airport is not federally obligated (in receipt of federal funding), a Part 157 proposal shall be submitted on FAA Form 7480-1 to the appropriate Airports Office. Title 14 CFR Part 157 governs the alteration of non-federally obligated airports. Federally funded airports are not required to comply with this Part, as the new Airport Layout Plan (ALP) needed to ensure federal funding would contain the necessary information. The determination will incorporate the collective findings of those offices that participated in the study. The terminology used in the determination and their meaning follows:
Objection: The proposal will adversely affect the safe and efficient use of airspace by aircraft. This will be followed by the rationale used in the determination.
No Objection: The proposal will not adversely affect the safe and efficient use of airspace by aircraft.
Conditional No Objection: The necessary provisions will follow this determination.
If an airport has a federal agreement, analogous terminology will be used (i.e. approved or disapproved as appropriate).
Return to the "Establishing an Instrument Approach" process brief.