The FAA wants to reduce the number of redundant ground-based navigational aid (navaid) approaches to many runways. That so the agency can shift its resources to developing more satellite-based GPS-WAAS approaches, which deliver better all-weather access, vertical guidance, and lower minimums than conventional nonprecision approaches. Specifically, the FAA is proposing canceling ancient nondirectional radio beacon (NDB) approaches to runway ends already served by another ground-based navaid and an area navigation (RNAV) procedure.
"As soon as AOPA learned about this plan, we jumped in to make sure that no airport loses an approach that is still used frequently," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory policy. "The FAA has assured us they're only looking for underutilized NDB approaches that can be canceled without undue hardship on the users. If the NDB is used for another approach, the other approach will not be affected by this action."
With the advent of GPS, NDB approaches have been dropping out of most pilots' tool kits (except in Alaska). Most new aircraft aren't even equipped with an ADF receiver. And a recent survey of AOPA members showed that a large majority had no problem with phasing out NDB approaches where they were redundant.
The FAA recently sent letters to some 430 airport managers, asking for their input on what approaches could be eliminated. "To meet the public's demand for WAAS-capable RNAV procedures, the FAA must manage the growth in number of instrument approach procedures by eliminating redundant ground-based procedures," the FAA said.
After the airport managers have had a chance to comment, the FAA will publish its proposed list of NDB procedures to be canceled in the Federal Register. Pilots will be able to provide the FAA with input into which of the NDB approaches should be retained. ( See the list of procedures under consideration for cancellation.)
It's important that the FAA get feedback from pilots on approaches still in use. Send your comments to your airport manager, with an e-mail copy to AOPA.
February 14, 2005