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IFR Fix: Building time, squeezed for space

Today’s mission for a new instrument flight instructor and an instrument-rated pilot building time toward a commercial pilot certificate is to fly a series of instrument approaches, concluding with a recently revised precision approach to Colorado’s Greeley-Weld County Airport.

If you are one to seek out approach procedures that challenge your workload-management abilities, this ILS or LOC/DME RWY 35 approach offers a test. Fly the full procedure with DME, arriving at WAVDI and flying the 17.5-nautical-mile DME arc around the Gill VOR-DME to the localizer course. Watch for the 170-degree radial; it is the lead radial (LR) that alerts you to imminent localizer intercept. Then be sure, as a chart note reminds, to “use I-DCI DME when on the localizer course.”

Be briefed and ready to fly the published four-step missed approach; it doesn’t look terribly demanding as laid out graphically, but the narrative form tells a different story. There’s a short straight-ahead climb, followed by a climbing right turn to holding altitude and an assigned heading, then intercept the radial to CEDUK and enter the racetrack holding pattern (likely from a parallel entry).

There’s plenty of traffic in this airspace just north of the Denver terminal area today, so you are practicing under VFR—no problem because the maximum altitude, 7,000 feet msl, is comfortably below the 8,000-foot floor of an overhanging shelf of Class B airspace.  

But the next shelf of Class B extends down to 7,000 feet, so the CFII’s unfamiliarity with the revised approach becomes problematic when the flight completes one approach, executes the miss, flies a minute outbound in the holding pattern, and performs the course reversal for another.

“Later that day, another instructor pointed out how close the new published course reversal is to the 7,000 FT msl shelf around Denver’s class B airspace,” the CFII reported to the Aviation Safety Reporting System. “I hadn’t realized this and began to analyze the approach we had just flown earlier that day. Because of the slow speed of our Skyhawk, I believe the 1-minute legs of our course reversal kept us from an incursion into the class B, but only just.”

Postscript: If you have wondered how to regard flight time invested in eligibility for an additional certificate or rating but not directly used training for that upgrade, note that the Aviation Safety Reporting System synopsis described this flight as “time accumulation training” for the would-be commercial pilot.

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: IFR, Technique, Navigation

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