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FAA simplifies altitude corrections for cold temperature airportsFAA simplifies altitude corrections for cold temperature airports

Updated list of affected airports releasedUpdated list of affected airports released

The FAA has published an updated list of cold temperature restricted airports—the airports at which altimeter error in extremely cold weather may require pilots to add a correction factor to indicated altitudes on specified instrument approaches.

Cold temperature restricted airports like Colorado's Aspen Airport, shown here under IFR conditions, have altitude corrections that pilots need to make when flying an approach below certain temperatures.

In a related notice the FAA has introduced a new, simplified method for applying the mandatory altitude corrections in response to pilot feedback calling for an easier way to make the calculations.

The list of cold temperature restricted airports for this winter is published in the graphic notices section of the October edition of the Notices to Airmen Publication (NTAP).

Affected airports are identified by a “snowflake” icon and applicable temperatures on government approach charts. A textual note provides the information on commercial charting publications, according to the NTAP.

AOPA advocated for changing the method of calculating altitude corrections and updating the charted depictions of cold temperature restricted airports during last spring’s Aeronautical Charting Forum, “to improve and simplify the process for general aviation pilots,” said Rune Duke, AOPA director of airspace and air traffic. The FAA and the National Business Aviation Association collaborated in the effort.

“AOPA had received feedback from general aviation pilots who fly solo IFR that they needed a straightforward method of making the necessary altitude adjustment,” he said.

Pilots who prefer the existing method for calculating the altitude correction on designated approach segments shown for the airport on the NTAP list may continue to use it.

According to the FAA’s notice, the new method—which is presented in the Oct. 13 edition of the NTAP—is called the All Segments Method. The prior method, in use since the first list of cold temperature restricted airports was published in 2014, is referred to as the NTAP Segment(s) Method.

Pilots who choose to use the new All Segments Method “may correct all altitudes from the initial approach fix (IAF) through the missed approach (MA) final holding altitude (All Segments Method). There will be a single temperature in Celsius (C) next to the snowflake icon to indicate when this procedure will be required.”

Pilots who wish to continue making altitude corrections segment by segment on affected approaches must continue to refer to the NTAP airports list for the information necessary to make corrections on specified approach segments.

The revised cold temperature restricted airports list includes several airports not previously listed. Approach charts for those airports will include snowflake icons and temperature information by November, Duke said.

In case of doubt, “Pilots should consult the NTAP for the current list and use it as the authoritative source for whether to use cold temperature procedures,” he added.

Eventually, the FAA plans to publish the cold temperature correction procedures in the Aeronautical Information Manual, and publish the snowflake icon and temperature information on each affected instrument approach chart, eliminating the need to publish the NTAP airport list.

However, while the correction method undergoes modifications, publication of the list in the NTAP will provide a quicker method of notifying pilots of changes than would the AIM, which can be subject to a six-month lag before an update appears.

Pilots can review frequently asked questions on the calculation methods and other related issues at AOPA’s cold temperature restricted airports resource page, and are encouraged to email AOPA to provide feedback on their experience.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Airport Advocacy, FAA Information and Services, Navigation

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