March 18, 2015

The FAA is implementing six new RNAV STAR procedures at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) beginning March 24, and those familiar with the changes call them business-aviation friendly.

This procedures design process started more than two years ago, and the Minnesota Business Aviation Association (MBAA) “was there from the start,” said former MBAA President Neil Brackin, general manager of Premier Jet Center in Eden Prairie, MN. “We had a representative at each and every meeting along the way,” and a number of procedures were designed specifically with general aviation in mind.

“Specific insight and input from MBAA and other general aviation advocates helped the FAA develop these new SIDs and STARs for reliever airports around MSP, such as St. Paul Downtown Airport (Holman Field) (STP) and Anoka County-Blaine Airport (ANE),” he said.

Also, five additional RNP-AR (required navigation performance authorization) approaches will be implemented on April 30.

In a NOTAM alerting pilots to the changes, the FAA offered several points for flight crews to consider:

  • Operators are not cleared for the vertical profile until air traffic control (ATC) issues a “descend via” clearance.
  • Operators cannot climb to a higher altitude when issued a descend via clearance.
  • If operators were issued a speed to maintain and are later issued a descend via clearance, all published speeds become mandatory, unless the controller specifically assigns a speed after the descend via clearance is issued.
  • If operators are vectored off the arrival, they should be given an altitude to maintain. When operators are “re-cleared” on the arrival, a clearance to join the arrival only gives them lateral clearance. Operators should be issued a new descend via clearance for the vertical profile.
  • Minimum enroute altitudes (MEAs) are not part of the vertical profile. An MEA is based on obstruction clearance and DME navaid reception. They are not ATC procedure restrictions. An MEA is identified on the procedure graphic along the track. Coded restrictions are depicted at the fix/navaid or waypoint, and are part of the vertical profile. An operators’ flight management system should have the coded restriction automated, not the MEA.

The FAA is mandating a break-in period of four weeks, during which time airport arrival rates may be reduced to enable both controllers and pilots a chance to become familiar with the new nomenclature.

Read the FAA’s NOTAM about the new procedures.