July 5, 2018

With the proliferation of satellite-based RNAV procedures across the National Airspace System, the FAA has published its final policy governing cancellation of certain standard instrument approach procedures (IAPs), including circling approaches and circling approach minima.

NBAA was a member of the RTCA Tactical Operations Committee tasked with reviewing the FAA’s procedures and providing recommendations to the agency on the proposed cancellation criteria and process. In comments submitted to the agency last November, the association urged officials to “hit the pause button” with those plans to ensure IAP cancellations did not curtail access to airports and airspace utilized by business aviation operators. View: NBAA Asks FAA to Hit Pause Button on Proposed IAP Cancellations.

One example of such consequences came last year, when one avionics manufacturer suddenly removed more than 10,000 IAPs from its flight management system database. Nevertheless, the agency opted to move forward with issuing the final rule, effective July 30.

“We understand the need for the FAA to ease the complexity and cost of maintaining those procedures, but there’s also growing concern IAPs are being cancelled before equivalent PBN [performance based navigation] replacement procedures are in place,” said Heidi Williams, NBAA director for air traffic services and infrastructure. “The timelines aren’t always meshing.”

Williams noted efforts now underway to decommission the Teterboro VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) as part of the FAA’s transition to the nationwide VOR minimum operational network by 2020. That would affect more than 30 current IAPs to the busy New Jersey general aviation airport.

“RNAV procedures to replace those IAPs are in the pipeline, but they’re still years away due to such factors as environmental impact assessments,” she continued. “These legacy instrument procedures are critical to ensuring safe and reliable access to airports like Teterboro until equivalent satellite-based procedures are in place.”

With enactment of the new policy imminent, Williams urged the business aviation community to consult the FAA’s Instrument Flight Procedures Information Gateway to stay informed of proposed IAP cancellations and to provide vital feedback to the agency.

“Member input is absolutely critical,” she said. “When an IAP is cancelled, remaining procedures may meet the FAA’s criteria for maintaining access to an airport but that doesn’t necessarily mean we maintain the same access we have today. That remains a concern.”