Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Approaches Gone Wild

I was reading the Pilots of America forum today and stumbled across an interesting topic in the sub-forum, Cleared For The Approach.  The title, Garmin 430W question on approaches leaves the door wide open but after reading the initial post I can relate to this exact question. John writes the following;

So today I flew with some students from the A&P school up to KFXE. When we got near, I hit direct on the 430 and activated the RNAV approach by vectors. I assumed I would be getting vectors. Called approach and asked for the practice approach. Got vectors. Right before intercept, they asked if I wanted the full approach (with HILPT I assume) or (forgot how this was worded exactly) just the inbound approach. Chose the second option. Was told proceed direct the IAF and cleared for the approach. Except the Garmin did not have the IAF because I had selected vectors, not the IAF. I did not know where I was in reference to the IAF. Quickly reloaded the approach with the IAF and everything went fine.

How should I have handled this to avoid having to juggle the GPS at the last moment (not to mention the loss of SA). Do you always load the full approach, even when being vectored?

In this scenario he 'assumned' he would get vectors, in my flight I did receive vectors. Let's break this down a bit more. I was IMC cleared on the GPS 19 approach into Wilmington, everything was set up and I was fat dumb and happy making my way home. I had selected 'vectors to final' and activated the approach. I was comfortable knowing I would be turned to intercept somewhere just outside of CUBBE, the final approach fix.  With my WIRE and GUMPS mnemonic completed  I'm enjoying the ride.
Philly ATC contacts me and gives me proceed direct JIGUP....who? where?  I quickly glance at the plate and confirm the IAF and turn to an approximate course. I bug my heading and then go to the 530 and chug and plug the GPS 19 approach and select JIGUP. With a slight course correction I'm on my way.  This same scenario happened to me one other time and that finally broke me of the vectors to final selection/activate habit.

Lets take a closer look with the help of the Garmin 530 trainer.  The example flight I punched in is a direct flight to KILG from KEVY.
This is a ten minute hop. Now lets imagine in IMC the ride is a bit rough and of course you're single pilot IFR. Philly clears you for vectors for the GPS 9 approach. Great, it's just about a straight up and down to final.
GUMPS check complete Philly turns you to an intercept angle, everything is looking good. Chatter picks up on the radio and the cloud burst of rain is now pounding on your aircraft. Ughh....thoughts of almost being home briefly enter your head and then you get back to flying.
Philly calls and gives you "direct DREFF maintain 2000. If you already loaded the vectors to final, you will have some button pushing to do. Make your initial turn to DREFF, you still have your approach plate handy, right? You can always ask ATC for a vector to DREFF if needed.
OK, keep your scan going, there is no auto pilot, you're it. Time to Chug and plug, you select approach, GPS 9 and now scroll through and select DREFF. Adjust your course and you are back to a welcome uneventful flight. A few minutes of stress that could have been averted.
After going through this 'approach change' twice I have learned to select the approach and IAF that is the most likely I'll be directed to based on my location to the airport. By doing this you have ALL the choices you will need. If you're getting vectors use that heading bug and fly them, but, have the full approach loaded and ready to select the waypoint and activate.

BruceAir,LLC has a excellent write up on this very topic and I suggest checking out his web page for more info.


Chris said...

As a Garmin newbie and wannabe instrument pilot, I really appreciate posts like this (and the one from BruceAir - thanks for sharing). At the recommendation of another pilot, I've been doing a King course on the 430/530 complete with exercises on the software trainer. It's been eye opening!

Thanks for posting, Gary. Love the title.

Gary said...

Chris, looking forward to a PIREP on the King course. Maybe that would be a good refresher for me.

D.B. said...

Same thing happened to me on the GPS 36 approach to TKI (McKinney). I was getting vector-to-final, when the controller cleared me direct to ONEME. Of course, I had no idea where that was. I just kept on the vector until on the ibound course, hoping it would intercept before ONEME - guess it did, since no one said anything.

Do you get Tom Turner's weekly email? He had a good discussion recently about the "button of death" on the 430/530 - the OBS button to select VLOC on an ILS approach. Not uncommon to forget.