Monday, November 05, 2018

Setting Up The Approach

I am an avid reader of many flying forums and have posted about topics I find interesting or shed light on a training scenario. The following post comes from the AOPA Forum, Cloud Busters.

I have a question that I'm not sure has a standard answer, so I thought I'd ask around and see what everyone does. I'm basically wondering how and when you get everything set up and organized for an approach (with GPS, just because I have one and it plays into the question). So basically, when (I'm assuming by position, ie distance from the IAF, FAF, etc.) and in what order do you brief the approach, check ATIS, load the approach, activate it, etc.

The backstory is this: I have a Prepared setup of my exact plane (basically), with the GTN650, and I've been toying with different ways of doing things to see what makes the most sense (which is why I think sims are so great). I've had various mishaps: loading the approach before the IAF but forgetting to activate it being the one that kind of stuck in my head. So I've been experimenting with a system (just as an example) like this:

1. ATIS 25 nm from IAF
2. Load approach 20 nm from IAF
3. Activate approach 10 nm from IAF

I would love to hear what other IFR pilots do and I'll share my process.

First things first...

You have a good idea of the weather and winds at your destination so you should have reviewed the appropriate approach plates the night before.

I pick up the ATIS report as far out as possible. I want to have the info noted and be aware of what runways may be in use.  I also like to report that I have the current ATIS when I check in with the last approach controller.

I run my mnemonic WIRE, to get things set up.

Instruments, set the CDI & VLOC/GPS
Radios tuned and identified
Elevation, decision height, missed info

Typically I select a full approach, despite having previously tasted the forbidden fruit of vectors to final.  If vectors, I select the approach for the specific runway and approach that I am told to expect and fly the heading bug vectors as directed. If cleared to a specific Initial Approach Fix or Intermediate Fix I will select and activate instruments accordingly. Review your plate and know your aircrafts numbers. Run that pre-landing check list and make a sweet landing.

The key component is know your equipment Know how to activate specific legs of an approach, or how to select another approach and activate on the go. What's your back up, your plan B?

I miss flying and all the prep that goes into each flight.  I am trying to keep in the game so when the times comes to attempt climbing back aboard the mental skills will still be sharp. 

Thanks for reading!


Jim and Sandie said...

Really glad to see this blog even though it means nothing to me. lol I've been wondering if you would still want to eventually get back in the cockpit. You've come so far and I am so impressed.

Gary said...


I'm trying to keep the mental side of flying sharp. At some point I will climb back in a plane. Who knows from that point if I keep flying or close that chapter, to soon to tell.

Recovery has been supported by my family and friends, it has meant the world to Mary and I both. Thank you for always checking in and for your encouragement.