jueves, 23 de febrero de 2017

Espíritu critico

Lo que importa, sobre todo mientras se es joven, no es cultivar la memoria, sino despertar el espíritu crítico y el análisis; pues sólo así se puede llegar a comprender el significado real de un hecho en vez de racionalizarlo.


miércoles, 22 de febrero de 2017

The March to PBN

The March to PBN

You’ve probably been flying performance based navigation (PBN) for years, but didn’t know it. Soon, you’ll have a chance to fly more, and more obvious PBN.

Many of us routinely use GPS as sole-source navigation throughout our flights. Congratulations; you’re leveraging the benefits of Performance Based Navigation. That’s good.
We have thousands of RNAV (GPS) approaches, many with vertical guidance, and they’re far safer, more reliable and more accurate than ground-based approaches. We often fly direct or nearly so. All these advances are reshaping the National Airspace System (NAS) and the way we fly IFR, but PBN is still young.
In October 2016, the FAA published the PBN NAS Navigation Strategy 2016. It shows how full-scale deployment of PBN’s many features will be realized in three terms. We are presently in PBN’s near term, 2016-2020, followed by the midterm spanning 2021-2025 and the far term, 2026-2030.
Let’s look inside that paper to get a preview of what to expect in the future.

PBN Defined

PBN is an amalgam of area navigation or RNAV and required navigation performance or RNP. An aircraft meets RNAV requirements when it can fly any desired flight path and meets a specified accuracy 95 percent of the time. Now bolt on something that includes performance monitoring and alerting capability, say, RAIM. Presto! You have PBN.
PBN requires on-board equipment, crew training and minimum required performance in various phases of flight. Whether RNP or RNAV, there is a number suffix that specifies the lateral navigation accuracy in nautical miles expected to be achieved, at least 95 percent of the time. For example, your non-WAAS G1000 offers RNAV 5 en route, scaling down to RNAV 2 in terminal mode, then down to RNAV 0.3 NM in approach mode. A PBN departure or arrival procedure is RNAV 1. En route, the default PBN performance requirement will one day be RNAV 2. However, the PBN report estimates that 79 percent of Part 91 GA is already capable of RNAV 1, 2 and RNP approach capability.
PBN is alive and working at about 2550 airports in the NAS, many with only PBN approaches.

Near Term, 2016-2020

The FAA is focusing on increasing the use of PBN procedures, particularly RNAV STARs. Increased use of PBN procedures will reduce ATC complexity and simplify traffic sequencing. PBN begins to really shine as new, more efficient traffic management and avionics capabilities enter the NAS. Pilots will find ATC more predictable and discover more opportunities to fly efficiently.
At about 3300 smaller airports, safer PBN approaches with LPV and LNAV/VNAV minimums will be commissioned to every qualified runway. Most, but not all, airports will have an IAP to at least one runway end.
Expect ground-based approaches to be replaced by PBN approaches as revised criteria will increase the number of qualified runways. Efforts to include as many approach categories, A-D, as possible will maximize the number of aircraft participating. NDB and VOR approaches will continue to disappear.
The FAA will emphasize PBN pilot training and proper PBN phraseology. Certification standards will include PBN material and satellite-based navigation operations. Vulnerabilities previously identified in pilot management of FMS path automation will be addressed. As PBN unfolds, expect updates to ACs, the AIM and other PBN guidance materials.
In a new move, lower minimums will be available on qualifying approaches with synthetic vision instead of a head-up-display. Enhanced flight vision system (e.g. infra-red) envelopes will increase from their 100 feet HAT minimums all the way to touchdown.
To no one’s regret, circling maneuvers will ultimately be phased out.

En Route

PBN-driven synthetic vision
PBN-driven synthetic vision will permit flying approaches to lower minimums.

Expect a shift toward a PBN-based environment, such as designation of Class A airspace above FL290 as RNAV 2, to permit more aircraft to fly safely in less airspace. Jet routes and Victor airways will yield to a PBN route structure if needed. Elsewhere, simpler PBN-based point-to-point navigation will be used.
A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is currently needed for en route Air Traffic Service (ATS) routes. This stumbling block will be removed, reducing implementation time for new ATS routes.

Midterm, 2021-2025

The main mid-term focus will be expediting the delivery, use and maintenance of PBN services. For instance, expect charts to be delivered electronically to your FMS. No more memory cards to copy and insert every 28 days. Real-time delivery will improve coordination with ATC and reduce the time required to distribute procedure changes.
The NAS will become increasingly PBN-centric, and more resistant to GPS service disruptions. Back-office processes and software tools will help deploy and maintain PBN procedures, including an automated tool that periodically reviews procedures to minimize resources needed to maintain them.
About 200 VORs will disappear, and remaining Cat I ILSes will need justification. Ground-based approaches will continue to be replaced by PBN procedures, probably at a greater rate, as will arrival and departure procedures. All NDB approaches will be discontinued in the continental U.S.

En Route

Additional PBN ATS routes and point-to-point navigation will be implemented where beneficial. Where route structure is needed, Jet routes will be replaced by Q-routes at FL180 and above; elsewhere PBN point-to-point navigation will suffice. New T-routes below FL180 will provide transition through or around Class B or C airspace. Victor airways will disappear, except when needed in mountainous terrain and areas lacking radar coverage or if required operationally.
IFR navigation standards throughout the NAS will tighten. All IFR aircraft will be expected to meet RNAV 2 and RNAV 1 performance requirements. By the end of the term, all IFR aircraft will be expected to have RNAV (GPS) with LNAV or better approach capability, although many already do today.

Far Term, 2026-2030

PBN procedures and flexible routing will become the navigational norm. VORs and ILSes in the NAS will be reduced further. VORs in the MON (Minimum Operational Network) will be re-evaluated. (See “GPS Backup Strategies,” February, 2016). By this time, automation tools will directly influence operations. FMS standardization will be complete, helping aircraft fly procedures more consistently. ATC will then optimize traffic flows through PBN procedures. Inefficient vectors will be avoided to improve arrival and departure flow.
Airspace will be redesigned for PBN procedures and its decision-support tools. User preferences will be accommodated, maintaining efficiency. For instance, routing will adjust dynamically to accommodate predicted demand or to route aircraft around weather.
Predictably, the far term will complete a lot of programs initiated earlier, like bringing ground-based infrastructure to an end as remaining conventional arrival and departure procedures are replaced by PBN procedures. The NAS will become PBN-centric.

air traffic controller at work
New computer systems are the backbone of the future, and are already operating in all air traffic control centers.

Yet there remains more to do. The NAS will become managed by time and speed. Aircraft will fly end-to-end using PBN procedures and routing. Separation standards for aircraft flying PBN procedures in IMC will decrease, and move close to the capacity attainable in VMC. Your airline trip will have fewer delays.
Vertically-guided PBN approaches will continue to increase. But, CAT III ILSes will still be supported for backup and the lowest-visibility conditions.
High-flyers will get PBN-based point-to-point navigation via strategically located RNAV waypoints. Expanded data communications will make PBN tools more widely available. With everyone having the same information, operators and controllers will more efficiently accommodate dynamic demand. PBN and data communications will permit ATC to dynamically reroute aircraft around bad weather.
Nearly half of all pilot-controller radio calls are used for routine frequency changes. Data communications will reduce radio workload by at least half.
By 2030, all IFR aircraft will be required to be LPV or LNAV/VNAV-capable.

Electonic Data Communications

Data comm is part of NextGen. It will reduce delays by making pilot-controller communications shorter and more accurate. Here’s how it works.
In the tower, a controller enters departure clearance instructions into a computer and presses a button to electronically queue the information to a cockpit system. The crew reviews it, presses a button to confirm receipt, then another to enter the instructions into the flight management system.
We know the time-honored way of copying a clearance by hand can be fraught with error and tedium, especially if the clearance is complicated. Just one mistake, called a “readback/hearback” error, calls for the instructions to be repeated until they are correct. Even a short departure clearance can take two to three times longer than one communicated electronically.
In bad weather, data comm can enable equipped aircraft to depart quickly before an approaching storm closes the departure window. Non-equipped aircraft can get caught on the ground waiting for the storm to pass. As always in aviation, BEBS rules: Best-Equipped, Best-Served.
Data comm is already in place. Salt Lake City and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports received tower departure clearance services in August 2015.
Today, more than 50 towers are equipped, of which about 20 are popular with GA. Though largely aimed at the airlines, expect data comm to filter down to GA in the mid to far term. Expansion into en route airspace is the next phase of the program and will begin in 2019.


For most GA aircraft, the backup for GPS will be the Minimum Operational Network. Simply put, about 650 VORs will be re-tasked from providing a route structure into being a resilient navigation method for non-DME GA aircraft.
Business and commercial aircraft will use dual-DME RNAV coverage down to 18,000 feet (24,000 feet in mountainous terrain) and in terminal phases to support PBN operations. Operators having but one DME will be able to use VOR as an authorized second form of navigation. By 2025, dual DME coverage with RNAV 1 navigation will be extended down to the largest airports.
During the far term (2026-2030) and beyond, the FAA will research the best way to provide Alternate Positioning, Navigation and Timing, that is, an alternative to GPS. Choosing the best solution is a key issue still being researched.

A Peek Into the Back Office

Decision-support tools help assure more efficient traffic flows. One example is terminal-based flow management. Merging and spacing tools designed for the PBN environment must also support traditional controller techniques such as vectors, level-offs and speed assignments to optimize capacity. In the future, advanced merging and terminal-spacing tools will be provided through Ground-based Interval Management-Spacing. GIM-S will combine en route flow management with near-airport approach sequencing to permit smooth planning and execution of flow strategies well before top of descent, hopefully eliminating the dreaded “Give me good rate down to 5000” when you’re at 15,000.

PBN-driven synthetic vision
Routing will be dynamically adjusted for weather avoidance.

En Route Automation Management, or ERAM, is already operating in all 22 ATC centers. It manages high-altitude traffic. A new system, Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System is being rolled out to make best use of PBN procedures.
All of PBN rests on ADS-B Out. One benefit of equipping is that in doing so, operators also gain the benefits of the PBN-centric airspace system.

Data Communications

As more flights begin to fly PBN procedures, data communications will become an essential link between pilots and ATC. Data comm is still in its early days, but we will see it in our cockpits somewhere in the mid to far term.
Already in use at several airports, data comm directly links ground automation and flight deck avionics to convey safety-of-flight clearances, instructions, traffic flow management, pilot requests and assorted reports.
Communication errors will all but disappear and productivity will increase by minimizing radio time. PBN-generated airborne reroutes will efficiently allow uploading of lengthy route messages, making it more practical to issue point-to-point routes.


Given ADS-B, GPS navigation and digital air/ground communications, cybersecurity steps will be implemented to ensure the integrity of the PBN-centric NAS. The FAA is developing a digital authentication standard for the mid to far term to ensure that digital traffic is tamper-proof.

Summing Up

Several themes recur throughout the PBN document. They include PBN-everywhere, community involvement, inclusion of GA and all stakeholders, and scalability, with structured airspace only where needed and simpler PBN-based en route navigation elsewhere.
PBN has been good for us. And it’s only going to get better.
Fred Simonds, CFII, thinks PBN is the greatest thing since we learned how to make lift. See his web page at www.fredonflying.com.

martes, 21 de febrero de 2017

The Importance of Lights

IFR Focus #15

The Importance of Lights

Making the Most of Approach Lights
A favorite information morsel from instrument training is “being able to descend to 100 feet AGL when you can see only the approach lights.” That’s too bad, because it belittles a beautiful piece of information design by turning it into a tool for aviation trivia night. It’s also wrong most of the time.
Let’s get the FAR misunderstanding out of the way first. The relevant snippets of FAR 91.175 are:
(c) ... no pilot may operate an aircraft, except a military aircraft of the United States, below the authorized MDA or continue an approach below the authorized DA/DH unless—
(1) The aircraft is continuously in a position from which a descent to a landing on the intended runway can be made at a normal rate of descent using normal maneuvers ...
(2) The flight visibility is not less than the visibility prescribed in the standard instrument approach being used; and
(3) Except for a Category II or Category III approach ... at least one of the following visual references for the intended runway is distinctly visible and identifiable to the pilot:
(i) The approach light system, except that the pilot may not descend below 100 feet above the touchdown zone elevation using the approach lights as a reference unless the red terminating bars or the red side row bars are also distinctly visible and identifiable.
(ii) The ...
Section (3) lists nine more things that fall into the general categories of “paint, pavement, or lights.” Summing all of this up it says: You can’t descend past DA/MDA unless you’re in a position to land and you have the required visibility and you have one of the references in sight. You need all three; in the U.S., anyway.
Nine of the references are on the runway, which means it’s entirely possible to reach DA or MDA, be in a position to land, see the approach lights—because they’re right in front of you, but not have the required visibility to descend further.
Thus, the approach lights are not a free ride to 100 feet AGL. (The forthcoming FAR 91.176 might be, if you have an enhanced vision flight system, but that’s another topic.)
The approach lights, however, are a great way to measure your visibility as well as bridge the gap between flying on instruments and a well-placed landing flare — if you know what you’re looking at.
The Whole 900 Yards: ALSF-2
Actually, a full ALSF-2 approach lighting system is usually 2400 feet, which is 800 yards, but I couldn’t resist the headline. It’ll also help you remember that this “Approach Light System with Flashers version 2” is the one with all the bells and whistles. Some sources say the “2” means it’s designed for Cat-II approaches. Take your pick; it’s what you’ll see on runways with Cat-II and Cat-III ILS approaches.
Approach lights accomplish two tasks: orientation and measurement. If the approach is close to minimums, both things happen in a couple seconds, so it pays to understand everything the lights tell.


It’s helpful to think about the ALSF-2 as having an outer section and an inner section. The outer section usually consists of 14 rows of five white lights placed every 100 feet. I say “usually” because for an ILS with a glideslope of less than 2.75 degrees, six more rows are added further from the runway, making the whole system 3000 feet instead of 2400 feet.

This is really important. On a flatter glideslope, you’ll be further from the threshold when you reach a standard DA of 200 feet above touchdown zone elevation (TDZE). If those extra lights weren’t there, filling the space between you and the runway, the entire light system would appear too far away—and you’d believe you're too low. There’s a good chance in low visibility, you’ll see the approach lights several seconds before you can see a visual glideslope indicator (a.k.a., a VGSI, such as a PAPI or VASI).
Conversely, reaching DA on an unusually steep glide path can give the impression that you’re too high. The takeaway is that if the descent angle has worked for the entire approach until now, don’t let the lights convince you to change it before you see a VGSI.
In addition to the 14 rows of white lights, the outer section of the ALSF-2 contains flashing lights timed for an illusion of a white ball traveling towards the runway twice per second. This aids your acquisition of the lights — we naturally look to flashing things — and suggests the best direction to search if you want to find a safe place to land. That’s useful orientation.
The inner section of the ALSF-2 begins 1000 feet from the threshold with a 100-foot-wide bar of white lights. Sometimes called the “decision bar” or “roll bar,” one of its jobs is helping you align your roll attitude with the actual pavement. Fly a few approaches to minimums in driving rain and you’ll understand how those approach lights might emerge from the miasma off one side of the nose and at a roll angle not quite matching your own. The roll bar gives a bright visual reference as you get everything in alignment.
The flashing lights stop at the roll bar, but the center rows of five white lights continue guiding you to the runway threshold and centerline. Halfway there, 500 feet from the threshold, there is a short white bar of three lights on each side (sometimes referred to as a barrette). It’s like a mini roll bar that’s really for the Cat-II folks who need all the visuals they can get.
The inner 1000 feet of the ALSF-2 also contains two strips of red lights, one on each side. These are the red side row bars mentioned in FAR 91.175 that you must have in sight to descend below 100 AGL with only the approach lights in sight. Their purpose is primarily to remind you this area is actually short of the runway. You need to cross the green threshold lights and touchdown on the real runway centerline. Cat-II and Cat-III runways have lights in the pavement that look like the ALSF-2, but those are technically part of the runway light system.
So where are the red terminating bars mentioned in FAR 91.175? They’re on an ALSF-1. In other words, you will see either the red side row bars OR the red terminating bars, but never both. They’re also explained in the video on this page, along with a plain-language explanation of the nine other approach light systems. It sounds boring, but the acronym (SSALR, MALSF, etc.) soup is straightforward code that mostly describes the ALSF-2 with parts missing. Watch the video and you can clean up on aviation trivia night.

Using the Yardstick

So far we’ve talked about how the sequenced flashers and shape of the lights might orient you towards the runway. Now that you’re an ALSF-2 Illuminati, it’s time to add measurement.
It’s no coincidence that most Cat-I ILS and LPV approaches require 2400 feet (1/2 SM) visibility and the ALSF-2 is (usually) 2400 feet long. In fact, any ILS or LPV with a visibility requirement of less than 3/4-mile must have an ALSF-2, ALSF-1, SSALR, or MALSR (see video), all of which are 2400 feet long.
When you reach 200 feet AGL on a standard three-degree glideslope, you’re about 2800 feet from the threshold. If you can see the far end of that approach light system, you have the required visibility to continue.
If you can see only to the 500-foot barrette, visibility is closer to 2300 feet. I’m not one to quibble over 100 feet, so I’d understand continuing for landing presuming I could see that far. However, I’ll reiterate: Even though the ALSF-2 provides some roll and yaw information, it says nothing about glideslope. The PAPI or VASI is about 1000 feet beyond the threshold, so fly attitude and resist changing pitch. With only 2400 feet of visibility, you probably won’t see the VGSI until the roll bar has passed under the nose.  
If you reach a 200-foot DA and can’t see the roll bar, you have less than 1800 feet of visibility. RVR 1800 ILS approaches exist, but it most cases, failure to see the roll bar by DA requires executing a missed approach, even though you can see 1400 feet of the approach light system ahead of you.
It's interesting to note that if you can’t see past the roll bar, you can’t see “the red terminating bars or the red side row bars.” So maybe a better read of FAR 91.175 (c)(3)(i) would say you could descend if you have, “... the approach light system, except if it's an ALSF-2 and you can’t see some of those red side lights, just go around now.”
And live to see another trivia night. 

Aporte Piloto Javiera Figueroa

lunes, 20 de febrero de 2017

Minimum Descent Altitude/Height

The Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) or Minimum Descent Height (MDH) is a specified altitude or height in a Non-Precision Approach or Circling Approachbelow which descent must not be made without the required visual reference. (ICAO Anex 6)
Note 1. MDA is referenced to mean sea level and MDH is referenced to the aerodrome elevation or to the threshold elevation if that is more than 2 m (7 ft) below the aerodrome elevation. An MDH for a circling approach is referenced to the aerodrome elevation.
Note 2. The required visual reference means that section of the visual aids or of the approach area which should have been in view for sufficient time for the pilot to have made an assessment of the aircraft position and rate of change of position, in relation to the desired flight path. In the case of a circling approach the required visual reference is the runway environment.
Note 3. For convenience when both expressions are used they may be written in the form “minimum descent altitude/height” and abbreviated “MDA/H”.
An MDA/H differs from a DA/H in that the aircraft must be flown in such a way that it does not descend below the MDA/H unless the required visual reference has been established. Typically, an aircraft will continue at the MDA/H until a pre-calculated missed approach point is reached; if the required visual reference is not established by that point a Missed Approach will be flown.
The MDA/H may not be lower than the system minimum for the type of approach (see table below)
Lowest MDH
ILS (no glidepath - LLZ)
250 ft
300 ft
250 ft
300 ft
The operator must specify an addition to the MDA/H, which depends on the performance of the aircraft, to ensure that if a missed approach is commenced at this altitude the aircraft will not descend below the MDA/H.
For more information regarding the calculation of MDA/H see Aerodrome Operating Minima (AOM). 

viernes, 3 de febrero de 2017


IMPORTANTE: Nueva DAN para aproximaciones RNAV (GNSS) en pistas de vuelo visual en aeródromos fuera de espacio aéreo controlado.
La Federación Aérea de Chile, luego de un extenso trabajo que implicó importantes recursos económicos y humanos, informa a la comunidad que se ha publicado finalmente el procedimiento de aproximación RNAV para la pista del aeródromo Panguilemo en Talca.
Este importante avance para la aviación civil, se ha materializado con la publicación por parte de la DGAC de la nueva DAN que norma la aproximaciones RNAV (GNSS) en pistas de vuelo visual en aeródromos fuera de espacio aéreo controlado.
Este avance, sin lugar a dudas, acerca a nuestra aviación a los más altos estándares mundiales y permitirá asistir en ayuda de nuestros compatriotas, incluso durante condiciones de visibilidad adversas.
Sin otro particular, se despide atentamente de Ud.,
Marcos Arellano Venegas

jueves, 2 de febrero de 2017

Los principios

El éxito y objetivo final de un piloto, es finalmente alcanzar las metas propuestas, sin sacrificar sus principios fundamentales.