by Michael J. “Mick” Kaufman
In this issue of Midwest Flyer Magazine, I would like to add more insight into one of the topics I covered in the last issue on the puzzle of X, Y, Z approaches. A new topic that might be of interest to our readers is how to better communicate with ATC and avoid misunderstandings, or worse yet, a VIOLATION. A side note topic explains how I amend a reroute clearance with a Garmin 430/530. I have a second title in this issue on EAA happenings that I am calling “Captain Mick’s Meanderings.”
Those X, Y, Z approaches are still somewhat of a mystery, but we are getting closer, thanks to some comments forwarded to me by one of our readers, Ray Glaser of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Ray did a study of the two approaches I referenced in the last issue of Midwest Flyer Magazine and shared several items that I had not seen.
The Y approach is for simultaneous close parallel operations and has a different final approach course listed compared to the Z approach: 37 degrees vs 35 degrees. The decision height for the Y approach is also 50 feet higher, probably because of the slightly different approach angle. It seems the logic on the 2-degree change in approach course for the 4L Y is to maximize separation between aircraft on simultaneous approaches. Thanks, Ray, for your input!
I made an effort at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this year to track down a “TERPSTER,” who seem to be an extinct animal, at the FAA building with all of the answers which I hoped would be as easy to interoperate as the A, B, C approach charts. The quest for all of the answers is still out, so we will pick up the topic again in the next issue of Midwest Flyer Magazine.
Many years ago, I took up the challenge to help a new IFR pilot who was violated for being off the airway that she was supposed to be on. This led me to a passion to devote some of my teaching to the “understanding and clarification of ATC clearances.”
In the incident that started all of this, a young lady with a new IFR ticket was flying on a victor airway as filed on her flight plan and given to her as a route in her clearance. All went well until a controller gave her a vector off of the airway for traffic, and then shortly thereafter, passed her on to the next ATC sector.
As she was never given a vector to rejoin the airway after passing the traffic, she continued to fly the assigned heading. That was until the new sector controller told her she was 7 miles off the airway and needed to call the facility when she landed. With my help at that time, and before the word GPS was in our vocabulary, we were able to get the tapes and tracks from the ATC facilities and the alleged infraction was resolved.
How could one have clarified the above situation before it happened?
We still have situations like this happen on a somewhat regular basis and my answer to this scenario would be as follows:
Any time you are passed on to a new controller, clarify what you are doing. In the above situation, my check-in would be as follows:
“Cessna 2852F, checking in at 5,000, 240 heading assigned.”
If the previous controller had forgotten to tell your new controller of the heading or altitude assigned, you have alerted him/her of the discrepancy, if any.
Many times during instrument flights, you get the dreaded call “Baron 2858B, we have an amendment to your routing. Advise when ready to copy.”
You noticed I said “dreaded call,” and after acknowledging, your only hope is that it is not a complete reroute. After copying the reroute you need to make a decision. Do you read it back immediately or check it first? It is common protocol to acknowledge ATC that you have successfully copied the reroute. In most cases, I acknowledge with the phrase “Stand by for read back.” This confirms with ATC that you have indeed copied the clearance and do not need a portion of it reread.
It is important for a pilot to always check his/her new clearance to make sure he/she can comply safely; this is a pilot’s responsibility. If I were flying a single-engine aircraft along the coast, but over land and the new reroute would take me 150 miles away from land and over water with no water survival equipment, I would refuse the clearance. If I had read the clearance back and had a communications failure, I would be compelled to fly the route as cleared. If, on the other hand, the reroute was simple and I was familiar with the waypoints involved, I would read it back immediately.
When receiving an IFR clearance on the ground prior to take off, I will read it back immediately as I have time to check the routing before taking off. If there is any discrepancy with the clearance, I will request a change or clarification. As in the above situation, if I should lose communications after take-off in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), my route had been confirmed and I must fly it.
I cannot mention reroutes without getting off the immediate subject and cover some helpful hints to fly the reroute with a Garmin 430/530 GPS box.
You have spent a lot of time putting your flight plan in the GPS, and there are a dozen waypoints. You need to be a jedi or at least a wizard to make the change in the flight plan and still fly the airplane. This is why the airlines and many corporations have two pilots on board.
It is important to know that Garmin allows you to enter “one” direct to waypoint at a time in the box and fly to it and not change anything in the flight plan. “Yes,” the flight plan is totally unchanged, and you can re-enter it at any fix that is programmed there. I use this feature initially with every re-route as ATC wants us to start the re-route change immediately, not 5 minutes later when you have redone your entire route. I use only the direct-to-function for minor re-routes when a majority of the original flight plan stays in tact or allows me time to go into the flight plan and revise it.
If you are fortunate to have two of these great old Garmin GPS boxes with identical databases, you can build your new flight plan in the second GPS and when done and checked for errors, you can crossfill the flight plan to GPS number one.
A recommended procedure for the two-Garmin setup is to set auto crossfill from number one to number two GPS, but manual crossfill from number two to number one GPS.
One more issue on communications before ending this month’s column is to confirm your altitude. While climbing or descending, it is important to mention your current altitude and the altitude you are climbing or descending to. I do this any time while changing altitude and not just when changing controllers. “Bonanza 63DM, leaving 6,000 for 4,000, or Cirrus 26CD, checking in 2,500, climbing to 3,000.”
End communications errors and discrepancy and a possible violation by communicating. Don’t just “Roger” a clearance.
In many instances, the controller will ask you to verify a clearance: “Piper 6346R, verify land and hold short of Runway 36.” Do it the first time and save on communications congestion.
Enjoy the beautiful autumn flying weather, as we know what season is next!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Michael J. “Mick” Kaufman is a Certified Instrument Flight Instructor (CFII) and the program manager of flight operations with “Bonanza/Baron Pilot Training,” operating out of Lone Rock (LNR) and Eagle River (EGV), Wisconsin. Kaufman was named “FAA’s Safety Team Representative of the Year for Wisconsin” in 2008. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 817-988-0174.