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Approach plate briefing


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We used C-MARTHA-P at our school:

 

Compass/HSI aligned

Missed approach procedure

ATIS info

Radios (nav and comm)

Times (if needed)

Heading(s)

Altitudes

Pre-landing checks - 3 miles prior to FAF: landing light on, plus the usual checks.

 

Would love to hear from guys doing actual IFR though.

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I use jepps, and they have a trademarked briefing strip.

I just go from top to bottom

Name of approach (full title)

Approach page number

Date of page

Comm Plan (atis approach tower ground)

Approach data (freq FAC FAC crossing altitude DA/DH(and AGL) airport elevation)

Missed approach instructions if no alternate missed approach assigned

Notes

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For all my IFR flying, the approach briefing was just one more part of the standard checklist. There was a checklist for everything - before starting engines, engine start, etc, through after takeoff, cruise, approach, and on to after engine shutdown. We just went through the checklists, and the approach briefing was standard, always in the same order. Doing it the same way every time makes it easier on everyone. I never used acronyms or anything else, I used the checklist in the aircraft. If you're doing it on your own, it's more difficult, I guess, but having a written checklist will always make it easier and safer.

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The approach briefing is contained in a checklist, but what is supposed to be in the approach briefing is not. I believe that's the question posed by the original poster.

 

I've seen various acronyms used, but don't subscribe to any of them.

 

The approach briefing shoudl be made up of four basic parts, just the same as a departure briefing (where appropriate).

 

A departure briefing, usually best done before starting engines, should cover four basic parts:

Ground operations (traffic, "hot spots," routing, frequencies, etc).

Takeoff (procedures, power, direction, runway, obstacles, etc)

Climb (type, procedures, emergencies, etc)

Area departure (Departure Procedure, clearances, frequencies, radio/nav set up, etc)

 

An arrival or approach briefing should contain at least:

Area arrival (STAR, altitude and speed restrictions, lost com procedures, frequencies, etc),

Descent (altitudes including MSA, restrictions, speeds, holding locations, etc)

Approach & Landing (brief instrument approach, special considerations, landing, etc)

Ground operations (parking location, anticipaed routing, frequencies, etc)

 

When briefing the procedure, read from left to right . I usually use Jepp charts, but it works with either NACO or Jepp charts. Name the procedure and verify the valid dates on the chart. Note the frequencies, heading initial altitude and position of the IAF, minimum altiudes or step-downs, runway and airport elevation, anticipated approach lighting and runway environment, and the missed approach.

 

I brief approaches out loud, and read checklists out loud, whether I'm alone or in a crew environment. I believe it's a good habit, and it's a legally useful one when operating in aircraft that have cockpit voice recordings. Getting your good habits on the record is also a good habit. It may save your bacon one day.

 

To brief the following approach, one might say:

 

ILS23L.gif

"We are on radar vectors for the Rickenbacker ILS 23L. Frequency is 110.1, set, inboudn course 232, set up. Glideslope intercept at 2372', that's 4.9 miles from the threshold. Minimums are 1220', that's 500 above ground, set. Field elevation is 744. No circling northwest. On arrival we should see a MALSR light, which looks like this (point to the picture) with a PAPI on the left side. expect different visual glide angle from the electronic glideslope. If we must go missed, it will be climb to 3,000' then left turn direct XUB to hold, Direct entry.

 

We will plan on exiting the runway at the first right turnoff, holding short of 23R. Normal callouts and procedures. Any questions?"

 

Read the chart and talk about what you see. Nothing fancy required.

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I kinda like avbug's post on this one. The plate's in front of you...brief it. End of story. At the flight school here, I've heard both the MARTHA and TIMES-ABC acronyms. They all help you remember important stuff, but I feel that everything is important on the chart. The best place to brief the plate thoroughly is on the ground before you depart. En route, you can refresh the procedure in your head by doing what avbug stated earlier.

But that's just me...a very low-hour double eye. I'm interested in what others think.

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Maybe some other Army guys can chip in because I haven't flown IFR since IERW, but from what I remember our approach briefings were much simpler than what I am seeing in here.

 

Alright Crew, we are doing the ILS Runway 32 at KXXX

Our Final approach course is 180 degrees

Our Missed approach point location is the DH/DA of XXX feet

 

Briefed.

 

Before landing, by the book.

Crew, Passengers, Mission Equipment. Check.

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Alright Crew, we are doing the ILS Runway 32 at KXXX

Our Final approach course is 180 degrees

Our Missed approach point location is the DH/DA of XXX feet

 

Briefed.

 

Before landing, by the book.

Crew, Passengers, Mission Equipment. Check.

 

Should I assume that's your most basic briefing?

 

What if you're doing a timed approach? Or you need to do the full approach, including holding in lieu of, or any kind of procedure turn for that matter?

 

 

An add on question for the crowd: How far out do you give the approach briefing?

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I try to set up the approach with all possible tuning/ identifying/ twisting etc, right after copying ATIS, or ASOS AWOS. Once I'm set up, if I'm crew I try to brief just then. If I am single pilot I try to get it all set up, then brief as if I'm crew. Checked, and double checked. ATIS for me is as far out as I can get it. On a really good day I've gotten 300 mile ATIS copies. But in any case if I'm not getting it by landing minus 20 minutes, I'm getting nervous. More than once I have done all the above, been on final controller freq, and had IFR runway/ approach changes, and had to scramble. Don't be the guy that can't get it done at a busy airport, causing all kinds of havoc for controllers and the rest of the sequence ahead of, and behind you.

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I'm with Aeroscout - but as Avbug pointed out I use Jepps so it works for me. As a side note, I don't fly Helicopter IFR but I do fly a CJ IFR all the time. However when I did my IFR in my 44, the Jepps briefing strip made sure I covered everything!

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Should I assume that's your most basic briefing?

 

What if you're doing a timed approach? Or you need to do the full approach, including holding in lieu of, or any kind of procedure turn for that matter?

 

 

An add on question for the crowd: How far out do you give the approach briefing?

 

Like I said, I haven't flown IFR in over a year, but IIRC for a timed approach you would simply state the time that you would go missed instead of the DA/DH.

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Like I said, I haven't flown IFR in over a year, but IIRC for a timed approach you would simply state the time that you would go missed instead of the DA/DH.

 

I think he meant a timed approach from a holding fix; not timing your final.

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Should I assume that's your most basic briefing?

 

What if you're doing a timed approach? Or you need to do the full approach, including holding in lieu of, or any kind of procedure turn for that matter?

 

 

An add on question for the crowd: How far out do you give the approach briefing?

 

 

Well, if it was a timed Non precision it would be like"

 

Crew, we are doing the VOR Runway 14 approach at XXX

Our Final Approach course is 135 degrees

Our MDA is 750

Our Missed approach point location is 1:40 at 90kts (or say 4 miles from IAF per DME)

 

Briefed.

 

Hey, its how the contractors are teaching instruments during Common Core now.

 

I did my approach briefing at least 3-4 minutes before the final vectors from the controller, if not earlier.

Edited by akscott60
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Should I assume that's your most basic briefing?

 

What if you're doing a timed approach? Or you need to do the full approach, including holding in lieu of, or any kind of procedure turn for that matter?

 

 

An add on question for the crowd: How far out do you give the approach briefing?

 

The briefing should be thorough. This doesn't mean that one is giving a one-time instruction that everyone memorizes. I've heard some in the past opine that one shouldn't say any more in the briefing than anyone present can memorize, but that's not the point of the briefing. The point of the briefing is that everyone involved (whether single pilot or a crew situation) has reviewed the material together, understands the intentions and purposes, and that everyone is on the same page.

 

A C-130 crew several years ago departed Jackson, Wyoming, after dropping off the Presidential Limousine. The crew managed to have three different versions of the departure plate, and as it turned out had three different ideas on how it was going to go. Despite some very good training and constant standards and evaluation reviews, the crew managed to fly into a mountain on departure, killing everyone on board. One of the things that would have made a difference was the seemingly obvious: ensuring that each crew member was viewing the same chart, the same reference number, the same date.

 

Stating things such as the transition altitude or level and the MSA are important. In the USA, transition takes place at FL180, not really an issue for most helicopter operations, but in many other parts of the world, it can be much lower; three thousand feet or so in many cases. A helicopter can end up in the flight levels, and knowing where the changover from 29.92/1013 to local altimeter occurs can be important for terrain and traffic. Brief it. It's on the approach chart.

 

A missed approach, especially on many procedures, is far more than simply a turn and a climb. It may involve a climb to a conditional altitude which must be met before the first turn is commenced, then navigation along one or more routings or courses to arrive at a hold. Don't leave details out; if one must climb to 700' before turning left to two seven zero to intercept the BAX VOR R183 southbound to the 15.6D fix, then so be it; verbalize this. If on arrival at that fix the hold requires a parallel entry with five mile legs, make sure this is briefed, too. This should be clear for all concerned, as should a discussion on what to expect to see upon breaking out on the approach; everyone should know what approach lighting to look for, and what identification should be seen for the runway (eg, VASI on the left, PAPI on the right, REIL, etc).

 

A timed approach from a holding fix should include a discussion of the timing and what to expect at the end of that time, as well as the missed approach procedures. Circling procedures should be briefed, as should the missed from the circle, as it differs from the published missed procedure because one continues circling until established.

 

Setting up the nav equipment may require special briefings. One may be flying an ILS, but the missed may require the use of a VOR; one crew member may need to be responsible for retuning the radios during the missed to use the VOR. One may have an equipment malfunction on board which would make adding a missed approach a complication thats unnecessary; one may elect to request alternate missed approach instructions when an emergency is in progress, to simplify an already confusing time. If alternate instructions have been received, review them.

 

Any special procedures should be briefed. One doesn't need to give a lifetime account, but a good practice in a crew situation is to turn the aircraft over to the non-flying pilot, while the flying pilot briefs the arrival approach, missed, and landing/taxi. Everything should be covered. If you'll be landing and turning left, say so, and if you find there's a "hot spot" or congested taxi point as you clear the runway, brief that, as well as any taxi routing you anticipate to your parking spot. Given that runway and taxi incursions continue to be a big problem in aviation operations, having it straight in your head and everybody's ducks in the same row is a big improvement to safety over simply saying "we'll land and go park." You can do better than that.

 

I do a lot of fixed wing flying and always have, and we have very thorough arrival and departure briefings. A typical departure briefing in a crew airplane will be something along the lines of this:

 

"We are located here, and I anticipate taxi on ZB, then A, left to X-ray, where there's a hot spot. We'll hold all checklists there until through the hotspot. We will be using runway 13L today, full length, from intersection Charlie. This will be a left seat takeoff, flaps 10, reduced EPR, with speeds built off 140 for V1. Our speeds are 140, 155, 168 knots, set left and right. On the runway, call out any malfunctions loud and clear, take corrective action on my command. Any malfunctions or forward caution lights up through 80 knots, we'll reject the takeoff, but between 80 knots and V1 only for engine fire, failure, loss of directional control, outward opening doors, or if the aircraft won't fly. Above V1 we'll continue, take it airborne and treat it as an airborne emergency. If we must stop, we have a two thousand foot stop margin. If I reject, I'll call "Reject," and will reduce thrust to idle, use manual max braking, deply speed brakes and symmetrical reverse. Back me up on the speed brakes note the airspeed for brake cooling, and notify the tower. We'll try to taxi clear of the runway if able. If we go airborne, we have a level-off altitude of three thousand four hundred, and a special turn procedure of left to one eight zero degrees. No action will be taken until level and on that heading. We have a thirty minute fuel dump time, and will plan on recovering here using the ILS 13L. We'll use noise abatement departure procedure one today. Our initial cleared altitude is six thousand, MSA is eight thousand five hundred, transition at five thouand. Departure is runway heading to four thousand, then left one eight zero on the BORGA FIVE RNAV procedure, in the box. We'll fly the departure off the FMS. Radios are set to back up the initial legs, bugs set. Any thoughts or questions?"

 

That last sentence is possibly the most important of the entire brief, as is the answer. That can all easily be done, and should be done, before the engines are started.

 

A typical arrival briefing may be something along the lines of:

 

"We're assigned the LUPUS THREE arrival, BUGAL transition, with holding presently in progress here at WUGAS. Hold has a ten mile leg at five thousand, speed restricted to 230. On arrival at BIGLL, we'll expect vectors for the ILS 13L. MSA is eight thousand five hundred, transition eight thousand. This will be the ILS 13L, chart 11-1, dated December 15, 2011. Frequency is 111.3, set left and right. Inbound course is 133, set left and right. Altitude at PIKSA is three thousand four hundred six, PIKSA is 7.4 miles on the ILS DME. Minimums are one thousand eight hundred five, that's two hundred on the radar altimeter, set left and right. Touchdown zone is three thousand two hundred six, field three thousand two hundred twenty. Slight uphill runway gradient. On arrival, plan to see MALSR lighting, depicted here, with VASI on the left. Runway is one hundred fifty feet wide, nine thousand six hundred long. We will use medium braking, exit at the end on Victor, and left on Yankee. Missed approach is straight ahead to three thousand eight hundred, then left heading 090 to intercept the Hontok 360 radial north, climbing to five thousand. Holding is at MARSH, direct entry, one minute legs, restricted one hundred eighty knots. Thoughts or questions?"

 

What needs to be actually contained in the brief varies with what you're doing. Cover everything thoroughly, however, and do it early enough in the arrival process to ensure you're covered on your intent, nav and communications set up, etc. There are certainly times when an abbreviated briefing is appropriate, but one really shouldn't get in the habit of skipping information or briefings any more than one should get in the habit of skipping checklists.

 

If one is used to flying VFR primarily, a good briefing when flying IFR may seem like overkill. It's not. This is especially true in single pilot operations; IFR single pilot, especially with weather and busy airspace, is some of the most challenging flying we can do. It may not be that difficult to physically fly, but it can quickly task-saturate someone, which can lead to errors, disorientation, missed clearances, etc. Being set up well in advance, having a good game plan in mind, and putting everyone on the same page is a good habit regardless of IFR or VFR, and it reduces workload and stresses, and makes it much easier to incorporate changes or adjustments, too. If one gets in the habit of acting consistently whether in a crew situation or single pilot, it also simplifies life.

 

A good review and briefing isn't overkill; it's operating to a higher standard. Some may dismiss this effort as being too complicated or labor intensive; it's not. In fact, it simplifies life. It's a lot easier than it sounds; look at the chart, explain the chart out loud. If you get in the habit of doing that, it goes smoothly and quickly, and it's always the same. This works just as well when landing at an improvised location as it does when flying into LAX. Instead of being concerned with tuning and identifying the ILS frequency, one may need to review turning at that building, approaching over that tree, expect strong turbulence and rotors over the outcropping from the right, and a set of powerlines behind the tree. Escape is downriver and downhill, look for the man in the orange reflective vest. Same deal: brief what you're doing, and cover it in detail. Not rocket science, at all, though the same forethought and planning probably works for rockets, too.

 

How far out to brief? As early as you can, once you have your arrival information. It may be a very simple procedure, or it may be complex; brief it the same, covering what needs to be covered. Perhaps you're expecting vectors to a visual. That's fine. Perhaps you're going to back it up with the ILS; brief it that way and brief what you're expecting to see, use, and do. I used to fly the ILS at a location in Iraq, as an offset procedure. The actual instrument approach took us low over a villiage on a hill, from which we could expect ground fire, The standard procedure was to fly the approach offset well to one side over a safer routing. This changed what one expected and where one would end up if flying to minimums, and it changed the way one would get to the runway, too. It was necessary, but clearly not exactly what was on the approach chart; brief what you're going to do, and brief it thoroughly enough that there's no question for anyone involved.

 

I also like to ensure that the briefing is given aurally, whether alone or in a crowd, in aircraft equipped with voice recorders. Getting your briefing on the record is a very good idea in the unlikely and unfortunate event that something does go wrong, whether it's a mishap or simply an event that draws the FAA's or other agency's attention. I brief the same, and verbalize the same, whether I'm alone in a single pilot cockpit, or in a crew environment. It simplifies the process and enhances safety, and makes for more consistent operation. It do this whether IFR or VFR. It also tends to keep me honest, and helps keep me from taking unnecessary short cuts. If I have a passenger in a front seat, I let them know that they shouldn't worry if they see or hear me talking to myself, nor should they worry if they see me reading the directions (the checklist). It's simply keeping everyone in the loop.

 

One last note: do what you say you'll do. I'm familiar with an individual who briefed a takeoff in a large fixed wing airplane several years ago, who gave what by all accounts was an excellent, detailed, briefing. Investigators later commented that it was one of the most thorough, detailed, and professional briefs they'd ever heard on a cockpit voice recording. Unfortunately, when he detected engine trouble well into the takeoff, he didn't do what he briefed. He rejected the takeoff seven and a half seconds after the time he briefed would be too late to reject. He didn't use reverse thrust, and didn't deploy spoilers. The aircraft went off the end of the runway and broke into three large sections, destroying the airplane. Nobody was killed, but when later asked why he did what he did, he had no clear explaination, other than "I didn't think the aircraft would fly." He had no rationale, and didn't follow the criteria he'd set out in the briefing. If he had done as he'd briefed the airplane was fully capable of flying, and had the performance to do so. What had happened? The very large engine ingested a small bird, a swallow, and made a bang. That's it. It was producing good power, as were the other three engines, producing a total of over two hundred thousand pounds of thrust. The airplane was destroyed for no good reason, simply because he didn't do as he had briefed.

 

If you're going to make a plan and verbalize it, follow that plan.

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