A couple steps can keep a chart from becoming a problem--highlighting the final approach fix
altitude, knowing the meaning of numbers, practicing math, and buying time.
To take one example, if I depart Bellingham (KBLI) under IFR/IMC in these conditions to perform the RNAV (GPS) RWY 11 approach at Burlington Skagit Regional (KBVS), the total distance for the initial, intermediate and final approach segments to the final approach fix
is about 19 nm.
FAA Order 7110.65 5-9-1 (a) (2) says, "If specifically requested by the pilot, aircraft may be vectored to intercept the final approach course inside the approach gate but no closer than the final approach fix
." (Note: this does not apply for RNAV approaches, since they must be at least three miles from the FAF for WAAS capture.) I'll just say, in plain English, "The vector will have you intercepting final at/very near the final approach fix
Under no circumstances should you attempt to scud-run to the airport by, for example, reporting to ATC you're in VMC at some point outside the final approach fix
and canceling IFR, then motoring off down the approach anyway.
The FAA has said we may log an instrument approach if we are in actual or simulated conditions inside the final approach fix
. Were you?
Like the procedure turn itself, the hold usually is based on a final approach fix
. As with any other hold, the distance or time specified must be observed.
It's all good until a mile from LULOC, the final approach fix
. You see some dim lights ahead but not the PAPI you're expecting to make sure you're not drifting too low as you descend to the runway in the dark.
Both even use the same final approach fix
and crossing height.
(Pop quiz: What's the final approach fix
? If you said it's DOUMA--bizzap!--you're wrong.
Right about now, ATC clears us down to 4000 while we are still 20 miles from the final approach fix
. That will mean flying level in what may be one of the layers below us, something we have no desire to do.
It's fine to track the glideslope down from far outside the final approach fix
, but you must ensure that you meet all crossing restrictions outside the FAF.
The commonly accepted definition has been something like "the aircraft flies over an initial approach fix (IAF) and departs the final approach fix
(FAF) inbound to the airport in actual or simulated IMC and breaks out somewhere before reaching the missed approach point (MAP), decision height (DH) or decision altitude (DA)." It's not all that simple, of course, especially once simulators and view-limiting devices get involved.