Aviation In Canada

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Custom Instrument Approaches

Westjet has begun altering the face of instrument approach procedures in Canada. Recently, they contracted another company, Naverus, to design some "company" instrument approach procedures for them for a number of airports they serve, and the Greater Moncton International Airport was on thier list. The idea behind a company approach is that it is not published in the Canada Air Pilot so only those with the information and authorization are allowed to use them. The authorization would come from Transport Canada. All the pilot has to do is ask for the approach procedure and ATC gives a clearance for that approach just like any other published approach. Asking for it tells ATC that you have authorization to conduct the approach.

There are a few issues with these that I can see. First off, what's wrong with the published ones? The ILS on R29, for example, has lower limits than these RNP RNAV approaches. While they may be useful if the ILS is shut down, the approaches are otherwise the same. They didn't take the time to do their own base leg fixes, which means ATC still has to get involved in vectoring them downwind, just as an aircraft doing a stright-in ILS R29 via the IF would. Secondly, they have different fixes other than those established, such as a different FAF and missed approach point, as well as (more importantly) different missed approach instructions and altitudes.

The real problem comes in when trying to mix aircraft doing the different approaches and trying to remember what each plane is going to do. Canjet has the new B737-500s now, so what if they decide to design their own approaches? And what about Air Canada and AC Jazz? Have we opened the floodgates to see a number of personalized approaches across the country?

It probably seems like I'm being a little resistant to change. Perhaps I am. But I don't see the need for this as it just creates unnecessary confusion, in my opinion. It's evidenced by the control staff around me, and I can tell you I'm not the only one harbouring such views toward these approach procedures. I do wonder what controllers across Canada think of this concept, though. Do they like an operator designing their own approaches at busier airports? I mean, a satellite airport with no approach procedures published is one thing. Airports already served by existing approaches, I feel, do not need additional approaches.