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5 Answers

GPS Waypoints Uncharted on Enroute Charts

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Airspace, Instrument Rating

I was doing a hold at a GPS waypoint, which couldn't be found on the enroute chart. I found out later that the waypoint was the holding point for a missed approach. I assume there's many more uncharted waypoints than there are charted, but how can you know that there is an uncharted gps waypoint in some area, unless you already know that it exists as part of an approach segment?

5 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    Mark Kolber on Oct 06, 2014

    You don’t, unless…

    The problem is that ATC will ask you to hold at a waypoint without regard to whether it is on the en route chart, an approach chart, or a SID/STAR chart. It actually seems to be more prevalent now than in the past (or at least I hear more about it now than in the past).

    ..which brings me to the “unless…” I think the reason it is more common now is GPS. That waypoint, no matter which procedure it comes from, is in your GPS database. And on your tablet if you are using a tablet-based EFB. So it is at least feasible for you to find it and head for it, although you will need to query ATC for either “which chart is that on?” or “we’ll need full holding instructions” in order to actually hold at if the initial instruction is simple “as published.”

    It really should be an identified training issue for ATC.

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  2. Mark Kolber on Oct 06, 2014

    BTW, it’s not just GPS waypoints. Might be an intersection identified by VORs or VOR/DME. But the problem is till the same.

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  3. Drew on Oct 06, 2014

    Thanks, Mark.

    The reason I ask is because I think they could be used for XC routing purposes in unfamiliar areas for more efficient navigating. It would also be helpful to know them for practicing gps holds without having to look at each approach plate.

    I wonder if there are standalone gps waypoints that don’t serve any purpose (yet).

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  4. John D Collins on Oct 06, 2014

    When a hold at a waypoint is issued in a clearance by ATC and you don’t know where it is, ask for an initial vector and a phonetic spelling of the waypoint. If you are instructed to hold as published, ask where it is published. If ATC can’t provide you the information, ask for the specific holding instructions. I have seen a case where ATC is intransigent and repeats “as published..” In this last case, my response would be “Unable”.

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  5. Mark Kolber on Oct 07, 2014

    they could be used for XC routing purposes in unfamiliar areas for more efficient navigating.
    They “could” but there are probably very few areas where there aren’t enough waypoints to accomplish that. IFR, I try to follow the AIM guidance of having a waypoint in every Center and I rarely need to go more than a few degrees off a direct course using en route fixes. Even VFR in mountainous terrain, once I began flying with a handheld GPS, I would often use intersections as a flight plan input to assist with situational awareness.

    But I can think of potential downsides to using approach/departure waypoints (GPS and otherwise) as potential en route fixes in an IFR flight plan. First (and John knows far more about this than I do so I hope he corrects a misstatement), since they are waypoints used in TRACON airspace, they might not be shown on Center screens(?). Second (and I think I’m on better ground with this one), since they are part of approach/departure procedures, they may be more susceptible to traffic conflict, not the best place to choose to be while en route at lower altitudes.

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