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7 Answers

What Direction Do You Execute The Procedure Turn?

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Instrument Rating

I can recall being taught that one would make the procedure turn on the side that the barb is or where it is pointing to. While flying the VOR-A approach into KSEG (in case you'd like to see the approach plate) I had executed what I had learned and was quickly corrected by my CFII.  How do you determine which direction to turn when faced with a course reversal procedure turn? Thank you. 


7 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    John D Collins on Jun 13, 2016

    You were correct. If your CFII made the PT on the other side, opposite the barb, he or she was wrong.

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  2. Russ Roslewski on Jun 14, 2016

    Just to be clear, on this procedure using the “classic” PT method, you:

    Cross the VOR
    Fly the 214 radial outbound for a minute or two
    Turn left to heading 169
    Fly outbound for a minute
    Turn right to heading 349
    Intercept the 214 radial inbound (034 course)

    Incidentally, this approach is seemingly very basic but actually requires a bit of planning. Note that minimum PT altitude of 3400, which is 1500 feet above the FAF altitude. If you only go outbound for a minute from the VOR, you’re going to have a very steep descent! I’d use 2 minutes in this case.

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  3. M_Schmidt11 on Jun 14, 2016

    Which is the correct method? According to John and AIM 5-4-9 the barbed arrow indicates the maneuvering side of the procedure turn. After flying the 169 heading for a minute, wouldn’t it be a left turn to 349 then continuing to intercept the 214 radial inbound?

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  4. Skyfox on Jun 14, 2016

    Yes, the barb is the maneuvering side of the procedure turn (so, in the case of that VOR-A approach you selected, your PT will take you south of the outbound course instead of to the north side). But for the 180° turn that takes you back to the approach course I’ve actually seen it both ways, whether turning left or turning right.

    In my flight training I was taught to always turn in the direction of the airport; in this case it would be a left turn back to 349° for the intercept, which would be on the airport-side of the barb. The reasoning was that it will help ensure the aircraft stays within the 10nm radius of protected airspace as listed in the profile view, which I admit isn’t much of a factor for the slow things I fly, and also just in case there is a very strong crosswind from the barb side of the procedure turn which could potentially push the airplane past the approach course before the turn back inbound is even completed.

    However, one time when running MS Flight Simulator I was doing an IFR approach lesson with Rod Machado as the simulator’s virtual CFII. On the procedure turn he instructed me to turn right to intercept the localizer; I turned left as I’d always been trained, and that resulted in me failing the lesson and it ending early.

    Also, the AIM [Dec. 2015 edition] depicts in figure 5-4-17 a right turn back inbound to intercept the approach course, but I can’t find anything in the text that says that’s the required/expected direction for you to turn. The Instrument Procedures Handbook [FAA-H-8083-16A] basically has the same description word for word as what AIM 5-4-9 says of procedure turns. Note: there’s a discrepancy in the information; figure 5-4-17 shows the maneuvering side (labeled “maneuvering zone) on the side of the PT opposite the barbed arrow, but the text in 5-4-9 a. 1. says, ” a barbed arrow indicates the maneuvering side of the outbound course on which the procedure turn is made.”

    So long story short, It doesn’t seem to matter which direction you turn from the outbound part of the procedure turn to the inbound part to intercept the approach course, just as long as you stay within that 10nm radius from the PT fix.

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  5. Skyfox on Jun 14, 2016

    Edit: ignore what I wrote about the discrepancy in the AIM. In figure 5-4-17 the label “maneuvering zone” is referring to the entire light yellow area where the PT is, not just that area below it. My mistake there.

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  6. Skyfox on Jun 14, 2016

    Edit: Ok, I need to add some information I just found (it sure would be handy if we could edit our answers after they’re posted).

    In the Instrument Flying Handbook [FAA-H-8083-15B] on page 7-31 it does state in text and in the diagram above it to make a right 180° turn back towards the approach course to intercept it. Still, I haven’t seen anything that says that’s what is required, and in all the time I did procedure turns during instrument training and solo flight in actual or simulated IFR, I never had a controller question what I was doing when I made such turns to the left.

    Last time I’ll answer this, honest!

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  7. Russ Roslewski on Jun 15, 2016

    There’s a terminology issue here which gets confusing. The “maneuvering side” of the PT as referenced by the barb means (in the SEG VOR-A example) which way is your initial turn off of the 214 radial – to the east or to the west. In this case, the barb is on the east side of the radial, so you want to do your maneuvering on the east side. There is more protected airspace on that side than on the west side.

    The actual headings depicted (169 and 349) are guides but you don’t have to follow them, you can use any method you like to get turned around. As long as you stay on the east side of the 214 radial and within 10 nm of the VOR.

    The side of the 169/349 line that the actual little barb is pictured does not affect anything. In fact, it is always located on the side of that line closest to the PT fix, as a charting standard.

    As far as which way to turn around 180 degrees, I recommend turning AWAY from the PT fix in most cases (as detailed above). For one, it gives you more time to get established on the inbound course and make any descent that is necessary (and in the SEG example, that’s a definite consideration). Two, in the airplanes we’re flying for training, exceeding the 10nm distance is a very unlikely scenario if you’re at a typical approach speed already.

    I did have a student in a Bonanza one time who would get close to it, but that’s only because he refused to slow down. A PT at 155 kts is a different story…

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