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3 Answers

GPS Vectors to Final

Asked by: 532 views ,
FAA Regulations, Instrument Rating, Private Pilot

Is it possible to get vectors to final inside the IAF on a GPS approach? I’ve read some comments saying it can be done and others saying it cannot. Can you provide a reference with your answer?



3 Answers

  1. Russ Roslewski on Dec 20, 2017

    Yes, it’s not only possible, it’s routine. All the GPS units that I know of newer than the GNS430 have the ability to load an approach as “vectors to final”, and there is certainly nothing prohibiting it. You can get vectors to final on ANY type of approach with a FAF.

    I don’t have a cite, but I just flew an RNAV (GPS) approach with vectors to final on Sunday. In fact, I flew it twice.

    If, where you live, ATC is unable to give vectors to final, it may be because of radar coverage or some other reason. But “vectors to final” are certainly allowed on GPS approaches.

    Where did you read comments that said it can’t be done?

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  2. John D Collins on Dec 20, 2017

    VTF is supported for many GPS approaches.Russ points out some of the limitations such as adequate radar coverage. The final approach course also has to be depicted on the controllers screen. There are other controller guidance limitations imposed on RNAV approaches, for example the intercept angle on the final vector can not exceed 30 degrees and the point of intercept can be no closer to the FAF than 2 NM outside the gate. The gate is a point usually located about 1 NM outside the FAF on the intermediate leg, so in most cases this is 3 NM from the FAF. This is intended to support the transition of a GPS from terminal mode (CDI FSD +/- 1 NM) to Approach mode (CDI FSD +/- 0.3 NM). This is covered in FAA order 7110.65W, section 5.9. There is also an ongoing pilot and controller training issue with controllers indicating vectors to final or to the approach, but in fact clearing an aircraft o a fix on the procedure. Many GPS systems delete all the approach fixes on final approach except the FAF and MAP, so when the pilot selects VTF and subsequently is cleared to a fix, they are not prepared for it and must reprogram the approach procedure. Particularly when the fix is an IF or step down fix, this often leads to pilot confusion as it is not an approach dialog selectable fix. For this reason, many instructors tell students to avoid using VTF and to use activate leg to join the procedure as this has the advantage of preserving the full approach waypoint details.

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  3. mmosier1 on Dec 20, 2017

    Russ and John, thank you for the quick responses.

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