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3 Answers

Flight Planning Arrival Segment – Instrument

Asked by: 2924 views Instrument Rating

I'm curious how to do proper flight planning during the Arrival Segment of an IFR cross country. When looking at printed charts, how to I know the distance (and subsequet time enroute to plan) for the flight time between my final enroute fix and the initial approach fix (as listed on the approach plate)? Every enroute chart I've seen does not usually have the initial approach fixs listed (or any fix on the approach to the airport). Additionally, the airport I'm going to does not have any published STARs - it is obviously a smaller uncontrolled airport but even the larger airports I looked at don't include distances directly to the airport.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

3 Answers



  1. Nathan Parker on Jan 11, 2012

    I would say that this is an excessive level of accuracy.  The odds are high that you will end up doing something different from what you expect, so I’d just throw in an extra 10-15 minutes or so for the approach and landing.

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  2. Nathan Parker on Jan 11, 2012

    I will point out, however, that there is almost always a feeder route from the enroute segment to the IAF, if the IAF itself is not on the enroute chart.  The small percentage of approaches for which this is not true are labeled “Radar Required”.  The feeder route would be depicted on the approach plate.

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  3. Bill Trussell on Jan 11, 2012

    Most, but not all, terminal approach procedures have at least one intial approach fix within 10NM of the airport. Where there are multiple IAFs some will surely be further out.  If you are being hyper accurate you can determine the favored runway based on the weather at the time of your arrival and plan your transition from enroute to terminal via that IAF.  Such planning might be most important if you are planning on arriving at your destination with minimum fuel.  This is not a good idea generally as the weather can change in actual conditions preventing you from meeting FARs and good operating practices under IFR.  I would be very tempted to plan a worst case scenario and use the worst approach available in terms of distance, just to be more conservative on fuel.
    Keep in mind that this method may not be accurate by the text book but it works when it comes to making actual IFR trips where you want to tie the airplane down with fuel still left in the tanks.

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