October 2010 Issue

(Oh) No Procedure Turn

Especially when using the new crop of RNAV (GPS) approaches, it pays to know when you’ll need a procedure turn. When in doubt, ask ATC.

Where you are, smoking into your destination airport. Winds are calm, traffic is sparse, the ceiling is 1500 broken with good VFR underneath, you’ve got plenty of gas. But a close look at the approach plate creates confusion: You’re being vectored to a nearby fix, but it’s not at all clear how—or even whether—some kind of course reversal will be necessary. You certainly can slow down enough to easily nail the turn onto final, along with the approach, but something in the back of your mind says it won’t be that simple. Suddenly, it dawns on you: You’re going to need to execute a procedure turn.

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