Following recent flight management system (FMS) software glitches that required FMS manufacturers to pull thousands of instrument approaches from their databases, NBAA recently asked the FAA to “hit the pause button” on implementation of its proposed policy on cancellation of certain instrument approach procedures (IAPs) – specifically circling approaches and circling approach minima. In one of these database issues, one manufacturer had to temporarily remove more than 10,000 IAPs in its database.
In the summary of Docket No. FAA-2017-0879, the FAA explained the need to cancel certain approaches. “As new technology facilitates the introduction of more area navigation (RNAV) instrument approach procedures over the past decade, the number of procedures available in the National Airspace System has nearly doubled. The complexity and cost to the FAA of maintaining the IAP inventory while expanding the new RNAV capability is not sustainable.”
“While NBAA generally supports the establishment of the proposed evaluation criteria for IAP cancellations,” said Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure, “several significant issues with FMSs and navigation databases have surfaced since the industry originally provided recommendations to the FAA. This has prompted the need for further evaluation prior to the implementation of any policy changes or IAP cancellations to ensure we don’t cancel thousands of IAPs that could result in the loss of all-weather access during one of these glitches.”
Williams said NBAA wants the FAA to move forward cautiously. “Because the RTCA’s Tactical Operations Committee (TOC) did not assess FMS issues when they looked at providing IAP cancellation recommendations, we would like the FAA to task that body to take another look at the recent database issues to determine how they factor them into establishing approach cancellation criteria,” she said.
NBAA is sensitive to the issue of the FAA having to maintain thousands of IAPs if they truly are not necessary. In submitted comments, the association is asking FAA officials to increase their due diligence by allowing the TOC to consider the impacts of these database events and offer additional inputs to the FAA before making policy changes that could negatively affect thousands of aircraft operators..