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FAA Glossaries

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Things to Remember IFR Checkride—Abbreviations

INSTRUMENT FLIGHT RULES A set of rules governing the conduct of flight under instrument meteorological conditions

INSTRUMENT METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS Meteorological conditions expressed in terms of visibility, distance from cloud, and ceiling less than the minima specified for visual meteorological conditions.

INSTRUMENT DEPARTURE PROCEDURE A preplanned instrument flight rules (IFR) departure procedure published for pilot use, in graphic or textual format, that provides obstruction clearance from the terminal area to the appropriate en route structure. There are two types of DP, Obstacle Departure Procedure (ODP), printed either textually or graphically, and Standard Instrument Departure (SID), which is always printed graphically.

STANDARD TERMINAL ARRIVAL A preplanned instrument flight rules (IFR) air traffic control arrival procedure published for pilot use in graphic and/or textual form. STARs provide transition from the en route structure to an outer fix or an instrument approach fix/arrival waypoint in the terminal area.

INSTRUMENT APPROACH PROCEDURE A series of predetermined maneuvers by reference to flight instruments with specified protection from obstacles from the initial approach fix, or where applicable, from the beginning of a defined arrival route to a point from which a landing can be completed and thereafter, if a landing is not completed, to a position at which holding or en route obstacle clearance criteria apply.

MINIMUM IFR ALTITUDES (MIA) Minimum altitudes for IFR operations as prescribed in 14 CFR Part 91. These altitudes are published on aeronautical charts and prescribed in 14 CFR Part 95 for airways and routes, and in 14 CFR Part 97 for standard instrument approach procedures. If no applicable minimum altitude is prescribed in 14 CFR Part 95 or 14 CFR Part 97, the following minimum IFR altitude applies:
a. In designated mountainous areas, 2,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal distance of 4 nautical miles from the course to be flown; or
b. Other than mountainous areas, 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal distance of 4 nautical miles from the course to be flown; or
c. As otherwise authorized by the Administrator or assigned by ATC.

MINIMUM EN ROUTE IFR ALTITUDE The lowest published altitude between radio fixes which assures acceptable navigational signal coverage and meets obstacle clearance requirements between those fixes. The MEA prescribed for a Federal airway or segment thereof, area navigation low or high route, or other direct route applies to the entire width of the airway, segment, or route between the radio fixes defining the airway, segment, or route.

Special MEA
Special MEA refers to the minimum en route altitudes, using required navigation systems, on published routes outside the operational service volume of ground-based navigation aids and are depicted on the published Low Altitude and High Altitude En Route Charts using the color blue and with the suffix “G.” For example, a GPS MEA of 4000 feet MSL would be depicted using the color blue, as 4000G.

MINIMUM OBSTRUCTION CLEARANCE ALTITUDE (MOCA) The lowest published altitude in effect between radio fixes on VOR airways, off-airway routes, or route segments which meets obstacle clearance requirements for the entire route segment and which assures acceptable navigational signal coverage only within 25 statute (22 nautical) miles of a VOR.

a. The minimum altitude specified in 14 CFR Part 91 for various aircraft operations.
b. Altitudes depicted on approach charts which provide at least 1,000 feet of obstacle clearance for emergency use. These altitudes will be identified as Minimum Safe Altitudes or Emergency Safe Altitudes and are established as follows:
1. Minimum Safe Altitude (MSA). Altitudes depicted on approach charts which provide at least 1,000 feet of obstacle clearance within a 25-mile radius of the navigation facility, waypoint, or airport reference point upon which the MSA is predicated. MSAs are for emergency use only and do not necessarily assure acceptable navigational signal coverage.
(See ICAO term Minimum Sector Altitude.)
2. Emergency Safe Altitude (ESA). Altitudes depicted on approach charts which provide at least 1,000 feet of obstacle clearance in nonmountainous areas and 2,000 feet of obstacle clearance in designated mountainous areas within a 100-mile radius of the navigation facility or waypoint used as the ESA center. These altitudes are normally used only in military procedures and are identified on published procedures as “Emergency Safe Altitudes.”

MINIMUM VECTORING ALTITUDE The lowest MSL altitude at which an IFR aircraft will be vectored by a radar controller, except as otherwise authorized for radar approaches, departures, and missed approaches. The altitude meets IFR obstacle clearance criteria. It may be lower than the published MEA along an airway or J-route segment. It may be utilized for radar vectoring only upon the controller’s determination that an adequate radar return is being received from the aircraft being controlled. Charts depicting minimum vectoring altitudes are normally available only to the controllers and not to pilots.

MINIMUM SECTOR ALTITUDE The lowest altitude which may be used under emergency conditions which will provide a minimum clearance of 300 m (1,000 feet) above all obstacles located in an area contained within a sector of a circle of 46 km (25 NM) radius centered on a radio aid to navigation.

MINIMUM CROSSING ALTITUDE The lowest altitude at certain fixes at which an aircraft must cross when proceeding in the direction of a higher minimum en route IFR altitude (MEA).

MAXIMUM AUTHORIZED ALTITUDE A published altitude representing the maximum usable altitude or flight level for an airspace structure or route segment. It is the highest altitude on a Federal airway, jet route, area navigation low or high route, or other direct route for which an MEA is designated in 14 CFR Part 95 at which adequate reception of navigation aid signals is assured.

MINIMUM TURNING ALTITUDE Due to increased airspeeds at 10,000 ft MSL or above, the published minimum enroute altitude (MEA) may not be sufficient for obstacle clearance when a turn is required over a fix, NAVAID, or waypoint. In these instances, an expanded area in the vicinity of the turn point is examined to determine whether the published MEA is sufficient for obstacle clearance. In some locations (normally mountainous), terrain/obstacles in the expanded search area may necessitate a higher minimum altitude while conducting the turning maneuver. Turning fixes requiring a higher minimum turning altitude (MTA) will be denoted on government charts by the minimum crossing altitude (MCA) icon (“x” flag) and an accompanying note describing the MTA restriction

MINIMUM RECEPTION ALTITUDE The lowest altitude at which an intersection can be determined.

CHANGEOVER POINT A point along the route or airway segment between two adjacent navigation facilities or waypoints where changeover in navigation guidance should occur.

OFF ROUTE OBSTRUCTION CLEARANCE AREA/MINIMUM OFF ROUTE ALTITUDE An off-route altitude which provides obstruction clearance with a 1,000 foot buffer in nonmountainous terrain areas and a 2,000 foot buffer in designated mountainous areas within the United States. This altitude may not provide signal coverage from ground-based navigational aids, air traffic control radar, or communications coverage.

FINAL APPROACH FIX The fix from which the final approach (IFR) to an airport is executed and which identifies the beginning of the final approach segment. It is designated on Government charts by the Maltese Cross symbol for nonprecision approaches and the lightning bolt symbol, designating the PFAF, for precision approaches; or when ATC directs a lower-than-published glideslope/path or vertical path intercept altitude, it is the resultant actual point of the glideslope/path or vertical path intercept.

FINAL APPROACH POINT The point, applicable only to a nonprecision approach with no depicted FAF (such as an on airport VOR), where the aircraft is established inbound on the final approach course from the procedure turn and where the final approach descent may be commenced. The FAP serves as the FAF and identifies the beginning of the final approach segment.

DECISION ALTITUDE A specified altitude in the precision approach, charted in feet MSL, at which a missed approach must be initiated if the required visual reference to continue the approach has not been established.

DECISION HEIGHT A specified altitude in the precision approach, charted in height above threshold elevation, at which a decision must be made either to continue the approach or to execute a missed approach.

MINIMUM DESCENT ALTITUDE The lowest altitude (in feet MSL) to which descent is authorized on final approach, or during circle-to-land maneuvering in execution of a nonprecision approach.

THRESHOLD CROSSING HEIGHT The theoretical height above the runway threshold at which the aircraft’s glideslope antenna would be if the aircraft maintains the trajectory established by the mean ILS glideslope or the altitude at which the calculated glidepath of an RNAV or GPS approaches.

HEIGHT ABOVE TOUCHDOWN The height of the Decision Height or Minimum Descent Altitude above the highest runway elevation in the touchdown zone (first 3,000 feet of the runway). HAT is published on instrument approach charts in conjunction with all straight-in minimums.

HEIGHT ABOVE AIRPORT The height of the Minimum Descent Altitude above the published airport elevation. This is published in conjunction with circling minimums.

Touchdown zone elevation (TDZE). The highest elevation in the first 3,000 feet of the landing surface, TDZE is indicated on the instrument approach procedure chart when straight-in landing minimums are authorized.

MISSED APPROACH POINT A point prescribed in each instrument approach procedure at which a missed approach procedure shall be executed if the required visual reference does not exist.

CLIMB VIA– An abbreviated ATC clearance that requires compliance with the procedure lateral path, associated speed restrictions, and altitude restrictions along the cleared route or procedure.

DESCEND VIA– An abbreviated ATC clearance that requires compliance with a published procedure lateral path and associated speed restrictions and provides a pilot-discretion descent to comply with published altitude restrictions.

Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance
LPV approaches take advantage of the refined accuracy of WAAS lateral and vertical guidance to provide an approach very similar to a Category I ILS. Like an ILS, an LPV has vertical guidance and is flown to a Decision Altitude (DA). The design of an LPV approach incorporates angular guidance with increasing sensitivity as an aircraft gets closer to the runway (or point in space (PinS) type approaches for helicopters). Sensitivities are nearly identical to those of the ILS at similar distances. This is intentional to aid pilots in transferring their ILS flying skills to LPV approaches.

Lateral Navigation/Vertical Navigation
LNAV/VNAV approaches provide both horizontal and approved vertical approach guidance. Vertical Navigation (VNAV) utilizes an internally generated glideslope based on WAAS or baro-VNAV systems. Minimums are published as a DA. If baro-VNAV is used instead of WAAS, the pilot may have approach restrictions as a result of temperature limitations and must check predictive RAIM (Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring). [Airplanes that are commonly approved in these types of operations include Boeing 737NG, 767, and 777, as well as the Airbus A300 series.]

Localizer Performance without Vertical Guidance (LP) and Lateral Navigation (LNAV)
LPs are non-precision approaches with WAAS lateral guidance. They are added in locations where terrain or obstructions do not allow publication of vertically guided LPV procedures. Lateral sensitivity increases as an aircraft gets closer to the runway. LP is not a fail-down mode for an LPV. LP and LPV are independent. LP minimums will not be published with lines of minima that contain approved vertical guidance (LNAV/VNAV or LPV).

LNAV approaches are non-precision approaches that provide lateral guidance. The pilot must check RAIM (Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring) prior to the approach when not using WAAS equipment.

Depending on the manufacturer, a few WAAS-enabled GPS units provide advisory vertical guidance in association with LP or LNAV approaches. Typically, the manufacturer will use the notation of LNAV+V. The system includes an artificially created advisory glide path from the final approach fix to the touchdown point on the runway. This may aid the pilot in flying constant descent to the MDA.

All definitions above from the Pilot Controller Glossary except MDA, MORA, COP, DA, DH, and TDZE are from the Instrument Flying Handbook. MTA from the AIM. Special MEA from §91. LPV, LNAV/VNAV, LP/LNAV, LNAV+V from RNAV (GPS) Approaches

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