Now that you’ve seen what’s available in the margin data of an approach plate, it’s time to look at the pilot brief section of your chart.
The pilot brief section may be the most important part of your approach plate. This section has all of the essential information you need to actually fly the approach.
The three elements of the pilot brief section are:
- Approach course and elevation data
- Procedure notes and missed approach
- Communications frequencies
The approach course data is highlighted at the top of the chart to make it easy to find. When flying in actual instrument conditions, the easier it is to read your frequency and course, the less time you have to spend looking away from your instruments.
The frequency shown in this section is always the primary navigational aid for the approach. This is the navaid that provides the course guidance data for the approach. The approach course is the final approach course for the approach, and should be what you have set in your CDI, HSI, or other navigational instrument.
The runway distance shown is the actual runway landing distance available for that specific runway. Next is touchdown zone elevation or threshold elevation for the runway of intended landing, and finally the airport elevation.
With just the information from line 1, you should be able to fly the final approach course.
Line 2 of the pilot brief has all of the notes that the pilot must be familiar with for the approach procedure. These notes contain all kinds of information and are very important.
Notes will often increase the required weather minimums if equipment on the ground or in the aircraft is inoperative, specify what minimums certain aircraft must use, and list the required equipment to complete the approach.
Included within the notes section are icons for non-standard takeoff minimums and non-standard alternate minimums. If you see these icons (the “negative A” or “negative T”) refer to the proper section at the front of the approach procedures book for more more information. These icons do not have any impact on actually flying the approach, however they should be consulted during the planning phase to make sure the approach may be used for planning purposes.
The approach lighting section provides the textual name of the approach lighting system, as well as a diagram of the system. Familiarizing yourself with the layout of the approach lighting system is very important in very low weather situations where you may only see the approach lighting system and must continue your descent based on the lighting information.
Also included in the approach lighting section is an icon showing whether sequenced flashing lights (rabbit) are part of the approach lighting system.
The last box on the second row is a complete textual description of the missed approach procedure. When briefing the missed approach, this is the box to read to make sure that you are familiar with each part of the missed approach.
The third line in the pilot brief section has all of the communications frequencies needed while on the approach. The frequencies are arranged in order of us, starting with ATIS, followed by approach, tower, ground, and clearance delivery.
These frequencies are the published frequencies for the airport and may change depending on which approach control sectors or tower positions are open during your arrival. At larger airports, the frequencies may be completely different.
The tower frequency box will always be shown in bold. Within the tower frequency box, there is an icon showing if lighting is available, and if it is pilot controlled or continuous.
That’s it for the pilot brief section. Now it’s time to take a look at the big picture in the plan view section of the chart.
Approaches are important, but have you brushed up on holding lately?