FAA Finalizes Policy on Cutting Circling Approaches

 - June 29, 2018, 4:40 PM

In a follow-up to the FAA’s initial proposal published in October last year to eliminate certain circling procedures as a cost-cutting measure, the agency has published a statement of policyBased on comments received on the proposal, the policy statement contains a slightly revised list of the criteria for determining which specific circling approaches would be considered for cancellation. Comments about the proposed policy were submitted by NBAA, AOPA, and nine individuals. 

NBAA requested the proposed policy be temporarily suspended while issues that resulted in a number of instrument flight procedures (IFP) being inadvertently eliminated from FMS databases could be considered. In response, the FAA said, “The inadvertent removal of IFPs from certain FMS was unrelated to any action by the FAA” and the association’s suggestion that the effective date of this policy be temporarily delayed while these FMS issues are addressed “is not practical.” 

AOPA suggested adding language to the proposed cancellation criteria to consider circling procedures being needed for pilot training and testing. The FAA agreed with the association’s suggestion and has added language to one of the questions used to evaluate each procedure “expressing awareness of the need to retain sufficient circling procedures to allow for instrument flight proficiency and training.” 

The FAA emphasized to all commenters that the criteria are only a “foundation for identifying procedures for cancellation and is not sole justification for any IFP being canceled.” Once a specific procedure is proposed for cancellation, “stakeholders will have the opportunity to present their justification for retaining that procedure, and each justification will be considered and adjudicated before a determination is made to either retain or cancel that procedure.” 

In any case, the FAA retained the criteria that ensure at least one circling procedure remains at airports that currently have a circling procedure.