The FAA recently published revisions to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), including clarifications of “approach category” and its application in determining the appropriate straight-in or circling minimums on an instrument approach. Previous AIM language required pilots to use the next higher approach category if it was necessary to maneuver at a speed above the upper limits of the aircraft’s defined approach category, but the revised language removes this requirement.
“The AIM revisions clarify an aircraft is certified to one approach category,” said Richard Boll, a member of NBAA’s Access Committee and chair of its airspace, ATC, and flight technologies working group. “The important thing is to remain within protected airspace, whether in a circling or straight-in approach.” To remain in protected airspace, it is still recommended—but no longer required—that pilots use the next higher approach category if possible, Boll explained.
Revised AIM language also provides guidance for pilots regarding responsibilities and recommended actions in flying these approaches, using either the minimums corresponding to the category determined by certification or minimums associated with a higher category. The AIM cautions, “If it is necessary to operate at a speed in excess of the upper limit of the speed range for an aircraft’s category, the minimums for the higher category should be used.”
Another important revision, NBAA noted, is a reminder that operations below the MDA or DA/DH require the runway environment be in sight and the aircraft be continuously positioned so that a landing on the intended runway can be made using a normal rate of descent and normal maneuvers.