FAA Clarifies Instrument Approach Categories

 - January 30, 2023, 11:08 AM

The FAA has published revised Information for Operators 23001, which offers expanded guidance about which aircraft approach categories should be used for instrument procedures. It emphasizes that approach categories for either Vref, if specified, or 1.3 Vso are determined at maximum certified landing weight even if the actual landing weight is lower. “The certificated approach category is permanent and independent of the changing conditions of day-to-day operations,” the FAA said.

Further, “aircraft may not be flown to the instrument approach minima of a slower approach category.” If it becomes necessary to operate above the upper limit of the speed range of an approach category, the minimums for the higher category should be used if available. Regardless of approach category, the pilot must maneuver the aircraft to stay within the protected area for that category to achieve obstacle and terrain clearances.

“In other words, the pilot must ensure that an approach speed category that is less than the aircraft’s prescribed approach speed category is never used,” said Rich Boll, chair of NBAA’s access airspace, ATC, and flight deck subcommittee. Boll also cautioned that “many of the flight standardization board (FSB) reports for various aircraft types still state the next higher approach category must be used for a circle-to-land approach.” This is no longer true. These FSB reports will be updated to remove this statement, said Boll.