Text provided by COPA

Earlier this week, COPA became aware that some of our members have concerns regarding changes to the design and certification of Instrument Approach Procedures (IAPs) in Canada. In 2017 Transport Canada (TC) updated TP 312 Aerodrome Standards to Edition 5 to accommodate changes to align Canada with ICAO guidelines. TP 312 is the “bible” for designing IAPs at certified aerodromes in Canada. For all other registered and non-certified aerodromes, TC publishes AC 301-001, which allows operators to declare Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) equivalent to a certified airport. In 2018 the AC was updated to align it with Edition 5 of TP 312. Using the AC allows aerodrome owners and managers and the businesses that are authorized to create and submit IAP designs to renew their in-service IAP to NAV CANADA and TC for approval.

TC advised all aerodrome operators that the new IAP design standards would come into effect on December 31, 2020. When aerodrome operators expressed concerns about complying with this deadline due to COVID and other factors, TC pushed the implementation date to the end of 2021. The new standards have been known to all for over 24 months. While the details of the changes are beyond the purpose of this article, the link to the third issue of the AC can be found here.

In converting the structure of IAP design to be ICAO compliant, the area that is protected from obstacle penetrations at the point where the pilot arrives at the Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) grew in size, the protected “strip” is wider. Inevitably, this increased area has caused some IAPs problems at aerodromes because obstacles that were not penetrating the strip are now in the way. Aerodrome operators are faced with two options. Cut down or remove the obstacle(s), or increase the height of the MDA so that the floor of the strip is above the offending obstacle.

As a result of this mandatory change, many IAPs at aerodromes have experienced one of three outcomes. In the first case, some IAPs have experienced minor increases to the Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) for the instrument approach. In many more cases, the MDA has been raised to approximately 500 feet height above touchdown because the OLS “floor” was penetrated by an obstacle that can’t be easily moved, such as a hangar.

Whenever an IAP is re-assessed under the new AC format the approach must receive a new Attestation by the Aerodrome Operator. It can be Non-Instrument (VFR,) or Non-Precision Instrument equivalent, or it can confirm that no status can be achieved. The attestation declares that the OLS IAP for that approach will be maintained exactly as it was when the obstacles were assessed by the approach designer and the MDA was set. This attestation process is similar to the obstacle identification and cataloging process used at certified aerodromes. This ensures the safety of the approach for those using it to arrive at a point where the pilot can make a safe descent to the intended runway.

In some instances, where the Attestation could not be achieved or there were other circumstances,  that forced the IAP designer to move the IAP from the Public Canada Air Pilot (CAP) to the Restricted CAP. Regardless of the database destination, both CAP and RCAP are available to all users of digital services such as Jeppesen, GARMIN Pilot and ForeFlight. There is one caveat for recreational (private) pilots who are instrument rated who want to make use of an IAP that is in the RCAP. The pilot must contact the aerodrome operator, who would have provided the attestation, to become “familiar with the aerodrome environment.”  In other words, the pilot needs to be aware of the obstacles that cause the IAP to be put into the RCAP. Any pilot who is doing an instrument approach at an unfamiliar aerodrome should familiarize himself with the landing environment and conditions so that the transition to a landing is safe and expeditious.

(Photo: Adobestock)

September 23, 2021: A correction was made to this IFR Approaches Notice. Please click here to read more.