No matter how current, proficient, and well-equipped you are, there are days when Mother Nature’s meteorological handiwork keeps GA pilots on the ground. Yesterday was one of those times, as a convergence of conditions brought record-setting downpours, strong thunderstorms, and even unusual (for the DC metropolitan area) tornado watches and warnings throughout the day. So it was a good opportunity to settle in and review the last draft of an important document that should be published in final form by the time you read this issue of FAA Safety Briefing: the FAA’s Instrument Procedures Handbook (FAA-H-8083-16A).
The Instrument Procedures Handbook (IPH) is one of two FAA-produced handbooks targeted specifically for instrument pilots. You probably encountered the first Instrument Flying Handbook (IFH) (FAA-H-8083-15B), during your initial training for an instrument rating. The IFH is designed for use by instrument flight instructors and pilots preparing for the instrument rating knowledge test, so it introduces and explains all the basic concepts of flight instruments, attitude instrument flying, basic flight maneuvers for use in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), navigation systems, air traffic control procedures, and instrument flight rules (IFR).
The IPH, on the other hand, is designed as a technical reference for all pilots who operate under IFR in the National Airspace System (NAS). It expands and updates information provided in the IFH, and it introduces advanced information for IFR operations. For example, the IPH offers detailed coverage of instrument charts and procedures, to include IFR takeoff, departure, en route, arrival, approach, and landing. In addition, the IPH provides safety information on subjects such as runway incursion, land and hold short operations (LAHSO), controlled flight into terrain, and human factors issues.
The 2015 edition of the IPH contains substantial changes, updates, and reorganization intended for greater clarity. As with previous editions, the 2015 IPH benefits from extensive internal and external stakeholder review to ensure that it is aligned with current policy and consistent with real-world IFR operations in the NAS. Key updates:
Chapter 1 (Departure Procedures): Updated information and reorganization of important concepts and principles related to obstacle avoidance and departure planning, to include updated graphics.
Significant revisions to the section on Diverse Vector Areas.
Chapter 4 (Approaches): Changed internet references related to on-line flight planning and filing.
Updated information on Vertical Descent Angles (VDAs), Visual Descent Points (VDPs), Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approach naming conventions.
New information on Terminal Arrival Areas. Several general updates on Area Navigation (RNAV) and GPS-based approaches.
Where Can I Find It?
Published by the FAA Flight Standards Service’s Flight Technologies and Procedures Division, Flight Procedures Standards Branch (AFS-420), the IPH is available in PDF format from the FAA’s Regulations and Policies website at: http://go.usa.gov/3A6e4
What About the IFH?
In connection with the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) project, the FAA is working with industry experts on the Airman Certification System Working Group to review and revise the more basic Instrument Flying Handbook, last updated in 2012. The goal is to make the revised version of this publication available by June 2016.
Keeping mentally current with IFR policies and procedures is every bit as important as keeping your physical instrument flying skills sharp, so please take the time to download and review the 2015 Instrument Procedures Handbook. You can send comments regarding this publication in email form to: 9-AMC-AFS420-IPH@faa.gov. (FAA Safety Briefing – SepOct 2015)