Instrument Ground School — Enroute Charts


This evening in our Wings of Carolina IFR Ground School session we covered enroute charts and procedures, and arrivals, departures, and obstacle departure procedures with the usual digressions and, we hope, relevant narratives and recollections.  As usual, we walk away wishing we had remembered to make certain points and fearing that our explanation of others was more confusing than it should have been.  Fortunately, we have a splendid corps of instructors who will catch our errors and clear up our misunderstandings in the course of flight training. We hope we have created a basis for further understanding.

Before we get to online resources, a few things come to mind to add to our discussion.  If you are using paper enroute charts, and many of us still prefer paper charts or depend on them as an adjunct and backup to electronic charts, spend some time with the margins.  Know how to read the scale of the chart, since L charts are not to a standard scale as are VFR sectionals and WACs and can be deceptive without a sense of scale.  Know how to find an airport using the index on the margin.  Understand how the charts fit together and overlap.  Understand the vertical limits of the Low Altitude Enroute Charts.

When discussing arrivals and departures, we are now in the realm of the Terminal Procedures Publication, which we think of as our book of approach charts but includes many pages of auxiliary information, all useful, some of it critical.  If you are relying on electronic charts, know how to access the critical front matter and back matter of the instrument approach chart publication.  You will not likely find it downloading with the chart itself and it contains critical information, such as but not limited to obstacle departure procedures.  The front matter includes such as the inoperative components table, landing minima data, the legend, takeoff minimums, obstacle departure procedures, and radar minimums.   Did you know that there is a FAQ for charting issues on the FAA website?  The address is in the Terminal Procedures Publication.

We can’t teach you everything in one night, but we can refer you to some online resources that you may find helpful.

Pilotedge workshop IFR enroute procedures and charts    Pilot Workshops presents a series of recorded Webinars.  The two-hour presentation on enroute charts and enroute procedures using SkyVector electronic charts and a dancing pointer interleaved with PowerPoint pages is a very conversational, informal discussion of enroute charts, not unlike what we attempt to do in the instrument ground school.  I find myself noting points that we made in our discussion — and a few that I did not.

Jeppesen Chart Clinic Confidential  Jeppesen has produced a series of recorded webinars each addressing a specific IFR procedure or issue based on Jepp charts.  The charts are of course Jeppesen products, but the issues are pertinent.

AOPA Air Safety Foundation:  IFR Charts  A good introduction to the variety of IFR charts and procedures.  Requires registration but at no cost.  There is a wide variety of topics covered.  This one is specific to charts.  A nice feature of these presentations is the ability to choose whether the presentation will utilize NACO or Jeppesen charts.  One can even alternate back and forth throughout the presentation be selecting the chosen tab.

Pilotedge workshop IFR Departures Demystified     Another Pilotedge workshop, this one addressing IFR departures, a much-misunderstood aspect of IFR operations.  Several notorious IFR accidents have been caused by a pilot’s failure to appreciate the difference between SIDs and ODPs   See below.

1991 Departure Procedure crash involving Reba McEntire band report  An iconic accident revolving around a misunderstanding about the distinction between an obstacle departure procedure (then called simply a departure procedure) and a SID.  In those days the SIDs and STARs were published in a separate book; we would write in the remarks, “No SIDs or STARs.”  Read the transcript; it is, along with the Pinnacle crash, one of the saddest examples of the wages of ignorance.  (The Reba McEntire crash) The NTSB report of the 16 March 1991 fatal crash)

AC 120-91 is the Advisory Circular outlining the means by which obstacle avoidance is determined for commercial (135, 121, 125) operations.  It is not applicable to Part 91 operations but serves as an illustration of the complexity of these issues.



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