Approach Plates is a common term used to describe the printed procedures or charts, more formally Instrument Approach Procedures, that pilots use to fly approaches during Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations. Each country maintains their own instrument approach procedures according to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. In the United States, these procedures are available from the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as private publishers such as Jeppesen Sanderson. In Canada, Nav Canada maintains the Canada Air Pilot, or CAP, which contains all Transport Canada approved approaches. The Restricted Canada Air Pilot, or RCAP, contains additional approaches available to commercial operators who have been granted Op Spec 099.
An approach plate for the ILS to runway 8L at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport (ATL), Georgia.
Approach Plates are essential for an airplane to make a safe landing during instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), such as low ceilings or reduced visibility due to fog, rain, or blowing snow. They provide specific waypoints and altitudes necessary to line aircraft up with a designated runway for landing, along with important navigational information, such as radio frequencies of navigational aids and required course headings, along with the prescribed minimum visibility requirements to execute the selected approach.
Due to their importance, approach plates are published with expiration dates and are updated on a frequent basis. Pilots are responsible for maintaining a current set, and penalties are levied if a pilot is caught using expired plates during a flight in which they are required.
The image shown is of an earlier-style plate, characterized by the Missed Approach instructions near the bottom of the plate image. Later plates have converted to a standard format with the Missed Approach at the top of the plate.
- Instrument Landing System (ILS)
- Electronic Approach Plates
- FAA Approach Plates are available in electronic form from the FAA, as well as third party vendors.