IFR Tips - Loading GPS Approaches | GroundSchool.com

IFR Tips - Loading GPS Approaches

The approach phase is likely the busiest, and most complicated, part of any instrument flight. GPS and Flight Managers definitely help, but only after being mastered. While they clearly add sophisticated assistance, the pilot has to always know what to ask for. Loading approaches into the system is a great example. The issue involves three steps: 

1. Selecting the Approach
2. Loading the Approach
3. Activating the Approach

The confusion arises when pilots fail to understand the distinction between "loading" and "activating". And it is compounded because most GPS units include an option labeled "Load and Activate". That does both operations at once.

Realize that your GPS is always navigating toward some point. That is the point that ATC has cleared you to, or a fix along the way. The controller isn't expecting you to go anywhere else. When an instrument approach becomes active, the next navigational fix gets changed to a fix in the approach procedure. If you divert to this new point before being cleared, the controller will likely be quite upset. And this could result in the dreaded call, "Cessna 12345, I have a phone number for you. Possible pilot deviation. Advise ready to copy."

Watch the interactive presentation below. It shows you what can go wrong, and how to prevent it.


Russ Still

About the Author

Russ Still is a career flight instructor and ATP. He has written numerous articles for technology and aviation publications and authored “The Unbroken Chain” in 2001 (ISBN-10: 189652284X). Russ is an 8-time Master CFI and founded the Gold Seal Aviation Training Network in 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Florida.