With navigation aids and the procedure design process, the various types of procedures that are available will be described in this article. Relatively little emphasis with be placed on conventional navigation aids as the aviation industry is rapidly shifting to a satellite based environment. For this reason, satellite based procedures will be described in detail.
RNAV Approaches are described by a series of waypoints, legs, speed and altitude constraints stored in the onboard navigation database. Safety is improved by providing pilots with better situational awareness than on conventional Non-Precision Approaches (NPA) thereby reducing the risk of controlled flight into terrain (CFIT). Better access can also be provided to runways that are not equipped with precision approach and landing systems. RNAV approaches have been made possible by the widespread availability of high performance RNAV systems on all types of aircraft and in particular by the use of GNSS.
Pilots are now benefiting from the proliferation of Area Navigation (RNAV) Global Positioning System (GPS) approaches and lower minimums provided by WAAS-enabled systems. As of July 2011, there were twice as many WAAS approaches as Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) approaches. Currently, there are over 3000 Localizer Performance without Vertical Guidance (LP) and Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) procedures.
Leveling off at the MDA can be problematic if there are distractions or turbulence. Keeping the airplane at the MDA until the runway is sighted is another issue. But the worst problem may be resisting the urge to descend when you spot the runway too far out. Flying a Continuous Descent Final Approach (CDFA) eliminates the MDA level off, puts the airplane in a position to land when the runway is sighted, and forces you to go around if the runway is not sighted before a normal visual descent point. It is easier to fly than a dive and drive approach.
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