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Define "established"

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Nov 25, 2001
This week, as I wait for calls, send resumes, and study for my ATP written, I was reminded of a question that came up a while back with another pilot.
Many references to being "established" on an approach segment crop up in the instrument and ATP test questions. One pilot I know said that if you are joining a localizer, the time when the needle comes off the stop and begins to move constitutes being established. How about being established on a GPS or NDB approach? I have found no clear definition of this condition of being established. Any ideas?
Those are some good questions so I'll give it a shot. When a pilot is established on the final approach course he/she must have course guidance (when the needle starts moving in from full scale deflection). For a VOR apporach you are established when your within 10-degrees of the FAC. For the ILS, you're established when you're within 2.5 degrees of the FAC. NDB appoach would be when your within 10 degrees of the final approach course bearing. For the GPS approach, I'm not sure what the needle sensitivity is but the GPS receiver would probably be in the terminal mode when you're getting established on the FAC.

Keep in mind you also have to be within the published range for the approach (in order to be established) like the 10 NM note or 1 minute note for course reversals. If you exceed those ranges and you are on the FAC, you aren't established.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong
Those are good responses, but I'm ultimately looking for the references (far, terps, etc) that support those responses. When I'm asked again, I want to be able to show them the sources for my answers.
Good question, I remember reading something about it a long time a go. I can't for the life of me remember.
From Jeppesen Fars Explained (great book!):

91.175(l) The FAA has never officially defined "established". The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) published a document on flight procedures (DOC.8768 Vol. l) which states that "established" is considered as being within half full scale deflection for the ILS and VOR, or within +/-5 degrees of the required bearing for the the NDB. This definition was quoted by the FAA in the April 1993 edition of FAA Aviation News, page 25. The article went on to note that the FAA's Practical Test Standards (PTS) for an instrument rating applicant are no more than than three-quarter scale CDI or glide slope deflection during a VOR or ILS approach and no more than +/- 10 degrees for an NDB approach. Stricter standards apply for ATP and type rating tests. The FAA seems to acknowledge that a practical definition of "established" is that a pilot is established when he/she is flying within the PTS parameters.

Hope that helps!
Thanks, FSI. My copy of that nifty book is in a large bin out in the garage, from when I cleaned out my file drawer at the flight school. I hadn't thought to look there.
I tried to get Jay Elder on the phone today. I'll check back with you when I speak with him.
Established??? What , Who me?

Just one other thing boys n girls, established with regards to course guidance is one thing but also distnace is another.

In 1971 a TWA 727 hit a ridge while at final approach altitude of something like 3000'. They were quite a way from the marker and well into the virginia hills area. The scar on the ridgeline is still there localizer center for Rny 12 at IAD.

With regards to established on the approach segment a known distance is required. Way back when prior to this accident approach clearances did not necessarily contain the phrase " maintain xxxxx til established, cleared for the runway 12 ILS"

This TWA flight got simply " Cleared for the approach" and descended to FAF altitude while still a long way out.

As a result of this accident we get that phrase when radar vectored for a approach and we got the first phase one TCAS several years later.

Jeezee I'm gettin old I can remember back to 71.

"A man is only as old as the women he feels."
Good thing I wasn't asked that question in the 3 interviews I've had in the last 7 months, otherwise they would conclude I'm on crack.

One thing I did not see mentioned here is the aligment of the airplane with approach course segment. I don't know what the criteria is for aligment, but corssing the course at 90 degrees with the needle centered for 1 decond is not established on course
Look at this article on "established"

Maybe this article, written by Capt. Wally Roberts, might shed some light for you on the different meanings of the term "established":

May, 1996 "When Are You Established?"

A reader encounters differing opinions about when to descend on the glideslope from an arc.


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