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Can the Frederick, Maryland RNAV (GPS) RWY 5 approach be issued and/or executed at night per the current notes?

Louis Ridley

Warrenton, Virginia

There might be a typo in the notes section. The words, "and Circling" are there twice and that probably is a mistake. Checking the Jepp charts, the note is just, "Straight-in and circling to Rwy 5/30 NA at night."

The "Straight-In and Circling" wording is a bit awkward, but its meaning is clear. The approach is not authorized at night for a straight-in to Runway 5, nor for circling to Runways 5 or 30. Circling at night is authorizedfor Runways 12 and 23 from this approach.

The reason is visual area penetrations, which is a topic that's come up quite a bit lately. Visual areas are basically obstacle screening surfaces, one at a 20:1 slope and one at 34:1 off the runway end. Those surfaces can be penetrated by obstacles, but if they are, some restrictions are applied to the procedure.

The "NA at night" restriction indicates that the 20:1 visual area--a slope close to a normal descent--is penetrated by unlit obstacles, often terrain. Considering that, it's probably a good idea to restrict pilots from flying the approach at night, since they wouldn't be able to see the obstacle. This restriction can usually be waived if the runway has a VGSI, as Runway 5 does here, but in this case, no waiver has been granted.

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Title Annotation:READBACK
Author:Ridley, Louis
Date:Feb 1, 2014
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