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The quiz.

Everyone who has received instrument training has gone through alternate planning exercises, which are usually distilled down to the 1-2-3 rule and memorizing the 600-2 and 800-2 weather requirements for precision and non precision approaches. In practice, there are some finer points to alternates, some of which can give you added flexibility, and others that can trip you up. Let's see how much you really know about alternate planning by trying on these questions. Answers on page 23.

1. You're driving to the airport to start a trip you've been planning for months. Although the forecast was good, it looks like pea soup at your departure airport. Thankfully it's clear and a million at your destination, since it doesn't have any instrument approaches. Will you need to file an IFR alternate for this flight?

a. An alternate would only be required if the weather was less than the 1-2-3 rule. Since the destination forecast is clear, you don't need no stinkin' alternate.

b. An alternate is always required when the destination airport has no published procedures.

c. No alternate is required since clear skies would permit a VFR descent below the enroute MEA at the destination.

d. There are airports without approaches?

2. True or False. You can file an airport as your required alternate even if it has no published instrument approach procedures.

a. True

b. False

3. Your destination airport doesn't publish its own terminal forecast, TAF, but the field right around the corner does. How close does the field right around the corner need to be to your destination in order to use it for determining whether an alternate is required?

a. 25 nautical miles

b. 10 nautical miles

c. 5 statute miles

d. TAFs are only usable to determine alternate requirements at the field for which they are published.

4. How can you determine whether an alternate is required for your destination, or whether an airport is suitable to file as an alternate, if that airport isn't covered by a TAF report? (May have multiple answers.)

a. You're allowed to use current METARs for flights of less than an hour.

b. Reference the National Weather Service Forecast Discussion.

c. Refer to the relevant Area Forecast (FA).

d. Your destination and/or alternate must have a TAF to comply with the FARs

e. Easy--just call your local weatherman.

5. What would be your required weather minimums at your alternate if you were flying a helicopter instead of an airplane?

a. A ceiling 200 feet above minimums and the higher of 1 mile visibility or minimums

b. 600-2 regardless of whether it's a non-precision or precision approach

c. Landing minimums for a procedure available for use in alternate planning

d. There is no difference.

6. When may an alternate be chosen based on a GPS approach procedure when the aircraft is not WAAS capable?

a. Aircraft with non-WAAS GPS units cannot consider GPS approaches at alternate airports.

b. Alternate minimums are raised to 1000-2 when considering GPS approaches.

c. Only when the procedure is overlaid with a non-GPS procedure.

d. Only when flight planning for your destination is based on non-GPS procedures.

7. Instead, if your aircraft was WAAS capable, which of the following statements about alternate planning based on GPS procedures would be correct? (May have multiple answers.)

a. If the procedure has LPV minimums, alternate minimums of 600-2 apply.

b. Flight planning must be based on LNAV or circling minimums.

c. LNAVNNAV minimums may be considered if the aircraft is equipped for Baro VNAV.

d. Use of GPS procedures for alternate planning is unrestricted.

8. True or False. If you divert to an alternate airport, you can't fly approaches that are noted as NA for alternate planning?

a. True

b. False

9. Which of the following are reasons that an approach might be NA for alternate planning? (May have multiple answers.)

a. A navaid required for the procedure is unmonitored.

b. A GPS procedure has only LPV minimums.

c. The airport has only GPS procedures.

d. Local weather is unavailable.

e. The weather there is persistently crummy.

10. True or False. You won't encounter a situation in which approach minimums adjusted for inoperative lighting, a remote altimeter source, etc. are higher than the minimums required to use that procedure for alternate planning.

a. True

b. False


1. b. An alternate airport is required by 14 CFR [section] 91.169 unless your destination airport has approach procedures and the weather forecast from an hour before until an hour after your ETA is at least a 2,000 foot ceiling and 3 sm visibility (the 1-2-3 rule). Since your destination has no approaches, weather is irrelevant. You would need to file an alternate.

2. a. Your alternate on an IFR flight plan doesn't need to have an approach procedure. According to [section] 91.169(c)(2), you may use an airport without approaches as your alternate as long as the weather will permit descent from MEA to landing under basic VFR.

3. c. A Terminal Area Forecast, TAF, covers an area 5 statute miles around the airport. Granted, that's not very far, but it might give you some added flight planning flexibility. For instance, a flight to Capital City Airport (CXY) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania would be able to use the TAF from Harrisburg International (MDT), which is 4 nautical miles away.

4. a. & c. The language found in [section] 91.169(c) explaining how to determine if an alternate is required and how to select that alternate is "... weather reports or weather forecasts, or a combination of them." Although TAFs are usually preferable, if one isn't available, the Area Forecast (FA) may be used for your forecast. Likewise, for flights of less than an hour, a current METAR can be used for flight planning.

5. a. Helicopters have different alternate weather requirements. For helicopters, an alternate is required if, from the ETA until an hour past ETA, the destination weather isn't at least the higher of 1,000 feet or 400 feet above minimums and 2 sin visibility. To qualify as an alternate, the weather must be 200 feet above approach minimums, and the visibility must be the higher of 1 sm or the approach minimums.

6. d. Historically, GPS approaches didn't qualify for alternate planning unless the aircraft had WAAS. However, that changed in April of 2013. AIM 1-1-18(g) now permits GPS approaches to be considered for alternates by non-WAAS aircraft. However, GPS approaches may only be considered for either the destination or the alternate, but not both.

7. b. & c. AIM 1-1-19(c)(7)(a) addresses the use of GPS approaches for alternate planning by WAAS-equipped aircraft. GPS procedures may be used for alternate planning as long as only the LNAV or circling minimums are considered. Plus, if an aircraft can fly Baro VNAV procedures--not many light aircraft can--the LNAV/VNAV DA may also be considered.

8. b. Alternate planning procedures and restrictions end with planning, according to the Instrument Procedures Handbook. Once you're enroute, anything goes. At your alternate--planned or otherwise--all procedures that would normally be available to you are available, even non-LNAV GPS minimums.

9. a, b, d. FAA Order 8260.19E describes requirements for a procedure to be authorized for alternate planning. Monitored navaids are probably the most commonly known reason. Additionally, local weather must be available and LNAV minimums must be published on a GPS procedure, since only LNAV minimums may be considered for alternate planning.

10. a. TERPS evaluates the minimums required for filing as an alternate for each procedure, and bases the minimums on no lighting, which would result in the highest visibility minimum for the procedure. If the adjusted approach minimums are higher than the standard alternate minimums, nonstandard minimums will be published. Additionally, a local altimeter is required for using a procedure for filing as an alternate, so if the local altimeter isn't available the procedure will be noted as NA.
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Date:Dec 1, 2013
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