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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A330 Training Tuesday

One of the differences between “old” Boeing and the Airbus include how to manage approaches.

The good old days, in the Boeing, I remember flying a VOR approach. An ILS. A NDB. A localizer—oh wait, the localizer was actually an ILS with the glideslope inop. But times they have changed. While the new Boeing aircraft have changed with the times, it’s all about the Bus.

Today… NDB, RNAV, VOR, LOC...

The confusion is actually in the terminology. Flying them is simple. There are "two" types of approaches: LOC NAV and APP NAV.

The thing to remember is that Airbus approaches are all “NAV” approaches. They also must be contained in the database— LOC NAV and APPR NAV. LOC NAV includes the LOC, LOC B/C, and the LDA without a glideslope. Remember... if you're going to fly a LOC approach, you need the "LOC" approach in the data base. Not the ILS.


The LOC NAV approach is just that… a localizer. There is no mystery with this approach. The approach uses the localizer signal for lateral navigation and we fly the vertical path.

The question is… how do we get her to descend? The answer… Follow the "donut"— the magenta circle that provides guidance on the vertical path. The approach chart displays the FPA (Flight Path Angle). We set that number on the FCU, and pull the FPA knob when it’s time to descend, adjusting as necessary.

  • When setting the altitude in the FCU, set the rounded up MDA. This prevents the ALT * problem during the descent and her trying to level off early.
  • The autopilot doesn’t disconnect at 50 feet—you have to do it.
  • To avoid nuisance glideslope warnings, you’ll want to disengage the system by pressing the GPWS G/S MODE button.


The APP NAV is a little more complicated to remember what approach this belongs to, but a whole lot easier to fly. It’s just like flying an ILS.

Why is it complicated to remember? It's not really. Just the terminology. APPR NAV includes, the NDB, VOR, and RNAV approaches—one approach is all encompassing...perhaps its so simple it gets confusing?

The approach NAV captures a glide “path” that is represented by a magenta brick. Somewhat like a glideslope.

The blue descent arrow, on the ND—(FINAL APP) indicates where the brick will intercept the path. There are always rules and this one is important—you must see FINAL APP on the FMA before descending below the FAF altitude. That makes sense. You’re not going to fly the approach if the system isn’t working.

Reminders for the APP NAV:
  • There is no need to set the MDA in the FCU and round up because once the brick is captured, it’s locked on, and won’t ALT * and level off prematurely.
  • The autopilot will automatically disconnect at 50 feet below the MDA.
Tonight I’ll be practicing these approaches and more. Anything you’d like to know… leave me a comment, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out tonight.

Enjoy the journey!

And remember... these are the good old days.

XOX Karlene


  1. Hello
    Long time reader first time commenting :)
    With all the talk about pilots not really understanding how to recover from a stall(LOC-I).
    Will there be any of that type of training for you guys?

  2. GT... not sure. And technically I'm not allowed to tell what happens in training. Must be a Vegas thing. But, despite what I am taught in training, I will share with you what I know. I did a little of this training with an check airman on my personal time. Learned a lot. But also discussed it with tech at Airbus. I'll share with you when I can on that experience. Coming soon. Thursday more on the A330.

  3. Are loc nav technically an scda ? Except you don't have to "calculate" anything. Just put it in the computer pilot :) and it'll do it?
    Gone are the days where you confuse 3.2 fpa to 3.2 fpm vspeed !

    I like these posts :)

  4. Hi Ramiel, okay... here is my question... what is a scda? Either I was up too late and my brain isn't working... or I haven't heard that term.

    We don't have to calculate anything.

    Thank you so much! More A330 posts through the New Year!

  5. ok Interesting.Thanks for the reply. I look forward to reading what you can write about.
    Have a good time.


  6. SCDA - Stabilized Constant Descent Angle. You don't calculate per se because there are charts and it's on the jepp plates. I guess more advanced aircraft with auto-throttles and VNAV capability does not require any of those. But the only one I've had tried on didn't have any of that, just vertical speed mode usually if there's no glideslope.

    and :) I can't wait!

  7. Gt... yes, and I will! Thanks for your comments.

  8. Thank you Ramiel! Yes... a LOC approach "is" technically a SCDA. Thank you for expanding my vocabulary! Yep... the descent path angle is set off the approach chart.

  9. How do you know when to extend flaps on a non-ils approach when you don't have a glideslope?

  10. You extend your flaps when you're ready to slow down and configure for landing.

  11. So would you normally do this on the final approach?

  12. Not necessarily. If we're on a downwind, just before base... depending upon the distance. It completely depends where you are and how you're setting up for the arrival. A good gouge is to start flaps about 15 miles out. That works pretty well.

  13. do you also fly rnp approaches?


Thank you for your comment! If your comment doesn't appear immediately, it will after I land. Enjoy the journey!