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Features March 2013 Issue

Danger Below MDA?

Instrument procedures keep airplanes away from obstacles, but what happens after you see the runway and go below MDA? There might be less protection than you expect.

Recently, an airline began to receive notices that crews flying the RNAV (GPS) RWY 36 approach into Birmingham, Alabama (BHM) were receiving GPWS alerts while descending from the MDA to the runway. Since it wasn’t an isolated incident, the airline suspected that the approach was flawed and notified the FAA, who flight checked the approach. The results of that inspection are educational to instrument-flying pilots at all levels.

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