Using VFR Only GPS for Approaches in VFR?

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by apr911, Apr 17, 2019 at 12:37 AM.

  1. apr911

    apr911 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So not sure exactly why it's flagged VFR Only but a flight school I'm working with has a G400 (it may even be the WAAS variant G400W, not 100% sure) in their aircraft that is placarded VFR Only. My guess is that it is mounted on the right side of the panel and is not in the immediate reach or view of the pilot in the left seat.

    The database is also long expired but I know the FAA permits the usage of an expired database for IFR flight during the enroute portions of flight and also permits the usage of an expired database for approaches provided the approach has not changed since the database was updated or the pilot has verified the approach details but I digress.

    My question today is, is it legal to use a GPS placarded VFR to do a practice GPS approach in VFR conditions?

    I haven't found any reason that it could not given that you are still in VFR conditions and are flying the indicated approach with a VFR safety pilot in VFR conditions as a VFR flight while you personally are under the hood in simulated instrument conditions.
     
  2. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Back to rented mules
    Careful of free advice, but if you’re not IFR, you’re VFR, so your use of the VFR only GPS is legal. Doesn’t matter if your under the hood or not as far as that’s concerned.
     
  3. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    "Legal" as in you've committed an FAR violation by flying a practice approach under VFR using a VFR-only panel GPS, iPad, or directions from a Ouija Board? No, of course not. If under ATC instructions, I might be concerned with accuracy, but that's about it.

    "Loggable" as in counting it for Instrument currency? I've heard both answers, neither from an official source.
     
  4. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The only thing that matters for logging matters is that you flew it under actual or simulated instrument conditions. Instrument Flight Rules are not necessary. FAA guidance says you have to remain on the approach to minimums or the ground to count it.

    If you're VFR, there's not much "accuracy" concern on ATCs part. It's incumbent on you not to hit things (other than in class B).
     
  5. apr911

    apr911 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Loggable was closer to what I was thinking but I was also thinking in terms of use on a checkride. I'm finishing up my double-i and getting ready for my checkride and trying to formulate a response if the DPE were to ask or want to try to do a GPS approach on the ride hence my research into the database as I already know the flight school isn't going to update it. I've heard the professionalism argument of flying with an expired database but ultimately, its not my airplane and when it comes to what's available to rent, if I refused to fly every plane with some minor squawk, I'd never get to fly again (or at least until I own my own airplane and even then its debatable that everything would be in perfect working order every time I flew).
     
  6. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    Approaches change all the time. I would not even practice an approach under VFR as the approach in a "long expired" database may not match the chart.
     
  7. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  8. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I would go with what the PTS says...it’s not properly installed for IFR, so you can’t use it for IFR operations or as one of your approaches on the checkride.

    More to the point, why are you doing your “double-i” without IFR GPS capability? Do you have an ADF that you prefer? ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019 at 8:58 AM
  9. apr911

    apr911 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Well the aircraft I am flying currently is IFR GPS capable and we've definitely covered GPS topics and approaches during training. The concern is that the aircraft may not be available for my checkride for a variety of reasons and for a variety of other reasons I would prefer to take another aircraft anyway so I am trying to find alternates. Most of the alternates available for rent that I've found in my area are not equipped with a GPS at all, let alone a VFR-Only GPS.

    I could certainly take an airplane without any GPS installed for the checkride, the PTS only specifies a precision and 2 non-precision approaches (1 with functioning gyros and 1 without) are required. As far as I can tell there is no requirement specifically for different approaches or even different types beyond precision, non-precision and non-precision with no gyros so an ILS, VOR and a LOC (or an ILS and 2 VORs for that matter) gets the job done, no GPS or ADF needed.

    By flying an aircraft with a VFR-Only GPS, I am, number 1, opening up the opportunity to be asked questions on it and when it can and cannot be used and number 2, depending on the answer to #1, opening up the possibility of using said VFR-only GPS to conduct, demonstrate and instruct on GPS approaches despite its VFR limitations and expired database.

    Unless I'm missing something in the PTS, the section on "Aircraft and Equipment Required for the Practical Test" merely states that the equipment's "operating limitations must not prohibit the TASKS required on the practical test." Since the TASKS dont specify conditions of flight, it raises the question of whether a GPS placarded for VFR Operation Only prohibits its use for an approach conducted while under the hood in simulated instrument conditions while in otherwise VFR conditions with a VFR safety pilot or if it is only a prohibition against usage in actual IFR operations; even the prohibition against usage in "actual IFR" conditions/operations is a bit vague as the FAA has previously held that a VFR-only GPS can be used in enroute IFR operations to "enhance situational awareness" you just aren't permitted to use it as your primary means of navigation or file /G.

    If you have a reference to something saying 3 different approaches and/or types are required and/or a reference to the requirement that it be properly installed for IFR in order to use it as one of your approaches on the checkride when conducted in VFR weather, I must be overlooking it as I've gone over the PTS a couple times now and have not been able to find such language so I would certainly appreciate you sharing where to locate it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019 at 10:05 AM
  10. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    two VORs is sufficient...the winky face indicated sarcasm with regard to the ADF.

    From the PTS...my emphasis:
    The unit you’re describing is not “properly installed” for IFR.
     
  11. apr911

    apr911 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks! I did see the "properly installed" terminology but could see an argument that it is "properly installed" just not for IFR. Its not like I'm walking out to the plane with a G430, a battery and an antenna and saying here, lets just put this in your lap and again, I'm pretty sure the reason this GPS is not "IFR" is its installation location on the panel not its capability.

    Properly installed to me means its installed in a prescribed manner that ensures maximum reception of GPS information. So no DIY, self-certified installations and certainly no "carry-aboard" GPS (iPads, handheld garmins, stratus/stratux, etc)

    If the VFR-only GPS isn't going to be permitted for use, than that actually makes things easier both in terms of scheduling a plane as I dont have to worry about getting that specific aircraft for the checkride and can take another aircraft without any GPS installed and in terms of procedures that need to be demonstrated on the checkride so I'm really probably just overly complicating this for myself though if I end up in that airplane anyway, I could see an examiner questioning exactly what limitations are placed on the use of the GPS if it's placarded VFR-Only.
     
  12. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Aren't there 3 different GPS certifications? VFR, IFR En-route, and IFR Approach?

    I thought that was a thing.
     
  13. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Not really...there are VFR installations and IFR installations. The level of IFR capability is normally per the AFMS, and the enroute-only units are simply antiques that weren’t approach-certified.
     
  14. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    @MauleSkinner - enroute-only spec no longer exists, or nobody builds to that spec anymore? There's a lot of antiques are still flying. Heck, on PoA my 430W is considered antique ;)
     
  15. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I’m saying that 430W can have a VFR installation or an IFR installation...it can’t be installed as an IFR enroute-only unit. Kind of like it can’t be installed for LNAV-only approach use.

    The antique units are still usable, if supported, but I know of none being built today.
     
  16. bradg33

    bradg33 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Think of it this way: a GPS that is installed and placarded "VFR only" is no more useful than you iPad or a Garmin portable. When it was installed, it probably made some sense because good portable GPS units were in their infancy and iPads didn't exist. Today, they're boat anchors.
     
  17. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    This (and I guess I'm adding on to your earlier post with a quote)

    Appendix 7 to the instrument ACS, "Aircraft, Equipment, and Operational Requirements & Limitations" (with my emphasis):

    Consistent with 14 CFR part 61, section 61.45 (b) and (d), the aircraft must have:
    • the flight instruments necessary for controlling the aircraft without outside references,
    • the radio equipment required for ATC communications, and
    • the ability to perform instrument approach procedures
    GPS equipment must be instrument certified and contain the current database
     
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  18. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Yes...I took my quote from the Instrument Instructor PTS, so slightly different wording, but the same thing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019 at 2:58 PM
  19. sarangan

    sarangan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You can navigate using a ham sandwich and log the approach if you were in simulated instrument conditions.
    Your instructor could talk you down the approach, as long as you flew it by reference to instruments, then it counts.
     
  20. olasek

    olasek Pattern Altitude

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    Not if you are flying in actual IMC. If you are flying in actual IMC the ceiling doesn't have to go down to MDA/DH to log this approach.