What is an approach plate? An approach plate is term used to simplify the formal printed procedures and charts called the Instrument Approach Procedures. Pilots will use this procedure during approaches using Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations.
Every country is responsible for its own instrument approach procedures as long as they are in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. Most countries have organizations established to maintain these procedures; in the United States the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has all procedures available. On top of the FAA a private publisher Jeppesen Sanderson also has all procedures available. In Canada the procedures are maintained by Canadian Air Pilot (CAP), which includes all approved approaches determined by Transport Canada. Additional approaches are found in the Restricted
Canada Air Pilot (RCAP), which are available to commercial operators.
The importance of approach plates is shown when an airplane is making a safe landing during an Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), these include low visibility, heavy rain or possible snow or blizzards. The plates provide specific waypoints and altitudes that the pilots use to align the airplane up with the runway for landing. They also serve as important navigational information: radio frequencies, course heading, and minimum visibility requirements. Their importance to a safe flight is critical and so all plates are printed with expiration dates and updated frequently. It is the responsibility of the pilot to maintain a current, up-to-date set of approach plates; if caught with expired plates the pilot will be held accountable and will suffer consequences and penalties.
Today, approach plates are available in digital form so they can be used on tablet PC, iPad, iPhone, Android phone, Amazon Kindle and similar devices. Approach plates in this form are much more easy for use, because they are eliminating bulky and hard to access paper approach plates. In most cases digital approach paltes can be downloaded from specialized websites providing uptodate vesions of plates. Digital approach plates contain all information traditionally found in a paper plates.
When viewed on a tablet PC, e-reader or similar device you can quickly select the information you need by few clicking on the approach plate for the airport you’re planing to land.