ASRS CALLBACK includes excerpts from ASRS incident reports with supporting commentary. In addition, CALLBACK may contain summaries of ASRS research studies and related aviation safety information. CALLBACK is one of the ASRS's most effective tools for improving the quality of human performance in the National Aviation System (NAS) at the grass roots level.

Monday, March 22, 2010

CALLBACK Issue 363

From NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System

Issue 363

March 2010

Pilot and ATC "Cones of Confusion"

"Cone of confusion" is one of those versatile aviation terms that may be applied to conditions other than those intended. In a strict sense, the term refers to a cone-shaped volume of airspace directly above ground-based navigation equipment, such as a VOR or NDB, where there is an area of signal ambiguity that causes bearing information to be unreliable.

And then there's a humorous definition found on many aviation web sites: "Cone of confusion is an area about the size of New Jersey located near the final approach fix at an airport." This definition fits recent reports of pilot and ATC confusion regarding procedure turn and/or holding requirements of IFR approach procedures.

This month we will look at several common IFR approach situations where confusion reigns:
- Making a Procedure Turn
- Making a Hold-in-Lieu-of Procedure Turn
- Expecting a Straight-In Approach

Although we don't offer solutions to the misunderstandings described, we hope that sharing these reports will encourage clearer ATC-pilot communications.

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