How to use IFATC Maps

March, 16, 2022 by

If you’ve entered radar training, chances are you’ll work with a feature in ifatc.org called map. This feature allows a trainee to see the terrain, airports, and fixes around an assigned airport. However, not many people know how to use all these features and how IFATC Maps can be very helpful.

We’ll discuss each individual feature and MSAs. Usually the map will show the airport and surrounding terrain in a 70NM radius.

Features
Going into the main features, we’ll use KSFO with runways 28L and 28R for our example airport.

There’s four main features, but there are a few key abbreviations you need to know:

  • MSA: Minimum Safe Altitude. This is the lowest altitude a plane can go before a busts or crashes into terrain.
  • LOC: Localizer
  • GS: Glideslope

Let’s get into our first tab which is called, “Explore.” In this category, you can see the NAV Points, airports, and terrain of the airport. To view airports, simply click/tap, “Airports.”

Click/Tap once for controlled airports, twice for ICAO codes, three times for uncontrolled airports, and four times for VORs. When you click/tap, “NAV Points,” you’ll see every available NAV point within that radius.

Using the slider labelled, “Min Safe Alt” can show which altitudes are above the given altitude. So in our case, if we slide the slider to 4K, we can see MSAs where the altitude is above 4K around 5 and 6K. Using the slider labelled, “Distance” shows a circle surrounding a particular area.

The slider goes up to 100NM, and will always have a radius of the given NM. So if we set the slider to 70NM, the circle will have a radius of around 70NM from KSFO to the edge of the circle.

Moving our next tab labelled, “Approach,” this gives us the option to show our GS. For runway 28L, nearing the end of the visible LOC, or as many trainers refer to it, cone, we see that our GS altitude is 3510.

Typically, we want to ensure that a pilot is below that given altitude as we want to ensure that a pilot intercepts the LOC before the GS. So, in this situation, we’ll keep a pilot at 3K so they intercept the LOC before the GS here. As many trainers will tell you to imagine that the cone extends farther out if needed, which is why you’ll see 4-5 points with altitudes and distances (in nautical miles) out from the airport.

Moving to our final tab labelled, “NAV Points,” this is where you can plug in Fixes, VORs, and airport ICAO codes, if you wanted to, you could plug in your flight plan and see it there. So for instance, we’ll make a flight plan from KSFO to KLAX. We’d plug that into the NAV Points tab and click/tap, “Apply.” Once the page refreshes, we’ll see our flight plan going to the airport and the intercepts.

Kush Shelat (Adventures), is a high school graduate with an associates degree in General Studies. He is an IFATC Specialist who will start college at Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology majoring in Commercial Aviation. He enjoys spending time talking about Aviation and Aviation news and flying in Infinite Flight exploring new places.