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An aircraft approach category is a grouping which differentiates aircraft based on the speed at which the aircraft approaches a runway for a landing.
The approach speed used in these categories is defined as the VRef of a given aircraft at the maximum certificated landing weight (if VRef is not specified, the approach speed is given as the VS0multiplied by 1.3). The values of VRef, VS0, and the maximum certificated landing weight are established for the aircraft by the certification authority of the country of registry. An aircraft shall fit in only one category. If it is necessary to maneuver at speeds in excess of the upper limit of a speed range for a category, the minimums for the next higher category should be used. For example, an aircraft which falls in Category A, but is circling to land at a speed in excess of 90 knots, should use the approach Category B minimums when circling to land. The categories are as follows:
- Category A: Speed 90 knots or less.
- Category B: Between 91 and 120 knots.
- Category C: Between 121 and 140 knots.
- Category D: Between 141 knots and 165 knots.
- Category E: Speed 166 knots or more (Category E contains only certain Military Aircraft).
- Category H is used only for helicopters but without specific VRef. See performance category in ADEXP 3.1 (link provided below).
Another is DL: Category DL aircraft have the same assumed approach speeds as category D aircraft, however, their maximum wing span is assumed to be 80 m (65 m for category D) and the maximum vertical distance between the wheels and the glide path antenna is 8 m (7 m for category D). (A380, AN225 and ‘monsters’ alike).
Aircraft Approach Category (ICAO)Edit
While the speed ranges used to determine an aircraft's approach category are identical to 14 CFR 97.3 (ICAO Doc 8168 PANS-OPS Vol 1, Section 4, Paragraph 1.3.5), the maximum permitted speed for visual maneuvering is significantly higher. The method used for determining the approach category speed is slightly different: VAT = speed at threshold based on 1.3 times VS0 or 1.23 times Vs1g at maximum certificated weight. Additionally, speed ranges are specified for other segments of the approach: (ICAO Doc 8168, Vol 1, Section 4, Table I-4-1-2).
The following ICAO table indicates the specified range of handling speeds (IAS in Knots) for each category of aircraft to perform the maneuvers specified. These speed ranges have been assumed for use in calculating airspace and obstacle clearance for each procedure.
|Aircraft category||VAT||Range of speeds for initial approach (and reversal and racetrack procedures)||Range of
final approach speeds
|Maximum speeds for circling||Maximum speeds for intermediate missed approach||Maximum speeds for final missed approach||Typical Aircraft in this Category|
|A||<91||90 - 150 (110*)||70 - 100||100||100||110||small single engine|
|B||91 - 120||120 - 180 (140*)||85 - 130||135||130||150||small multi engine|
|C||121 - 140||160 - 240||115 - 160||180||160||240||airline jet|
|D||141 - 165||185 - 250||130 - 185||205||185||265||large jet/military jet|
|E||166 - 210||185 - 250||155 - 230||240||230||275||special military|
|H||N/A||70 - 120||60 - 90||N/A||70 - 90||70 - 90||helicopters|
VAT —Speed at threshold based on 1.3 times stall speed in the landing configuration at maximum certificated landing mass.
'*' Maximum speed for reversal and racetrack procedures.
Category E contains only certain Military Aircraft and is usually not included on commercial aeronautical charts.
|DC-3||A||74 kn (137 km/h)|
|DC-4||B||94 kn (174 km/h)|
|DC-6||B||108 kn (200 km/h)|
|DC-7||B||110 kn (200 km/h)|
|Boeing 707||C||125–137 kn (232–254 km/h)|
|747SP||C||126 kn (233 km/h)|
|DC-9||C||126–135 kn (233–250 km/h)|
|Boeing 727||C||126–136 kn (233–252 km/h)|
|737 NG||C/D||126–144 kn (233–267 km/h)|
|737 Classic||C||127–135 kn (235–250 km/h)|
|737 Original||C||128–133 kn (237–246 km/h)|
|MD-80||C||131–137 kn (243–254 km/h)|
|Boeing 717||C||133–139 kn (246–257 km/h)|
|DC-8||C/D||133–144 kn (246–267 km/h)|
|Boeing 767||C/D||133–150 kn (246–278 km/h)|
|Boeing 757||C/D||137–142 kn (254–263 km/h)|
|MD-90||C||138 kn (256 km/h)|
|DC-10||D||138–149 kn (256–276 km/h)|
|Boeing 777||C/D||138–150 kn (256–278 km/h)|
|Boeing 747||D||142–152 kn (263–282 km/h)|
|Boeing 787||D||145–153 kn (269–283 km/h)|
|747-400||D||146–158 kn (270–293 km/h)|
|MD-11||D||152–155 kn (282–287 km/h)|
|747-8||D||153–161 kn (283–298 km/h)|
- 14 CFR Part 97.3
- ICAO Doc 8168 PANS-OPS Vol 1
- "FAA Reference Code and Approach Speeds for Boeing Aircraft" (PDF). Boeing. 30 March 2016.