Approach Category

Gulfstream G450

Eddie sez:

Approach categories seem to cause a lot of confusion in the corporate pilot world for some reason. The rules are pretty simple and are linked below. The confusion in the Gulfstream world was caused by magical two-sided plastic placards in the cockpit which pilots used to move at will from one category to another. The FAA ended all that with an emphatic statement that pilots could not do that, in fact only mechanics could do it with log book write ups. (The placards now only have one side, they are either installed or they aren't.)

In the G450, if you have ASC 007C installed, you are a Category C aircraft with a 58,500 lb landing weight limit, otherwise you are Category D with a 66,000 lb landing weight limit. Making the switch is more complicated than many of us in the Gulfstream world once thought.

Here then is a summary of the issue as it relates to the G450 and how to move from one category to another, and from one landing weight limitation to another.

Everything here is from the references shown below, with a few comments in an alternate color.

Last revision:

20190117

G450 Approach Category

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Photo: from Haskel's jet

Regulatory

According to 14 CFR 97.3 and ICAO Doc 8168 PANS-OPS Vol 1, §4, ¶1.3.3, the G450's category can be C or D, depending on its maximum landing weight:

Max Landing Weight Category
58,500 C
66,000 D

More on this in the Approach Categories section.

Gulfstream Notes

GV / G550

The GV and G550 are almost always Category C aircraft since they circle at VREF+5 with 39° flaps and that speed is almost always below 141 knots. (You would have to be close to max landing weight and well above sea level to exceed 141 knots.)

GIV

The answer "it depends" applies to the GIV when it comes to approach categories:

  • If you don't have ASC 61, your certified maximum landing weight is 66,000 lbs. and your lowest possible VREF is 149 knots; you are in Category D, end of discussion.
  • If you do have ASC 61, your certified maximum landing weight is 58,5000 lbs. You could, on a sea level day with full flaps say you have a VREF (just) under 141 knots and you are therefore a Category C airplane. That is true, but there is an exception. If your actual VREF + 10 knots or whatever additive you are required to add keeps you below 141 knots everything is okay. But if your actual VREF and additives take you to 141 knots or greater, you are "bumped" into the next category. You could end up at Cat D minimums, even on a circling approach.
  • Note: I am almost always in the same situation in my G450, except my minimum additive is 5 knots, not 10 knots.

G450

The G450 is better off since it circles at VREF+5 with 39° flaps and weighs a little less than a GIV, but it still sometimes ends up above 141 knots. ASC 007 reduces the aircraft's maximum landing weight, thereby reducing the aircraft's approach category, as detailed below.

Remember, the pilot can always raise the category. (More on this: Circling Approaches.)

G450 Specifics - ASC 007C

Here is what ASC 007C says on Category C:

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Figure: Maximum Landing Weight, from ASC 007.

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And about moving back to Category D:

Bottom Line? If you have ASC 007C installed, you are flying a Category C airplane with a 58,500 landing limit. You can change either of those facts thusly:

  • If you find yourself needing to circle faster than 140 knots you as a pilot deem yourself to be flying at Category D minimums.
  • If you want to land heavier:
    1. An authorized mechanic must remove the placard and AFM supplement from the aircraft.
    2. The mechanic must then make a logbook entry stating the ASC had been removed.
    3. At this point the aircraft returns to Approach Category D, and there is nothing you as a pilot can do to return it to Approach Category C.

See Also:

14 CFR 97, Title 14: Aeronautics and Space, Standard Instrument Procedures, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation

Gulfstream G450 Aircraft Service Change 007C, Maximum Landing Gross Weight, 58,500 pounds, Category C, Provisions, October 26, 2011

Gulfstream G450 Airplane Flight Manual, Revision 35, April 18, 2013

Gulfstream G450 Maintenance Manual, Revision 18, Dec 12, 2013

Gulfstream G450 Operating Manual Supplement, G-450-OMS-02, Extended Operations (ETOPS) Guide, Revision 2, April 2, 2009

Gulfstream G450 Performance Handbook, GAC-AC-G450-OPS-0003, Revision 20, November 30, 2011

Gulfstream G450 Quick Reference Handbook, GAC-AC-G450-OPS-0003, Revision 34, 18 April 2013

Gulfstream G450 Weight and Balance Manual, Revision 3, March 2008

ICAO Doc 8168 - Aircraft Operations - Vol I - Flight Procedures, Procedures for Air Navigation Services, International Civil Aviation Organization, 2006