A section approach efficiently recovers multiple aircraft in IFR conditions. Approach control handles a
section the same as a single aircraft during an approach. OPNAV requires the weather to be at or
above circling minimums for a section instrument approach to commence with the intent to land (if no
circling mins are published then 1,000/3 is required).
The wingman of course flies the IFR parade position. The lead will set his position lights to bright and
steady and use the radio to communicate if in actual IMC conditions. If in VMC conditions, hand signals
will be used as described in an earlier section of this FTI. When speed brakes are required, the lead will
transmit "[call sign], speed brakes [pause] now" at which time both flight members will fully extend their
speed brakes. For the landing configuration, lead will transmit "[call sign], gear and half flaps [pause]
now" at which time the gear and flaps are positioned to down and half and the speed brakes are
automatically retracted if previously extended. The speed brakes will be extended again for landing when
the controller calls "up and on glide path," or when directed by the lead.
A clean penetration is the normal procedure unless the situation dictates that the section dirty up early
on the approach. For example, if heavy IMC conditions are anticipated at normal dirty up altitude or if
aircraft troubles would make a late dirty up impractical. For a dirty penetration, the lead will configure the
flight in VMC and commence the approach at 170 kts, notifying ATC of penetration speed as required.
A potentially dangerous situation exists if the wingman loses sight of the lead while IMC during the approach. If
this occurs, the wingman must turn expeditiously away from the lead while simultaneously transitioning to an
instrument scan and calling "[call sign], lost sight." A 30 degree (10 on final) heading differential should be
achieved and held for 1 minute unless positive deconfliction is achieved via the radio. If in a descent or climb, the
wingman will level off. If after one minute, positive communication with ATC is not established, the wingman will
resume the last assigned heading and altitude, squawk 7600 and comply with normal IMC lost comm
The lead will fly the final portion of the approach slightly fast (approximately 140-150 kts) in order to
facilitate the wingman staying in position. If the wingman is experiencing difficulty maintaining position,
he should transmit "[lead call sign], give me a little." Which indicates the lead should accelerate slightly.
Leads will normally slow to a near on speed condition once VMC and landing is imminent.
Separating to Land
With the runway environment in sight, the lead will detach the wingman by "kissing him off' or
transmitting "2 detach" and sharply breaking away from the wingman while retracting his speed brakes.
The wingman will select full flaps and prepare to land. Flights may either gain separation on final to land
on the same runway (preferably choosing different sides of the runway), or splitting to land on parallel
runways (if available). Flights may also separate to execute individual circling approaches.
Touch and Go Rejoin
The lead may also elect to detach the wingman to land, while maintaining a parallel track at the
wingman's 10 or 2 o'clock position. Once the wingman has safely landed, the lead may then circle to
land or execute a missed approach. If required, the wingman may rejoin at any time on the lead
(normally after landing if done for practice). In doing so, the wingman shall maintain half-flaps
throughout the approach and landing, observing the NATOPS limit of a maximum of 600 fpm rate of
descent upon touch-down. On the go, climb to lead's altitude first, and then execute a normal running
rendezvous using no more than 20 kts of closure. (Lead will normally maintain 150 kts, half flaps, and
speed brakes in.) Once rejoined, the lead may either clean up the flight and execute a missed approach
(as described below) or detach the wingman by turning tower downwind with the wingman following with