I've read that SFO has a specialized FMS Bridge Visual approach to 28R that is not published but instead is custom tailored for specific operators. What exactly is this approach and how does it work? When is it assigned, and what advantage does it have over other visual approaches to runway 28R?
The FMS Bridge Visual Approach 28R is a version of the Quiet Bridge Visual Approach 28R which is coded with GPS coordinates and can be included in an FMS database for approved operators. This allows the procedure to be used when the SFO VOR is out of service, and also gives ATC additional flexibility by allowing them to clear pilots direct to any of the fixes without needing to intercept the radial on the standard arrival.
The pilot must either tell ATC that they can accept it verbally, or include FMS28R ABLE in the remarks of their flight plan so that they know that the flight is capable of flying the approach.
The FMS bridge visual is an RNAV charted visual approach to 28R that keeps aircraft offset to the north of the 28R localizer until they’re near the San Mateo bridge. This allows a little bit more space between aircraft that are pairing up on final. Procedurally it’s no different than the tipp toe visual for 28R/L. Charted visuals allow the controllers to clear an aircraft for the approach once they have a charted landmark or the airport in sight. Vs a standard visual where the pilot must have the airport in sight. We will automatically assign the FMS to most airliner traffic inbound from the East over ARCHI. GA or some foreign carriers will get the quiet bridge visual or the ILS.