Looking for information on 4 Course Range instrument approach procedures. I am aware of their navigational use as we developed the airway system, but were they ever used for final approach segment navigation? Does anybody have access to such an approach plate?


Yes such approaches have existed.

As early as 1944 the North America Low Frequency Radio Range (aka Four-Course Range and Adcock Range) network was quite developed. There are several approach plates using this type of radio aid, e.g. this one from May 1944 for Meridian:

enter image description here

The station is used for IAF and FAF. The approach is done using 334°/154° headings. None of them, nor the station are aligned with a runway, this looks like a circling maneuver.

Other plates:

Some editions of the AAF Radio Facility Charts can be bought online, but the edition of June 1944 has been scanned by North Texas University:

  • On pages 38-39 we can see the overall coverage.

  • Other pages show details by area.

This is the page for Mississipi with Meridian, the airfield we discussed above, at the center:

enter image description here

We see that two of the four identified directions are not connecting airway segments. This is the ones used to approach the airfield where the station is located. They cannot be aligned with the runway because they play their role in the four-course range: There are four beams radiating over about 90° in azimuth, with small areas overlapping (about 4°). The middle axis of such areas is the actual path:

enter image description here

While the station location can be selected, and there is a certain possibility to have unequal quadrants, the adjustment is still limited. One or two directions are used for the airway(s), they determine the overall orientation of the other antenna system (angle bisector), and it's anyway difficult to create a small aperture (i.e. a very directional beam) at this frequency. This explain why the approach is a circling one.

Complete list of US approaches

At some point modern standardized plates were issued:

enter image description here

The image below can be found on this site dedicated to simulation, which lists about 400 approaches in the US and Alaska.


  • $\begingroup$ Longshot: Does anyone know of a source for Visio or ??? templates for making plates.I want to make some Range-A approach plates. $\endgroup$ – Bob Denny May 17 '20 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ @BobDenny: I would suggest to look at QGIS aeronautical applications. QGIS is an open source GIS, you can read more about QGIS by ICAO. As QGIS is able to read some ArcGIS data (used by ESRI), I guess you can get templates after some research. $\endgroup$ – mins May 18 '20 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ Oh this is interesting, thank you! I will return to this when I have time. Right now my work has me crushed. $\endgroup$ – Bob Denny Aug 10 '20 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ Oh! THis is really interesting. I bookmarked this and will look at it in the future. I used to have QGIS on my system but I removed it last year when its Python messed up the Python I have installed for other things. I hate the way one program can scorch another if they both use Python and then put s**t into the PATH. $\endgroup$ – Bob Denny Aug 10 '20 at 23:55

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