Surface Analysis Introduction

The Surface Analysis and Visualization tool analyzes object penetrations to the visual area surface of instrument approaches using a risk-based approach. The tool allows the FAA and airport owners and sponsors to discover, verify, and mitigate objects identified as penetrations to the 20:1 visual area surface. The airport owner or sponsor should verify and analyze object penetrations to 20:1 surfaces discovered within the visual area surface of an Instrument Approach Procedure (IAP). This tool assesses surface penetrations against the requirements of Terminal Instrument Procedures (TERPS) and FAA advisory circulars, and evaluates the effects of existing and proposed object penetrations based on 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 77, Safe, Efficient Use, and Preservation of the Navigable Airspace.

The Surface Analysis and Visualization tool in Airports GIS allows users to define surfaces for verification and evaluation, identify the amount by which an object penetrates a defined surface, edit or add object penetrations, assess the risk associated with each penetration, and identify the type of mitigation to use for object penetrations. It is important to note that although the tool can be used to evaluate a majority of the visual surface areas for most straight-in approaches, it does not evaluate all possible conditions pertaining to certain visual segments of instrument approaches.

Specifically, this tool does not evaluate for:

  • Offset approach conditions
  • Excessive Decision Altitude
  • Approaches with Visual Descent points outside 10,000 feet (1.654NM)

Please also note that objects labeled with symbols on the map (the Visualization tab) are objects known to the FAA to exist. There may be other objects unknown to the FAA penetrating a surface, therefore it is the airport sponsor's responsibility to verify all objects surrounding their airport.

To access the Surface Analysis and Visualization tool, login to Airports GIS and on the home page, access the “Surface Analysis and Visualization” pane:

Airports GIS home screen with Surface Visualization and Analysis pane highlighted

Note: Refer to the “Approach/Departure Standards Table” in the latest version of Advisory Circular 150/5300-13 Airport Design, for guidance on assessing the different types of approach surfaces.

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