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NDB-on-field App With Vectors - When To Descend?  
User currently offlineNWADC9 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 4898 posts, RR: 9
Posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 5753 times:

I was flying an NDB approach at an airport with the NDB on the field with radar vectors during VFR for practice. The full approach has you cross over the NDB, head outbound at a 045 heading, do a procedure turn, and descend to 2000 MSL (the MDA). However, with radar vectors, we were already lined up with the runway at 3000 MSL. Would I have to fly to the NDB, do a 180, the procedure turn, get lined up with the runway again, and then descend, or could I start descending when cleared for the approach? ATC only said, "Cleared for the practice approach." My instructor had me descend since that region is relatively flat, and it was VFR out, but had it been IFR in actual, what would be the proper way to do it?

Here's the plate:
http://aeronav.faa.gov/d-tpp/1011/05842N23.PDF


Flying an aeroplane with only a single propeller to keep you in the air. Can you imagine that? -Capt. Picard
46 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAKiss20 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 651 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 5732 times:

If you are given radar vectors to an approach segment, are established on the segment, and are "cleared for the approach" you may descend to the minimum altitude of that segment and continue descending as per the published approach.

In this case it sounds like you were simply given radar vectors to the final approach course. Once cleared for the approach and positive course guidance had been attained, you would be authorized to descend to the MDA. If in doubt, ask ATC.



Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are
User currently offlineLimaFoxTango From Antigua and Barbuda, joined Jun 2004, 807 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 5731 times:

I assume you were vectored to intercept the final approach coarse. As long as you're established on the inbound track 225*, you are allowed to leave 3000' to 2000' once cleared for the approach by ATC. No difference from being vectored for any other approach I'd say, whether VOR or ILS.


You are said to be a good pilot when your take-off's equal your landings.
User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 3, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 5720 times:

Quoting NWADC9 (Thread starter):
Would I have to fly to the NDB, do a 180, the procedure turn, get lined up with the runway again, and then descend, or could I start descending when cleared for the approach?

Since there are no step down fixes the approach, the approach would appear to have no obstacles identifed and you're legal to descend right down to the MDA when given vectors to intercept the final.

Quoting NWADC9 (Thread starter):
Would I have to fly to the NDB, do a 180, the procedure turn

In almost every case, if you're lined up within 30 degrees of the inbound heading the controller expects you to fly straight in without making the PT. If you are the least bit unsure, ASK!!!

Quoting AKiss20 (Reply 1):
In this case it sounds like you were simply given radar vectors to the final approach course. Once cleared for the approach and positive course guidance had been attained, you would be authorized to descend to the MDA. If in doubt, ask ATC.

  



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently onlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21866 posts, RR: 55
Reply 4, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 5706 times:

The regs and AIM say that you must fly the procedure turn (and thus must do the full approach from the IAF) unless you are getting vectors to final or are cleared for a straight-in approach. Thus, unless the controller specifies that there will be vectors to final or clears you for the straight-in approach, you have to do the full procedure.

With that said, there have been times where the controller obviously was not planning on me doing a procedure turn, but also wasn't saying either of those things. In those cases, I asked for clarification (something like "confirm I'm cleared for the straight-in approach?"). And that's what I'd recommend you do if you're unsure. The phraseology gets somewhat technical here, and let's face the fact: that US pilots and controllers tend to be pretty lax about phraseology. So if in doubt, ask. I don't think that some controllers really understand the rules that the pilots are supposed to abide by with regard to procedure turns and full approaches. AIM 5-4-9 provides some guidance here, and IMO the most important part of it is the last sentence of the note after 5-4-9-a.

Quoting LimaFoxTango (Reply 2):
As long as you're established on the inbound track 225*, you are allowed to leave 3000' to 2000' once cleared for the approach by ATC.

And as long as you're within 10 miles of the NDB.

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 3):
In almost every case, if you're lined up within 30 degrees of the inbound heading the controller expects you to fly straight in without making the PT.

But that's not what the regs and AIM say. I can be on the final approach course, but if you didn't vector me there or clear me for a straight-in approach, I am legally obligated to do the full procedure with PT.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineDashTrash From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1563 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 5703 times:

Keep it simple...

Remain at your assigned altitude until established on a published segment of the approach.


User currently offlineFlight152 From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 3413 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 5696 times:

Quoting DashTrash (Reply 5):
Remain at your assigned altitude until established on a published segment of the approach.


That's a pretty generic statement, with no final approach fix (because the navaid is on the field) there is no defined place to start a descent.


User currently offlineSCCutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5615 posts, RR: 28
Reply 7, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 5690 times:

I do not believe there is any basis for vectors to final for an NDB approach; I guess you can play any game you choose when practicing under the hood with a safety pilot, but I'd never, but never, accept a clearance for an NDB approach like this, except for the full procedure (not that I ever expect to have that offered in actual).

So my answer to the original question would be, "...I'd descend procedure turn inbound, after starting the approach at the IAF (CASTLE NDB)."



...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offlineFly2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 5684 times:

Quoting AKiss20 (Reply 1):
If in doubt, ask ATC.
Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 3):
If you are the least bit unsure, ASK!!!
Quoting Mir (Reply 4):
So if in doubt, ask.

Good to see people stressing this EXTREMELY important point. Many students take this for granted, and many CFIs overlook this.

Quoting Flight152 (Reply 6):


That's a pretty generic statement, with no final approach fix (because the navaid is on the field) there is no defined place to start a descent.

Not necessarily. In a case like OP's that "place" would be the point where ATC clears him for the approach.


Here's a trick question: say you're flying an old Mooney with a busted DME, no GPS. How do you know you're within 10nm from the NDB if you're giving vectors to final?

[Edited 2010-11-17 20:52:20]

User currently onlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21866 posts, RR: 55
Reply 9, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 5682 times:

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 8):
Here's a trick question: say you're flying an old Mooney with a busted DME, no GPS. How do you know you're within 10nm from the NDB?

You don't. So unless ATC can provide that information, I'm going to the NDB and flying the full procedure. Granted, there's no absolute guarantee you'd stay within 10nm that way either, but if you fly the approach profile correctly, you should be okay - far more reliable than trying to guess when you're within 10nm on the straight-in.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineSCCutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5615 posts, RR: 28
Reply 10, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 5673 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 9):
You don't. So unless ATC can provide that information, I'm going to the NDB and flying the full procedure. Granted, there's no absolute guarantee you'd stay within 10nm that way either, but if you fly the approach profile correctly, you should be okay - far more reliable than trying to guess when you're within 10nm on the straight-in.

We have a winner.

Remember, the axiomatic rules of aviation mistakes:

Pilot screws up, pilot dies.

Controller screws up, pilot dies.

I am aware of no reliable means to ensure you're on a protected approach segment, on an NDB approach like this one, without flying the full procedure.



...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offlineAKiss20 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 651 posts, RR: 5
Reply 11, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 5670 times:

Quoting SCCutler (Reply 10):
I am aware of no reliable means to ensure you're on a protected approach segment, on an NDB approach like this one, without flying the full procedure.

I stand corrected, only making it more obvious how quickly IFR skills can deteriorate (it has been 3 months since I have flown due to going back to school in Cambridge, MA).

SCCutler and others are right in saying there is no definitive way to determine whether you are on the published (10nm) final approach path and thus safe to descend to MDA.

Are NDB approach MDAs typically lower than the controller's MVA for the sector containing the final approach path? I am very unsure of this, my gut says absolutely, but if they were not I would not see the difference between accepting the descent on final from the controller and accepting say a descent to glideslope intersection altitude while on the 45 for an ILS.



Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are
User currently offlinejgarrido From Guam, joined Mar 2007, 340 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 5660 times:

Quoting NWADC9 (Thread starter):

Had you been IFR I'm sure the phraseology probably been something like:

"XX miles from the FAF. Fly heading XXX, maintain 3000 until established on the final approach course cleared NDB approach". The idea being that the controller is responsible for your obstruction clearance by keeping you at or above the MVA/MIA until you are established on final at which point you can descend as depicted on the approach. Then you are safe because the approach has been TERPS out to provide obstruction clearance. Being VFR the controller gave you fewer requirements so you could "do your own thing".


Quoting AKiss20 (Reply 11):
Are NDB approach MDAs typically lower than the controller's MVA for the sector containing the final approach path?

I can't say with 100% certainty but I would think yes. MVA's are drawn up for relatively large areas compared to the MDA of an approach only has to cover the area of the approach course.


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 5659 times:

Quoting AKiss20 (Reply 1):
Once cleared for the approach and positive course guidance had been attained, you would be authorized to descend to the MDA

   Once you are established on the final approach course, you can descend to the MDA...that means within +/- 5 degrees of the approach course, IIRC (been too long since I shot an archaic instrument approach   )..



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 5655 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 9):
Here's a trick question: say you're flying an old Mooney with a busted DME, no GPS. How do you know you're within 10nm from the NDB?

You don't. So unless ATC can provide that information, I'm going to the NDB and flying the full procedure. Granted, there's no absolute guarantee you'd stay within 10nm that way either, but if you fly the approach profile correctly, you should be okay - far more reliable than trying to guess when you're within 10nm on the straight-in.

(Assuming you're not cheating and looking at your non-IFR approved GPS attached to the yoke...)   Not "legal" to use for primary navigation in this instance, but it sure does wonders for situational awareness while IFR...  



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineAKiss20 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 651 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 5649 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 13):
Quoting AKiss20 (Reply 1):
Once cleared for the approach and positive course guidance had been attained, you would be authorized to descend to the MDA

Once you are established on the final approach course, you can descend to the MDA...that means within +/- 5 degrees of the approach course, IIRC (been too long since I shot an archaic instrument approach )..

This is true in general, but as was pointed out prior there is no way of knowing if you are on the published final approach course (as opposed to the extended centerline of the runway. The former ends 10nm from the threshold while the latter extends indefinitely). Without knowing if you are on the legal final approach course, you cannot descend to MDA.

Quoting jgarrido (Reply 12):
Quoting AKiss20 (Reply 11):
Are NDB approach MDAs typically lower than the controller's MVA for the sector containing the final approach path?

I can't say with 100% certainty but I would think yes. MVA's are drawn up for relatively large areas compared to the MDA of an approach only has to cover the area of the approach course.

That is what I figured. I know MVA sectors tend to be pretty broad, but also know they can get oddly specific sometimes to handle certain transitions in approaches.



Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are
User currently onlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21866 posts, RR: 55
Reply 16, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 5649 times:

Quoting AKiss20 (Reply 11):
Are NDB approach MDAs typically lower than the controller's MVA for the sector containing the final approach path?

I don't know about typically, but I'd say that unless you're doing one in a busy area with lots of radar coverage, you should expect that to be the case.

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 13):
Once you are established on the final approach course, you can descend to the MDA...

Again, only if you're inside the ring specified on the approach plate. You could pick up and track the NDB bearing 20nm out, but if you descended below 3000' at that point you'd be descending into a world where there be lurking demons of solidity/nastiness.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 17, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 5612 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 4):
But that's not what the regs and AIM say. I can be on the final approach course, but if you didn't vector me there or clear me for a straight-in approach, I am legally obligated to do the full procedure with PT.

-Mir

A controller is required to tell you the reason for a vector, "fly heaing 310, vectors NDB Runway XX final approach course.

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 8):
Good to see people stressing this EXTREMELY important point. Many students take this for granted, and many CFIs overlook this.

A simple asking has kept me out of more than my share of problems.



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlinemandala499 From Indonesia, joined Aug 2001, 6965 posts, RR: 76
Reply 18, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 5589 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 4):
And as long as you're within 10 miles of the NDB.

But then it's an NDB approach.

Quoting Flight152 (Reply 6):
That's a pretty generic statement, with no final approach fix (because the navaid is on the field) there is no defined place to start a descent.

Hmm... The Jepp plate has an FF23 at 6.1NM from the threshold...    You can do 2000 to FF23 then go down at 3degs... but then it's only if you know where FF23 is... got RNAV? Otherwise... ASK!

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 8):
Good to see people stressing this EXTREMELY important point. Many students take this for granted, and many CFIs overlook this.

Also controllers from time to time...

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 8):
Here's a trick question: say you're flying an old Mooney with a busted DME, no GPS. How do you know you're within 10nm from the NDB if you're giving vectors to final?

Ask!    If not... state intention... But I would thought that "practice approach" would "normally" mean the full damn procedure!

But then... am on the other side of the world so... I'd go along with the guys who I quoted!   

My -2 cents!



When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
User currently offlinePihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 4673 posts, RR: 77
Reply 19, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 5562 times:
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Quoting Mir (Reply 4):
The regs and AIM say that you must fly the procedure turn (and thus must do the full approach from the IAF) unless you are getting vectors to final or are cleared for a straight-in approach.

     
An instrument approach is designed to help you determine a final path to the runway, in the absence of an ILs glide slope... or a distance measurement device.
It follows that in this case, that final slope is only defined by how much care you've devoted to your outbound leg timing, in the real world, you'll have to follow the whole procedure.
Had that approach had a marker or another beacon to define a descent path, you would have been legal to descend to your sector MSA and pass the marker/beacon at the published altitude, configured for final.



Contrail designer
User currently onlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21866 posts, RR: 55
Reply 20, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 5558 times:

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 17):
A controller is required to tell you the reason for a vector, "fly heaing 310, vectors NDB Runway XX final approach course.

I know. But not all of them do.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 21, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5527 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 20):
I know. But not all of them do.



Stop it, say it isn't so!!  
Quoting mandala499 (Reply 18):
But I would thought that "practice approach" would "normally" mean the full damn procedure!



Not always the case. When I request a practice approach in a RADAR environment I expect to get vectors to the final approach course or if an RNAV with a "T" or "L" design to get vectors the final approach course or cleared direct to an IAF or IF on the procedure. If I want to do the full procedure turn/racetrack pattern then I specifically request that with the controller.



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlineAKiss20 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 651 posts, RR: 5
Reply 22, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 5511 times:

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 21):
Quoting Mir (Reply 20):
I know. But not all of them do.



Stop it, say it isn't so!!

So much so that in the modern day I would argue that the controller expects you NOT to do a full approach and would only alter the approach clearance if he wanted one. Doesn't follow FARs, AIM, or 7110.65 but it's the reality.

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 21):
Quoting mandala499 (Reply 18):
But I would thought that "practice approach" would "normally" mean the full damn procedure!



Not always the case. When I request a practice approach in a RADAR environment I expect to get vectors to the final approach course or if an RNAV with a "T" or "L" design to get vectors the final approach course or cleared direct to an IAF or IF on the procedure. If I want to do the full procedure turn/racetrack pattern then I specifically request that with the controller.

Absolutely true for the NYC area. Controllers will always give you vectors to final unless if you ask for something else. I have always had to request full procedure, procedure turn, published missed approach etc.

In fact controllers in the area get pretty nervous about giving full approaches without radar contact. My CFII told me once that they tried to refuse him a VOR approach into Sussex (KFWN) in actual because once you get passed the IAF you are descending into a valley where radar coverage is spotty. He apparently had to go missed and once he tuned back to NY App from UNICOM he heard them semi-frantically trying to raise him.



Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 23, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 5499 times:

Quoting AKiss20 (Reply 15):
This is true in general, but as was pointed out prior there is no way of knowing if you are on the published final approach course (as opposed to the extended centerline of the runway. The former ends 10nm from the threshold while the latter extends indefinitely). Without knowing if you are on the legal final approach course, you cannot descend to MDA.

Please tell me your instructor/flight school didn't teach you how to tell what NDB bearing you're on?    It is possible, even in a plane equipped with nothing but an NDB receiver with a plane ADF jane bearing indicator and a DG. My instructor taught me to mentally superimpose the ADF needle on top of the DG. In my case, it worked like a charm. Of course, the problem in general with an NDB approach is that NDB navigation is just not real accurate (which is reflected in the higher minimums).

Quoting Mir (Reply 20):
Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 17):
A controller is required to tell you the reason for a vector, "fly heaing 310, vectors NDB Runway XX final approach course.

I know. But not all of them do.

-Mir

In my experience, controllers aren't too bad about telling you "vectors to final" when shooting an approach. An approach clearance following vectors to final usually includes "descend when established on final approach course, cleared NDB Alpha at XXX", which means it is up to you to determine when you are established on the final approach course.



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently onlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21866 posts, RR: 55
Reply 24, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 5497 times:

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 21):
Stop it, say it isn't so!!

But that's the issue - I may know that they're vectoring me to final, but unless they say it, technically they're not, and I have to do the full procedure.

Quoting AKiss20 (Reply 22):
So much so that in the modern day I would argue that the controller expects you NOT to do a full approach and would only alter the approach clearance if he wanted one. Doesn't follow FARs, AIM, or 7110.65 but it's the reality.

It is commonplace. Which raises the question: do you just "go with the flow", even though it's not what you're supposed to do? If something happens, the FAA could find you at fault, even if the controller guided you into doing something outside of the FARs or AIM. On the other hand, nobody likes to discuss technicalities with ATC over the air.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
25 Post contains images AKiss20 : Did you even read what I wrote? Of course I know how to tell what NDB bearing I am on (I did all my IFR in a /A 172 with ADF, I was doing partial pan
26 Mir : Which is the way to go. MB + RB = Mental Math = Trouble. I think the confusion came from the fact that you said: when you actually meant the final ap
27 Post contains images Fly2HMO : Indeed. What if you suddenly become mute? Your radio dies? The controller has a heart attack? Or...
28 Post contains images KELPkid : If the controller has you down to 3000' while vectoring, (likely in this case), when you are given vectors to final, and told "descend when establish
29 Post contains images Fly2HMO : Even if you're not inside 10NM, you should (again, in theory) be guaranteed obstacle clearance even if you were outside of 10NM once he clears you fo
30 AKiss20 : You are correct, I used the wrong terminology initially, if you read my last response, I corrected myself. Should have made that correction clearer.
31 IAHFLYR : I can guarantee you that a controller does not expect you to fly the full procedure when they've told you it is vectors to the final approach course.
32 Post contains images KELPkid : Look at the 7110.65, Subpart b of section 4.8.1
33 SCCutler : Fascinating discussion, good fun. I have seen NDB/DME approaches (none here in US that I am aware of, still some in Canada). Quick, how many of you ar
34 Mir : IIRC, they're in the NACO approach plates, in the introduction or something like that. -Mir
35 Post contains links jgarrido : They're around. Here on Guam. We only have ILS approaches to 6. For 24 the only approaches are RNAV's and an NDB-DME. NWA's old 757 that are now DAL
36 Max Q : Good technique. No trick there, that is what timing is for.
37 Fly2HMO : The only way that works is if you're doing the full procedure, noticed I said "if you're given vectors to final"
38 Max Q : If the controller won't tell you you can use cross radials to fix your position. I used to do it all the time flying single pilot freight.
39 Fly2HMO : Well of course, but I was referring to OP's posted approach specifically. Of course you can use cross radials and all that other stuff, but this plat
40 Post contains images mandala499 : Basic IFR? at least 1 OBS and 1 ADF and inop DME? If you're using Jepp charts... it'll show that VOLAN is R-275/31.3 CIP... you can "cheat" by stayin
41 Max Q : Without the benefit of other radio aids to fix your position and / or ATC distance updates I would insist on flying the full procedure. That would al
42 Post contains images Fly2HMO : Good, very good. It's appalling how much info NACO charts lack compared to Jepps. Then again, they're cheap for a reason Yup, only way around it with
43 Pihero : MaxQ, That's what I wrote earlier but people seem to be fixated on mixing the unmixable : an NDB and vectors. Secondly, and the regs are quite strict
44 Mir : Examples? Granted, I'm not a big user of Jeppesen enroute charts, so I don't have a whole lot of expertise there, but IMO the Jepp and NACO approach
45 Post contains links and images Fly2HMO : Jepps tend to be more intuitive IMO and have much more information. Let's compare OP's approach: The NACO chart is extremely plain. What I find extre
46 SCCutler : Excellent illustration. I sure wish I could afford the amazing cost of Jepps.
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