Circling approach

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by paflyer, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    At that particular airport, there was intimidating terrain. At night I trusted the clearance. During the day the visual impact of the adjacent terrain was quite dramatic. There was little room for error. During the approach at night, ignorance was bliss.
     
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  2. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    That's how my former home drone of Williamsport was, don't know if you ever flew in there. There was a ~2,000 ft ridge just south of the airport. If you weren't a local who knew the area it could be outright dangerous, and even if you were a local who knew the area there were some visual illusions that could happen. Fortunately by the time I left they'd put in LPV approaches to all runways, which made it much easier and safer.
     
  3. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    You people need NVGs!:D
     
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  4. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Yes, we do! :yes:
     
  5. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    on the other hand, those who choose to do something and can't are...?
     
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  6. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Typically found in the wreckage.
     
  7. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    Ha! IPT was the destination of my second solo XC from XLL, never having been there. Before I went I did a FS practice run, and that's how I know about the ridge. Hard airport to spot from down low. Note this was pre-GPS.
     
  8. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Even with GPS it could be hard to spot down low. Learning the local typography was important to finding that airport. Nice thing was that once you figured out the typography and where the airport was in relation to it, it became pretty easy to find.
     
  9. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    Right, the obscuration became a landmark!
     
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  10. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    Or hopefully rescued by the guy in the other seat.
     
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  11. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Exactly! :yes:
     
  12. ateamer

    ateamer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Some of my earliest memories are from IPT, watching the Allegheny Convair 580s that my dad took on business trips for Litton. That is where I got hooked on aviation.
     
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  13. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    What year (roughly) was that?

    Learning to fly at IPT and flying around that general area was fantastic, and great luck on my part to get interested in aviation (and have the opportunity to learn) while there. Just a very nice area to fly.

    Last Christmas we flew home from New York at 2,500 ft VFR the whole way to stay below the headwinds. Was very fun going through the hills in PA down that low.

    IMG_0604.JPG
     
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  14. SbestCFII

    SbestCFII Line Up and Wait

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    Just tell the tower you want to circle to land on the opposite runway. As long as you're at of above circling minimums and adhering to the typical traffic pattern you'll be fine.
     
  15. steingar

    steingar Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Glad to see this. Not in any way or shape an IFR pilot. But when I started reading about circling approaches, they sounded rather dangerous to me. Potentially high bank angles close to to ground. If the airport is so small that I can't land with a tail wind I think I might rather seek one a bit larger. Like I said, not an IFR pilot. At least, not yet...
     
  16. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Nothing dangerous about a circling approach. It just requires a little more piloting. You’re also protected within a certain radius of the airport depending on your approach category.
     
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  17. ateamer

    ateamer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Late 60s to early 70s. Allegheny switched to the BAC 1-11 around 1973. A couple times, Dad took me up to the FSS on the second floor of the terminal and the "weather man" showed me the maps and teletype. My dad had been a private pilot, but lost his medical before I was born.

    Dad got laid off in 1976 so no more airport. We lived in Eldred Township until 1979, and then moved to California.
     
  18. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    To say there’s nothing dangerous about a circling approach ignores the fact that there is an increased risk in circling approaches. If they were just basic piloting maneuvers, then every 121 and 135 operation would allow them.....but many do not.

    A circling approach can most definitely be safely accomplished, but you need to accept that there is a higher risk and it isn’t because of terrain and obstacle clearance.....
     
  19. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I agree. They are riskier especially in a jet or fast turboprop IMO too.
     
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  20. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    True. But it shouldn’t be seen as some dangerous, crazy maneuver with the proper training.
     
  21. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Line Up and Wait

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    There's no doubt that the radius is protected for each category. I understand your thoughts about it requiring a little more piloting. I feel that it for sure does increase the risk profile vs a straight in approach or a circling approach that allows the circle to be conducted at pattern altitude. Circling a higher performance plane (ie 421 in this case) at say 493agl mins at night vs accepting a 13 kt tailwind or diverting somewhere else is beyond my acceptable risk level at this point in my life but perfectly legal and protected. Back when I was 20 I may have considered it with one feathered :)

    This guy circled at PWK with a 2000' ceiling at night. Had he accepted the tail wind, in my opinion he'd still be flying.

    https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb....ev_id=20060203X00158&ntsbno=CHI06FA076&akey=1
     
  22. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Agreed. I guess “nothing dangerous” was the wrong choice of words. It’s riskier than a straight in but nothing to worry about as long as you stay within the envelope of your aircraft.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
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  23. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Increased risk and dangerous are two different things. Yes, at night with little ground references a circle will be challenging. An IAP to mins without an autopilot can be challenging for some as well but I wouldn't call it dangerous.

    Military transports practice circling approaches all the time. They're not exactly balling up aircraft left and right. A "tactical arrival" in a military transport is far more aggressive maneuver at a low altitude and I've yet to hear about one plowing in doing that either. There's hot dogging (C-17, B-52 air show crashes) and there's understanding the limits of your aircraft and operating within those limits.
     
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  24. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Due to the nature of the beast, I have always felt the military (generally speaking) tends to be a bit better/more formal about risk assessment and mitigation. But danger is part of risk.

    With proper training and crew working together, I have no issue with a two pilot operation CTL.

    But, personally speaking, I will not accept night CTL at/near minimums if I'm single pilot in any airplane. I consider myself a very competent IFR pilot and I don't have many 'personal minimums' that are more stringent than the FARs…..except that one.
     
  25. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Yeah, danger or identifying a hazard is part of a risk assessment in the military but the particular maneuver itself might not be considered dangerous or, likely to cause harm. Everything in the RA process has a probability and a severity associated with the operation. While the serverity of an accident during a circle would be high on the list, the probability would still be somewhat low.

    I look at it like a Blue Angel DVD I have. The pilot describes their demo as unforgiving but not dangerous. Meaning, there are hazards involved but if you use appropriate controls, you can keep those hazards at an acceptable overall risk level. Now I'm starting to sound like an IP again. ;)
     
  26. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    As long as you remember that they are your personal minimums I have no issue with that.

    The fact that you choose not to find acceptable ways to mitigate the risk doesn't mean that others aren't able to do so.
     
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  27. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That comment indicates to me that you don't really understand the hazard.

    Like I said above - it's not about obstacle or terrain clearance.

    It's called spatial-D. You can't effectively mitigate that when flying single pilot. You can be the greatest stick in the world, and still get suckered into it in those conditions. And to be specific, I'm referring to night, low vis and ceiling at or near mins. I'm fine with a night scenario like the OP suggested where the ceiling is high enough that I can make a standard visual approach at pattern altitude.

    Trying to maintain visual contact with the runway while circling at night in low vis is a GREAT way to disorient yourself and if that happens and you are solo, you are kind of screwed. Best you can hope for is to be able to put it on A/P and get out of there. But then you are fully in the soup trying to get yourself on an even keel. A tough task that in my opinion is not worth the risk.
     
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  28. steingar

    steingar Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ahh the old "the military does it, so it must be OK". Please do keep in mind that the guys flying the military aircraft are all professional pilots who fly all the time. Lots of the guys reading this fly on the weekends here and there.
     
  29. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Never heard of the old "the military does it so it must be ok" saying before and it wasn't my intent to imply that. Just giving an example of a group that performs the circle on a regular basis, vs the reference of some 135/121 ops that aren't allowed to conduct it. If an air carrier believes it's an unnecessary risk, so be it.

    I just don't agree with a broad statement that the circle is a dangerous maneuver. As I said, my definition of "dangerous" is something that will most likely end in an injury or even death. I can't think of a legal circling maneuver with a qualified instrument pilot, that would most likely end that way. It is simply a hazard that has an elevated risk associated with it. Some will accept that risk, others may not. Not accepting that risk doesn't show incompetence either.
     
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  30. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    I understand spatial D completely...btdt, but never in a Circling maneuver. I learned early on how to plan my path, divide my attention, and use the airplane's stability and whate remain equipment the airplane may or may not have to keep out of danger.

    With a couple thousand hours at circling altitudes, a lot of which involved minimum legal visibility (including a mile and clear of clouds at night when that used to be legal) I don't see a huge risk factor when doing the same thing on an IFR clearance.

    Granted, it's not for everybody...probably not even for the majority. It it's still your choice not to do it and not a safety absolute.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
  31. Cooter

    Cooter Pattern Altitude

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    I think most C-17 guys would be more comfortable doing a tactical arrival than a circling approach at mins. Circling approaches are tough because you almost never practice setting up a landing from there and the normal visual cues are absent. Setting the appropriate separation and maintaining sight is a tough balance, especially at an unfamiliar field. It's very easy to convince yourself that you're looking at something you're not. Correcting for setting up too tight also isn't easy in a large plane. They can be done safely obviously but I personally think they are difficult and most AMC guys arent getting a ton of practice at them. The Maneuver is simplified considerably with a HUD so C-17 guys have an advantage.
     
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  32. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ah yes. That's what I figured. Easy to play internet badass when you're neck isn't on the line.

    Good day.
     
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  33. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    So you're saying every pilot has the same background and experience? Interesting thought.
     
  34. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    I didn't think airlines did true circling approaches these days. I know we don't. We even have a circling limitation on our type seeing as though we don't demonstrate it in the sim.
     
  35. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    At some point, too much increased risk becomes dangerous. Where that line is drawn depends on the plane, pilot, and conditions. Ultimately, none of us know what's going to do us in, so it's a question of deciding which risks we think we can safely mitigate and what's going to create the best probability for a safe outcome. Looking at what typical 135/121 operators have as limitations provides some good insight into what's been found more likely to kill pilots in the past.

    I see a lot of people (not saying you in particular) dismissing the risks of circling approaches, which I think is at best disingenuous. I have no problems shooting an IAP to mins single pilot at night with no autopilot, and have done it plenty of times. But I'm comfortable with them, and I would agree that for most pilots they represent significant extra risk. Some people may be comfortable with doing circling approaches at night at mins and think that it's a sign of poor piloting skills if a pilot isn't just as comfortable doing such, and I think that's a load of crap.
     
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  36. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    They’ve stopped allowing opposite direction practice approaches around here, years ago. I was under the impression it was something that was being done pretty much system-wide.

    It worked fine for decades to break off approaches at a landmark determined by the controller, but I guess someone must have come too close to swapping paint, and it’s a thing of the past for us.
     
  37. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Line Up and Wait

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    Having been in the back of a couple C-130's on tactical arrivals into ORBI and ORKK, I have much respect for those maneuver's. Had a head cold and my ears didn't clear for days! In my opinion, military training is second to none and while I felt safe going into those airports in the way that they got us in (starting very high over the airport, at night, no runway lights or A/C lights, NVG's, steep turning dive until roll-out then touch down) I would not for a second let the average GA or 121/135 fly me in that capacity. Fun times.
     
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  38. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Line Up and Wait

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    You are correct sir. They've basically made the rules associated with ODO (opposite direction operations) such a pain in the ass and/or simply impossible to comply with that most facilities have knocked it off.

    A few people around the country had some close calls and they knee jerk kill it for all. In my opinion, in aviation, if you truly aim for 100% safety you will eventually be at 0% efficiency.
     
  39. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    My brother still does ATC and couldn't believe it when they changed the rule. Said they changed it to revolve around mediocre controllers that had deals don't know how to sequence and separate. Made his life much easier but like you said, too often we dumb these things down to the point where efficiency is sacrificed. I experience the same thing flying EMS. Strapped with so much BS, it's amazing I can get off the ground sometimes...but I digress. :(
     
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  40. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Yeah, used to watch them at Speicher and cringe sometimes. AF C-130s making Fat Albert look tame in comparison. :D Really not needed around Speicher. Small arms/light weapons fire was pretty non existent there. Looked cool though!
     
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