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Landing With Instruments Only- Difficulty?  
User currently offlineTSS From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 3068 posts, RR: 5
Posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 3186 times:

First, a bit of background: I was on AA 2212 (DFW-RNO) 5 January 2008 when we landed in (what I'd consider) "white-out" conditions; even once we were on the ground I could barely see the end of the wing on a 757 from row 21 because of the volume of snow falling. Nonetheless, it was one of if not THE smoothest landings I've ever experienced at RNO.

My question is this: Although landing with visual references is obviously preferable, how much harder is it to land using instruments only?


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19 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineTimz From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 6837 posts, RR: 7
Reply 1, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 3172 times:

Depends what equipment the airport has. Depends what equipment the aircraft has. And it depends what you mean by "Instruments only"-- you're probably not allowed to land at RNO without seeing the runway.

User currently offlineB6JFKH81 From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 2891 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 3168 times:

Visual references are nice, but i'll be honest...I love coming in on the ILS a lot more. I have only had the chance to be in a flight deck for the use of a HUD once and that seemed pretty cool as it mixes the instrumentation with the visual display. I didn't find using instruments harder, in fact I think it's easier to line up the cross hairs on the ILS than visually centering the aircraft and plopping it down in just the right place.

I haven't shot an instrument approach in a while...going to have to go one weekend soon!!! You're making me crave it LOL!



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User currently offlineTSS From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 3068 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 3151 times:



Quoting Timz (Reply 1):
Depends what equipment the airport has. Depends what equipment the aircraft has.

I checked arrivals on the RNO website before I left home that morning because of the chance of bad weather at RNO- AA and WN seemed to be coming in fine, if a bit delayed, but several other carriers were canceling flights left and right.

Quoting Timz (Reply 1):
And it depends what you mean by "Instruments only"-- you're probably not allowed to land at RNO without seeing the runway.

Perhaps not. Being a passenger I didn't have a pilot's eye view of the runway, but except for a blurry outline of the wing I couldn't see jack-squat out the window and I was watching. The only way I knew we had touched down was feeling a very slight *thump*...even then I still couldn't see the ground either forward or aft of the wing.

Quoting B6JFKH81 (Reply 2):
I haven't shot an instrument approach in a while...going to have to go one weekend soon!!! You're making me crave it LOL!

Excellent! I'm happy to oblige, Sir. Big grin



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User currently offlineDKCFII From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 22 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 3129 times:

You would be surprised how much the approach lights help in low visibility conditions. Looking at the available approaches at RNO there are no CatII or CatIII approaches. Therefore the pilot ultimately had to disconnect the autopilot to land the plane. The decision altitude was most likely 200 ft, and as long as the pilot had the rabbit lights in sight he/she could descend to 100ft above TDZE and by that point would have runway references in sight.

Quoting TSS (Thread starter):
My question is this: Although landing with visual references is obviously preferable, how much harder is it to land using instruments only?

So to answer your question the approach was flown by instruments down to 200ft agl then the pilot had to switch from instrument references to outside references. Flying instrument approaches is not overly hard (With practice) so really the hardest part I find is switching from inside to outside references to land the plane. Then the landing goes as normal, since the plane should be configured for landing at the decision altitude. RNO also has runways with centerline lighting which i find helps with depth perception is low vis conditions, thus probably aiding in that nice landing  Smile

My two cents.

-Dan K


User currently offlineEMBQA From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 9364 posts, RR: 11
Reply 5, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 3110 times:

I don't think any of American Airlines aircraft are CAT II or CAT III, so visibility was not as bad as you'd think. Read the section on ILS landing.... you would have been CAT I.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrument_Landing_System

[Edited 2008-02-26 18:04:11]


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User currently offlineN231YE From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 3108 times:

I would assume that landings in IMC become easier with experience. I had my fair share of instructor (not ATC, yet  wink  ) b*tching at me for do S-turns on the localizer, which I no longer do  smile 

User currently offlineEssentialPowr From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1820 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 3058 times:

Quoting EMBQA (Reply 5):
I don't think any of American Airlines aircraft are CAT II or CAT III, so visibility was not as bad as you'd think

What??? The above statement is incorrect. The AA 737s have the hud, and have equal or lower mins than Cat II. I believe the MD80s are Cat II capable, and the 757s and larger are Cat III capable.

The GE 90 powered 777s, and I think the Pratt and Rolls powered ones as well, are certified for a single engine, Cat III.

Not being Cat II or III capable would put an airline at a terrile disadvantage.

[Edited 2008-02-26 19:35:53]

User currently offlineVikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 10047 posts, RR: 26
Reply 8, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 3056 times:
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Quoting EMBQA (Reply 5):
I don't think any of American Airlines aircraft are CAT II or CAT III, so visibility was not as bad as you'd think. Read the section on ILS landing.... you would have been CAT I.

According to the pilot on one of my flights, they indeed are CATII or III certified:

CAT III Missed Approach (by Vikkyvik Jul 11 2007 in Tech Ops)

I think that was a 757, though I could be wrong.



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User currently offlineEMBQA From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 9364 posts, RR: 11
Reply 9, posted (6 years 7 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 2945 times:



Quoting EssentialPowr (Reply 7):

Easy big guy... the first thing I said was I DIDN'T THINK American was CAT Qualied. I have not read that they were putting HGS in their planes. I knew Alaska did, jetBlue does on their E190.... and I thought I read Southwest had started to.



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User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 10, posted (6 years 7 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 2922 times:



Quoting DKCFII (Reply 4):
Therefore the pilot ultimately had to disconnect the autopilot to land the plane. The decision altitude was most likely 200 ft,

Checking my charts RNO 16L has a CATI mins of 200-2400rvr but there is no reason the pilot can't just let the plane autoland if he so wishes. There was a climb grad. restriction for a miss. On 34R no cat D authorized.


User currently offlineEssentialPowr From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1820 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (6 years 7 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2835 times:



Quoting EMBQA (Reply 9):
I DIDN'T THINK American was CAT Qualied

Are you confusing that with a HGS? CAL's NG 737s, and I believe Delta's, don't have the HGS but are Cat III autoland.


User currently offline2H4 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 8955 posts, RR: 60
Reply 12, posted (6 years 7 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2833 times:
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Quoting TSS (Thread starter):
how much harder is it to land using instruments only?

The flying itself is straightforward. In my opinion, the true challenge lies in staying ahead of the airplane and effectively managing task saturation.

2H4



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User currently offlineDKCFII From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 22 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (6 years 7 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2749 times:



Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 10):
Checking my charts RNO 16L has a CATI mins of 200-2400rvr but there is no reason the pilot can't just let the plane autoland if he so wishes. There was a climb grad. restriction for a miss. On 34R no cat D authorized.

I was under the impression that if the plane is not CatIII certified the plane can't land itself and the pilot needs to fly the plane onto the runway. Any clarification by someone who fly's CatI approches in a commercial airliner thats CatII or CatIII certified would be great, because now I'm curious myself.

-Dan K


User currently offlineTb727 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1608 posts, RR: 9
Reply 14, posted (6 years 7 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2741 times:

A regular CAT I approach can actually get you pretty low without having to be CAT II or III authorized. If you have the lights in sight by DH, you can continue the approach down to 100 feet above touchdown zone elevation. It's probably a lot nicer to have it, but what I fly doesn't have all the fancy stuff all these newer planes have and I have yet to have a problem, knock on wood. Once you are "in the zone" and keep the plane nice and stable with it configured early, hand flying a raw data ILS to the bottom isn't usually a big deal. Having a good vector onto the LOC makes it nice. Having a Flight Director that works makes it a piece of cake. Having a HGS would make it boring!


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User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 15, posted (6 years 7 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 2712 times:



Quoting DKCFII (Reply 13):
was under the impression that if the plane is not CatIII certified the plane can't land itself and the pilot needs to fly the plane onto the runway. Any clarification by someone who fly's CatI approches in a commercial airliner thats CatII or CatIII certified would be great, because now I'm curious myself.

If the jet is CATII or CATIII, as well as the crew, you can autoland with any ILS app. I was looking at it strictly from the point that was initially made, runway CAT I; must disconnect and land. We do chk CATIII apps all the time to ILSs that are not CATIII.


User currently offlineAAR90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 3474 posts, RR: 47
Reply 16, posted (6 years 7 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 2707 times:



Quoting EssentialPowr (Reply 7):
What??? The above statement is incorrect. The AA 737s have the hud, and have equal or lower mins than Cat II. I believe the MD80s are Cat II capable, and the 757s and larger are Cat III capable.

ALL AA aircraft are Cat-III certified. All but the 738 are autoland capable. 738 can only fly Cat-I autopilot approaches. Anything lower (Cat-II/III) requires use of HGS and a HGS approach requires autopilot disconnect no later than 1000'agl.



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User currently offlineDKCFII From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 22 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (6 years 7 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 2693 times:



Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 15):
If the jet is CATII or CATIII, as well as the crew, you can autoland with any ILS app. I was looking at it strictly from the point that was initially made, runway CAT I; must disconnect and land. We do chk CATIII apps all the time to ILSs that are not CATIII.

Gotcha. Thanks for the clarification.

-Dan K


User currently offlineSoku39 From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 1797 posts, RR: 9
Reply 18, posted (6 years 7 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 2657 times:



Quoting EMBQA (Reply 5):
I don't think any of American Airlines aircraft are CAT II or CAT III

You must be kidding, every mainline carrier out there is cat III cert ("regionals" and corporate are another story), do you even know what the requirements for the airplane, pilot and runway environment are. I'm guessing not by that statement.



The Ohio Player
User currently offlineTSS From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 3068 posts, RR: 5
Reply 19, posted (6 years 7 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 2649 times:

Thanks for the answers, everyone!  bigthumbsup 

Apparently landing an AA 757 in snowy slop at RNO wasn't quite the big deal I thought it was, but I remain impressed nonetheless. Going by the tone of the pilot's voice when he announced we would be landing there after all, he wasn't too thrilled with the prospect.

Since we were coming in from the North, my biggest (irrational, and as it turned out, groundless) fear was that the airplane would end up sticking halfway out of the Northern side of the Grand Sierra casino!  eek   covereyes 



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