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When Destination Airport Closes  
User currently offlinenaruto38700 From Singapore, joined Dec 2012, 7 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3495 times:

I always think of this scenario, when I am flying for my holiday destination, I was told the airport is closed for terrorist bombing or something, what are the solutions? Does aircraft usually have enough fuel to fly to another airport to land?

To establish a topic, let's talk about Manchester Airport. If I am flying to MAN, was told the airport is closed, where will I be directed to?

23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinebueb0g From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2010, 642 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3455 times:

Quoting naruto38700 (Thread starter):
Does aircraft usually have enough fuel to fly to another airport to land?

Of course. On any commercial flight, the dispatchers, planners and pilots will have made sure that the aircraft has enough fuel to make it to the destination, make 2 or 3 approaches, and still be able to divert to an airport 30 - 40 mins away (plus holding time fuel and some contingency fuel, somewhere in the region of 5 - 10%). It would be hideously dangerous to only take the amount of fuel you needed to get to the destination - any number of things could happen that might force athe crew to divert (most common would be airport closure or bad weather).

Quoting naruto38700 (Thread starter):
let's talk about Manchester Airport. If I am flying to MAN, was told the airport is closed, where will I be directed to?

This will vary depending on the airline, and the situation. But generally a major airport within 30 - 40 minutes of MAN. One of the London airports, Birmingham, Liverpool etc. Doesn't really matter as long as you get on the ground.



Roger roger, what's our vector, victor?
User currently offlinebmacleod From Canada, joined Aug 2001, 2243 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3455 times:

LBA most likely the closest major airport....


The engine is the heart of an airplane, but the pilot is its soul.
User currently offlineqf002 From Australia, joined Jul 2011, 2949 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3395 times:

Quoting naruto38700 (Thread starter):
To establish a topic, let's talk about Manchester Airport. If I am flying to MAN, was told the airport is closed, where will I be directed to?

LON most likely, or LPL for regional services. There are so many big major airports in the UK that are so close together that diversions are far easier than in other parts of the world where you might be faced with a considerable journey to a suitable alternate.


User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4913 posts, RR: 43
Reply 4, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 2978 times:

With some guidelines, fuel for an alternate is not always carried. Rest assured, when that is the case, the airline, pilots and dispatchers are certain that the aircraft will arrive at the destination.

However, when an alternate is required, there are levels of plans depending on how likely the alternate is to be used. For example, is the weather is so questionable at the destination that the alternate will be used, it is one where the airline would like the airplane. Namely, there are facilities to handle the passengers and aircraft, as well as alternate transportation and crews should they be required. An example might be YOW as an alternate for YYZ.

When an alternate is required but not likely to be used, for example the weather at the destination is excellent, then fuel for a "technical alternate" is carried. It satisfies legal requirements, but is not likely to be used. Good examples for YYZ might be IAG or YTR.

But fuel is carried for just about any contingency.



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineMr AirNZ From New Zealand, joined Feb 2002, 850 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2937 times:

Quoting bueb0g (Reply 1):
Of course. On any commercial flight, the dispatchers, planners and pilots will have made sure that the aircraft has enough fuel to make it to the destination, make 2 or 3 approaches, and still be able to divert to an airport 30 - 40 mins away (plus holding time fuel and some contingency fuel, somewhere in the region of 5 - 10%).

I disagree with the 2-3 approaches part. If things are tight payload wise, often I would have gas for one approach before diverting to an alternate. Where I work, the crew have final say on fuel loads but carrying excess fuel at the expensive of payload would lead to a 'please explain' from higher up the chain. The odd diversion that then actually happens because you only had one shot (and if you had had more gas you could have stuck around any maybe got in) is easily offset by the extra payload you have carried on the 99% of flights where you arrive with no issues.


User currently offlineJAGflyer From Canada, joined Aug 2004, 3496 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 2897 times:

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
When an alternate is required but not likely to be used, for example the weather at the destination is excellent, then fuel for a "technical alternate" is carried. It satisfies legal requirements, but is not likely to be used. Good examples for YYZ might be IAG or YTR.

I've never heard of a diversion to IAG for a YYZ-bound flight. The most common alternate for YYZ would be YHM and failing that YOW or YUL depending on the location of the plane when the choice to divert is made.



Support the beer and soda can industry, recycle old airplanes!
User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4913 posts, RR: 43
Reply 7, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2887 times:

Quoting JAGflyer (Reply 6):
I've never heard of a diversion to IAG for a YYZ-bound flight. The most common alternate for YYZ would be YHM and failing that YOW or YUL depending on the location of the plane when the choice to divert is made.

The most common alternates for YYZ, when used, are YHM, IAG, BUF and YTR. These would be technical alternates. The only time YOW is carried is if the likelihood of actually diverting is high. YUL is only carried if YOW is not legal.

Depending on the weather, and where the "weather" is, I have also used YXU, YQG, DTW, PIT and YYB.



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlinemusang From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2001, 861 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 2790 times:

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
With some guidelines, fuel for an alternate is not always carried

This is known as "Island Reserve" in some carriers, i.e. the specific set of rules/calculations/precautions/requiremnts to mitigate any risk inherent in going somewhere isolated. Mauritius, Galapagos etc.

Quoting Mr AirNZ (Reply 5):
I disagree with the 2-3 approaches part. If things are tight payload wise, often I would have gas for one approach before diverting to an alternate.

I agree, no requirement for more than one shot at the destination, although one often finds one has enough fuel for a second go then divert.

For Manchester our technical alternate (i.e. when diversion considered unlikely) is for some reason nearly always Birmingham, although we can just about see Liverpool while on the approach to MAN! (BHX is more than twice as far away as LPL in a straight line, although diversion fuel requirements are planned on the worst case scenario SID* and STAR** for the runways anticipated to be in use). Other considerations for diversion selection include a company presence + good transport links + ability of the handling agency to accommodate a diversion etc.

* Standard Instrument Departure routing.
** Standard Arrival Routing.

Regards - musang


User currently offlineglen From Switzerland, joined Jun 2005, 221 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 2717 times:

Quoting musang (Reply 8):
Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
With some guidelines, fuel for an alternate is not always carried

This is known as "Island Reserve" in some carriers, i.e. the specific set of rules/calculations/precautions/requiremnts to mitigate any risk inherent in going somewhere isolated. Mauritius, Galapagos etc.

According EU-OPS regulations a planning without alternate is also possible for "normal", not isolated destinations. Requirements are:
2 separate, usable runways with separate approach procedures based on separate navigation aids. (runway surfaces may be crossed, but in such a way that if one of the two runways is blocked, it will not prevent the planned operations on the other runway)
Weather: ceiling 2000ft or circling height +500ft, whichever is higher, visibility 5 km or more
no shallow fog, no thunderstorms, no heavy precipitation
(additional requirements regarding runway condition, braking action and wind)
In this case planning is allowed without destination alternate, but additional fuel of (only!) 15 minutes is required.

Not all airlines have incorporated this planning option. We have, but I know no captain who will take-off with only the legal minimum fuel, if planning is based on no alternate.



"The horizon of many people is a circle with zero radius which they call their point of view." - Albert Einstein
User currently offlineB6JFKH81 From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 2876 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 2711 times:

One of the nice things about WX diversions is that everyone has time to plan accordingly, and normally will route the aircraft to somewhere that the airline flies to and has staff to support the customers. My airline, for example, is based at JFK and also has flights to EWR, LGA and HPN in the NYC area. Often times all 3 major NYC airports will have problems with the same storm due to their proximity, airspace gets backed up really quickly so flights might divert to cities that we fly to accordingly. Ones already near NYC might divert to SWF, BDL, PIT, IAD and BOS. Ones further away may divert to RIC, CLT, ROC, BUF, SYR. All have our own crews for support. Every now and then you'll see us divert to ACY though, we don't have an operation there so no company support, but due to proximity to JFK/EWR/LGA, I'm sure they would get going fairly quickly once things open back up.


"If you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it"
User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4913 posts, RR: 43
Reply 11, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 2695 times:

Quoting musang (Reply 8):
This is known as "Island Reserve" in some carriers, i.e. the specific set of rules/calculations/precautions/requiremnts to mitigate any risk inherent in going somewhere isolated. Mauritius, Galapagos etc.

Funny you should say this, as at AC, all "Island" destinations require an alternate, regardless of weather.

I was actually referring to this:

Quoting glen (Reply 9):
According EU-OPS regulations a planning without alternate is also possible for "normal", not isolated destinations.

We just call it "No-Alternate IFR", and in Canada, the requirements are similar to what is stated above.

Quoting glen (Reply 9):
Not all airlines have incorporated this planning option. We have, but I know no captain who will take-off with only the legal minimum fuel, if planning is based on no alternate.

One of the big differences between Canadian No-Alternate IFR and what you state above is the "extra" fuel. We have to carry around 45 minutes extra, (sometimes more). Often No-Alternate IFR will carry more fuel than if an alternate is carried, if the alternate is close. Fore example, YMX for YUL, or OAK for SFO.



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineglen From Switzerland, joined Jun 2005, 221 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 2638 times:

Quoting longhauler (Reply 11):
We have to carry around 45 minutes extra

That's what a lot of us would take as extra fuel usually, but for a destination where operation always run smoothly we sometimes take less. (Although the company encourages us to take as little fuel as possible in order to save weight, we are luckily free to take as much extra fuel as we think is necessary without having to justify it.)

Quoting longhauler (Reply 11):
Funny you should say this, as at AC, all "Island" destinations require an alternate, regardless of weather.

Same with us. However, because it is an isolated destination it is a so called "Planning with predetermined point procedure". That means somewhere enroute you have a decision point where you have to decide about proceeding to the destination or to the alternate. And of course the required extra fuel is higher in this case.



"The horizon of many people is a circle with zero radius which they call their point of view." - Albert Einstein
User currently onlineAR385 From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 6132 posts, RR: 30
Reply 13, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 2632 times:
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Quoting JAGflyer (Reply 6):
I've never heard of a diversion to IAG for a YYZ-bound flight.

When that AF A340 went off the runway at YYZ, a KLM behind it issued a PAN, PAN for minimum fuel and diverted to BUF, IIRC. He was offered YOW, but said he was going to BUF.



MGGS
User currently offlineRoseflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9497 posts, RR: 52
Reply 14, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 2615 times:

Quoting naruto38700 (Thread starter):
I always think of this scenario, when I am flying for my holiday destination, I was told the airport is closed for terrorist bombing or something, what are the solutions? Does aircraft usually have enough fuel to fly to another airport to land?

The reason for needing to divert when not planned is almost always weather. Weather got worse en route and the arrivals rate decreased at the destination. The results in some form of flow control.

When an airport in known to have bad weather the dispatcher or crew almost always loads extra fuel to allow some holding time. Extra fuel for an alternate with known acceptable weather is also loaded.

When something other than weather that can't be anticipated closes an airport such as an emergency response, things can get interesting. As mentioned earlier alternate fuel is not always loaded. You see this more on airplanes close to their max payload, but some airlines are very close on margins to save money since less fuel is less weight which saves total fuel burn.

When this happens there is almost always an en route airport that can be diverted to. There are some parts of the world where diversions can get challenging. BA is known to be very cautious. I have heard of BA 747s carrying enough fuel to use BOS or JFK as an alternate to LHR when the bad weather hits. I have also heard in the Indian fog season, carrying enough fuel to use BKK or DXB as alternates. It all depends on how much holding and wasted fuel they want to carry to prevent diversions.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineokie From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 2986 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 2471 times:

Quoting naruto38700 (Thread starter):
I was told the airport is closed for terrorist bombing or something, what are the solutions

Tenerife always comes to mind when thinking of diversions.

Okie


User currently offlinecornutt From United States of America, joined Jan 2013, 338 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 2354 times:

I recall an evening about six years ago when the Atlanta area was beset by severe weather, and ATL and all of the other fields with long runways in the region were closed. Delta was stuffing aircraft into any airport with a long enough runway. They sent a lot of flights that were eastbound to ATL into HSV instead. Now, I happen to think HSV is a nice airport, but it only has 10 gates, and Delta dropped about 25 aircraft there. There were airplanes everywhere! I think they even parked a few of them at the cargo terminal. I was supposed to have a flight out that evening. I got to the gate area, looked out the window, and said "WTF!" Needless to say, my flight was cancelled. They were having to shuffle aircraft around in the ramp area so other airlines' flights could arrive and depart.

User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22726 posts, RR: 20
Reply 17, posted (1 year 6 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2261 times:

Quoting cornutt (Reply 16):
Delta was stuffing aircraft into any airport with a long enough runway. They sent a lot of flights that were eastbound to ATL into HSV instead.

Not all that uncommon. DL has a robust diversion plan, and if you look carefully at the DL ramp at airports like BNA, CAE or HSV, you can see "diversion carts" (that's what they call them) sitting waiting.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineaklrno From United States of America, joined Dec 2010, 922 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 6 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2152 times:

I've been diverted several times flying WN into RNO. In the winter there are occasional snow and fog closures. Since the WN flights out of RNO are usually only an hour or so, the plane just continues to the next scheduled stop for that aircraft, something like LAX,OAK, Portland, Seattle. That way the minimum number of passengers are disrupted. Some were actually going to the diversion point anyway, and subsequent flights go on time. And since they are normal WN stations, they can often put me on a flight back the same day. My record is two diversions in one day. LAX, past RNO to PDX, then PDX past RNO to LAS. Next day LAS to RNO.

User currently offlineBoeingGuy From United States of America, joined Dec 2010, 2986 posts, RR: 7
Reply 19, posted (1 year 6 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 2109 times:

Quoting AR385 (Reply 13):
When that AF A340 went off the runway at YYZ, a KLM behind it issued a PAN, PAN for minimum fuel and diverted to BUF, IIRC. He was offered YOW, but said he was going to BUF.

Actually he went to SYR.


User currently onlineAR385 From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 6132 posts, RR: 30
Reply 20, posted (1 year 6 months 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 2091 times:
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Quoting BoeingGuy (Reply 19):
Actually he went to SYR.

Yeah, I was wary of saying he went to BUF, but my memory is just not that good. What was the reason for going to SYR, instead of YOW? too much backtracking? What do you do with passengers that don´t have a US VISA?



MGGS
User currently offlineBoeingGuy From United States of America, joined Dec 2010, 2986 posts, RR: 7
Reply 21, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2033 times:

Quoting AR385 (Reply 20):
Yeah, I was wary of saying he went to BUF, but my memory is just not that good. What was the reason for going to SYR, instead of YOW? too much backtracking? What do you do with passengers that don´t have a US VISA?

IIRC, KLM was close to SYR. ATC offered him a Canadian alternate but the Captain elected to go to the nearest suitable airport. I don't think at that point he cared about Visa considerations. He apparently thought the safest choice under the circumstances was to land at SYR. That outweighs all other considerations.

However, you ask a good question. What does happen when an international flight diverts to another country in which passengers may not have a Visa, or there are no customs facilities? That happened a few years ago when AM diverted to PDX and customs was closed for the day so they didn't let anyone off the airplane.

Actually, AF358's alternate was YOW. We can play "armchair quarterback" all day, but obviously he should have gone to YOW. From what I've read (I've studied the accident), AF358 had enough fuel to divert back to YUL also if he had gone around at YYZ like he should have.


User currently offlinenorthstardc4m From Canada, joined Apr 2000, 2991 posts, RR: 37
Reply 22, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 2016 times:
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Quoting BoeingGuy (Reply 21):
However, you ask a good question. What does happen when an international flight diverts to another country in which passengers may not have a Visa, or there are no customs facilities? That happened a few years ago when AM diverted to PDX and customs was closed for the day so they didn't let anyone off the airplane.

It happened several years ago with Skyservice diverted 2 flights into YYB when YYZ was closed, they could not be allowed out of the TINY secured lounge at YYB until the aircraft could be reboarded and left for YYZ, no customs at YYB... I forget why they offloaded them at all.

Uncomfortable for passengers, but it's a rare occurance.



Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
User currently offlinen92r03 From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 337 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 1935 times:

Quoting BoeingGuy (Reply 21):
What does happen when an international flight diverts to another country in which passengers may not have a Visa, or there are no customs facilities?

Not exactly the same situation, but in '96, a Varig MD-11 was diverted to NAS Miramar as LAX and SAN were fogged in. I remember seeing it come through the fog just northwest of Miramar, was a very cool site. No one was allowed off the plane, they got some gas waited a couple hours and were off to LAX.


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