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Question For The Pilots Concerning SNA

Sat Sep 18, 1999 12:54 pm

I'm not a pilot, but do work in the industry, and I just have to get this off my chest. From your standpoint do you consider SNA's single jet runway to be ridiculously short at only 5700'? From a pilot's perspective, do you consider that dangerous or just a challenge? Have they eliminated the steep climb and throttle back out of there because the FAA deemed it unsafe? Just curious. It would seem to me that safety is more important than quiet. Besides, only super quiet planes are allowed in there anyway. What's the secret to lifting off from there when your real heavy? Obviously you can only take on minimum fuel. I've been told that you take off at just about maximum thrust off that runway. Would love to hear any front end crew comments....Thanks

RE: Question For The Pilots Concerning SNA

Sun Sep 19, 1999 2:21 am

Dangerous? No. Challenging? Yes. Actually, I consider it rather fun.

I fly the 737 in there, and at my last airline, our home runway was actually shorter and narrower than even SNA, and we flew 737's in there too with no trouble to speak of.

It's all a matter of technique and mindset. You pick your spot in the touchdown zone, nail your speed, and when you get there, put the plane in the exact spot you chose. If you get a nice touchdown, then that's fine, but if you start floating, you sacrifice the "grease job" and put it down firm. If you can't hit the spot, then go arounds should have been well briefed and understood as an option beforehand, and really no big deal. Just go around, and get it the second time. Far better to go around than land long.

As opposed to a longer runway where you rely on reverse thrust and spoilers to help in deceleration before using the breaks (normal landing), on a short runway reverse thrust doesn't have much time to become effective so you get on the breaks right away instead. Most modern airplanes can stop in a surprisingly short distance when they need to using the breaks. They also have auto brakes and in the 737 when set on three will really help get you slowed down. There is even a Max. setting, which I've never used but hear will really throw you against your belts.

As for Takeoff, yes, it is max thrust, bleeds off, and you climb at a slightly higher than normal pitch attitude to 1000 feet, then cut it back. There are a few reasons this may not be the ideal way to takeoff, but I don't consider it unsafe. My concerns have to do with very little time to look visually for other traffic as it is somewhat workload intensive, you fly at slower speeds longer than on a normal takeoff (this brings up a whole new debate over rudder hardover/gate speeds for those of you who fly the plane), and should one of the engines quit spinning, you are at a high deck angle, lower speed, lower thrust setting, to recognize this and react appropriately.

All this aside though, I'd feel perfectly comfortable flying to SNA, it is safe.
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Sun Sep 19, 1999 2:58 am

Were you referring to using the WHEEL brakes on a short runway? How fast would you be going at touchdown? I always thought you can't engage wheel brakes until you slow down using other means to a certain speed to avoid burning up those brake pads and/or tires!?!
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens

RE: Bleedsoff:

Sun Sep 19, 1999 3:31 am

I have flown in and out of SNA 100's of times. I have never seen a plane use the whole runway!!! There was a FedEx there once that used half of it. The modern airlines can stop on a dime. I was speaking to a 747-400 pilot the other day and he can stop his plane 1000 meters (yes he could stop it at SNA) He has caborn brakes and those slow you down quick. About speeds on coming in a 757 is about 125 kts.

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