Captain_777
Topic Author
Posts: 273
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2000 11:18 pm

Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Thu Feb 19, 2004 9:53 am

Hello --

A few of my best friends went to Honduras this past week to help build a school house for the children. They flew into Tegucigalpa (TGU/MHTG). Last night they came home. They were telling me about the flights. On landing they said it was very turbulent and a lot of high-banked turns were made. And on take-off the pilot opened up the engines and then released the brake and shot "strait" up into the air. I understand this is because of the terrain around the area. I also heard from someone on the site that the pilots have to have certain ratings for the terrain. Is this true?

Has anyone else flown to or from TGU? What was it like?

I just thought I would share and see if anyone else has been there.

Take Care --
 
MSYtristar
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Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2005 12:52 am

RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Thu Feb 19, 2004 10:09 am

There is actually a road that intersects the runway, with a stoplight so that cars can stop when a plane is landing. Pretty interesting if you ask me.

The runway is very short (7000 feet, maybe less?)and the terrain is steep, that's why you see AA fly the 757 into TGU and CO fly in the 73G, both planes that have impressive short field/takeoff/climb performance.


Steve/MSY
 
MD11Lover
Posts: 436
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2003 4:40 am

RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Thu Feb 19, 2004 10:13 am


I have flown into TGU many many times and your friends were right, pilots do need special training to land at Toncontin. Tegucigalpa is surrounded by mountains, therefore the descent into TGU is quite steep and full of banks especially if landing from the south which is usually the case. Landing there however, is very spectacular. The reason the a/c seems to shoot out on take off is cause the thrust is applied while the breaks are maintained, and this due to the short runway. The largest commercial a/c to land there is a 757 and it is operated by AA from MIA daily.

Md11lover
 
usatoeze
Posts: 348
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2004 2:22 pm

RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Thu Feb 19, 2004 10:16 am

I have an uncle that has flown into TGU on both military and commercial flights. Recently I had a chance to talk with him about various airports because he has flown(As a passenger) on many difficult approaches within Latin America. He says that without a doubt it is the scariest landing in Latin America, and he says he has done it on a 757 for AA and a C-130 for the US Military.

He describes the descent in this way:
As you descend there are multiple times when you feel like you are about to hit the edge of the mountains, and then all of a sudden there will be a drop at the last minute. This happens repeatedly until you hit what feels like a very uneven runway, which when it finally seems to level a bit..the pilot will throw the thrust reversers on full, and bring the aircraft to a very sudden stop.

Although I know it is common in some parts of Latin America and elsewhere to clap after landing, he says that the clapping definitely has deep meaning to it.

He says the second worst is Quito, and third is La Paz.

Sorry its not my own experience. I hope to go to TGU and SAP soon.
War is a very poor political tool
 
Southamerica
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RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Thu Feb 19, 2004 10:21 am


I also heard from somebody in this forum that AA had extra-trained some crews exclusively to fly to four airports: UIO(Quito), LPB(La Paz), MDE(Medellin) and TGU(Tegucigalpa). Although I cannot confirm this info, as I've said, I heard this from somebody here.

Anyways, TGU really is tough. Apart from runway conditions, taxiways are pretty narrow, and, besides the fence in the runway threshold, there's like a 200 meter hill very near to the beginning of the runway.

I recall reading a story about a TACA A32X having some problems with the reverse thrust over there in TGU. Boy, that must be really scary if you realize that on the other end of the runway there's a considerably deep abyss.



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SOUTHAMERICA
 
Captain_777
Topic Author
Posts: 273
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RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Thu Feb 19, 2004 11:19 am

Thank you for the replies.

I had also heard on this site somewhere that AA had some of their pilots trained for special landings in Latin America. If so, that's really neat!

Another rumor I had heard on the site was that after 4:00pm AA will not fly out of there, because of the terrain is hard to see at night. That could mean you have a delay, you could be there for a while!

 
latinaviation
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Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 11:25 pm

RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Thu Feb 19, 2004 9:47 pm

I think SouthAmerica heard the TGU stuff from me. I fly to TGU 4-6 times per year - and love it. Actually, in the photo database if you search under photographers "Scott Stache" and "Thomas D Mayes", they are both regular co-pilots on AA and CO, respectively, to TGU, and have posted some great pics from TGU. I've actually flown to/from TGU with Mr. Stache on a few occasions.

My trip report to TGU from X-mas is here:
http://www.airliners.net/discussions/trip_reports/read.main/38652/

AA's pilots require special certification to fly to Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Quito, Ecuador; La Paz, Bolivia (they actually wear oxygen masks on approach and while on the ground due to altitude); and Medellin, Colombia. To be certified, pilots due some simulator work, have to fly a minimum amount of rotations with a Chief Pilot and fly the route at least once every 60 days.

The landings can be pretty rough and turbulent, while the take-offs are a straight shot out of there to clear the surrounding mountains. There is a street right in front of the runway. When an airplane lands, they have a red light that comes on to stop the traffic... only in Honduras!

Of the four that require pilot certification, I have been to three: Tegucigalpa, Quito and La Paz. I would say the Quito one is the toughest, and I've spoken with pilots that have concurred. It's an evening landing with even more mountain terrain than TGU and you have one shot at landing... otherwise it's a diversion to Guayaquil or Lima, Peru.

As far as AA not flying out of TGU after 4PM, that too is correct. That has to do with aircraft performance. But you'll notice, AA is adding a second MIA-TGU flight back in. In contract to other Central American nations that have multiple flights spaced out, the two TGU flights are within two hours of each other, and the second spends the evening, because of this.

TGU, both the airport and city, are fascinating. Let me know if you have any more questions.
 
marcos
Posts: 73
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2001 4:47 am

RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Thu Feb 19, 2004 10:47 pm

I have flown in to both Tegooch and La Paz. Tegooch is definitely like a carnival ride. La Paz, on the other hand, I think is easy because the runway is really, really long. This is because planes, at 14,000 feet or so, need almost double the roll time to take off. The first time I flew in to La Paz, I was told an urban legend that stated the first time Eastern Airlines flew a jet in the oxygen masks deployed upon landing and cabin de-pressurization. Their is just not enough oxygen up there.
 
boeingflying31
Posts: 162
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RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Thu Feb 19, 2004 10:51 pm

Doesn't John Wayne airport(SNA) have a pretty small runway? I think something around 5-6,000 ft. and 757's manage to land there.
-BF31
 
SFOmm
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RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Fri Feb 20, 2004 1:35 am

The high terrain around Toncontin airport is so hazardous that the airport is closed at night. There are no runways lights installed. You couldn't land there at night even if you wanted to.
 
MD11Lover
Posts: 436
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2003 4:40 am

RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Fri Feb 20, 2004 5:40 am



Very often, during summer times, flights that are destined to TGU are diverted to SAL when it is foggy or raining somewhat hard since a landing attempt is too risky due to the surrounding terrain. Once again, like other members have stated, landing in TGU is a fascinating experience, if you ever go there, try your best to get a window seat since the ride is absolutely thirlling. Its funny when you board a plane destined to TGU, you hear other passengers worried about "the landing".

LatinAviation, when is the second flight from MIA to TGU going to start operating? Will they use a 752? What a/c does AA use to SAP? I know they used to fly the 727 there before?

Md11lover
 
latinaviation
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Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 11:25 pm

RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Fri Feb 20, 2004 6:50 am

MD11Lover:

AA starts a second flight, operated four times weekly, effective June 10. It is operated with a 757. In fact, that's the only airplane, after the 727 retired, that AA will fly to TGU. AA used to operate a second flight, with a different schedule, to TGU in the summer of 2001 that had the plane sitting in TGU from 3pm until 7am the next morning, all because AA will not depart after 4pm.

The schedule will be:
AA 987 MIA 1022 TGU 1042 (op Mon/Tue/Thu/Sun)
AA 982 TGU 1157 MIA 1622 (op Mon/Tue/Thu/Sun)

This is in addition to the daily flight operate has.

To SAP, AA is operating the 737-800. I loved flying the 727-200 down there when they had them. AA actually flew the A-300 to SAP over the Christmas holiday to haul excess baggage for SAP, SAL and TGU. AA currently has 11 weekly flights to SAP, but will go up to 12 weekly on June 10, as well.
 
Captain_777
Topic Author
Posts: 273
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2000 11:18 pm

RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Fri Feb 20, 2004 8:53 am

Thanks for sharing everyone!

I'm hoping to fly down there in the next few years. They said it was really nice to be there and help the kids. I think it'd be a great experience. And the airport just makes it better.
 
MD11Lover
Posts: 436
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2003 4:40 am

RE: Flying TGU (Toncontin Intl)

Fri Feb 20, 2004 9:58 am



Captain777, while you re there make sure you go to the Bay Islands. RTB is only a few minutes away by air from the Honduran coast. And its beautiful...especially its beaches and for scuba divng.

Md11lover

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