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MYR RWY 18 Approach Question

Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:44 am

I recently flew LGA-MYR on a brand spanking new NK A320. Due to delays for storms in the NYC area, we arrived late, maybe around 9:30 PM. Our approach seemed unlike any other I'd experienced, as we seemed to descend to something like 1500 ft. several minutes from the fence. The altitude is a rough guess given my view out the window. I could, for instance, tell the difference between a car and a van driving on a decently lit road. What seemed strange initially was the fact the slats and flaps were not deployed. I've definitely never been that low in a commercial airliner on approach without the flaps deployed to some degree. The longer we stayed at that altitude, the weirder I started to feel about it. Finally the flaps did deploy in two steps to full landing config over about 30 seconds, and another 30 seconds later, we touched down.
TL;DR - We spent what for me was an unusually long time at a very low altitude with a clean wing, and then in the space of a minute or so, we got all dirty, descended, and touched down.

Is there a reason for such an approach? Was it unusual? My guess was that maybe noise abatement was the reason. Any insights appreciated.
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RE: MYR RWY 18 Approach Question

Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:42 am

It is desirable to keep the wing clean as long as possible in order to minimize drag and thus fuel burn. As long as ATC allows speed to be high enough for a clean wing, the pilots will keep it clean.

My only guess at what caused the extended low altitude flying would be traffic. I don't know if you were as low as 1500 feet though. If you have the flight number and date you could check the data on Flightaware.
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RE: MYR RWY 18 Approach Question

Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:28 am

They always get you down way, way, way early there. Then, after center has you at 12,000 feet 80 miles from the airport, MYR approach keeps you high because they are swamped with 2 Cessnas and an ERJ.

Really...I fly into MYR a's always an early descent from cruise and I've never been there late in the evening but once you check on with MYR approach they generally clear you for the minimum vectoring altitude if you're landing 18. So, if you descend at idle right down to it, it's probably quite easy to hit 1500-2000' with 10+ miles to go from the runway. Might as well keep doing 250kts until 6-7 miles out.
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RE: MYR RWY 18 Approach Question

Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:47 am

Noise abatement would definitely not be a reason - that sort of approach will be noisier because of the low altitude.

What probably happened was that ATC gave you clearance to descend all the way down pretty far out from the airport because of a lack of traffic - that can result in you being at low altitude earlier than normal if the pilots don't want to descend too slowly. You're supposed to do at least 500 feet per minute, and sometimes even that will get you to the low altitude too early. It's not the optimum approach profile, I can say that much - more efficient to stay a bit higher for longer and then descend from there. But there's nothing unsafe about it.

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RE: MYR RWY 18 Approach Question

Sun Oct 13, 2013 2:41 pm

Thanks for all the answers!
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RE: MYR RWY 18 Approach Question

Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:58 pm

I fly into MYR a lot and I've done that approach a few times. I think it's partly to avoid Georgetown County Airport, Grand Strand Airport, and North Myrtle Beach Airport. Plus they have to avoid the helicopters doing sightseeing tours (which are awesome, by the way, you should do it if you're still there) and bannger-draggers.
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RE: MYR RWY 18 Approach Question

Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:16 am

Mesaflyguy, I don't understand your answer. The threadstarter was questioning why his aircraft was at an unusually low altitude and you explained it as a procedure to avoid three airports, helicopters, and banner draggers. But wouldn't it make more sense to avoid these conflicts by staying at a higher altitude until closer to the airport, not a lower altitude? What is the rationale behind your answer?

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