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pwm2txlhopper
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Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 2:16 am

I recently was surprised learn that there’s no ILS Approach at SAN airport, and, that it’s a Non-Precision approach.

(I was ignorant and thought there was ILS and Localizer at any major airport. Especially coastal ones prone to weather and fog.)

These days I assume most commercial planes can fly RNAV approaches, but how did SAN handle traffic in IMC conditions with fog, clouds, heavy winds, rain, down to minimums, back in the day before GPS?

Sure, they had the same Non-Precision Instrument approach that’s used today, but, in SAN’s case, I was wondering how those are safely used for commercial flights without exact guidance -specifically at SAN in this case- considering the steep decent required to clear the hill right before the end of the runway (coming in from the East) and the downtown buildings that are so close, that even if you were off the approach path by 1/5 of a mile, you could crash into them.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 2:33 am

The weather is usually pretty good, even when it’s bad there. I’d bet SAN doesn’t have more than a couple days a year below 1000-3. The approach to North Island is actually one to SAN, then a circle over the terminal buildings.

09 has an ILS, mins are 200-1800 RVR, but no ILS to 27.

https://www.weather.gov/media/wrh/onlin ... TA0904.pdf
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:06 am

I'm not certain, but looking at the charts, I get the feeling the terrain on approach to 27 might preclude installing an ILS since you'd have terrain inside the glideslope tolerance. There is a LOC approach for 27 with a 3.5 degree nominal slope.

The MSA at OKAIN on final to 27, 10.9 miles from the threshold, is already 2300 feet. And 2 miles east of OKAIN, the MSA rises to 2900, then 3600 feet.

As GalaxyFlyer says, the weather is pretty good most of the time, so the RNAV (RNP) minima of 600ft AGL should be enough for most cases. There's a parallel in Australia, which if memory serves has only one airport that can handle minima lower than Cat I (Melbourne). No need to invest in more precision than you need I guess.
Last edited by Starlionblue on Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:09 am

There’s no way you’d get an ILS on 27, too many obstacles and terrain. There are waivers for the buildings especially the famous parking garage on the LOC now.
 
Cubsrule
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:10 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
The weather is usually pretty good, even when it’s bad there. I’d bet SAN doesn’t have more than a couple days a year below 1000-3. The approach to North Island is actually one to SAN, then a circle over the terminal buildings.

09 has an ILS, mins are 200-1800 RVR, but no ILS to 27.

https://www.weather.gov/media/wrh/onlin ... TA0904.pdf


The most common problem time is winter mornings when the marine layer is thick. They typically run a counter-flow operation with arrivals on 9 and departures on 27. It’s okay in the early morning before arrivals pick up, but once the arrivals from Northern California and nearby hubs begin in earnest it gets pretty messy pretty quickly if visibility hasn’t improved.
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
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pwm2txlhopper
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:36 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
There’s no way you’d get an ILS on 27, too many obstacles and terrain. There are waivers for the buildings especially the famous parking garage on the LOC now.



Yes, I just flew in there and was impressed with the 27 Approach through the skyline and then down over the hill. Once out of the airport, watching the planes come in and depart, I think that’s about as close to the action as I’ve ever gotten at a major U.S. airport in recent decades?

That’s when I looked up the instrument approaches out of curiosity and came to my question.

Honestly, I feel pretty ignorant. I only have minimal instrument training and it’s been decades since that last time I flew. I still don’t understand RNAV completely. And when I think of flying instrument approaches, I still think of manually tuning in to VHF. Flying radials off a VOR signal, NDB, etc. The most advanced navigational equipment was LORAN. I guess these days, the FMS does all that for you and you’re not even actually receiving actual VOR signals. All GPS using FMS?

Sometimes I’m glad I didn’t become a commercial pilot. Flying seems pretty boring and automated these days.
 
Woodreau
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:18 pm

SAN does have an ILS. Its ILS Rwy 09. For 27 it’s just an RNAV and LOC.

For Rwy 27, the main obstacle preventing 27 from having an ILS approach and causing the displaced threshold is the Laurel Street Parking garage as well as the terrain immediately to the north and east.

For an A320 the mechanics of initiating an ILS and an RNAV is the same, simply press the APPR pushbutton, but equipment providing navigation guidance is different. For an ILS the guidance is based on the ground ILS localizer and glide slope transmitters. For an RNAV, all the guidance is from onboard avionics, the FMGCs and the ADIRUs. For both approach types, you just follow the needles presented on your primary flight display. For an ILS, the needles get more sensitive as you get closer to the runway, for an RNAV they don’t get more “sensitive” as they’re showing a specific distance off centerline or glide path.

I personally prefer the LOC over RNAV but most people prefer the RNAV.

Even flying the LOC, although there is no vertical guidance, the localizer antenna is still an ILS antenna providing the same precision as a full ILS system preventing crashing in to buildings in downtown San Diego. You’d would definitely know if you’re off the localizer, If you were off by 1/5 a mile, it would be full scale deflection for the LOC and you would discontinue the approach rather than trying to continue and find ground references.

27 is “challenging” only if you’re late in getting configured. It’s already hard to slow an aircraft following a normal 3.0 glideslope. Its a little harder with a 3.5 glide path. ATC is usually telling you to keep your speed up as long as practicable because of Southwest running you down from behind. Fly the speed you need to to fly the approach safely, make ATC tell southwest behind you to slow down if they’re overtaking you.

Being a commercial pilot is not about the flying. Flying is the bare minimum demonstration of competency. It’s more about managing your aircraft, crew and passengers and decision making when things don’t go as planned. It’s an easy day when all you have to do is just fly the plane. But unfortunately that’s not what I get to do 95% of the time when I go to work as a commercial pilot.
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 1:04 pm

Try the circle to 18 at North Island off the 27 LOC in KSAN in a MLW C-5 on a rainy night. You’re descending over the terminal building for a 1nm final at NI, I cant imagine the noise level in the building.
 
Woodreau
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 2:24 pm

At least for me, it was a little more butt puckering driving past the 1SD sea buoy, up the San Diego range channel at 15 knots in zero viz, with the bridge doors open listening for other ships’ fog signals and listening to the navigator tell you you’re 75 yards left of track based on information of where the ship was 3 minutes (3/4 miles) ago based solely off radar ranges and not visual bearings in the pre-gps days. Driving past downtown San Diego or going under the Coronado bridge and not being able to see the downtown buildings or the two bridge piers you’re driving the ship between.
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 2:39 pm

Yikes! It gets that foggy there?
 
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pwm2txlhopper
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:07 pm

Woodreau wrote:
SAN does have an ILS. Its ILS Rwy 09. For 27 it’s just an RNAV and LOC.

For Rwy 27, the main obstacle preventing 27 from having an ILS approach and causing the displaced threshold is the Laurel Street Parking garage as well as the terrain immediately to the north and east.

For an A320 the mechanics of initiating an ILS and an RNAV is the same, simply press the APPR pushbutton, but equipment providing navigation guidance is different. For an ILS the guidance is based on the ground ILS localizer and glide slope transmitters. For an RNAV, all the guidance is from onboard avionics, the FMGCs and the ADIRUs. For both approach types, you just follow the needles presented on your primary flight display. For an ILS, the needles get more sensitive as you get closer to the runway, for an RNAV they don’t get more “sensitive” as they’re showing a specific distance off centerline or glide path.

I personally prefer the LOC over RNAV but most people prefer the RNAV.

Even flying the LOC, although there is no vertical guidance, the localizer antenna is still an ILS antenna providing the same precision as a full ILS system preventing crashing in to buildings in downtown San Diego. You’d would definitely know if you’re off the localizer, If you were off by 1/5 a mile, it would be full scale deflection for the LOC and you would discontinue the approach rather than trying to continue and find ground references.

27 is “challenging” only if you’re late in getting configured. It’s already hard to slow an aircraft following a normal 3.0 glideslope. Its a little harder with a 3.5 glide path. ATC is usually telling you to keep your speed up as long as practicable because of Southwest running you down from behind. Fly the speed you need to to fly the approach safely, make ATC tell southwest behind you to slow down if they’re overtaking you.

Being a commercial pilot is not about the flying. Flying is the bare minimum demonstration of competency. It’s more about managing your aircraft, crew and passengers and decision making when things don’t go as planned. It’s an easy day when all you have to do is just fly the plane. But unfortunately that’s not what I get to do 95% of the time when I go to work as a commercial pilot.


Thank you. This is the technical answer to my question I was looking for.
 
FriscoHeavy
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:29 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Yikes! It gets that foggy there?


It can get foggy anywhere.
Whatever
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:38 pm

FriscoHeavy wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Yikes! It gets that foggy there?


It can get foggy anywhere.


Really? I’m shocked, thanks for that bit of knowledge I hadn’t known in 45 years of flying. SAN has one of the most benign climates in the US.
 
e38
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:19 pm

pwm2txlhopper, I'd like to put your question back on track, following some of the previous comments . . .

I think the answer by Woodreau (Reply # 7) was excellent.

Just a couple of additional points, from having flown this approach many times:

1. Yes, the Localizer approach to Runway 27 at San Diego has a descent angle of 3.5 degrees (as well as the RNAV approaches). As you may know, the standard glideslope for an ILS approach is 3.0 degrees. However, that's not particularly challenging if the approach is properly briefed and planned. If you cross the Final Approach Fix, "REEBO," with the aircraft fully configured for landing and at the final approach airspeed, then there is nothing unusual or challenging about this approach. At the company at which I work, it is policy to be fully configured and slowed to final approach speed at the preceding fix on the approach, "CIJHI," which is just over 2 n.m. outside of the FAF. We do not allow SOCAL approach control to dictate our airspeeds on this approach; we tell them what airspeed we need to fly and when, in order to fly a stabilized approach; and they have never disagreed nor argued about the airspeeds we wish to fly. We tell SOCAL approach that we will begin the approach at LYNDI intersection, at or above 5000 feet. I have never had to execute a missed approach from this procedure as a result of not being properly "stabilized."

2. Keep in mind that during periods of low visibility (i.e., morning fog situation), winds will generally by calm or very light. Therefore, traffic permitting, if the weather is below that required for an approach to Runway 27, we can fly the ILS approach to Runway 09. Again, at the company at which I work, for my particular aircraft, a takeoff or landing with a tailwind not to exceed 10 knots is permitted (as long as your takeoff/landing data is acceptable for that particular runway).

3. Finally, if weather criteria precludes an approach to Runway 27 and an approach to Runway 09 is not feasible (due to traffic, winds, or other operational factors), we divert to our alternate airport--that simple.

e38
Last edited by e38 on Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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pwm2txlhopper
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:33 pm

e38 wrote:
pwm2txlhopper, I'd like to put your question back on track, following some of the previous comments . . .

I think the answer by Woodreau (Reply # 7) was excellent.

Just a couple of additional points, from having flown this approach many times:

1. Yes, the Localizer approach to Runway 27 at San Diego has a descent angle of 3.5 degrees (as well as the RNAV approaches). As you may know, the standard glideslope for an ILS approach is 3.0 degrees. However, that's not particularly challenging if the approach is properly briefed and planned. If you cross the Final Approach Fix, "REEBO," with the aircraft fully configured for landing and at the final approach airspeed, then there is nothing unusual or challenging about this approach. At the company at which I work, it is policy to be fully configured and slowed to final approach speed at the preceding fix on the approach, "CIJHI," which is just over 2 n.m. outside of the FAF. We do not allow SOCAL approach control to dictate our airspeeds on this approach; we tell them what airspeed we need to fly and when, in order to fly a stabilized approach; and they have never disagreed nor argued about the airspeeds we wish to fly. I have never had to execute a missed approach from this procedure as a result of not being properly "stabilized."

2. Keep in mind that during periods of low visibility (i.e., morning fog situation), winds will generally by calm or very light. Therefore, traffic permitting, if the weather is below that required for an approach to Runway 27, we can fly the ILS approach to Runway 09. Again, at the company at which I work, for my particular aircraft, a takeoff or landing with a tailwind not to exceed 10 knots is permitted (as long as your takeoff/landing data is acceptable for that particular runway).

3. Finally, if weather criteria precludes an approach to Runway 27 and an approach to Runway 09 is not feasible (due to traffic, winds, or other operational factors), we divert to our alternate airport--that simple.

e38



Thank you. Your response was also informative.

I figured all the “SAN is one of the most dangerous approaches in USA” crap I’ve heard and read was just that. Is it also not really true that crews need special training with their airline in order to be current to fly the Approach.? I just read that in somewhere recently. And was skeptical.
 
e38
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:56 pm

pwm2txlhopper, reference your question, "Is it also not really true that crews need special training with their airline in order to be current to fly the Approach.?"

Well, I can't speak for other airlines, but at the company at which I work, no special authorization and/or training is required to fly an approach/landing to San Diego. All of our regular current and qualified line crews are authorized to do so. Some of the airports we serve require a new Captain to be supervised and signed off on his or her first approach to that airport, but San Diego is not one of them.

e38
 
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zeke
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 10:53 pm

Woodreau wrote:
For Rwy 27, the main obstacle preventing 27 from having an ILS approach and causing the displaced threshold is the Laurel Street Parking garage as well as the terrain immediately to the north and east.


Sounds like a good candidate for a GLS approach.
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Starlionblue
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:48 pm

pwm2txlhopper wrote:

I figured all the “SAN is one of the most dangerous approaches in USA” crap I’ve heard and read was just that. Is it also not really true that crews need special training with their airline in order to be current to fly the Approach.? I just read that in somewhere recently. And was skeptical.


It depends on what you define as "special training for the approach". This might mean no more than having to do a yearly refresher briefing online. We have to do that for a handful of our online ports.

It is only for rather special ports that you have to do dedicated sim training, or actually operate there, in order to qualify. Places like Innsbruck and Kai Tak.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
rfields5421
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Tue Apr 07, 2020 1:13 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Try the circle to 18 at North Island off the 27 LOC in KSAN in a MLW C-5 on a rainy night. You’re descending over the terminal building for a 1nm final at NI, I cant imagine the noise level in the building.


In 1972 when I was in A School at NTC San Diego, on days when aircraft were landing on Rwy 9, our class room was extended about an hour each day because of the noise of the planes over the buildings / our heads. It was simply impossible to talk for a large part of a minute as the plane came in. My classroom was about 600m dead on the centerline from the threshold. My barracks room was about 700m straight and 50m right of the centerline.

I was very surprised landings were much louder than takeoffs. But of course the higher power level engines were at higher altitudes and climbing.
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Starlionblue
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Tue Apr 07, 2020 2:11 am

rfields5421 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Try the circle to 18 at North Island off the 27 LOC in KSAN in a MLW C-5 on a rainy night. You’re descending over the terminal building for a 1nm final at NI, I cant imagine the noise level in the building.


In 1972 when I was in A School at NTC San Diego, on days when aircraft were landing on Rwy 9, our class room was extended about an hour each day because of the noise of the planes over the buildings / our heads. It was simply impossible to talk for a large part of a minute as the plane came in. My classroom was about 600m dead on the centerline from the threshold. My barracks room was about 700m straight and 50m right of the centerline.

I was very surprised landings were much louder than takeoffs. But of course the higher power level engines were at higher altitudes and climbing.


Another reason is that on approach high lift devices are a big source of noise.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Woodreau
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Tue Apr 07, 2020 2:32 am

San Diego does not require any special training at my airline either.

However all of our new hires after receiving their type certificate, do a LOFT scenario operating a flight from LAS to SAN and the instructors do their best at presenting issues that can happen at any airport (San Diego is not special) when you are late in configuring the aircraft for landing.

I did dork it up during my A320 LOFT even though I’d flown regional jets from LAX to SAN countless times and was very familiar with the approach to 27. The solution to getting behind the aircraft was simply go around and get radar vectored for another attempt.

The approaches that require special training are usually annotated as special training and authorized aircrew only. the approach charts are normally not available publicly. An example would be Aspen, Eagle, etc.

for Aspen, it required a FAA approved ground training course and simulator training operating into and out of Aspen.
normally when you’re flying in a simulator, the instructors leave you in IMC until it’s time to make the decision to land or execute the missed approach.
For Aspen they left it VMC and you got to see how close you got to the mountains doing the normal approach, the go around, the engine failure after takeoff, and wind shear during the go around and after takeoff. You got to see the airplane didn’t have the performance to clear terrain if you got an engine failure while executing a missed approach... you got to see what happened if you configured for landing too early at 15000ft with full flaps and gear down, thrust levers at TOGA and the aircraft descending into terrain because TOGA didn’t provide enough thrust to overcome drag of the airplane in landing configuration at 15,000 to maintain level flight.

After simulator training, the crew then required an approach flown into Aspen under supervision to complete their qualification to operate into Aspen.

The crew also had a requirement to have completed a ground school course and simulator training with the previous 90 days to operate into Aspen, so it meant going back to training every 3 months to maintain the Aspen qualification after you were signed off initially.


Aspen is an extreme case. For other airports that require “special training” simply reviewing an airport pictorial (the Jeppesen 10-8 pages) of the airport in question qualifies as the required special training. It just depends on the airport.
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
N47
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Re: Question about Non-Precision Instrument Approaches at SAN

Sat Apr 11, 2020 3:13 am

zeke wrote:
Woodreau wrote:
For Rwy 27, the main obstacle preventing 27 from having an ILS approach and causing the displaced threshold is the Laurel Street Parking garage as well as the terrain immediately to the north and east.


Sounds like a good candidate for a GLS approach.


I was thinking the same thing while reading the posts before this. In the US GLS systems are non fed systems i.e. not owned or operated by FAA although FAA still flight checks them. Because of that the funding to install them must come from airports or other entities. Also GLS approaches really shine in airports with multiple runways because u can define approachea to all runways with a handful of reference antennas.

In the US they are only certified for CAT I although tests have shown that they achieve enough accuracy to achieve CAT I and III. Not sure about elsewhere in the world i am curious to know if is approved for CAT II or III outside the US.

As for the approach to 27 at SAN. The numerous obstructions in the approach path makes it a very difficult site to install a glide slope. Although im relatively certain it can be installed although it would be at the edge of flight check tolerances and likely go out of tolerance during periodic flight checks requiring lots of man hours tweaking the system to make it work. Not sure about how frquent 27 is used. They could have also gotten away with using the LOC of runway 9 ILS and dona back course approach similar to runway 2 at SNA.

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