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Guest cliffie1931

How can we fly safely over mountains in cloud?

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I constructed a Flight Plan in FS Navigator from Valencia LEVC to Gibraltar LXGB.I exported it into the 737-800 and used real weather which, today, is pretty cloudy over the Med.When approaching the mountains in the vicinity of Gibraltar the weather worsened to the point that I couldn't see the mountain tops. I knew I was on the correct flight path but my only clue to the height of the mountains were the indications given in the FS Nav Flight Plan and the warning voice informing me that we were getting below 2,500 feet over the mountain tops.To ensure a safe landing I consequently turned the weather off and flew with unlimited visibility.I assuume that can't be right but I had no option other than to lose height in order to make the planned landing.Is there a better answer to the problem please?

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>Is there a better answer to the problem please?The whole purpose of instrument flying and published routes such as airways and approaches is to keep you safe when you can't see outside the cockpit.I'm not familiar with that part of the world, but I'm sure that there are charts depicting instrument airways and approach procedures for the airports you use.You need to find these charts and pay particular attention to:MEA - Minimum Enroute Altitude. This is the lowest altitude you can fly that will ensure safe operations, based on a number of factors such as radar coverage, radio reception, and terrain. Flying at or above the MEA for the airway segment you are on keeps you safe.on Instrument approaches, there are minimum altitudes for the various segments as well, and they provide terrain separation.It's important to note that the PMDG FMC doesn't have any information about minimum altitudes on airways - so you must be sure you're flying at an appropriate altitude.The simple fact of the matter is that learning the "rules" of instrument flying is a hefty task, one that takes real world pilots a fair amount of time. Knowing these rules is a prerequisite for flying the PMDG sim in weather.The good news is that if you don't want to make the investment to learn the rules, nobody gets hurt when you have a CFIT - Controlled Flight Into Terrain - accident.Best wishes

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PMDG's 737 also has a terrain warning system (think the acronym is GPWS, Ground Proximity Warning System, but I've also been hearing a lot about TAWS and don't know the difference between GPWS and TAWS). Go flying on a clear day and point your 737 toward a mountain. As you get closer, a warning should sound and give you plenty of time to extricate yourself from the situation. I hope. :)Steve Perry

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As Tim said, if you have the charts, stick to the airways and fly the published approaches so long as you do not duck under you will never get gravel in your teeth. One other thing is to ignore any clearances by the FS ATC that would bring you under the MEA or MDA. Even when getting vectored, if the ILS localizer has an MDA of 5,000ft till intercept of the glideslope and ATC wants you go go to 3,500 I stay at 5,000 till established. The hardest part of instrument flying in the clag is not the actual flying, it is keeping situational awareness. You have to be able to read the chart and know where your plane is in relation to all those symbols that mean there is something out there that wants to kill you. If you fly blind without the proper planning and charts and trust ATC to guide you all the way, you will have an unplanned meeting with the ground.

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Robert,Of course you ment to say your would "query" the controller if you had knowledge of the terrain and felt you would smack something, but in the real world, the MEA establishes terrain clearance AND navigation signals.If your being vectored, (in radar contact) the controller is aware of your position, and would probally lose their vacation pay if the flew you thru some "granite clouds".Ignoring a controllers instructions IFR could possibly result in coming in contact with another aircraft who is follow instructions, and then flight-simmin'n is all you'll be able to do for a long time!!Hope that's what you meant to say, :-) Gerry

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>and would probally lose their vacation>pay if the flew you thru some "granite clouds".Yes, he would probably lose it but I would be dead! And it did happen in real life number of times - the last such case fairly recently over eastern California. Also MEA is fine when you are enroute but you have to go lower when you are in the vicinity of destination airport - and this is precisely when most such accidents happen. So it is really also pilot's job to double-check controller's instructions. Fortunately these days modern aircraft are equipped with fancy terrain graphics or you can even buy a portable GPS that has terrain information for less than $1500 (polecam najnowszy Garmin iQue 3600a for $1100). I would never fly IFR without such device over rugged terrain these days, never ever.Michael J.WinXP-Home SP2,AMD64 3500+,Abit AV8,Radeon X800Pro,36GB Raptor,1GB PC3200,Audigy 2http://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/747400.jpghttp://www.hifisim.com/images/asv_beta_member.jpg

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Micheal J.NO DOUBT it's the pilots responsibility to avoid terrain at all times (VFR/IFR) have knowing where he/she is. I live in the Tahoe area, and am very aware of "obstacles in the sky", my point is that in radar coverage, the controller will issue altitude assignments for aircraft seperation, mostly in the terminal areas, and don't put you in harms way.HOWEVER...I had a real experience with this some years back, departing KSEA, departure told me to fly hdg 280 at 5000'. (I'm flying a commuter SA-227 to Vancouver BC) It seems the controller was very busy with other departures, and "kinda forgot about me". I'm about 15nm from the "Olympic Mountain Range" (in VFR conditions) heading straight for the rocks, and asked for a higher altitude or different heading, and was told to "Standby".As my passengers were getting a little uncomfortable with the turbulence with the lee-side winds, I cancelled IFR and was instantlly told to "squak 1200, frequency change approved"!Entering NAS Whidbey Island airspace, I resumed IFR and once on the ground at Vancouver, was asked to call Seattle ATC.They appoligised that the controller had "forgot the handoff" but never explained why.My point is, as I agree with you 100% that the pilot should know how close the earth is, you SHOULD challenge a controllers instruction if you know it would put you into danger.Okay I'm off the soapbox now! :-) Gerry

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Hi Gerry,>I live in>the Tahoe area, where, just curious? I am actually leaving for the town of Gardnerville, NV in matter of hours, not far from Reno.> (I'm flying a>commuter SA-227 to Vancouver BC) In real life I presume ;)Best,Michael J.

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Hi Gerry,You're absolutely correct that the pilot should know where he is and how close he is to the ground. There was one instance, around 1985, when an ATC forgot about the airplane that was sitting on the runway for a long time. Around 9:00pm, a mail carrier plane taxied to runway 23, but about 1200 feet to the end of runway 23. Runway 23 is now runway 24, at KBHM, Birmingham Airport. It was very busy that night. Having forgotten about the mail plane sitting on the runway, ATC cleared a RF-4C, which is a military aircraft, to land on 23, which is the same runway the mail carrier plane is sitting on. But remember, this is at night and he's sitting about 1200 to 1500 feet from the end of the runway. I personally did not see that airplane sitting on the runway because I saw no lights coming from that aircraft. I remember seeing the plane taxi past me but I figured he had already taken off or is just sitting off the runway. When the RF-4C was about to touch down, it slammed into the mail carrier plane sitting on the runway and both planes exploded into a large fireball. I could see the lights from the RF-4C coming in from where I was sitting, but I could not see the visual shape of the RF-4C when it slam into the mail plane. All I could see was a fireball. I found out the next day that this was the mail carrier that taxied past me the night before. If I remember correctly, the pilot of that mail plane had been sitting on the runway for several minutes, I think about 5 to 10 minutes, if not longer. He should have called ATC and told them that he was still sitting on the runway, waiting for clearance. So, it happens in the real world that ATC forgets an aircraft when busy with other aircrafts, all at once. The pilots of the RF-4C servived the crash but the pilot of the mail carrier was killed instantly. The air traffic controller that cleared the RF-4C to land realized the mistake and was put into the hospital because of the incident. In the real world of flying, bad things can happen very quickly and at the most unexpected time.Ken.

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In addition to teaching me how to fly and navigate the PMDG 737 with your tutorial you've now taught me something else. Thank you again Tim.....I've scoured the Net for a suitable chart for Gibraltar but without success so will probably buy a Jepperson chart CD from Bob at R.C. simulations. Then I'll follow your advice and try that same flight again in cloudy conditions.And my thanks too to all the other guys that have responded so helpfully to my question.With my regards,Cliff

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There are special procedures in place for an arrival at Gibralter, mainly due to the territorial boundary between Spanish and British airspace. This requires a very tight turn onto finals for rwy 09. Also you need to consider substantial turbulence and down drafts here.More info available on our web pages at Britannic:http://www.bcavirtual.com/newsletter.htm

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Hey Ken,Those are the most tragic stories when the poor pilot is instructed by TOWER to "TAXI INTO POSITION AN HOLD".As we wait for takeoff clearance, we depend on ATC for this.(don't have to worry about terrain seperation, or stall speed!)After were in position for takeoff, were at the mercy of ATC to inform us of any inbound traffic, and to inform any landing traffic about our presence on their LANDING RUNWAY.Of course, a good pilot is ALWAYS ready for a go-around on final, and if the landing pilot could see the STROBE LIGHTS of the departing A/C sitting on the runway, a GO-AROUND procedure is required.Your thread mentions aircraft running into each other on the runway..Not much a pilot can do here (execpt installing a rear-view mirror!!)Tragic, but true, people (ATC) make mistakes too!For Real,:( Gerry

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I've had a similar experience, where I felt I had been forgotten. I was in IMC and was below the MEA (but not the minimum vectoring altitude) at 3000 and heading towards rising terrain.Me: XXX Approach, Mooney 67W needs a climb, terrain.Them: 67W, stand by.I waited 2 minutes, and then (they hadn't gotten back to me):Me: Approach, Mooney 67W leaving 3000 for 7000.Them: 67W, when you want a climb, you ask for itMe: Approach, I did ask earlier, can't wait any longer, climbing to 7000.Them: 67W, sorry about that, report level at 7000.Now although I didn't use the word "emergency", I was exercising my emergency authority as PIC to deviate from my previous clearance because in my opinion such deviation was required for safety. I didn't want to use the "E-Word" right away - if I'd gotten any backtalk I would have responded by declaring an emergency, but my tone apparently was enough to make the controller realize that the situation was different then he thought. When I landed (much later in the day) I called the approach facility and asked to speak to their QA guy. I mentioned my tail number and he recognized it. He apologized and said the controller had forgotten about me momentarily, and their terrain alarm would have gone off in another two miles (45 sec or so) if I'd remained at 3000.ATC in the US is very good about taking their mistakes and turning them into training opportunities. In my case they used it for two purposes - the need to pay attention to the terrain in this sector, and that the pilot is the final authority.Bottom line, as you seen mentioned by others - never let ATC send you anywhere you aren't comfortable going. Never let them make their problems your problems. Help if you can, but remember that when they have a bad day they go home and have a drink. When you have a bad day you end up as fertilizer somewhere. The most powerful word in an IFR pilot's vocabulary is UNABLE, and you should never hesitate to use it in matters of safety.Best wishes,

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You make me feel better Howard. I hadn't realised that landing at Gibraltar isn't particularly easy and I had assumed it was just my flying.............Cliff

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Hi Cliff,I know that fs9 flightplanner is "terrain aware". I may be wrong but, fsnav I belive, is also terrain aware and the automated flight planning feature will insert the terminal procedures-provided you have updated the airacs. The terminal procedures are designed to keep you clear of high terrain, obstacles, boundaries and residential areas and Gib is no exception. I usually hand fly the arrival into Gib with no problems, though the first time I did it, I had a missed approach to 09. If you follow the guide on our web pages, then it should go well enough.Fs9 does not show the Rock, but there are freeware sceneries on avsim and payware from Aerosoft which is very good, as it shows the rock itself, floating light buoys to indicate the approach turn and has the traffic barriers across the runway.HTH

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Thats a tragic story Ken about the mail plane. My question is, wouldn't they have heard the landing clearance over the frequency given to an airplane while they were still sitting on the runway and wouldn't that be a cause for alarm?

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Hi again Howard. FS Nav, unless I'm mistaken isn't terrain aware. And again, unless I'm wrong neither is FS9.But on the assumption that I'm mistaken I wonder if you can tell me something? I've been creating my Flight Plans with FS Nav which exports them into the FMC of the 737 as well as into FS9.In that way the 737 FMC has the Flight Plan available in it's list of Plans and after takeoff I can follow the flight in FS Nav.I've just created a new Flight Plan in FS9 but can see no way to add it to the Plans in the 737 FMC. Can that be accomplished?With my regards,Cliff

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