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NGXfanatic

Alaska Airlines 737-800 KSEA to PASI (Warning: Big Pictures!)

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Hi folks, it's your friendly neighborhood pretend Alaska Airlines pilot here!   I decided it was time to take this bird to some destinations off the beaten path, as Alaska is full of beautiful scenery with tiny airports in relatively remote areas.   I was also curious about RNP approaches, a type of non-ILS approach used extensively by Alaska Airlines.  These approaches allow precision approaches into runways that are located in areas that prevent the traditional straight line paths necessary for instrument landings.  Often, it's because of surrounding terrain, as you will see evidenced in my approach to my chosen Alaska destination, Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (PASI) located in the Pacific Fjords area represented by ORBX.    Some interesting tidbits: the airport is the namesake for the FSX mission "Sitka Approach", and it is also listed as one of the "ten most thrilling landing experiences in the world" according to the Wikipedia page on the airport.

 

Flight from Flightaware is ASA63, operated on Tuesday 7/16/13 by a 737-400 IRL, but I chose the closest PMDG equivalent, a 737-800W.  Real life flight duration was 1 hour 47 minutes, my flight was about 1 hour 53 minutes.  SID was the BANGR7 from KSEA runway 34R, and no star as this is a very small airport with little traffic, let alone jet traffic, for which Alaska is the sole airline serving the airfield.

Winds were from the northwest, so runway 29 was the runway of choice, and I picked the RNP 29 approach. 

Flightaware record of Real Flight:

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/ASA63/history/20130716/1905Z/KSEA/PASI

 

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Here I am at KSEA gate C9.   Without fail, I always find an interesting special Alaska paint nearby, and this time it's the Spirit of Disneyland II 737-900. 

 

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Pushback commenced.  The time is 12:03 PDT.

 

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Following a Jetblue A320 on the taxi to the active runway.  Notice the parallel approaches by a Delta 737 and Horizon Air Dash 8-400 to runways 34L and 34C respectively.

 

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The traffic ahead of me in the queue for takeoff, a Southwest 737-700W, is off to the races.   A Delta 757-200 is on short finals.  Delta is a big presence here at Seattle.

 

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Holding short at runway 34R after a 14 minute taxi.

 

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Goodbye KSEA!  

 

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Overhead downtown Seattle.   I love it when city dwellings are recreated accurately in FSX.

 

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Passing over CYYJ, Victoria International Airport in British Columbia.

 

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Cruise at FL380.  Vancouver is in the distance, behind the starboard winglet.

 

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No clue where I am here, but I saw a cruise ship docked and what looks to be two small cities, which I thought was noteworthy.  Feel free to comment if you can figure out where this is!
 

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Time for descent.

 

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Slowing down to 250 kts to make the universal 10,000ft speed restriction.  It is nice to have the HUD, as I can keep my eyes on aircraft performance and enjoy the scenery simultaneously!

 

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Approaching 4000ft, I'm getting close to the BKA VOR, the IAF for the RNP approach to runway 29.   From here on in, it's time to pay close attention to the instruments as I have to monitor the aircraft's lateral and vertical performance and make sure it's within the close tolerances of Required Navigational Performance, which is 0.30NM from the magenta line, and 175 feet vertically on the descent scale.  Sounds like a bunch of gibberish right?   Basically, LNAV and VNAV are in charge of the entire approach, which is quite different from the localizer and glidescope guidance I'm so used to having the autopilot acquire and capture for me on the CAT I ILS landings that comprise about 98% of all my flightsim landings ever.

 

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Look at the terrain depiction in the ND!   This is scary stuff for me, but I am trusting the RNP procedure saved in the FMC to guide me safely to the final waypoint, when I will turn off the autopilot and autothrottle and manually fly the 90 degree turn to the 2nm final. 

 

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The passengers must be nervous seeing the huge hills passing by on the right side.  

 

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I look to see the runway to my left.  This is going to be a challenging turn, that's for sure.  I think the closest situation for me in flight sim is the Canarsie approach at KJFK.  I hope my "training" in cessnas in earlier iterations of flightsim will kick in during the turn!

 

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Here goes nothing!

 

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Woah, I managed the turn pretty nicely!   I sank a bit too much in the later half of the turn (about 2000fpm at one point) but with a quick response by me on the throttle I managed to salvage the approach so that I was able to stay somewhat close to the appropriate glidepath and the 140kt VAPP speed. 

 

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Touchdown, with maximum reverse thrust and speedbrakes 3 to prevent me from ending up in the water at the end of the 6500ft runway.  

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Arrival to the lone jetway at PASI.  Time is 1:18pm AKDT. 

 

All in all, I was quite pleased by the results of my first RNP approach.  I'm not entirely sure I flew the procedure correctly, but I spent a few hours researching before the flight and I'm pretty sure I nailed the basics.   In simple terms, the difference between this approach and ILS is that you use VNAV and LNAV to fly the approach for you, and the waypoints and altitudes are coded into the procedure as selected by the user in the FMC.   These approaches are not provided by default by Navigraph, and they are protected proprietary data closely guarded by the airlines that use them.  They are expensive to develop, and give the airline using them a competitive edge, so that is the reason for the secrecy!

 

Anyways, an AVSIM user by the name "M-Sauce" created the RNP approach for PASI which I used here, and it's supposed to be a close approximation of what Alaska Airlines uses.  You can download this file, which also contains RNP approaches for 3 other Alaska airports at the AVSIM library: http://library.avsim.net/search.php?SearchTerm=pasi+rnp&CatID=root&Go=Search

 

I saved the final 10 minutes of the approach as a saved flight file, and intend to practice this approach quite a few more times as I want to learn more about how to properly fly RNP approaches for my future travels in the Alaska PNW region.  I hope you all enjoyed this diary, and maybe it will entice you to try out flying in the great Alaskan wilderness with the NGX!

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Very nice!

 

One of the pilots I flew with a few days ago is in charge of (or was testing) a new and improved RNP29. It allows a slightly longer final. That'll make things a *bit* easier.

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Easily producing the nicest screenshots around here to look at even more so with the interesting flight reports! 
More please!

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Very nice!

 

One of the pilots I flew with a few days ago is in charge of (or was testing) a new and improved RNP29. It allows a slightly longer final. That'll make things a *bit* easier.

This is easy compared to Kai Tak lol

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So glad to see you again! I absolutely love your trip report-like posts and this was no exception! It's been a while since you've done one of these and I hope to see you do more in the future!

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So glad to see you again! I absolutely love your trip report-like posts and this was no exception! It's been a while since you've done one of these and I hope to see you do more in the future!

 

Pardon me, I didn't realize this was posted in 2013! It came up on the recent threads and just figured. Sorry!

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