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Delta 737-800W TNCM St. Maarten Circuit (Warning: Big Pictures))

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Hi, I'm taking a short hiatus in my Alaska Airlines operations as I was inspired by a YouTube tutorial by an Avsim user by the name of "Skysurfer007".   He is a real life copilot of the 737NG, and has contributed a bunch of tutorials from the perspective of someone who is privy to NG ops.   I watched a video he created of a circuit flight at St. Maarten from startup to shutdown, with two approaches thrown in for good measure, a RNAV approach with a go around, and an IAN approach with a full stop landing.   The video link is

I elected to take on the circuit with the intention of learning to fly an IAN approach, having flown the RNAV approach in my previous diary, KSEA to PASI. 


IAN stands for Integrated Approach Navigation, and basically, it's allows the FMC to construct an artificial ILS glidescope using GPS waypoints.  It differs from RNAV/RNP approaches because it relies on using the APP mode, not LNAV or VNAV, to fly the final approach, much like a traditional ILS.   The beauty of this type of approach is that can be used to create ILS like approaches anywhere in the world, without the need for expensive ground based navaids like localizers or glidescopes..   This is my basic understanding of the technology behind the approach, as I'm still reading up on it, so please forgive me if I am not correct in my explanation. 


IAN is a godsend for an airport like TNCM, which I have flown to dozens of times over the years.  Back then, I had to fly the VOR non precision approach, which required a lot of knob fiddling and memory items to make sure you descend using v/s mode at the FAF.   In other words, it was a royal pain in the ....   But IAN makes things so much easier, which is my takeaway from my practice sessions at TNCM.  

I chose the Delta livery as this was my carrier of choice when I flew the NGX to TNCM in the past.   I loaded the aircraft with full passengers as ballast, as this going to be very short flight and I needed some weight to hold the aircraft down.  Fuel was kept to a minimum though, as only enough was carried to fly the short circuit.   I didn't want to launch myself from the runway like the space shuttle, but I still had a very high climb rate.  Takeoff was from runway 10 using the JULN1 SID, I leveled off at 8000 ft to fly the 12 DME arc from the PJM VOR, and used the RNAV RNY 10 approach to runway 10, with OTMUT as the IAF.



At gate A4.


Push back and engine start up.   It was long push back as there is not much room to maneuver from the location of gate A4. 


Passing some biz jets of the 1%.   This here is a Boeing Business Jet belonging to Russian Standard owner Roustam Tariko.  You have to see this plane's paint job up close to believe it, it's a work of art!



Holding short at runway 10.  Takeoff will be at full power with no derate, because even with lots of runway to spare in my case, you need all the power you can to clear the hills to the north of the runway, especially if there is a single engine climb situation.


Sharp turn to the right to intercept the 168 radial of the PJM VOR. 


If I ever go to St. Maarten, this is where I will be spending a lot of time.  It is here where you can see the formidable terrain that all pilots must avoid at takeoff.  The second I climbed to 50feet AGL, I rolled 30 degrees to avoid the terrain.   This must be one of the most challenging takeoffs in the world.



Left hand window view as I depart the island.  I was climbing at about 4000 fpm! 


Continuing the steep climb to the 8000ft "cruise" altitude. 


On the downwind, over the island of Anguilla, progressing to the OTMUT IAF.


At the capture of the FAC, or localizer in IAN speak.  LNAV/VNAV was used leading up to the capture of the lateral course, as you can see VNAV ALT is active.


Hand flying the final approach at just under 300ft.  At the missed approach point of 700 feet, I am obligated to shutoff the autopilot and auto throttle and either land or go around if landing is not feasible.


A classic St. Maarten approach photo vantage point.   Watch out below!


As I saw from the window seat, if you blink, you will miss seeing the beach.   Better be quick with your camera.



As seen on T.V., or I should say, on Reddit or anywhere were viral photos are posted.   OMG, that must be Photoshopped!


Burning rubber.



Gulfstream spotters rejoice!



Back to gate A4.  I hope the passengers enjoyed the tour.


This is a circuit flight I will be practicing plenty of times, as it really stresses quick thinking on the takeoff and landing portions.   No time to relax, as the second you reach cruise you must start preparing for the arrival.   I have never been a fan of circuit training, but this is a fun location to start getting into the habit at, and a real challenge to boot!


Hope you enjoy!

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Brings back great memories from my trip there last October. :wub: Great shots!

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What scenery was used for this?


Just last week I made a manual landing at this airport due to the fact it did not have an ILS. Fun stuff. My default airport does not look anything like this.




jon utley

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