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Guest Peter Sidoli

CIRCLE TO LAND??

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I was just flying from PANC to PADQ and was given a ILS 25 Circle to land 29.Now that would have been fine, except the soup was so thick, that the runway barely came in site about 2.5 miles out. How can you be given a Circle to Land (which is basically a visual approach) with the visibility so poor. Needless to say, I landed on 25 making the pilot in command safe operations call. Can this be done through a GPS approach or other approach? I am flying the Flight One ATR.MS ATC flaw?Barry

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Thanks Geoff,I recall that thread now.. So FS ATC is correct. I guess where I am struggling right now is whether the Circle To Land is a visual approach?? If so, how can you do a visual approach in 1-2 miles visibility? What are the minimums for a visual approach? Can you do a Circle to Land with no visibility? Is there an alternate precision approach? If they are saying you that decision height is 587 feet for example, and visibility is 1-2 miles, how can you do this approach? I am missing some procedure here. If you were making the approach based on some precision via instruments, like the ILS I can concur. I just don't see any way of doing that approach visually, with out the aid of instruments or GPS / FMS, etc. Circle to Land makes sense to me in this case if the visibility would have been 5 miles or better, since you have to visually line up on the runway 29. Even the ILS puts you on the localizer much further out than 5 miles.How do you find runway 29 when you cannot make a visual until 1 mile from the runway. Am I missing something here? I have been unable to change my approach with FS ATC. I still believe that the ILS on 25 even with the winds is a much safer approach.Barry

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You seem to be having a difficult time understanding that a circle to land from an intsrument approach is not the same thing as a visual approach, they are two entirely different approaches and the visibility requirements vary greatly between the two.You are probably flying at a speed that puts you in cat c circling mins, which are 780' and 3 miles visibility, the FAA has determined that a safe circle to 29 or 36 can be done in those conditions.

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Can somebody explain the Circle to Land approach in this case?Again I have done it visually, but never in the soup with less than three miles visibility.Does it involve the instruments? If so which ones? Do you track a VOR radial and then turn to the runway?Thanks in advance for the information!Barry

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After that thread I made some enquiries and the circle to land is the most dangerous of approaches involving CFIT and stall/spin accidents.There are a number of problems which cause such a high accident rate on the circle to land.Firstly although part of an IFR approach the circle is a pure visual procedure which makes no use of navaids and uses a missed approach procedure which is not as such part of the circle but a missed approach off an instrument approach onto another runway.The visual procedure of the circle which is carried out at often below VFR minima follows the point where pilot come off intruments and has to adjust to visual flying.It is well known that pilots making such a transition become disorientated.With tailwinds of less than 10 kts it is usual to take the tailwind componant and to land off the instrument approach as long as the runway length is sufficient.Hence the circle to land is normally carried out in high wind conditions which means that the aircraft will suffer bigger drift faster and slower grounspeeds which all lead up to a disorientated pilot loosing his position.Mix this in with the fact that if minimal circle weather conditions prevail at the start of the circle these can change to below minima conditions later in the circle and hence the appalling accident statitistics in the circle.Morally the circle is a pure VFR manouvre and should be treated with utmost caution real world. This is especially true where the circle is carried out in minmal circle conditions. Runway allowing take the tailwind componant intead.Peter

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A few things to consider:There must be control via tower or CTAF to maintain seperation. If other traffic is present the chosen runway and entry should be common to avoid conflicts.In visual daylight conditions and good night conditions it should not be that difficult to transition from IFR to VFR because the pilot should be prepared. At the time the transition is made nav should be in straight and level flight at which a pattern entry is initiated. I think going from visual to instrument is more disorienting.The altitude AGL is just about a standard pattern altitude for VFR landings.Many accidents occur because of improper aircraft pattern operation such as too slow IAS and flap configuration for the required banks in turning. Wing stalls as such have been indicated. If steep turns are required beyond normal pattern banks then aircraft performance must be considered. If a steep descent is required and the runway is short then the aircraft must be able to handle it.Poor situational awareness and alternate missed approach briefing.Misjudgement of aircraft capability for required manuvers.I forgot the guaranteed obstacle clearance radius for establishing the landing to the alternate runway but that is stated in the other thread. If a VRF pattern exists for the desired runway, then entering that pattern should be OK.In the example of Kodiak is looks like a close in final will be required but note some 700 MSL obstacles just outside of the pattern and one in line with 18.So the bottom line is pilot capability, aircraft manuverability and performance, and MC, but it can be done.If you look at the departure plate note the additional limitations imposed on DOD aircraft.

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But fact is the circle to land has the highest accident rate of any approaches.I think it is easy as armchair pilots real world or sim world in the comfort of our homes to say that pilot x should do this or that. After a long flight with an approach through bad weather a hint of get down itis it is easier to see why these approaches claim so many accidents.It is the very nature that the approach is visual but that the pilot must stay within a dme range ie the approach is neither one or the other which creates problems.A pilot becoming visual off an instrument approach and then trying in poor visibility to maintain a visual circle is likely not to be watching his dme range as he looks into the gloom for the runway.Strong winds can quickly blow him off track, he can be fooled by ground features.As stated the accident rate speaks for itself and it is a very different thing being up there on a bad night to being in the comfort of our homes discussing how we would do thingsPeter

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If the risk is so high, especially when visibility is below VFR, then why is it even an option?I would much rather deal with a crosswind then take a chance on a dangerous approach.It should be prohibited as an approach if conditions are not VFR, in my opinion.Barry

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Risk is relative.The one time I did a circling approach that wasn't practice the winds were gusting to 35 knts. Landing on the runway with the ils would have been dangerous as the wind was 90 degrees to that runway. Breaking out at 1000 ft. agl on the ils approach and circling in 2-3 miles visiblity to take a runway into the wind-a much better option for that scenerio. You are basically at that point in the pattern-as long as you stay close to the runway to keep it in sight it can be perfectly safe.Realize that in class g airspace the visiblity requirements for day are 1 statute mile and clear of clouds 1200 ft. above the surface-and that is vfr (not that I would recommend it). Much worse than a lot of circling approach minimums. Also consider special vfr....It is just another option available-and in some cases desirable.http://mywebpages.comcast.net/geofa/pages/rxp-pilot.jpg

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>But fact is the circle to land has the highest accident rate>of any approaches.>PeterI concur with Peter.There is a gentleman that I consider my mentor. His name is Austin.He is 70 years young, still flying corporate almost everyday, has around 20,000 hours in GA only, (yes its true) never has had an accident and is still alive. (Obviously)There are two distinct things that he has pounded into me more than anything else...Don't blow minimums and avoid circle to lands if at all possible. (IFR) After studying why and experiencing a few questionable circle to lands, these two things have become what I regard as gospel and I do not bend the rules in any way, shape or form. Alternates were made for a reason. If you want to live, use them.Anyone that is 70 years old, still alive and has over 20,000 hours of GA with advice to give... trust me... I'm all ears. Leave your attitude on the shelf.Here are the facts: If you don

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I did not state that it was not more inclined to be hazardous but the degree of difficulty has to be assessed. One thing additional to consider is familiarity with the airport in question.I still maintain if the pilot feels comfortable and maintains visual contact with the runway circle to land can be OK. Remember that it can be used above minimums.We did not state as an example that this discussion was restricted to unfamiliar destinations.BTW I was not a rated IFR pilot but did complete VFR Commercial Certification real world. Physical limitations forced me to quit and I had completed Instrument GS and a few ILS and VOR approaches.Another consideration is how the crew and aircraft are equipped. A chartered twin with a crew of two certainly allows cross checking and divides the load. One pilot can be watching out the window with another paying attention to the nav instruments.Even with VFR all landings can't be sunny and 77 degrees F.If you are blown off-course then you certainly would know by maintaining visual cues from runway and your crab angle what kind of situation you are dealing with. Remember that the runway must be in site for CTL procedures and visual contact should remain established for a two mile final. In many cases you are not going to a different runway but just the opposite end but as long as you can visually establish final you should be OK.While many skoff at the use of autopilot with heading and altitude control, it does allow a pilot to look out the window without having to scan the altimeter as much once the desired level is obtained. I would just use altitude control as long as again visual runway contact can be maintained until final is set up when you cut loose the AP. As long as altitude, power, and pitch are established for the correct IAS, then we should be free enough to transition to visual orientation and get established.As far as alternates where you are by the time you get there just might be better than the current conditions at the alternate.If your alternates are surrounded by high elevations at one end, you might just find a CTL is required there.I think it is safe to state that a CTL requires and is intended in mountainous territory to have a short final. In other cases where navaids do not exist for all runways it just allows essentially a modified VFR pattern to the runway best suited for the moment.It just takes a lot of discipline, as IFR does in the first case, and good assessment of your capability and confidence level in dealing with the weather and aircraft environment and determining if for you it is a safe choice, and make sure you know how to escape if need be.

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"Risk is relative" that makes more sense than anything else I've read in this post so far. An experienced pilot that is used to the procedure is not a risk at all, and regarding the landing with a tailwind, landing with more than 10 knots on the tail is not an option for turbine ship pilots.

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>"Risk is relative" that makes more sense than anything else>I've read in this post so far. An experienced pilot that is>used to the procedure is not a risk at all, and regarding the>landing with a tailwind, landing with more than 10 knots on>the tail is not an option for turbine ship pilots.In that case why do circle to land procedures have such a high accident rate? especially regarding CFIT and stall/spinPeter

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That's easy, inexperienced pilots.When you work for a charter company flying jets, you learn how to do a circle to land.

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>That's easy, inexperienced pilots.>When you work for a charter company flying jets, you learn how>to do a circle to land.Inexperienced Pilots??? hmmmm dont think so. I suggest you do a search on circle to land accidents (pages of the stuff)and then maybe understand why some airlines ban themPeter

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If they crash than than they're obviously not doing it right. Look at the runwaylook at the gaugesLook at the runwaylook at the gaugesLook at the runwaylook at the gaugesLook at the runwaylook at the gaugesLook at the runwaylook at the gaugesLook at the runwaylook at the gaugesLook at the runwaylook at the gaugesLook at the runwaylook at the gauges

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Yes I agree the majority of aircraft accidents are "Pilot Error" whether Private, Professional, experienced or inexperienced.Peter

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The faa database also shows that twins are more dangerous than singles-yet we elect to fly twins-and probably have the mindset that a properly trained twin pilot (which of course we are :-) ) has more options and thus safety than a single. Another example of risk being relative.There are times where flying such an approach might actually enhance the safety situation as in my example above. As for the safety, pilot judgement is always what determines the relativity.Where I live-it is often windy (>20 knts)-and being windy the visibility is usually good below the scud-often >10 miles. Breaking out on an instrument approach and then circling to land makes a lot of sense in this situation-especially when going to single runway airports that don't favor the wind. Flying to the circling minimums is something I personally would be reluctant to do-give me at least 2-3 miles and I am ok with it. http://mywebpages.comcast.net/geofa/pages/rxp-pilot.jpg

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Hey Geoff,I think I would divert to another airport unless there was an issue with fuel, or I had to land.Sounds way too risky for even a very skilled pilot and for me either way. I think these regulations need to be seriously looked at. They aren't safe. That's insane to try to find the runway with that level of visibility.Barry"It is better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground..."

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>>I still maintain if the pilot feels comfortable and maintains>visual contact with the runway circle to land can be OK.>I don

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The issue with twins is more complex than simply twins being harder to fly. Twins are preferred to fly the most difficult routes over unihabited territory, in icing conditions, at night, over water, etc, etc. If piston singles did the twin routes the stats would probably be inclined differently.

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