78 votes
Accepted

If airplanes can't use reverse thrust in flight, what am I hearing?

It is normal for engines to spool up during the approach. The initial part of the approach, from cruise level down to approximately 10 miles from the airport, is flown at flight idle power. This is ...
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  • 74.3k
43 votes
Accepted

Why don't flights fly towards their landing approach path sooner?

In general, IFR flights through controlled airspace use airways (highways in the sky) to fly between waypoints. The particular flight you show looks like it arrived via the N774 airway to a waypoint ...
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  • 44k
35 votes

Should you blow through the final approach course if the ATC forgot about you?

Yes, blow right through it. You should never deviate from a clearance to "take a beating" later simply because you think you know better than the controller. If the controller is busy it is for a ...
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  • 15.6k
33 votes
Accepted

Do Air Traffic Controllers have to remember stall speeds for different aircraft?

No because aircraft are categorized by their speed at the runway threshold (1.3 times stall speed). VAT —Speed at threshold used by ICAO (1.3 times stall speed in the landing configuration at maximum ...
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  • 67.6k
32 votes
Accepted

What does the snowflake with temperature symbol on an approach plate mean?

From FAA INFO 15002: A [snowflake] -XX°C icon will be incrementally added to airport approach plates, beginning Mar 5, 2015. The icon indicates a cold temperature altitude correction will be ...
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  • 41.8k
32 votes

Do any airports have a steeper standard approach than London City?

I found the RNAV approach to Steamboat Springs at 7.75°
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  • 16k
30 votes
Accepted

What do the callouts "approaching minimums" and "minimums " mean?

The "Approaching Minimums" callout is made by the Pilot Monitoring (or, in some cases equipment, the GPWS -- Ground Proximity Warning System) as the aircraft is descending on an instrument approach ...
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  • 41.8k
27 votes
Accepted

How should I establish initial contact with ATC after being handed off by another controller?

In your situation: Oakland Center, Aircraft Identification, Altitude For example: Oakland Center, Cessna 123AB, Level four thousand fife hundred. See Aeronautical Information Manual, 5-3-1: ARTCC ...
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  • 5,576
26 votes
Accepted

Why do fighter jets land faster than Jumbo commercial aircraft?

It is not only the mass that affects the landing speed. Wing area plays an important role as well. A larger wing can lift more weight at the same speed than a smaller wing. If you compare the wing ...
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  • 74.3k
26 votes

Why can't wing-mounted spoilers be used to steepen approaches?

They can. The Airbus A318 and Embraer E190 both do this in steep approach mode. You can see spoilers extended in this video of a A318 landing and a similar approach in an E190 at London City Airport. ...
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  • 5,692
25 votes
Accepted

What are the reasons for using an instrument approach on a clear day / CAVOK?

There are actually quite a few reasons to fly an instrument approach, especially one with vertical guidance (like an ILS), even if the weather doesn't require it: It serves as a backup to the visual ...
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  • 57.5k
25 votes

Do any airports have a steeper standard approach than London City?

One of the steepest approaches within the CONUS is the LOC/DME approach to Aspen, CO, which has a final approach segment with a recommended approach glideslope of 6.59°.
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25 votes
Accepted

Is there a penalty for changing the approach procedure after accepting one?

There is no penalty per se, but visual approaches in particular have lower separation requirements, so having to switch you back to a non-visual approach may require ATC to make corrections (e.g. ...
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  • 25.1k
24 votes

How do radio altimeter systems compensate for objects on the ground?

Objects on the ground are negligible because the radio altimeter is not designed nor used to such high precision. There are several uses of the radio altimeter. The first one is for timing the flare ...
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  • 39.2k
23 votes
Accepted

Do helicopters fly a standard pattern before landing?

The FAA AIM, in 4-3-17 and the Air Traffic Controller Handbook, Section 11, explains VFR helicopter operations at controlled airports. The procedure will depend on the airport and the current traffic. ...
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  • 69.7k
23 votes

How should I establish initial contact with ATC after being handed off by another controller?

This depends on how you were instructed to change frequencies. There three main ways this can happen: Services Terminated ("dropped") Bugsmasher 12345, radar services terminated, squawk VFR and ...
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  • 67.2k
23 votes
Accepted

Did Kai Tak have a straight-in approach to runway 13 for higher-performance aircraft?

did Kai Tak have a straight-in approach to runway 13 for use by steep-approach-certified aircraft? During the 1990s I regularly flew the Hong Kong IGS approach in 747s. At that time, to the best of ...
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  • 38.7k
22 votes

Do some aircraft lower the landing gear mid-flight?

That's nowhere near midflight. You are seeing aircrafts approaching Begumpet Airport (VOHY)'s runway 27. This airport has no airline service, but it is used for some general aviation including VIP ...
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  • 54.1k
19 votes

What happens if the autopilot fails to initiate a flare?

In the B767 and B757 the autopilot (autoland) system (triple redundancy) monitors required system components throughout the approach. The flare mode is displayed at 1500 ft and at 45 ft it activates. ...
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  • 17.1k
18 votes

What are the reasons for using an instrument approach on a clear day / CAVOK?

There are three reasons I can think of: Noise abatement I know that it is not allowed to fly visual approaches at many european airports due to noise abatement. They prohibit it to avoid aircraft ...
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  • 3,336
18 votes

Is it possible to use reverse thrust while airborne?

Commercial jets are not designed to use reverse thrust in flight. With engines mounted under the wing, the turbulence can affect the lift over that section of wing. Tail mounted engines could ...
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  • 69.7k
18 votes

How to join a traffic pattern when passing overhead?

What is the correct way? Is there a difference between controlled and uncontrolled airports? What about the procedure when approaching from other angles? Well I'll address your second quesition first:...
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  • 67.2k
18 votes
Accepted

Why would a commercial flight make banked turns five minutes before landing / low altitude?

As denizhanedeer said, it was a circling approach. There is only one charted IFR approach to ESU. It comes in from the northwest and would line up for a straight-in approach to runway 16. Depending ...
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  • 27.5k
17 votes
Accepted

What are the elements of an approach briefing?

Yes, it's true. Usually called approach or arrival briefing Details will vary according to aircraft and operator but a typical list is NATS: NOTAMs1 ATIS2 notes, chart briefing point by ...
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  • 30.8k
17 votes
Accepted

On a "Visual Approach", do I execute a "missed approach" or do I go around?

First, a caution: IFR procedures can (and do) vary between countries. It is incumbent on the pilot to study the respective authority's Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) to understand local ...
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  • 4,977
17 votes

What do the callouts "approaching minimums" and "minimums " mean?

"Approaching Minimums" you are about at your minimum descent altitude (MDA) or decision altitude (DA). "Minimums" means you've arrived at that altitude. Pilots use those phrases to ...
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  • 10.8k
17 votes
Accepted

How do pilots estimate glideslope visually without PAPIs?

There's no instrument you need for a good approach angle in good weather, it's all done by eye. When you train as a pilot you develop a sight picture of what a good approach looks like, and you ...
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  • 49.1k
17 votes
Accepted

Why can military aircraft descend below the DA / MDA during an instrument approach?

The most simple reason is the military has its own set of flight rules (AFI 11-202, OPNAVINST 3710.7U) that for many years duplicated many of the applicable FAR/AIM regulations. In addition, the ...
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  • 5,194

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