The January 5 crash of a Bombardier Challenger 601-3R during the crew’s second attempted landing at Aspen Pitkin County Airport (ASE) has prompted pilots to question both their own limitations and the difficulties involved in landing at the Denver resort. Even under visual conditions, mountains that rise 5,000 to 6,000 feet above field elevation make Aspen a one-way-in, one-way-out airport: land on Runway 15 and depart from Runway 33.
No one who flies has ever questioned the safety benefits of a stabilized final approach, whether it’s in VFR or IFR weather. Most airline and business aviation operators define a stabilized approach as one in which the aircraft is properly configured–on airspeed and on altitude–no closer to the ground on final than 500 feet. Anything else essentially demands a missed approach–a go-around in pilot vernacular–or at least it should.
Miami Approach Control recently reissued guidance on how it plans to handle practice instrument approach requests for aircraft in the local area. For example, standard IFR separation will be applied to all aircraft. Aircraft requesting a procedure turn or a traditional holding pattern are expected to inform the approach controller on initial contact. The facility also reminds pilots that clearance for an approach does not authorize the aircraft to fly the published missed approach without previous authorization.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has approved both an RNP approach to an ILS and an RNP AR (authorization required) approach for Zhangjiajie Airport (ZDGY) in southeastern China to help increase its capacity. Surrounded by rugged mountainous terrain, the airport sits in the middle of what the country’s Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (Canso) calls “complex airspace that limits operations at peak hours for both inbound and outbound traffic.”
On March 29, 2001 a series of operational and instrument approach procedural errors led to the crash of N303GA, a Gulfstream III, just 2,400 ft short of the approach end of Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (ASE)’s Runway 15 while attempting to complete the VOR/DME C circling approach. Eighteen people, including three crewmembers lost their lives in the accident.
Socata TBM 700, Dartmouth, Mass., Feb. 2, 2007–In the crash of the TBM that killed all three aboard, the NTSB determined the probable cause was both pilots’ failure to maintain aircraft control during a missed approach to New Bedford Regional Airport (EWB). The commercial pilot, who had 125 hours of instrument time, had filed a flight plan for the wrong airport and received a weather briefing for that airport.
Chelton Flight Systems this month expects to issue a software revision to operators flying with the company’s FlightLogic synthetic-vision EFIS to fix a known anomaly that the FAA has said could provide misleading guidance under certain circumstances.