Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

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  1. #1
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    Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    I was on arguably what should have been the easiest IFR flight ever. Took off on Rwy 31, course was 317, landing runway at destination was Rwy 31. It was basically a straight line from take off to landing with NO turns. Destination airport was in middle of nowhere, back woods airport, with no traffic. The flight was a straight line 80 miles, essentially an 80 mile final. I was at 6000. MOCA about 2200, the MEA in area between 2000-3000. I figured I would be brought down with plenty of time considering there was nothing going on in the area.

    After not hearing from controller in a while, I got nervous and asked for radio check and he responded. Then another few minutes went by and I was getting closer to IAF and still nothing, so I called and "requested the RNAV 31 approach", just in case the controller was thinking I wanted the RNAV 13 approach, which is easy to mistake, but he came back with something to the effect of "I have your request" . But still, he left me at 6000.

    Between 1 to 2 miles from the IAF, he clears me direct to the IAF (start of approach altitude 2800), then next leg was 1900. I would normally never do this in IMC, but visibility was good, and I had a safety pilot so I decided to see what I could do, so I cut the power, dropped the gears, added 10 flaps, descended like a crazy person. By the time I got aircraft configured and descending I was over the IAF, so I asked if I could do a 360 because I couldn't get down fast enough.

    He ended up giving me a vector north so I could continue my descent normally, which was much better than my idea of doing a 360. But that screws up my GPS settings, and I had to configure it for the detour while maneuvering to return to the IAF.

    I was assuming that there was a reason why the controller kept me at 6000, but in hindsight it appears he forgot about me, and my 2 calls to remind him were too indirect.

    Usually controllers bring me down with plenty of time without me asking, especially when there isn't anybody else and no terrain in the way. Should I just request the descent, when I want to descend? Are controllers just doing me a favor when they step me down? Is that something I should be calling and requesting for every time?

    What should I have done differently?

  2. #2
    Stinger's Avatar
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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    Is there a holding pattern published at the IAF? If you weren't cleared for the "rnav straight-in runway 31 approach" you were supposed to do the HILO full procedure which would have given you plenty of time, I'm assuming, to make the descent.
    If there really was no other traffic or terrain constraints, I'm surprised you didn't get "cross IAF at or above 2,800, cleared approach." Could be the controller had in his mind you wanted runway 13, forgot about you, was waiting for you to request lower, or another reason entirely.

  3. #3
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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    You shouldn't have done anything differently. What you have here is a lazy controller who wasn't paying attention. If anything, key up and say "I need to start a descent to make the IAF". Sorry for the poor service.

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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    @Stinger, thanks for explanation, and yes, there was a hold, but the inbound course was 316 and I was flying a heading of 317. I was not instructed to hold. Also btw, the waypoint is a (IF/IAF). There was no need to hold in lieu of procedure turn because I was already essentially on final course from 80 miles out. I may be wrong, and that is why I'm here, and thats why I follow up on any issues after every flight so I can improve, but my understanding is that I'm not supposed to just do laps in a holding pattern, unless I'm holding in lieu of a procedure turn, which didn't apply here, or I'm instructed to hold by controller.

    My concern was that I had no clearance until 30 seconds before crossing the (IF/IAF) fix, then I was cleared to the fix that I was about to cross while being over 3000 feet above it. I was never told what approach to expect, I assumed it would be the RNAV 31. So I didn't have a chance to activate the GPS for the approach, I had to do that in the 30 seconds I had while I was dive bombing down from 6000 to 2800.

    @Echozulu, I think I will take your advice, and next time I will say "I need to start a descent to make the IAF." I'm working on my confidence, and this was a wake up call. I should have been more assertive.

  5. #5
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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    Don't ever be reluctant to tell ATC what you need to fly your aircraft. The sooner you tell us, the sooner we can take action.

  6. #6
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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    Quote Originally Posted by Devil07 View Post
    @Stinger, thanks for explanation, and yes, there was a hold, but the inbound course was 316 and I was flying a heading of 317. I was not instructed to hold. Also btw, the waypoint is a (IF/IAF). There was no need to hold in lieu of procedure turn because I was already essentially on final course from 80 miles out. I may be wrong, and that is why I'm here, and thats why I follow up on any issues after every flight so I can improve, but my understanding is that I'm not supposed to just do laps in a holding pattern, unless I'm holding in lieu of a procedure turn, which didn't apply here, or I'm instructed to hold by controller.

    My concern was that I had no clearance until 30 seconds before crossing the (IF/IAF) fix, then I was cleared to the fix that I was about to cross while being over 3000 feet above it. I was never told what approach to expect, I assumed it would be the RNAV 31. So I didn't have a chance to activate the GPS for the approach, I had to do that in the 30 seconds I had while I was dive bombing down from 6000 to 2800.

    @Echozulu, I think I will take your advice, and next time I will say "I need to start a descent to make the IAF." I'm working on my confidence, and this was a wake up call. I should have been more assertive.
    You were direct to the IAF, so it wasn't being used as the IF unless you were on one of the transitions from another, further out, IAF. With the holding pattern being published, you not being on radar vectors, not conducting a timed approach, and the approach plate doesn't say "No PT" from the IAF, then a course reversal is mandatory even if, like in your case, the heading difference is only one degree.

    Go check out the AIM 5-4-9.

    Also the 7110.65 4-8-1
    "e. If a procedure turn, hold-in-lieu of procedure
    turn, or arrival holding pattern is depicted and the
    angle of intercept is 90 degrees or less, the aircraft
    must be instructed to conduct a straight-in approach
    if ATC does not want the pilot to execute a procedure
    turn or hold-in-lieu of procedure turn. (See
    FIG 4−8−3)"

    The Pilot Controller Glossary:
    HOLD IN LIEU OF PROCEDURE TURN− A hold
    in lieu of procedure turn shall be established over a
    final or intermediate fix when an approach can be
    made from a properly aligned holding pattern. The
    hold in lieu of procedure turn permits the pilot to
    align with the final or intermediate segment of the
    approach and/or descend in the holding pattern to an
    altitude that will permit a normal descent to the final
    approach fix altitude. The hold in lieu of procedure
    turn is a required maneuver (the same as a procedure
    turn) unless the aircraft is being radar vectored to the
    final approach course, when “NoPT” is shown on the
    approach chart, or when the pilot requests or the
    controller advises the pilot to make a “straight−in”
    approach.

    Also, page 20 of this document:
    https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/flig...pp-edition.pdf

    And here's some background and discussion from the instrument procedures group:
    https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org...005-02-260.pdf

  7. #7
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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    Either way, the controller forgot about him leaving him at 6000.

  8. #8
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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    Probably.

    For pilots, for future reference, it's important to ask/request for what you want.

  9. #9
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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    His angle of intercept isn’t 1 degree it’s 179. So no PT needed. He was coming straight in so it going to be more of a shock to the controller if he just starts a procedure turn.

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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    You guys are awesome! By the way this approach is just a simple straight line with at HILO PT (dark line race track) on the (IAF/IF) waypoint, followed by the FAF, no feeder, no T, etc. The final approach course is 316, the outbound heading on the HILO PT is 136, I was flying toward the IAF/IF at 317.

    I looked at the JO 7110.65X CHG 3, Section 4-8-1 (e) cited by @Stinger and the comment by @UNDgrad06, and I think I understand. The reference to the "90 degrees or less intercept angle" in paragraph (e) of section 4-8-1, appears to refer to the intercept angle to the outbound leg of the HILO PT, which in this case with my heading of 317 degrees, and an outbound heading of 136, would have required a direct entry, and a turn of 179 degrees. Paragraph (e) refers to FIG 4-8-3, and both of the aircraft depicted have intercept angles that are less than 90 degrees to the outbound hold heading, but greater than 90 degrees to the final approach heading.

    I don't think (e) applies to my situation where my intercept angle to the HILO PT outbound heading was greater than 90 degrees. I think this is what @UNDgrad06 is saying.

    I'm going to study this more closely when I get home tonight, but what do you guys think?

    The AIM 5-4-9 (5) says, "A holding pattern in lieu of procedure turn may be specified for course reversal in some procedures", but I don't see where it says that a pilot can use a HILOPT for descending without permission from ATC when no course reversal is needed. My understanding is that the purpose of the procedure turn (in its various forms) is to get established on the inbound course, on which I was already established, albeit too high.

  11. #11
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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    OMG. I spent all this time researching and reading the analysis of the regs on procedure turns, and I just looked at the approach plate again, and on the top right of the plate it has a sector from 026 inbound to 246 inbound that says "NoPT". Essentially, headings that are 70degrees plus or minus from the approach course 316, NoPT.

    @Stinger, you got it, the plate said "NoPT" for my heading, so thats it.

  12. #12
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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    Quote Originally Posted by Devil07 View Post
    OMG. I spent all this time researching and reading the analysis of the regs on procedure turns, and I just looked at the approach plate again, and on the top right of the plate it has a sector from 026 inbound to 246 inbound that says "NoPT". Essentially, headings that are 70degrees plus or minus from the approach course 316, NoPT.

    @Stinger, you got it, the plate said "NoPT" for my heading, so thats it.
    It was an RNAV approach with a TAA?

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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    Quote Originally Posted by Stinger View Post
    It was an RNAV approach with a TAA?
    Exactly, and heading was within the NoPT sector.

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    Re: Got Slam Dunked on an 80 Mile Final

    Quote Originally Posted by Stinger View Post
    It was an RNAV approach with a TAA?
    It was a "non-standard" TAA with no base segments. I needed to have started descent at 10 miles out to have a stabilized descent (thats when I called to remind controller that I was requesting the RNAV 31). But I wasn't dropped down, and I wasn't cleared to the fix until about 2 miles before the (IAF/IF).

    I guess, technically, the (IAF/IF) is an IF when I'm approaching from the straight-in (NoPT) TAA side of the approach. The altitude for the next segment after the IF was 1900, so on a straight in with no PT, I would have had to go from 6000 to 1900 in 2 miles. I feel much better knowing that it was an oversight by the controller, and not something that I did wrong. Except, I'll make sure next time to speak up and say exactly what I need, and when I need it.

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