how can Fog still close an Airport in 2013..?????

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Gaucho, Jul 10, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    OK... here is a question for the aviation techies.....

    How is it possible for Fog to still close an airport in this day and age... I know that EZE isn't the best (by far) in terms of technology, but I thought that EZE had sufficient rating and equipment to operate under zero visibility or....?

    Or is it that I am failing to remember that for zero visibility you not only need the airport to have the right hardware, but also the aircraft have to have the right equipment....?

    What say the aviation techies.....?

    PS: Im asking this because I arrived today at EZE at 0500hs only to find out that the airport is friggen; closed since 0000hs yesterday due to intense fog...... doesn't ILS allow aircraft to land with zero visibility....???????
     
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  2. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    Landing in ZERO visibility requires special aircrew, aircraft and airport certification. To the best of my knowledge EZE doesn't have CAT IIIB equipment, which would be required for landing in near zero visibility(Visibility rarely ever gets to actual zero) . Best approaches I could find were CAT IIIA(RVR 200m and Vertical Visibility 50-100ft) and even then one tiny bit of equipment not working properly could preclude that approach from being available.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrument_landing_system#ILS_categories

    I can go more in depth if you would like but it gets a bit technical(boring)

    Not boring
     
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  3. ceieoc

    ceieoc Silver Member

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    Even if you had CAT III avionics, you require a 200 foot ceiling minimum (see links below) so you can see if there is any livestock or other vehicles on your runway. While you are waiting for the vis to improve, you can read a free copy of the pilot's guide to avionics. If you have a US address, you can request a free copy to be mailed to you.
    http://www.aeapilotsguide.net/default.asp
    http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Notice/N8900.117.pdf
     
  4. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    That is actually RVR (runway visual range) rather than ceiling. Thus it is horizontal rather than vertical, just as boondr showed.

    EZE has Cat IIIa, which is all it really needs, but nearly all the aircraft and crews equipped to sue it are longhaul aircraft, and many of them are not consistently staffed with flight crews who have the mandated certification and recency of experience. It is very expensive to maintain the aircrew training, and aircraft maintenance, so TAM Argentina, for example, has no narrowbodies so equipped and with crew certification IIRC. The aircrew training is for each specific approach, so it is really expensive.

    To add to the insult Europe A320's have Cat III at CDG, LHR and several otehr European airports that are routinely plagued with poor visibility. South America has few such approaches, partly because of the infrastructure deficiencies and partly because of the rarity of weather conditions that require Cat III. If you're really anal about it you can also view all the approach charts for your favorite airports and view the requirements also. Someplace I have seen the financial costs for airplane and crew certification for Cat II, IIIa and IIIb. There is also Cat IIIc, which is zero-zero, but none of them actually exist because they require totally electronic guidance to the parking stand and no airport/airline has so far been prepared to pay the price.
     
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  5. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    The 200 ft number is a FAA supplemental requirement, only applying where they have jurisdiction.


    By ICAO standards CAT II and CAT III A/B/C all allow less than 200 ft ceiling/vertical visibility(Through a Decision Height value; 100 for II, 50-100 for III A, and 0 for III B/C)
     
  6. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    He is correct for airports where the FAA has authority, the link he provided shows an amendment they made awhile back requiring a minimum DH of 200ft airports with "One useable authorized Category III ILS
    IAP"

    I am not positive but I believe that requirement goes away if they have MORE than one usable Cat III approach, because I think it is a safety precaution to avoid shooting multiple approaches to extreme mins on a Cat III , 50 or 0 etc.

    Most air carriers use the RVR values as the determining factor because VV is almost always 100+.
     
  7. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    :oops: Thanks. I should not allow myself to be out of date. Some airline ops specs prohibit a repeat try of a precision approach (even cat I) following a missed approach due to weather conditions. That was written into the ops specs for the only ops manual I have available now, a part 135 carrier. It seems logical that a different approach might be used rather than the same one, but there cannot be very many situations in which airport, aircraft and crew are all simultaneously legal for multiple Cat III approaches to the same airport.
     
  8. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    Even with the latest equipment and trained pilots- fog can result in tragic cases such as the Milano case at Linate in 2001:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linate_Airport_disaster

    I think a lot of the problems in fog actually occur once the aircraft is on the ground.
     
  9. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    Tenerife was fog as well.

    This incident at PVD was an almost accident in extreme fog that was saved due to a pilot who decided to break the chain of errors himself. Scary to think how close it came to being another Tenerife.
     
  10. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I am positive you're correct. RVR of 200 is not much, and when visibility is that poor there are usually waves of fog even worse. I have distasteful memories of a landing I made to KIN in which the visibility and ceiling were fine for landing, but i had a solid wall of fog and zero visibility on runway turnoff. Luckily the tower had working ground radar and gave me precise taxi instructions to the parking stand. Frankly I was fearful. Taht is only only time anything quite that had happened to me. It would have been very easy to have had an incident/accident during taxi that day. That was almost 20 years ago.
     
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  11. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    The Tenerife accident was instrumental in changing terminology for pilots (e.g. the word 'cleared' was prohibited except for 'cleared for take off'). I worked with a close relative of the KLM Captain for some time. By coincidence both the PanAm crew and the KLM crew had been involved in service entry for the B747. Astounding that even the fog should not have caused a problem, but complacency and lack of clarification did. Complacency in the face of long uneventful routines seems always to be a factor, does it not?
     
  12. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    That incident @ PVD is one that enforces the need to suppress the "Expectation Bias" human factor in all my duties as an ATC, watching it scares the hell out of me. That along with the whole Honey/Vinegar proverb, attitude plays a large part in the pilot/ATC interaction during high risk operation (low vis).
     
  13. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    The FAA has an expert on human factors that did a presentation for us awhile back. It is fascinating how the human mind works in a method that is both brilliant and dangerous at the same time. Tenerife was the beginning of the CRM movement away from the "Captain is God" mentality.

    I suspect the SFO accident summary will at least address the CRM environment in the cockpit or lack there of.
     
  14. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Most pilots seem not to acknowledge how many times ATC has saved them from disasters. From my first cross-country solo flight until my most recent flight I have appreciated how much help controllers are. The controllers who are also pilots themselves are even more helpful. OTOH, it seems so often taht the 'severe clear' days are the ones when ordinary caution sometimes fails. In low visibility/windy conditions nobody seems to be complacent. Both make me feel cautious.
    IIRC "there are old pilots; there are bold pilots; there aren't old, bold pilots"
     
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  15. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    Brilliant!
     
  16. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    That is a charming expression which I had not heard before. What does it mean?
     
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  17. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    That is actually a regulatory term. For each type of operation there are defined minimum standards for how much recent experience is required. National aviation agencies differ slightly in their requirements but nearly all are very closely aligned with one another.
     
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  18. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    Thanks to all for some great information. So to sum up my conclusions (please feel free to correct me if I am mistaken)... in my specific case, I would have to say that the culprit for me not being able to make my flight was the fact that TAM does not have flight crews trained and certified for a low visibility landing at EZE. Since EZE does have a category IIIa, then had I booked my flights with an airline staffed with properly certified pilots, I could have made my flights....

    Interesting angle to play here... since when I arrived at EZE, the TAM check in staff told me that the airport was closed.... ie. they blamed the IRROPS on the airport and the weather. Next time, with the information here, Im going to question this and ask if the pilots on the plane that did not land and had to divert to MVD was certified for a low visibility landing/approach at EZE....

    On a further note... I wonder if one could use this information in a consumer claim against an airline if things got ugly... ie. if the IRROPS caused you some massive disruption to your travel plans.....

    Further question.... is there a grey area in that even if TAM had a flight crew that was trained and certified, is there a certain level of Fog that could in theory close an airport even for the most qualified of crews and a very modern piece of equipment...???

    Many thanks to all....
     
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  19. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    Honestly there is no way to tell. Something as small as a specialty light bulb that needs replacement and is back ordered could take away that CAT IIA certification from the airport and the airport could be "closed for all" by default.

    Also I am not completely sure of Argentinean rules and procedures, maybe they run a different system than the US.
    IME the airports don't "close" as much as they enter a period of no activity due to the weather and the weather rarely is stagnant in those situations.
     
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  20. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I'm sure that is true. Also linguistic differences make terminology for consumers different too. I hear those differences in weather delays between English and Portuguese, but they are not usually of much consequence.

    Most equipment operating into Cat II and Cat III equipped facilities are not equipped themselves and most aircrews aren't either. With the exception of places that are perineal low weather locations that is, IME, usually the case.

    I'd be very surprised if they would be any actionable cause anywhere based on weather delays, with or without any specific approach type or availability.
     
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  21. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    Thanks Guys... appreciate your insights... :cool:
     
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