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Base 2 Final - Jet

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Well-known member
Jun 3, 2002
I was wondering if some of the more experienced jet pilots can helped me out. I'm pretty new on the jet, I've got a few hundred hours now. Most of the time, I've never had trouble turning base to final on course. However, there are 2 situations where I have been overshooting the final course. First, I've flown to a few airports where the ILS has been OTS and had to do a visual approach. On base, I might get a 20 kt tailwind. The base turn to final is at a distance greater than 10 NM or so. So, it's really difficult to see the final approach course visually. Also, the left turn to final compounds the problem because the captain blocks the view of the runway. This is a lot greater problem in a jet where the cockpit is bigger than in a light twin or GA plane. Second scenario is at small Class C or D airports. Sometimes, the controllers aren't as experienced and try to keep you fast and "slam" you into the approach. Instead of a downwind-base-final, they'll almost give you a 180 to the final. Well, sometimes, when you're doing that turn, even with a 30 deg. bank, you recognize that you're overshooting final but it's to late. Any suggestions?
a base to final turn at 10nm?
what kind of jet IS this!?

Really, its a matter of judgement. I would do some pattern work in real close. Once you get that you will have no problem further out.

If you are so far out you don't have the airport visually yet, I don't think you can say you are in the pattern, turning base or final Just head to the airport and then join the pattern as normal.
Well, if you have an FMS in your jet, you can pull up a VFR final approach course. That will give you an extended centerline out to 10nm.

Turning left to final will be a problem forever. Just ask the captain how you are looking on your turn and your descent. Don't feel bad about overshooting a little. Even the pros do it sometimes!
If you can't see the field well enough to judge where you are without a LOC or other approach guidance to assist you, you shouldn't be visual. But all is not lost.

What kind of jet are you flying? If you are forced to fly that far out, use all your available resources. Use the Captain's eyes, use some other approach guidance (NDB, VOR) as a backup to the visual. As you gain more experience you will find less need to fly a strictly defined base to final at 10 miles. You will feel more comfortable with close-in turns off of downwind and doglegs to final as the situation permits. In other words, you shouldn't need to fly a 10-mile final all the time, and shouldn't fly that far out if you're cleared for a visual unless you just have too much energy and can't get it down sooner.

Always solicit feedback from the Captain once you're on the ground if they haven't given it already. You can usually tell if they were uncomfortable with what you did or have better ideas. Go to school on them while they are flying and you will catch on fairly quickly.

Most of all, have fun up there.
your_dreamguy said:
I was wondering if some of the more experienced jet pilots can helped me out. I'm pretty new on the jet, I've got a few hundred hours now. Most of the time, I've never had trouble turning base to final on course. However, there are 2 situations where I have been overshooting the final course...Any suggestions?
Yea, stay the hell off of Taxi Way Charlie at Sea-Tac.

SEA03IA046On March 14, 2003, at 1620 Pacific standard time, an American Airlines DC-9-82, N298AA, landed on Taxiway Charlie at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Seattle, Washington. There were no injuries to the flight crew, the cabin crew, or any of the 105 passengers. The aircraft, which is owned and operated by American Airlines, Inc., was not damaged. All occupants exited the aircraft at the passenger terminal using normal means. The 14 CFR Part 121 scheduled domestic passenger flight, which departed Dallas-Fort Worth Airport at 1435 central standard time, was being operated in visual meteorological conditions at the time of the incident.

At the time the aircraft arrived in the area adjacent to Mount Rainer, the Bay Visual Approach was in effect, and according to American Airlines, during his pre-landing flight crew briefing, the Captain stated that he intended to execute the visual approach backed up by the ILS to Runway 16 Right. Because there was a ceiling over the final approach course, while the flight was tracking to the north on the east side of the airport, they were advised by the approach controller to expect the ILS to Runway 16 Right. The flight was then vectored to a 15 mile final and cleared for the ILS approach. About four to five miles from the end of the runway, at about 3,500 feet above the ground (AGL), the flight crew passed through the cloud deck, made visual contact with the runway environment, and transitioned to visual navigation. According to the information collected from the flight data recorder immediately after the event, the aircraft started a constant-rate deviation to the right of the localize approximately the same time as the aircraft passed 3,500 feet AGL. This deviation was the result of the flight crew maintaining a heading between 153 degrees and 156 degrees magnetic, which was taking them directly to the "approach end" of Taxiway Charlie. Neither the Captain nor the First Officer were aware they were lined up on the taxiway, and they did not know they had landed on the taxiway until advised by the tower. A rain shower had recently moved through the area, and although there was an overcast over the center and north end of the airport, south of the field rays of sunlight were shining through holes in the clouds, resulting in a glare from the wet paved surfaces.

During the investigation it was determined that during the four years prior to this event, there had been one other reported landing on Taxiway Charlie, and two reported instances where flight crews had lined up on the taxiway, but on short final had either executed a go-around or sidestepped to Runway 16 right. In May of 2000, the airport installed an "X" (about 12 feet across) about 150 feet off the north end of Taxiway Charlie, but the subject crew did not detect it on this approach. It was also noted that since January of 2001, there has been an entry in the United States Government Airport Facility Directory stating, "Do not mistake Txy C for a landing surface."
THe most important thing you can do to help yourself is slow down. Certainly ATC would often prefer that you keep your speed up to accomodate traffic behind you, but your mission is what's in front of you, not behind, and when you're approaching to land, early planning and management is even more important in a turbojet airplane...start powering back earlier, and more, and get slower, sooner.

If you have an FMS on board, a PVOR (psuedo VOR) setup will allow you to view whatever type display or moving map you have, and have some orientation that way. You should always back up your approach with the FMS or other nav equipment. You can always enter the approach in the box even if it's not operational on the ground, and it's there to help keep you oriented. If you don't have additional equipment such as a GPS unit or FMS, mentally fix the airport, and stay oriented to it as you approach.

Communication in the cockpit is important. If you're in the right seat and the airport is on the left, have the captain point to it, or have him keep turning your heading bug to show where the airport is. This little bit of CRM helps you stay oriented; use the person in the other seat to either physically point to the runway to show you the orientation in the cockpit, or move the heading bug to show the orientation on your DG/HSI/EHSI, etc, and you'll have a running idea where it constantly is in relation to you.

If you're approaching on a downwind to land and can't see the runway, the other crewmember should be talking, telling you when you're abeam, when you can turn, etc. Use you crew, and your CRM. If you're flying as First Officer and the captain is sitting there like a log, either CRM has broken down, or you're not utilizing him to your full benefit when you fly.
Know where the wind is not just the surface wind. I'll bet ya 90% of your overshoot prob is a 15-20 kts tail wind turning base that turns into a left cross wind turning final.

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