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Guatemala City, anyone?

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Live from Caracas
May 26, 2004
The last 2 weeks into MGGT have been a nightmare; dangerous and bizarre. The runway (19 and 01) is shaped like a roller coaster and has poor braking when wet. ILS to 01 (ceiling required) and a VOR to 19 (again ceiling required). Rising terrain all quadrants and you must have your act together with IFR and appch procedures down there.

In good weather, Guatemala City is kind of fun... there is a semi-active volcano nearby that can make night landings spectacular. The people are poor but really nice. Overall, a good trip.

For two weeks now, rains and low temp/DP spreads have been the norm. That's fine, but here's what happens EVERY TIME.

Enroute, update WX. The weather is ALWAYS, and I'm not kidding, 1200 scattered via ACARS. As you leave Cenamer and are handed over to MGGT apch, the "secret", non-ACARS wx is announced:

MGGT: "300 bkn, 1000 meters, mist, fog, RW, winds 180 at 7. Expect VOR approach to 19".

US: WTF? The mins for the VOR are 500 ft ceiling. "Unable VOR, request ILS to 01."

MGGT: "Er, TACA and AVIANCA have landed 19 no problems. WX now 800 scattered. Proceed direct KATAS, cleared VOR RW 19."

We brief, set up, and execute the VOR. Enter thick goo at the MDA, driving rains and turbulence. Miss the approach. As we call the miss, MGGT tries to vector us into rising terrain, all the while berating us for not landing. He points out once again that 'TACA 192 landed 5 minutes ago'. After flailing with the FMC we execute the ILS to 01 and barely get in.

OK, having this happen once is possible, but I've been into MGGT 5 times in two weeks and it's the same crap. MGGT WX below VOR mins, the appch controller claims all the local boys are making it in, and we end up holding for traffic while guys land 19.

I KNOW those TACA's and props are busting mins to land. And I'm getting sick of the WX lies. Has anyone else been into MGGT lately, and have your experiences been similar? I'm getting gun shy, and I go out again tomorrow.

:puke: [MGGT]
been there done that, you will also enjoy MHTG approach over the mountains or the NDB into SPHO

be careful dude
Oh well, I was hoping maybe some of the Continental boys might have some insight. We'll see what happens today. Guatemala is still recieving rains from the storm. It wouldn't be so bad if ATC and the weather guessers wouldn't both lie and encourage illegal approaches.

Hopefully I'll be drinking a Gallo tonite! Cheers!
Lost a couple of friends in a Lear 24 in 1987 into that volcano on the DME arc. Be Careful...
The weather broke... All we had to deal with last night was a solid, punchy line of thunderstorms over the IAF for the VOR approach. Winds were calm. By the time we picked through the line, the VOR approach was toast, so we climbed above the MORA, asked for ILS 01, and teardropped from over the VOR. Landed well and was drinking the Gallo dark (GREAT beer) in an hour.

Thanks for letting me ventilate, I've never seen such a long-lasting, malevolent weather pattern in my life. I think what was happening was that the mountains were breaking up the weather... as the warm, moist air pushed into the area and was driven upslope, the Temp/Dewpoint met in patches, causing walls of low vis and rain, followed closely by an area of clearer air. So the wx over the field alternated dog crap and OK in a matter of minutes; repeat for weeks. I think the ACARS wx was simply an average.

Know your grid MORAs and honor them if you depart a published routing. Central and South American mountains at night are flat-out scary. :eek:

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