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4 Answers

A Bunch of Questions

Asked by: 3784 views Commercial Pilot, General Aviation

  • What’s the difference between DA & MDA?
  • What do you do when you lose visual reference while circling?
  • What are the four stages of flight?
  • How is performance & t/o distance affected?
  • A radio failure occurs en-route e.g., to Entebbe, what do you do?

4 Answers

  1. Jason Schappert on Oct 22, 2010

    I’ll take the first two IFR related questions…

    What’s the difference between DA & MDA?

    DA is a decision height. At that altitude you MUST make the decision to either land or go-around depending on if you have the needed visual references in sight. And MDA is a minimum descent altitude. You’ll find this on a non-precision approach. This altitude you descend to and hold until reaching the missed approach point.

    What do you do when you lose visual reference while circling?

    GO AROUND!!!

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  2. Kent Shook on Oct 22, 2010

    Jason got the first one, I’ll take a crack at the rest.

    2) Visual reference when circling – Yes, go around – Or in this case, go missed. That might not be so easy when you’re circling, especially if you’ve turned significantly and can’t get onto the missed approach procedure for the particular approach you’re on.

    If you’re still in a position where you can pick up the relevant nav signals for the missed approach, and turn to the proper heading to stay on them, do that.

    It’s best to never get yourself into a situation where you’re circling and can’t either maintain visual contact with the runway or get yourself back to the published missed approach procedure – I’d suggest that a straight-in approach with a tailwind landing is a far better option than a circling approach whose outcome is in doubt.

    However, if you find yourself in that situation, the first thing to do is climb for all you’re worth – A Vy or even Vx climb as appropriate, and find your way back to the missed approach procedure if possible.

    If you absolutely cannot get back to the missed approach procedure, keep climbing and utilizing whatever navigation signals you can to keep situational awareness. Then, there are a few additional bits of information that can help you determine the best course of action. First of all, take note of the MSA on the approach plate. If it’s in quadrants, take note of which quadrant has the lowest MSA. Also, if you’re able, look at the obstacle departure procedure for the airport, as that can help you stay away from terrain and obstacles. Finally, if you’re within radio contact, call up ATC. This is absolutely an emergency situation, so make the mayday call! If you’re still in radar contact, they may be able to vector you out of harm’s way as well.

    But seriously, even typing this scares the crap out of me – So please avoid getting into that situation to begin with.

    This got kinda long, so I’ll address the rest in a different post.

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  3. Kent Shook on Oct 22, 2010


    3) What are the four stages of flight?
    4) How is performance & t/o distance affected?
    5) A radio failure occurs en-route e.g., to Entebbe, what do you do?

    3) I’ve never heard of the “four stages of flight.” I would separate it into five myself – Takeoff & departure, Climb, Cruise, Descent, Approach & Landing. Split the takeoff and landing, it’d be seven stages. Count taxi, it’d be 9. But I can’t think of four. This sounds like some sort of quiz, so you’ll have to figure out what your particular instructor is looking for.

    If you mean the four *forces* of flight – Lift, Weight, Thrust, and Drag. (Or, if you’re looking for humor – Dreams, Reality, Money, and the FAA can substitute. 😉

    4) Affected by what? Takeoff performance can be affected by many factors – Higher density altitude, lower headwind (or higher tailwind), rougher surfaces, an uphill-sloped runway, higher aircraft weight, and an engine/prop that’s not producing full rated power will all increase takeoff distance. Climb performance is affected by all of those factors except the runway surface and slope, as well. Cruise performance can be lessened by higher density altitude, higher headwind (though this only affects groundspeed), higher aircraft weight, forward center of gravity, and engine/prop performance.

    Note that these are just the things I’m pulling off the top of my head, so don’t take this as a comprehensive list. 

    5) If you’re going to Entebbe (Uganda), you should probably do what they expect you to do in Uganda. If you were in the US, VFR you’re generally expected to simply remain outside any radio-required airspace if you can, or if you’re already inside their airspace and they know you’re coming in to land, squawk 7600 and look for light signals from the tower. If you’re IFR, your lateral route should be as “cleared-expected-filed.” If they’ve given you a full-route clearance, fly that. If not, do what they told you to expect, at the time they told you to expect it. If they didn’t give you a full-route clearance and didn’t tell you what to expect, revert to your filed flight plan. For altitudes, it’s similar – Always maintain the cleared altitude; if unable maintain the expected altitude at the expected time; and always maintain no lower than the minimum safe altitude for your route of flight (could be MEA, OROCA, or others). For additional details, see FAR 91.185.

    But again, this is all based on the rules in the United States, and Uganda may be different – If there are applicable Uganda flight regulations those would be controlling, otherwise the ICAO rules would be a good source.


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  4. M Gallagher on Nov 22, 2010

    You MUST follow ICAO procedures as they are different from those we use in the USA. The general rule for Radio Failure is that you continue “as cleared or filed”, switching to VMC and landing only if an additional emergency exsists. This rule may be modified by exceptions published by the respective authorities of the arispace you fly in and thus you as the pilot in command have to check the exceptions portion of the ICAO manual.
    As to “stages” of flight, perhaps you mean Straight and level, Climb, Descent, and Turning.

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