Thursday 20 June 2013 02:32 UTC
This forum is for anything to do with light aviation
I have recently been debating the following scenario from a legal perspective rather than from what is safe or sensible.
The scenario is an unlicensed airfield with no published or approved approach procedure. The area to the North, East and West is all very flat and no more than say 300 feet above the airfield level. There is one hill 4 NM to the South which is 1800 feet above airfield level. You are returning to the airfield at 3,000 in IMC with a cloud base which is 2,000 feet above the height of the airfield.
Section 33 of the Rules of the Air regulations 2007 state the following for IFR rules :-
33.—(1) Subject to paragraphs (2) and (3), an aircraft shall not fly at a height of less than 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a distance of 5 nautical miles of the aircraft unless—
(a)it is necessary for the aircraft to do so in order to take off or land; .
(b)the aircraft flies on a route notified for the purposes of this rule; .
(c)the aircraft has been otherwise authorised by the competent authority in relation to the area over which the aircraft is flying; or .
(d)the aircraft flies at an altitude not exceeding 3,000 feet above mean sea level and remains clear of cloud and with the surface in sight and in a flight visibility of at least 800 metres. .
(2) The aircraft shall comply with rule 5.
(3) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to a helicopter that is air-taxiing or conducting manoeuvres in accordance with rule 6(i).
Now the question is that some people say you can not let down due to the 1,000 feet and 5 nautical mile rule on a non published procedure whereas others say you can due to 33 (a).
Anyone know the correct answer and where it can be referenced ?
It is a matter of endless debate and the fact of the matter is that it has never been properly tested in court.
My view is that you are relieved of the minimum height rule because you are descending to land (assuming that PT rules don't apply) and that if the CAA wants to get you, it would have to be on Reckless Endangerment, rather than the IFR.
The tradition on this one is "least said, soonest mended" and you might want to bear that in mind before pressing for a definitive answer.
I, for one, would like the legislation to remain exactly as is.
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I agree with the above.
DIY approaches are not illegal in a G-reg, in UK airspace.
In an N-reg, FAR 91.175 appears to make them illegal, worldwide.
Personally I would use lots of due diligence doing this kind of stuff and that includes a GPS moving map showing the actual terrain Better still, position yourself (reliably) over the sea and descend out there.
It is also 100% legit to descend to the MSA (at any time) so this equates to a DIY IAP with a 1000ft MDH, and nobody can pick you up on that.
If you wanted a legal perspective and lots of references, then Jim Thorpe has written about exactly this situation in Instrument Pilot Nr.84 (March/April 2011) of PPL/IR (search their website, believe it's old enough to be downloadable for non-members). My reading of his treatise (and acknowledging my own ignorance of finer detail!) is that:
- yes, unlike most other countries, a DYI approach is legal in a G-reg in the UK
- unfortunately, the rules that (in Jim's view) still apply cause your MDA to be much more around 1000-2000ft, nowhere near the 200-350ft on a normal IAP
- so this seems of little help in those situations where you'd want a DIY IAP, i.e., go below 1000ft
A lot seems to turn around a phrase in the rules that allows lower flying only "in accord with normal aviation practice". Sounds simple, but this is likely to have very different legal interpretations at the flying club bar (where of course everybody does it, "totally normal") compared to a court of law where a non-aviation jury has to decide on a criminal charge against you if things have gone wrong. Jim's article has an example of the latter (and yes, it went against the pilot, so this is not just philosophy).
I now fly increasingly IFR back from the Continent to Fairoaks, and given the above a let down via one of Farnborough/Biggin/Shoreham is my final backstop if it all goes pear-shaped.
Whereas I would consider a straight in approach to 06 at Fairoaks using GPS OBS in, um, marginal VMC one of the safer things to do, and considerably safer than 20 at Shoreham or ILS at Farnborough and scud running.
In my view, incidentally, doing the safest thing trumps doing the most legal thing.
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Especially if you survive it
All roads roam to Leeds.
>>> "In my view, incidentally, doing the safest thing trumps doing the most legal thing."
Hard to disagree with when pushed into the corner, but the OP's question was legality not safety. In fact when cloud base prevents scud run/bad weather VFR approach and no IAP then the safest thing may be to divert (perfectly legal, just hurt ego).
>>> "Especially if you survive it"
I guess that's the crux of the OP's situation. If everything goes well, you break cloud at 2000ft at the right place and it's a perfectly fine VFR landing, then I seriously doubt there will ever be a crowd of CAA enforcement officers waiting to ask you how you got around the mountain sticking into your 1000ft ground clearance within 5nm. OTOH, should you make a serious navigation error (IAP accident reports are full of those, e.g., Egelsbach), clouds happen to be 200ft lower, and we now have lots of small metal parts scattered on said mountain, then what? You would have to prove that this was "normal aviation practice". And how many of the local pilots will admit in a court of law they have regularly flown this way, knowing full well that if judge/jury disagree in the end for whatever reason, they have just publicly admitted the some offense? "Legal" also means you have be able to prove it ...
Back to Timothy's initial point, I guess that's one of the reasons why the rules have a bit of an undefined term ("normal practice") giving us as pilots some freedom of judgement, and we'd better use it wisely.
PS: IIRC, for all these reasons, Jim's article ended with a plea for more (GPS-based) approaches to small airfields to avoid these DIY workarounds and the grey areas around them.
Bookie's point, in case he is being too subtle, is that the IFR refer to "for the purpose of landing", which lets you descend below SSA, whereas only Rule 5, which takes you below 500', refers to "normal aviation practice."
My rule of thumb is "if you know what you are doing, do it, if you don't, don't" and you are very unlikely to get a full briefing, to the point that you know what you are doing, on a forum such as this.
I am available for mentoring.
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Lufty's question is impossible to answer due to one simple oversight.
He has not given airfield elevation.
Assorted info on obstacles related to airfield elevation, then an aircraft altitude.
If the airfield is at MSL this could give a different answer than if airfield is 2,000 AMSL.
There are two ways to argue with a woman.
Neither of them work!
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