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By bazthehat
#1174738
Coming back to home airfield which has A/G radio only, 4 POB. Join the circuit downwind, listening out and hearing no-one else in the circuit (I'd been in radio contact since about 10 miles out). There's a fair crosswind component so the turn from base to final gets delayed slightly to allow for the wind. Just as I'm about to make the turn onto final, about 500ft AGL and about 1nm from the runway, I hear another aircraft call, "G-XXXX, final runway NN".

This is the first I even knew there was another plane around. I scan ahead and cannot see him anywhere in front of me or out to the extended centre line of the runway. To complicate matters, parachutists are falling down over the live side of the runway and there is a very active gliding site just inside the ATZ on the dead side.

Now, I'm a very low-hours PPL (about 60 hours) and this is certainly nothing I'd expected. Had it happened whilst I was early on base or downwind, then fine, extend downwind and get behind the other aircraft. If I was already established on final then fine again, I could call him and check if he could see me. But just as you're turning onto final it get's pretty scary.

I figured that I couldn't risk going onto final and have him run into the back of me. I also didn't want to get onto final and then ask if he could see me, as the next answer could be a loud crunch from behind. I also figured that I couldn't go around on the live side (parachutists) or dead side (gliders).

So I extended the base leg to get me past the extended centre line and buy me more time. Once well clear of the extended centre line, I turned away from the runway to give me a chance to (a) spot the plane on final and (b) re-position to rejoin the circuit, all the while making my intentions clear on the radio.

And this is where I feel I made the biggest mistake. Once I was outside the ATZ, traveling along the deadside of the runway but with the runway behind me, I had a good scan and still couldn't see the plane. I therefore made the assumption that he'd gone past me. I turned to re-position for a base join and am greeted by the aircraft wobbling about on his approach a few hundred feet above me. I was already well outside the ATZ by this point, so God only knows how far away he was when he called final, but it scared the bejeesus out of me.

I called immediately on the radio that I think I was involved in an Airprox with the plane on final, figuring that I'll now re-join the circuit, land, and try to find out who that was and discuss the matter politely. Must admit, quite proud of the fact that I managed to calmly re-join and make a good landing in the crosswind too. So I was quite peeved to find that no-one on the ground had heard my call and I can only assume that the landing pilot also hadn't noticed me or my call at all.

So, in the warm comfort of wherever-you're-sitting-reading-this, what do you think would have been the best option in this case?
By steejk
#1174772
After looking and not seeing the aircraft on final in either direction I would have carried on and turned onto to final as usual and made a call.

If you're still not comfortable then you can go-around. At least if you're flying the correct circuit the other aircraft will be more likely to see you as that's where they will expect any traffic to be.

I am a fairly new PPL too though so it's just my opinion!
By James Chan
#1174773
Besides keeping a good lookout, I would have also done the following to improve situational awareness:

1) Get a Traffic Service from your nearest LARS unit when en-route. When they see you approaching your destination aerodrome, they are quite helpful to inform whether there is traffic ahead / in the circuit just before they ask you to change frequency.

2) After switching to the aerodrome frequency, make radio calls in the standard places:
a) A few miles out to pass your message and get airfield infomation - you might also be informed again about the number of known traffic in the circuit at this point, but then again you might not.
b) then when overhead (if OHJ is used),
c) then downwind,
d) base (if needed),
e) and final

During my PPL skills test several years ago, my examiner pointed out my mistake of just listening into the frequency and assuming nobody was there.

If someone else suddenly says they're on final over the radio and I still don't see them, I would transmit "negative contact", and hopefully the pilot of the other aircraft would have then seen you ahead of them to avoid you. Maybe also check the blind spots as well.

3) Ensure mode-C/ALT is selected on the transponder at all times - especially if your aerodrome is being used by jets.
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By leiafee
#1174794
I would certainly have called that I was turning/ about to turn final and stated I was not visual with the one ahead. If he was miles out that might have prompted him to speak up with a bit more detail on distance or at least have a good look for you.

If I still didn't know whether he was in front or behind me I think the best option might have been a go around. Go round from early on final wouldn't be likely to cause a conflict.

There must be a go-around procedure for that airfield, all other action not withstanding, perhaps a better familiarity of that would have helped too in giving you another option?
By johnm
#1174822
eltonioni wrote:I'd have just asked him where he was first.



+1

Say something like " G-XX late left base runway NN G-YY state your position please"

Then start looking everywhere and doing S turns to see clearly above and below.

You were following the proper circuit procedure and if you were that close and he called final he should have been ahead of you if he was following procedure too, which of course he must under the rules of the air. :roll:

The risk is sometimes that a faster aircraft will need a wider circuit but he ought to be at the prescribed altitude and follow the pattern for his aircraft type.
By bazthehat
#1174977
Thanks guys for the great responses! I felt a bit exposed putting this all on the forum, so it's nice to have a natter about it rather than being flamed. :)

steejk wrote:After looking and not seeing the aircraft on final in either direction I would have carried on and turned onto to final as usual and made a call.


I did wonder that, but not knowing where he was meant that he could have been miles out, or he could have been right into me. As I was near as dammit already on the extended centre line, I figured discretion was the better part of valour and decided to get out of the way rather than hope.

@James Chan - great set of rules, and quite proud of the fact that I did all of those things. The only one I didn't do was talk to the other aircraft, which in hindsight I really, really should have done.

leiafee wrote:I would certainly have called that I was turning/ about to turn final and stated I was not visual with the one ahead. If he was miles out that might have prompted him to speak up with a bit more detail on distance or at least have a good look for you.

If I still didn't know whether he was in front or behind me I think the best option might have been a go around. Go round from early on final wouldn't be likely to cause a conflict.


I think you might be spot on there. I could have gone around at circuit height directly over the runway line or just on the dead side, but in the split second when I made my decision the thought of accidentally mowing into parachutists made me think twice.

johnm wrote:You were following the proper circuit procedure and if you were that close and he called final he should have been ahead of you if he was following procedure too, which of course he must under the rules of the air. :roll:


I'm pretty sure this chap wasn't following procedure. He was a Cessna 152/172 who, in my reckoning, made his first call (that I heard in the 5-10 minutes of being on frequency) of final around 3-4 nm from the runway. Now, yes, I know, that is the strict definition of "final". But this particular airfield states in its various guides that joins are made on base or downwind, and they actively discourage straight final approaches.

Ultimately I think the other chap could have been more communicative about where he was, but likewise, I could have been more communicative about where he was too.

Thank you all again!
By James Chan
#1175010
made his first call (that I heard in the 5-10 minutes of being on frequency) of final around 3-4 nm from the runway


Did the A/G aerodrome have an ATZ? If so did he obtain aerodrome information prior to entering it? If not, he would probably be another airspace infringer: 138 recorded incidents so far up to Apr 2013.

He would have also needed to give way to traffic already established in the circuit.
By bazthehat
#1175041
I didn't hear him contact A/G whilst I was on station, but I did wonder if he was a solo student flying off on a quick sortie and returning to the airfield having not left the frequency. It would explain a lot of things.

And yes there is an ATZ.
By bazthehat
#1175220
Keef wrote:4 miles is "long final", innit?

4-8 miles as I recall...

I've only just noticed that I can see my flight log on Sky Demon (I've been trying out the ipad version) and it clearly shows me outside the ATZ by about 1 nm at the point where I saw him. It also shows it would've taken me about 2 minutes from hearing his call and meeting him. Which by my rough maths places him at about 6-7 Nm out when he called final...

But I stress that was only one side of the problem, the other being I should've confirmed his position when I was safely out of the way.
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By Gertie
#1175423
Agree with the radio call with "negative contact" and saying where you were, then go-around if still unhappy. If you can't go-around parallel to the runway on the dead side I would assume, if I hadn't read up on the procedure (which would be the preferred option), that the go-around would be overhead the runway.
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By PeteSpencer
#1175906
First thing I would do (while scanning the skies outside) is to announce my position as accurately as possible using GPS data: 'G-XXXX one mile final'

Followed immediately by ' G-YYYY state your position, G-XXXX)

Following action depends on reply from G-YYYY and his stated position relative to you.

If no visual contact then go-around, moving smartly to the right hand side of the runway centreline so you don't climb up into him if he's near you.

Interesting that your airfield 'allows' landings while canopies in the air:

OK, I know it's only A/G but local rules often allow A/G to issue instructions (e.g. Old Buckenham local rules used to require you to call for engine start when parachuting was in progress)

If no local rules re parachuting at your airfield, perhaps you should have waited till all canopies were down before beginning your approach......

Peter
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By Sir Morley Steven
#1176854
I'm a bit confused. Are you saying this abbreviated call sign final call was the first call you heard? Are you absolutely sure?
I know nothing of your local procedures but if there was both active parachuting and gliding taking place I would think any regular user would be briefed on making proper RT calls.
Did you get to speak to the pilot? It's vital that you do as if it happened as you describe it, procedures at that airfield need to be changed (or the other pilot needs further training)
By Dominie
#1176863
Once when I was a student we had just finished pre take-off actions and were just about to call entering the runway when someone called (A/G) that they were on final. There wasn't a great view of the approach and we couldn't see him, so we waited .... and waited.... and about three minutes later a gyrocopter landed! Given that they do something like 42 kt flat out, he was probably about 2 miles out when he called, but it was pretty unhelpful, to say the least.