Discuss the problems and solutions to all of the situations that Pilot X finds himself in.
By Echo Delta
My turn in paradise

Pilot X lands successfully on the narrow dirt strip, but then finds his single-engine, low-wing turboprop facing 90° across the runway − and he’s short of ideas as well as space! By Richard Boswell

X flew over the strip and banked the Pilatus PC-12 to get a good look at the dirt runway. The strip was clear of animals and it certainly seemed long enough, but it did appear ridiculously narrow. Well, at least there were open grass areas each side.
Other company pilots had all said the same thing about this dirt strip on the East African holiday island paradise − where the cheapest room was £1,000 a night − the runway is exceptionally bumpy and full of stones! X was nervous; they were Cessna Caravan pilots, their aircraft wheels modified for rough strips.
There had been much debate about whether the charter company’s PC-12 should be used for this flight − it simply didn’t have the rugged undercarriage of the Caravan. But it did the trip in half the time, and the client who wanted to be collected from this expensive paradise was wealthy and persistent − he didn’t want to spend two hours in a sweaty, unpressurised aircraft when he could do the same trip in less than an hour in quiet, pressurised comfort while sipping
a gin and tonic.
As X turned downwind, he saw the beach lodges facing the beautiful white sand by the azure sea. He lowered the gear and looked for three greens as the wheels locked into position. He selected first stage of flap and used the electric trimmer to lighten the load on the controls. He glanced across at the strip, it was definitely long enough but it still looked narrow. X had many thousands of hours bush flying, mostly in Cessna 206s and Caravans and knew that you couldn’t really judge a strip until you got on it. He’d been flying the PC-12 for over a year and loved it; it looked good and flew beautifully. He cherished cruising along at FL240 at twice the speed of anything else he’d flown − but on final to a tight strip he would swap it for a Caravan any day.
X saw a four-wheel-drive vehicle waiting alongside the aircraft parking area by the threshold − he was pleased to see it was a reasonable distance from the runway and the turning area. Several people were waiting nearby. With landing flap selected, X checked the greens once again and adjusted the speed. Over the threshold, he double-checked that the propeller was at fully fine and he retarded the power lever and flared. Looking ahead, and trying to grease the aircraft on, he noticed that the strip did look both bumpy and rocky.
The main wheels touched and he felt the oleos take the strain of the rough, dirt strip. He lowered the nosewheel onto the ground as gently as possible, but as soon as it touched the ground he heard the little wheel complaining and felt it through the rudder pedals. As the aircraft slowed, the strip seemed to get rougher still and at times it felt like taxying over a cattle grid. By the time he’d slowed to a fast walking pace, X had used less than half the runway.
All of the bush strips had turning circles at either end and X realised that on this virtually calm day he might have been better off landing in the opposite direction − he now had a long taxi up to the other end of the runway to turn, then all the way back down again to the parking area near where he’d just landed. Almost on impulse, he moved the aircraft from the centre of the strip to the right side and then added a little power as he applied left rudder and brake. The aircraft started to turn and X had completed more than 90° when he was suddenly not so certain that the runway was wide enough. He closed the power lever and stopped the aircraft. He was facing across the runway and running short of ideas.
Had he been in a 206, he’d probably have shut it down and pushed it back a bit but he wasn’t going to be able to do that in a PC-12. He thought that there might just be enough room. Besides, the lush grass looked as if it would take the weight of the aircraft.
He stood on the left brake and opened the power lever; the aircraft started to turn slowly, while dust and stones spat up behind. X didn’t want to lose the momentum. He felt the nosewheel move into soft ground at the edge of the runway. He thought he was going to get stuck and applied more power.
The wealthy client and his wife heard the distinctive noise of the propeller striking the ground. They saw the nose of the aircraft leap up in a cloud of dust before it all went very quiet. They realised that they would be here for another night. ■

1 What is the technique for executing a tight turn if you need to?

2 What other options did X have after he stopped the turn halfway round?

3 What happened when X applied more power after the nose of the aircraft left the strip?

Answers on pg 82 of the March issue of [i]FLYER[/i]
Pilot X could have just have used the turning circles mentioned at either end of the runway.
I was always told not to lock the braking wheel when turning so to keep the momentum, but not sure of a tight turn procedure. Other options - does the PC12 have beta mode to execute reverse of thrust? And was it still on full fine pitch - and is this correct?
At all costs I'd have kept the nosewheel off the soft ground. I'd have tried putting the right main gear on the soft stuff on both sides of the turn to keep the little nose wheel on the hard.
User avatar
By Rob P
Sir Morley Steven wrote:
2 get out and push it back.

A 3,000Kg aircraft on a rough strip?

Spinach needed in great quantities I would guess.

Rob P
User avatar
By anglianav8r
Rob P wrote:
Sir Morley Steven wrote:
2 get out and push it back.

A 3,000Kg aircraft on a rough strip?

Spinach needed in great quantities I would guess.

Rob P

Nah, stick it in reverse and crank it back on the starter motor :thumright: