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NDB approaches in light aircraft

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NDB approaches in light aircraft

Old 7th Feb 2014, 15:20
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NDB approaches in light aircraft

Do any of the IMC holders here ever do NDB approaches other than for practise or renewal? I'm not talking about the pro flyers, just the average club members.

I have ILS and PAR at my field so obviously they are the ones I do in anger; but do any of you do NDB approaches at your own field when you have other alternatives? Or would you chose to do an NDB if ILS was available?
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 16:23
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I wouldn't do an NDB approach unless there was no alternative and then I'd fly it with the GPS not the ADF. It's long past time the useless heaps of junk were switched off then we could replace the ADF with something more useful like a CD player
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 16:35
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My sentiments entirely.. I have my renewal coming up which as you know has to include two different pilot interpreted approaches. IE an ILS and an NDB. (I know SRA can be included) The only time I ever fly an NDB is at times like this.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 16:46
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On my G1000 equipped SR22 I could not even shoot an NDB approach.

PAR approach for GA flying??
None of the airport I fly to offer such a thing. I thought these days you can only see it at military airports plus who would want to use it say in the US with abundance of other approaches- it is really archaic too.
Also NDB approaches are getting very scarce these days - if someone asked me to find an airport within 200 nm of my location with an NDB approach I would have a real tough time.

Last edited by olasek; 7th Feb 2014 at 17:02.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 17:01
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Olasek

You are correct about the PAR being a military only thing now but it is a very useful think to have in an emergency.

If you have a total electrical failure a PAR will get you on the ground with ILS accuracy using only a hand held radio........ Or may be a cell phone.

As the UK has an integrated aviation distress system in the UK it is likely that if you declared an emergency in a light aircraft you could probably find a Military PAR within 30 min flying.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 17:07
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In a spam can with a separate ADF, either fixed card or just one you rotate yourself, and without a slaved DI, there's not a lot of point, as you will struggle to keep the 5 degree accuracy, and if you really flew it down to minima there's very little chance you'd be in a realistic place to land the aircraft.

It is however very useful for situational awareness, and a very easy (if not accurate) approach to fly when overlaid on an EFIS HSI.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 17:13
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PAR approach for GA flying??
I fly GA from a military field. TBH if there's a controller available I would take a PAR over anything else. All you have to do is sit there and do what you're told and I know it's a weird take on it but it's quite relaxing listening to the continuous patter of a talkdown. We only have ILS at the one end as well but PAR into both ends.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 17:24
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I thought these days you can only see it at military airports plus who would want to use it say in the US with abundance of other approaches- it is really archaic too
Archaic??

Given a choice of all the approaches I did in the past I would take the PAR over any of the others for ease of workload and more important accuracy.

Note:::

I am not including autoland because the pilot is not hand flying the autoland.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 17:33
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Archaic??
Well, in fact it is, specially in areas with vast array of WAAS approaches. I would always prefer approach I can slave my A/P or F/D to over a fallible human being talking me down.

But as mentioned above PAR could have a place as an emergency solution if your electrics are down but then you have to find this military airport nearby willing to accommodate you...
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 17:36
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I used to do PAR approaches in RAF Chipmunks. My instructor once had me continue right down to touchdown, following the controller's instructions. A very impressive system. Of course, you have to have complete faith in the controller.

I'm not talking about the pro flyers
Even pros struggle with it sometimes. I watched an RAF Tristar doing what was obviously a bad NDB 16 approach at Calgary once. I was in the terminal, which is near the threshold. The Tristar was outbound from the MM Charlie beacon and at least ten degrees off track, heading straight for the terminal. At MDA, there was a sudden turn right! The rest of the crew must have been laughing their heads off!

Last edited by India Four Two; 7th Feb 2014 at 17:47.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 17:42
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Well, in fact it is, specially in areas with vast array of WAAS approaches. I would always prefer approach I can slave my A/P or F/D to it over a fallible human being talking me down
Yes I understand where you are cumming from and I was not specific enough in my post...so..

I did not take into consideration the use of an autopilot or a flight director as aids in the approach and landing process......I had a momentary flashback to the days of the DC3 that did not have an autopilot nor a flight director, but our home airport did have PAR available and we used PAR whenever the weather was really bad.......as our backup we used the ILS....and the PMA system of approach and landing.

Different times and different mindsets of course.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 17:46
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A few decades ago, I did an NDB approach for the examiner. When it was time to lift the hood, it looked like I was close to a mile off course -- and the examiner passed me

These days, you could do a better approach with a smartphone
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 17:54
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I would always prefer approach I can slave my A/P or F/D to over a fallible human being talking me down.
OK maybe I should amend my opening post to read 'Not pro pilots or GA pilots flying stuff that 99.9% of us will never fly.'

but then you have to find this military airport nearby willing to accommodate you...

Not quite sure where you reside but there are four mil fields within ten minutes flying time of me.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 18:31
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or GA pilots flying stuff that 99.9% of us will never fly
Not sure what you mean, I grant you that A/P or F/D were once quite rare in small GA aircraft but nowadays, for example in my club, people can train (and do in fact train) for their PPL in G1000 equipped SR20s or 172s. Times changed indeed.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 18:46
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Times changed indeed.
For sure.

But the basic laws of physics and aerodynamics remain the same and the use of flight controls to fly remain the same.

Has the gradual move to glass cockpits really improved the flying skills of pilots?
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 19:00
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The right question should be: did the glass cockpit improve safety?
As we know it is a mixed bag because in GA flying a better equipment can embolden pilots to get into riskier situations.

But the last I checked Boeing, Airbus and others are not giving up glass cockpit in an attempt to improve piloting skills

Personally I would never give up glass cockpit - it gives me superior situational awareness and I can actually spend more time thinking about the big picture (weather, fuel, alternates, etc.). But it is just a tool and can be easily abused like anything else. But if someone questions the value of glass cockpit they should remind themselves of the recent Superstition mountain accident, a family with 3 kids hit the mountain dead on in VFR night condition. Their Turbo Commander wasn't even equipped with rudimentary Garmin 500/600 box.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 19:06
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for example in my club, people can train (and do in fact train) for their PPL in G1000 equipped SR20s or 172s.
Just noticed your location so fair comment (don't know what the GA scene is like in the US). Suffice to say that most club pilots in the UK will smile in grim recognition when I talk about flying on the standby because the DI has packed in again or having gear that works when there's an 'R' in the month.

Still, keeps you sharp. I expect stuff to pack up.

I suppose GA flying in the US is completely different to here. Bigger mountains, deserts, all sorts of nasty stuff so it makes sense to be kitted out with all of the good stuff. Here in the UK you are rarely 10 minutes away from anywhere and we laugh at those performce tables in the Cessna and Piper manuals with their example problems 'You are taking off from an airfield 5.000' asl and you plan for a journey of 600nm.' Ho ho. The highest airfield I've ever taken off from is 820' asl and that's a high one. 2 hours flying max either way puts you in Ireland, Scotland or France/Belgium/Netherlands.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 19:31
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Like thing I fly from a mil airfield (I wonder if it's the same one ) and would take a PAR over anything else if the chips were down. Single pilot it greatly reduces the workload.

Yes, I've flown NDB approaches in genuine IMC as well as for the biennial IMCR renewal. I wouldn't choose to, but those complaining about the inaccuracy should note that the approach is designed to cope with this. And I completely agree that in actual IMC I would always fly it on a handheld GPS or even a mobile phone in preference to the ADF needle, which I would regard as the emergency backup. On my Aera 500 you can enable OBS mode and fly it basically as if it were a VOR approach, or just set the OBS to the final approach track and fly the ADF outbound and the GPS inbound if you don't fancy fiddling with it during the base turn.
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 20:06
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I would agree with another poster that having the ability to fly an NDB means your mind is working. If you can fly that accurately with strong winds then you can fly anything instead of slavishly following a GPS.

Regarding a PAR! I had an emergency years back which coincided with extensive unforecast fog.

the military base were colour code red but quickly sized up the situation and i was talked down in a twin breaking cloud at 80 feet with an RVR of 550 meters.
You could even see the fog hanging on the Hangar roofs.
Reaching minima the controller went through the usual chat of missing if not visual and then intensified the commands to cloud break.
those guys could talk you down onto the deck if need be.

but those were the days when military bases were open all hours

Pace
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Old 7th Feb 2014, 22:46
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those guys could talk you down onto the deck if need be.
And gals too. There's a lady at our place who does talkdown who has the most gorgeous voice. It's liked being wafted down with your ears wrapped in velvet.

Like thing I fly from a mil airfield (I wonder if it's the same one )
No but I've flown into yours.... Delivered some cakes last year...Incidentally there are some good fly outs this year, have you heard about them down at your place?
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