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Suitable airport definition

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Suitable airport definition

Old 14th Dec 2021, 01:49
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Suitable airport definition

Hi guys. Recently moved from the sand pit to a European carrier (non-eu) and while reading the manuals realised that there's no definition for a suitable airport even though the term is used quite frequently. Most importantly it's used in the om b (A320) abnormal ops to assist in the decision making process. In airbus fctm it says suitability criteria has to be defined by the carrier, but it isn't. I was also unable to find the definition for the term in easa documents. Does anyone know what it is and/or where to find it or is it just a common sense thing in Europe? Where I've flown before suitable airport was adequate+weather.

p.s. the carrier is non-etops, that could be the reason why the definition isn't given, but then again they use it all the time, and airbus specifically points that the criteria has to be given.

Last edited by Styla; 14th Dec 2021 at 09:03.
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 08:39
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Nothing in your OM-A? Should be in there. Weather-permissable and Suitable are synonyms.
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 08:53
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I believe that there is not even a definition of "airport"?
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 08:55
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Originally Posted by 8314 View Post
Nothing in your OM-A? Should be in there. Weather-permissable and Suitable are synonyms.
How do I know they are synonyms? Just common sense?
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 08:57
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Originally Posted by TCAS FAN View Post
I believe that there is not even a definition of "airport"?
Yes there is
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 09:07
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Perhaps it's only in the Middle East here where people need to be told what a suitable airport is.

Kidding aside, if you can't find a definition, then perhaps it was intended for you to use plain english.
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 09:08
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There is a definition of 'aerodromes', which is a part of an 'airport' (aerodrome + terminal and car park) EASA rules apply only to infrastructure used by aircraft, hence they only define 'aerodromes'.
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 11:22
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Originally Posted by Styla View Post
How do I know they are synonyms? Just common sense?
That's what is written in our manual.
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 11:29
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Originally Posted by 8314 View Post
That's what is written in our manual.
Alright. Thanks!
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 12:56
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Just taking a stab in the dark here:
Suitable would vary with conditions and non-normal requirements eg pax facilities, instrument approaches, fire cover etc etc etc.
Stupid example:
Non towered airport with 12,000 runway and no terminal or air stairs that fit your aircraft.
Yes, suitable for “we need to get on the ground NOW” followed by evac by slide.
No, not suitable for a weather deviation ‘suitable airport’.
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 14:53
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Originally Posted by B2N2 View Post
Just taking a stab in the dark here:
Suitable would vary with conditions and non-normal requirements eg pax facilities, instrument approaches, fire cover etc etc etc.
Stupid example:
Non towered airport with 12,000 runway and no terminal or air stairs that fit your aircraft.
Yes, suitable for “we need to get on the ground NOW” followed by evac by slide.
No, not suitable for a weather deviation ‘suitable airport’.
That's the reason why a definition has to exist. Idk if you fly airbus or not so I'll explain in general terms: certain failures are marked by ecam as time critical (LAND ASAP in red), and some are not time critical (LAND ASAP in amber), but require a diversion. In a time critical scenario you're instructed to land at the nearest airport where a safe landing can be achieved. Non time critical advises you to consider landing at the nearest suitable aerodrome. That's what's written in the airbus fctm.
In our om b they decided to add to that:
RED LAND ASAPLand as soon as possible at the nearest SUITABLE airport at which a safe approach and landing can be made.

AMBER LAND ASAPAdvise to the flight crew to consider landing at the nearest suitable airport.

So what I take from it is that regardless of my failure I have to chose a suitable airport i.e. an airport with weather above published minima. Which obviously cannot be the case. So either the definition for a suitable airport is different or its a mistake in the company manual.
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 17:01
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Originally Posted by Styla View Post
Yes there is
We operate into EASA Certified Aerodromes. Where is their definition of airport?
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 23:27
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Originally Posted by Styla View Post
So what I take from it is that regardless of my failure I have to chose a suitable airport i.e. an airport with weather above published minima. Which obviously cannot be the case. So either the definition for a suitable airport is different or its a mistake in the company manual.
Apply some common sense. If there is no suitable airport available, and you must land, you make a command decision as PIC, and use what is available, to the best of your ability.

For Sully on the Hudson, it was ditching in a river
For TACA 110, it was landing on a grass levee near New Orleans
For The Gimli Glider (Air Canada 143), it was landing on a former runway (used for car racing) at a permanently-closed (X) airport.
(All involved loss of all engines, for one reason or another).

So far as I know, not one of those pilots got into trouble - long-term - for failing to choose a "suitable" airport. The TACA 110 crew was given an award for airmanship.

There is also the "get out of jail free" regulation - at least under FAA jurisdiction. I assume EASA provides something similar.

§ 91.3 Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.

(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

(c) Each pilot in command who deviates from a rule under paragraph (b) of this section shall, upon the request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.
In addition, there are emergencies beyond the scope of the ECAM. Such as an onboard medical emergency. A "nearest suitable airport" by the book-definition may be available - but if there will be no adequate medical treatment facilities nearby to save the victim, it is probably not helpful for that specific emergency. A suitable airport a few miles farther away that can deliver rapid medical response may be the better choice.
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Old 15th Dec 2021, 06:55
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Don’t forget that “suitable” includes a consideration of potential disruption to your own airline’s other operations. Impacting your competitors is ok…….You think I jest!
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Old 15th Dec 2021, 10:48
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If it helps, this is the current stuff for the exams:

**For ETOPS alternates the term suitable is used, as weather minima apply, in terms of ceiling and visibility 1 hour before the earliest ETA and 1 hour after the latest. Crosswind forecasts should also be acceptable for the same validity period, and a safe landing should also be accomplished with one engine and/or airframe system inoperative, taking due account of NOTAMs.

Weather minima do not apply to “adequate” aerodromes, which only concern themselves with performance at the expected landing weight, availability of navaids, etc., so the weather conditions must be below alternate minima but above landing minima. You do not need to meet the runway pavement requirements for the regular use of an airport. Under Annex 14 and the ICAO Airport Manual (Document 9157), the aircraft ACN may exceed the runway PCN in an emergency.
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Old 15th Dec 2021, 13:31
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Originally Posted by Styla View Post
That's the reason why a definition has to exist. Idk if you fly airbus or not so I'll explain in general terms: certain failures are marked by ecam as time critical (LAND ASAP in red), and some are not time critical (LAND ASAP in amber), but require a diversion. In a time critical scenario you're instructed to land at the nearest airport where a safe landing can be achieved. Non time critical advises you to consider landing at the nearest suitable aerodrome. That's what's written in the airbus fctm.
In our om b they decided to add to that:
RED LAND ASAPLand as soon as possible at the nearest SUITABLE airport at which a safe approach and landing can be made.

AMBER LAND ASAPAdvise to the flight crew to consider landing at the nearest suitable airport.

So what I take from it is that regardless of my failure I have to chose a suitable airport i.e. an airport with weather above published minima. Which obviously cannot be the case. So either the definition for a suitable airport is different or its a mistake in the company manual.
No I’m a Boeing driver lol.
Land ASAP RED - airport suitable for the plane, we’re landing NOW.
Land ASAP AMBER - airport suitable for plane, pax, cargo, maintenance, contact dispatch for guidance. Means we’re not going to our planned destination.
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Old 15th Dec 2021, 15:14
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An inability to manage uncertainty

There is an increasing trend requiring definitions for aspects which historically have been judgements - within airmanship, normal activity.

The op acknowledges manufacturer’s advice re ‘suitable’; items which could be considered relevant to that aircraft, but without defining specific situations.
Similarly there are operators who do not define, do not constrain crews from choosing a suitable course of action based on their understanding of the situation, in ‘the circumstances’ at that time.

Conversely definitions confine thoughts, opposed to remaining open to an evolving situation. Individuals arguing that action would be legal, providing an excuse (get-out), particularly with an unwanted outcome. Definitions can distract from the need to reassess the situation and adjust. A form of SOP mindedness; having chosen a SOP, then the outcome is assumed to be assured.

Why is a ‘legal’ definition necessary; judgements should be based on safety; situations assessed by crew at the time - they are the local experts who should be trusted to do the right thing based on what they see, guided by training and experience.

The need for definition, (a legal perspective), could be a reflection of the industry’s high level of safety - events are rare but more complex with uncertain outcomes; thus the fear of not being able to manage the outcome as envisaged by regulation or procedure.
An inability to manage uncertainty.
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Old 15th Dec 2021, 15:36
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The regulatory view of actions associated with alerts relates primarily to awareness and immediate response.
The alerts, Red / Amber do not imply any particular decision or choice of action.
Fixing activity to a level of alerting may have greater mental constraint than definitions; failing to consider the situation, reassess and plan ahead.
There are operational situations not involving alerting which require assessment and decisons to divert, risk, urgenct, etc. The need for knowledge (awareness) and a flexible mind.

CS25.1322
(1) Warning: For conditions that require immediate flight crew awareness and immediate flight crew response.
(2) Caution: For conditions that require immediate flight crew awareness and subsequent flight crew response.
(3) Advisory: For conditions that require flight crew awareness and may require subsequent flight crew response.

AMC 25.1322 Design Considerations.
Consider the following concepts and elements when designing an alerting system:
Only non-normal aeroplane system conditions and operational events that require flight crew awareness to support flight crew decision making and facilitate the appropriate flight crew response should cause an alert. However, conditions that require an alert depend on the specific system and aeroplane design, and overall flight-deck philosophy. For example, the failure of a single sensor in a multi-sensor system may not necessarily result in an alert condition that requires pilot awareness. However, for a single sensor system, such a failure should result in an alert condition that provides the flight crew with the information needed to assure continued safe flight and landing.
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Old 15th Dec 2021, 18:19
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EASA Part A 8.1.2 Criteria and responsibilities for determining the adequacy of aerodromes to be used.

You are welcome.
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Old 16th Dec 2021, 16:20
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I knew of a crew that diverted because of weather to an airport without customs and immigration…..on an international flight.
That clearly is NOT a suitable airport.
I agree with the piloting/airmanship comment above, this is why you get paid to say NO.
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