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QFE/QNH for take off/ landing

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QFE/QNH for take off/ landing

Old 6th Feb 2022, 10:00
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QFE/QNH for take off/ landing

Doing some research for an article , I remember USSR/Russia and even the UK used QFE instead of QNH on APP. in the 1970s Were there a distinctive advantage on using QFE and does anybody remembers the year when that stopped and got standardized on QNH?
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 10:27
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As I remember, we changed to QNH in the late 1970s. There are two main advantages (1) less adjustments to the altimeter baro settings therefore less chances of making mistakes, and (2) you can keep track of the MSAs more easily around the airfield. When you have a radio altimeter, QFE becomes redundant.

Last edited by Bergerie1; 6th Feb 2022 at 11:09. Reason: corrected date
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 11:16
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QFE still in use at British military airfields.
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 11:46
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QFE still in use in China in military airports where we operate like Nanning and Yiwu airports. Not a biggie.

Last edited by pineteam; 6th Feb 2022 at 14:57. Reason: Typo
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 12:48
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QFE makes much more sense and is more logical for circuits and training imo though it is impractical if the airfield is at a substantial elevation.
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 14:02
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Originally Posted by pineteam View Post
QFE still in used in China in military airports where we operate like Nanning and Yiwu airports. Not a biggie.
Thanks everyone for the info so far , Pineteam : Idid not know it was still used today in International airports, I just checked their METAR , it gives the QNH.. On arrival they give you the QFE on the frequency? Elevation is around 420ft so quite a difference between the 2
ZGNN 011700Z 35002MPS 6000 -RA FEW003 SCT006 OVC030 07/07 Q1021 NOSIG.
.
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 14:48
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meleagertoo is right about circuit training and sport flying in light aircraft. My comments related to airline operations where you fly to a large number of different airfields.
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 14:48
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Hi ATC Watcher,

Yes, they will clear you in QFE. Any altitude below 3000 Meters ( they still use the metric in Mainland) will be issued exclusively in QFE. We still fly using QNH as reference using a conversion chart as shown below. QNH is available on request with ATC or via DATIS.


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Old 6th Feb 2022, 15:24
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I believe that the British Military attempted to align with the civilian work in the 1990s by changing from QFE to QNH but, correctly in my personal view, reverted back to QFE. The issue about which system to use is really down to culture and culture change is challenging due to cognitive recognition. However, having operated in QFE and QNH environments for approximately equal amounts of time each, when correctly using SOPs the biggest ground proximity waning ever is an altimeter approaching zero, you do not need EGPWS call outs. After 45 years of aviating in both environments my vote is for QFE.

MM
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 16:21
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Originally Posted by Miles Magister View Post
I believe that the British Military attempted to align with the civilian work in the 1990s by changing from QFE to QNH but, correctly in my personal view, reverted back to QFE. The issue about which system to use is really down to culture and culture change is challenging due to cognitive recognition. However, having operated in QFE and QNH environments for approximately equal amounts of time each, when correctly using SOPs the biggest ground proximity waning ever is an altimeter approaching zero, you do not need EGPWS call outs. After 45 years of aviating in both environments my vote is for QFE.

MM
I, likewise have operated both QNH and QFE for equal parts of my (almost exactly!) 55 years in the air. I am with MM; QFE gets my vote for final approaches and circuit work every time.

Mog
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 16:23
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[QUOTE=Miles Magister;11180591] After 45 years of aviating in both environments my vote is for QFE. /QUOTE]

What is the highest airport at which you have operated using QFE? I often fly between airports with an elevation difference of over 5,000 ft. Even if the altimeter could be set for QFE at both airports it would take a long time to change the baro setting, a distraction I don't need.

I think the only time I have seen QFE used in USA is at low elevation gliding sites where the flights were expected to be local. I hated it and always changed to QFE when I flew.

MD-11 (also MD-10 and 717) PFD was designed for very easy switching between QFE and QNH with both baro setting being retained in memory. Don't remember if that was standard or a customer option.

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Old 6th Feb 2022, 17:41
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AA and EA used QFE for along time. At EA, we used for field elevations below 1500’, IIRC. Captain Eddie set that standard after surviving a crash in Atlanta. AA stopped using in 1995 after striking a tree on ridge line partly attributed to pressure falling rapidly and no updated QFE.
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 17:55
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I grew up in QFE operation while gliding. In professional operation it was always QNH, even when operating into QFE airfields in Russia (LIDO charts mention the QFE offset to QNH).

The most dangerous thing i actually experienced was a very low number of ex-Chinese A320s we got at one point in our fleet who had the QFE customer option, which meant that the Standard/QNH setting had one additional step via QFE. How many people did not click it often enough to get the correct setting was really frightening.
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 18:57
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I use qfe when flying aerobatics..
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 19:42
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I have never flown QFE.
The good thing about QFE is that the pattern altitude is always 1500', stable is always 1000', Touchdown is always 0'. Potential problems are when transitioning into/away from the pattern, as all other altitudes will (and should!) be based on QNH/MSL. Having to set a third setting increases the risk of making mistakes (QNE - QNH - QFE) every arrival, and the reverse every departure, might offset the advantage of having QFE during T/O and landing. Based on the fact that the vast majority of professional aviation uses QNH over QFE makes me think QNH is better.
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 20:01
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I've used both in my time (civvy then RAF then civvy again). The advantage of a QFE landing is that it removes the need for mental maths on final approach.

Changing from QNH to QFE to QNH isn't difficult - especially if you follow a checklist!

As a helicopter pilot it is relatively easy to approximate a local QNH yourself if you land at a remote site out in the sticks away from an airfield and have to depart after some delay when the barometric pressure has changed - provided you know the elevation of the landing site. Setting QFE in those circumstances is meaningless.
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 22:32
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Originally Posted by hans brinker View Post
I have never flown QFE.
The good thing about QFE is that the pattern altitude is always 1500', stable is always 1000', Touchdown is always 0'.
I cheat and just use the RA. Works most of the time.
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Old 7th Feb 2022, 01:52
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Going through initial USAF pilot training (1982) we were subject to myriad acronyms. QFE translated into Q f'n English. LOL fellow aviators. Hilariously enough, I got to use QFE often times again in terminal ops with American Airlines as a new-hire.
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Old 7th Feb 2022, 03:14
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Originally Posted by Denti View Post
I grew up in QFE operation while gliding. In professional operation it was always QNH, even when operating into QFE airfields in Russia (LIDO charts mention the QFE offset to QNH).

The most dangerous thing i actually experienced was a very low number of ex-Chinese A320s we got at one point in our fleet who had the QFE customer option, which meant that the Standard/QNH setting had one additional step via QFE. How many people did not click it often enough to get the correct setting was really frightening.
We had some of our A320 with that QFE option. It was latter removed to avoid this kind of issues.
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Old 7th Feb 2022, 04:14
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I've used several systems and still do. Principly QFE below transition altitude except for 70s flights to Moscow where we used similar tables to the current Chinese ones. Fortunately it was three pilots and we wrote everything down which lessoned the workload but there were times no one except George was flying the aircraft.
Bergerie mentioned what we used on the VC10 which lead to the game park warning system incident into Nairobi were confusion reigned and they did a touch and go at night in a clearing.
My third outfit was QNH but our training was high level and flying was very sporty which led to an incident in my line training flying into Geneva 05 with some very inclement weather.I elected to do a dirty dive in the hold without doing the full approach procedure which went very well until the outer marker check which showed a 1,000ft plus discrepancy. The training FO and captain were as puzzled as moi meme until I realised the discrepancy was the beacon altitude above the threshold. I was following the 6 degree glideslope which was easily rectified; throttles idle; land flap and flight director off.
Later I got into gliding followed by instructing which is another ball game.
UK QFE in the circuit but teaching height assessment using visual clues..QNH cross country with the difference with standard written down for airspace.
France has a simpler system for the mountains but that is with speed in kph, altitude in metres, vario MPS and using hiking maps marked with circles of 10km increments with the QNH/standard difference scrawled down. The above allows one simply to calculate gliding range to land able terrain (at 20 to 1) and how far up a mountain face one is going to arrive (hopefully). It becomes more complicated if your glider instruments are impérial and your position reports have to be in altitudes (french) not forgetting the earlier flight computers could be in another set of numbers.
I did have an air miss during circuits whilst instructing at Blackbushe where an incoming aircraft forgot to set QFE and came through the circuit just below cloud base on his way to a dead side joining.
Have a sophisticated instrument for paragliding..set to take off QFE for return to top land and my car but on cross country it’s back to mental gymnastics wrt airspace. Fortunately there are GPS systems programmable with airspace.
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