January 26, 2000
|About the Author ...
John Deakin is a 35,000-hour pilot who worked his way up the aviation food chain
via charter, corporate, and cargo flying; spent five years in Southeast Asia
with Air America; 33 years with Japan Airlines, mostly as a 747 captain; and
now flies the Gulfstream IV for a West Coast operator.
He also flies his own
V35 Bonanza (N1BE) and is very active in the warbird and vintage aircraft
scene, flying the C-46, M-404, DC-3, F8F Bearcat, Constellation, B-29, and
others. He is also a National Designated Pilot Examiner (NDPER), able to give
type ratings and check rides on 43 different aircraft types.
My compliments to Mr. Erik Reed-Mohn for a very
well-written response to my columns on this subject. He eloquently expresses the
factors behind the drive to adopt new (to most of the world) procedures. I
remain unconvinced, but rather than flog this horse to death, I have but a few
comments, and will thereafter move on, allowing readers to make their own
All of the examples and all of the theory seem to revolve around LOC
approaches, and nice, well-aligned straight-in approaches, usually with DME.
When these factors are present, all my objections regarding safety go away,
leaving only my objection on the grounds of not getting the job done as often as
with the old way. I keep wondering about that "last chance" approach, where
youve gone to the alternate, and you really do need to get in, with only an NPA
available. I guess modern airlines dont do that anymore.
The statistics quoted may be correct, but I believe there may be reasons
other than the approach type itself. Primarily, I suspect that most of them
occurred because of a lack of proficiency with the classic method of doing an
NPA, with far too many pilots doing only ILSs day after day, and in the
It also seems to me that the CANPA procedures were developed from an initial
starting point of something like "We must make these fully stabilized
approaches, just like an ILS." Some will call that "good," I call it "less
effective and sometimes unsafe."
Im fully aware that BA and KLM have "bought into" CANPA, even in classic
aircraft. It was a conversation with a KLM pilot that triggered my disbelief, a
little research, and then those two columns. Again, the vast majority of the
approaches theyre doing seem to be the LOC-only and well-aligned straight-ins,
with excellent VOR and DME available.
I judge the workload about equal between the "classic" method, and the CANPA
with distance vs. DME checks each mile, in addition to the other things that
need to be tracked.
I utterly and totally reject a descent based solely on timing. Ive seen far
too many real-world cases where the wind would put that out of limits, leaving
the CANPA approach "long" or "short." Using timing as the basis for a missed
approach is bad enough, but to use it for descent is madness.
To me, the answer is training. DO some real NPAs in the simulator, and do
them to proficiency, to a level of comfort. Skip a few of the auto-coupled
approaches in the simulator, for any monkey can do those.