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Paul Bertorelli on St Barts

The Aztec actually employs a Super Cub wing, so it has very benign slow speed characteristics (not asymmetric of course where safety margins apply). A LDA of 1,650 feet is too short even for an Aztec. I have never understood why go to the expense of feeding two Lycomings and not using public transport safety factors and procedures. Passengers assume they are getting a safer proposition in a twin, but without adhering to public transport style planning a lot of the advantage is compromised. In this case a sloping runway, speed likely to be outside Vref limits, and a likely LDR (landing distance required) of 2,000 feet using PT safety factors made this outcome more predictable.

Alternatively should you drag it in, SE style at Vs1 1.2x? But then you may set yourself up for a Vmc rollover in the event you need to go around and one of the engines cough.



Oxford (EGTK)

I am not sure St Barts is strictly too short. I often fly into a runway with 800m in the Aztec and there is room to spare. Personally it is pretty much as short as I care to go, but if you had to .. ..

In the video there is a whole load of float and the approach looks too fast and too hight over the hill. I am sure going into St Barts requires great accuracy, on the numbers, on your game, and any excess speed and its a go around, but I reckon you could get an Aztec in if you had to. I am guessing getting it out should be ok as well, with a substantially displaced threshold.

As to public transport it is true the margins are designed to be much greater, and if used in this way the passengers are entitled to trust adherence. Of course there are plenty of more exotic aircraft which are operated outside public transport limits but the safety margins are eroded especially in the event of an engine cut on departure.

The real risk of a failure on departure is of course very low, and so the benefit of hauling that extra Lycoming around is its en route safety. Flying long sea crossings in a SEP is always going to carry an increased risked in the event of a ditching, whereas that extra trusty Lyc in an Aztec will carry on regardless (at least with any luck).

Last Edited by Fuji_Abound at 30 Mar 17:39

My shortest air strip in the Aztec was Rome-Celsetta, published at 500m and more like 400m useable. The Super Cub wing and induced airflow from the propellers will allow a very short landing, and take-off with flaps set to aileron deflection was also short, climbing away at Vmc. It can be done, but not good airmanship in a twin.

Oxford (EGTK)

I would agree. It is something to do occasionally if you need to, and after you have said your prayers, but as we know the chances of an engine failure in a well maintained Aztec on departure is very small, and if all else fails, closing both throttles and landing straight ahead is an alternative.

I’ve not flown the Aztec but only the Senecas, but this should be feasible. However, if you are not down on the numbers or latest at the touchdown marks, it’s a go around. Anyone watching this will flinch when he keeps going on and on floating. He does not get the aiming point right, neither the speed.

I had numerous such experiences at first when transitioning to the Mooney, which has a very slick wing and the flaps don’t brake all that much. Coming from Cessnas and the Seneca (not to speak of the AN2) I ended up fast and furious on several occasions with short runways, let alone with obstacles. While St Barth is extreme, there are many runways of 500m or so in Switzerland and elsewhere with substantial obstacles where putting it on the numbers needs to be learnt and the skill kept current.

I remember short field ops with the Seneca, shortest field I ever went in was Buttwil which is 495m after the displaced threshold and with some substantial trees on the final approach. With full flaps and proper speed control, it was a piece of cake with room to spare. But there is no space for lingering, it has to be on the ground at the numbers or else it’s go around for another try. Clearly, the obstacles are further away than at St.Barths.

View out of a C150.


LSZH, Switzerland

What I find so bizarre (without ever having actually seen the place): why land downhill? The only good reason I can imagine is strong winds from the West, but if those are given it should be quite feasible to land into them?

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

What I find bizarre is why he didn’t go around

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