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Practice approaches - getting harder (and pre-booking)?

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The problem is iit is in my opinion getting harder and harder to be able to shoot instrument approaches. The closest to me no longer allows you to fly them at weekends. The other only has two training slots a day.

I always hoped this would go away with the proliferation of GPS approaches at AFIS or A/G airfields. But so far the update of these has been zero.

There is some funny stuff going on.

The other day I phoned up an ILS airport re a practice ILS, which I do fairly often. I always go around and then call them and pay the 20 quid. They were booked at 10am, 11am, and 12am. Three bookings. No approaches possible throughout that time. So, it sounded like they can accommodate only one ILS per hour! Incredulous, I queried this. Apparently whoever booked it might do several approaches… This airport has a very long procedure which takes maybe 15 mins to fly all the way round, but with no “official” radar they can have only one plane in the air, it seems.

So I went for a flight in the vicinity. I have a newly done cylinder to bed in… It’s all Class G anyway. On the frequency, I heard… you’ve guessed it … precisely nowt, zero, zilch. On TCAS I saw, you’ve guessed it, precisely nowt, zero, zilch. I guess somebody booked three training sessions and didn’t bother to get airborne.

God knows what would happen if somebody actually flew to that airport that morning and wanted the ILS?

At work, a British delivery driver often won’t walk upstairs with a parcel, saying his insurance doesn’t allow it. A Romanian happily walks upstairs. Maybe we need more Romanians in ATC What is going on?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

Maybe we need more Romanians in ATC

Nope. You need to move to Romania.

As an aside, a little tale from FAA-land:
I am based at two airports, KSMO (Santa Monica) and KHHR (Hawthorne). KHHR sits right next to KLAX and is effectively treated as the fifth KLAX runway. The approach controller to KLAX also handles KHHR traffic and happily clears and gives you radar vectors for a practice approach to KHHR while vectoring the heavy iron onto final at KLAX. Perhaps UK controllers should do a bit of training in the US.

Yes it does seem to be getting a lot more problematical. I’ve been trying to do my IRR renewal for the past 6 weeks and I’ve been unable to find anywhere to do my approaches.
One local airport won’t commit to an approach until after 8 am each day – too late to get an aircraft and an examiner.
A second will take bookings at 17.30 the previous evening – but will only allow one approach per booking, so you’d need to book an examiner and aircraft on two separate days.

We’ve got two RAF airfields within reasonable distance, but they won’t accept bookings until perhaps an hour or two before the approach time. One might thin’ that the MOD might welcome the increased revenue?


You can revalidate the IR every other year in the SIM.

Oxford (EGTK), United Kingdom

I think that there is a lot to be said for every reval to be in the sim.

I also think that almost all MEP training and examination should be in the sim, so you are not teaching stuff that’s plain wrong.

EGKB Biggin Hill

Another thought, if you do want to do it on the aircraft, is to use GTN Visual Approaches, which look and feel just like an LPV. That means you can do it at any VFR airfield.

EGKB Biggin Hill

Reminds me of a discussion with a local jobsworth I had a few months ago.

- If you stop GA from flying here, it is impossible to do IFR training anywhere in this region
answer: we don´t want any training on our airport!
- If you stop training, we have no new pilots to join our airlines
answer: They should train in simulators or elsewhere. We do not have the capacity for training flights. Period.
- Well, do you prefer that we have to hire foreigners from countries where we can stil train?
answer: Due to climate change, I prefer not to have new pilots at all, but to reduce this airport to a feeder and once our new trains work, close it down. We donßt need aviation in this country.
- What about air rescue?
answer: Let the military handle that but we don´t really need that either once our program starts to have impact. No traffic accidents anymore. And those tourists who infest our mountains, their problem how they get down. Why don´t we actually declare them off limits, these people only disturb the wildlife up there. Problem solved.

I am not this sort of person but secretly I hope an idiot like that will eventually snuff it because there are no more rescue helicopters and medevac flights… back to the middle ages or what?

LSZH, Switzerland

And I feel things have gone backwards. 30 years ago I used to just call up my local council owned airport and ask for an ILS or SRA. I never got refused once or had to pay.

30 years ago there were many more aerodromes, at least in the UK, and they were much less busy.

What we need is approaches to small airfields, like Sywell, Blackbushe, Sherburn, Duxford, Cumbernauld, Wycombe, Wellesbourne etc.

We could have them all by now if the CAA were assigning appropriate resources and making sensible risk-based decisions, but instead they are putting every obstacle they can in the way.

That is the battle we should be fighting (and I am, every day, at all levels of government and regulation.)

In the meantime, I think there is a strong argument for ignoring the CAA, which, in this respect, is demonstrably not fit for purpose, and using the lovely GTN Visual Approaches which are, to all intents and purposes, as good as having published approaches, but we (jointly or severally) have to take responsibility for our own minima and missed approaches, like grown-ups.

EGKB Biggin Hill
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