Would you fly 5 miles out to sea at 1000 feet...

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hibby
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Would you fly 5 miles out to sea at 1000 feet...

Post by hibby »

... in a single-engined plane if a controller instructed you to do so?

Yesterday I found myself in a very uncomfortable situation. This was mainly down to my own inexperience and I am not blaming ATC at all, just wondering what others would have done in the same situation.

I took off from Navan and once airborne I called Dublin north control to activate a flight plan to EINC. They asked me which route I wanted and I told them I would enter the zone at Skerries and fly the "Lambay Transit" (this was me trying to be helpful, but probably misguided).

I was told to stand by and then a couple of minutes later I was asked if I could fly the route at 500 feet :shock: I replied that for safety reasons I would like to be higher than that. They said that would mean I would have to fly "wider" (i.e. further east) as rwy 28 was active at Dublin and I would need to be routed under the approaching traffic.

I was cleared to fly over the coast at Skerries and report approaching Lambay Island, not above 1000 feet.

Then the instruction was slightly amended and I was told to pass Lambay to the east before turning south. So far so good - this was making for a very scenic flight with close-up views of Skerries islands and Lambay Island.

I reported off the eastern tip of Lambay and then turned "south" towards Howth. I will admit I took a slightly "creative" interpretation of "south" as I was nervous about being so far out to sea and so my heading was more like 200. The airline traffic was passing overhead at around 2000'.

I was sharply instructed to turn back to a southerly heading, then to make a left-hand orbit and switch to Dublin approach frequency. Dub approach told me to turn onto an easterly(!) heading. I fully understand they were trying to maintain separation, but I was very unhappy to be flying out to sea at 1000'. After flying 3 miles east, I was allowed to resume a southerly heading. By this time, I was 5 miles from the nearest land, with a glide distance of less than 1 mile. I don't know if sheer willpower can keep an engine running, but I was giving it all I had. Never were FREDA checks carried out with such frequency and concentration! I made a call to say that I would like to be allowed to climb or fly closer to land at the earliest opportunity.

After passing Howth I was instructed to route directly across the bay to Killiney. It was a huge relief to approach Dalkey Island and know that if necessary I would be able to ditch adjacent to land.

On the return trip from EINC, I specifically asked to be routed over land, and was routed at 2000 feet Killiney - Pigeonhouse - along the Liffey to Weston - Maynooth and north out of the zone.


What would other, more experienced people have done in this situation? Or would you have avoided getting into this situation in the first place? Or would you have been less anxious than I was about flying low over water?

Whisky Tango
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Post by Whisky Tango »

I haven't flown over water yet but to me there are some obvious points:

You requested the Lambay Transit Route yourself, so if you're so nervous about flying over water then this was a questionable decision. Aircraft are occasionally instructed to fly that portion not above 500ft.

You were given a specific heading to fly by ATC and yet secretly deviated from it towards the landing traffic. You may have gotten away with this anywhere else in the CTR but not on finals for R28.

You were conscientious about your FREDAs so that was a positive point. I think though that your preoccupation about a hypothetical situation (engine failure) was jeopardising your and others' ACTUAL situation in that you were narrowing the safety margins by not obeying instructions and carrying out Class G flying in Class C airspace.

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DonalMW
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Post by DonalMW »

Ouch...

But good post Whisky Tango.

I've crosed the channel as PIC twice, and having elected to do so, I had mentally come to terms with spending 40 mins over water. If you're uncomfortable with flying over water don't do so......
No matter where you're flying, if your engine stops there's gonna be trouble ahead, Seeing as you planned to fly part of your journey over water I assume you were wearing a life jacket ? ? Or carrying a dingy ? ?

Every time you fly you learn something. And i'm sure on the next occasion you make this trip you'll do things differently ? ?

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Roger Ramjet
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Post by Roger Ramjet »

Flying over water can be a bit unnerving at the best of times, good experience for you though.
If I got spooked I would have asked to return to skerries and vacate the zone, you can always make a sugestion to the controller and they will try and do their best. They are a good bunch of people, our club organised a visit to see the them a few times and they are very professional but at the same time understand our concerns and try to help when they can.
I'm sure the controller was conscious of maintaing separation between you and the aircraft on approach (if it was a jet on approach then I'm sure they were getting some nice T-CAS alerts going off in the cockpit from your aircraft)
If they give you a heading then they expect you to fly it or they will start asking questions. You cannot decide which way you want to go in the DUB CTR!
Good post all the same and don't let it put you off.

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Post by MCRO »

Not an easy one

I think I wouild have phoned in advance to see whether North-about or South about suited ATC on the day that was in it

If Baldonnel co-operative you might have got a routeing to join the M50 East of Baldonnel and thence to Bray

All single aircraft engines go rough over water - but I hope you didn't have to feel disaster imminent as if you were on the Radar it should ot have been too llong before you were fished out

Enjoy it more next time

Maurice

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Post by hibby »

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies. I really appreciate the advice, including the well-deserved criticism.

Here's what I'm taking from your replies:
- It was very wrong to "secretly" deviate from the southerly heading that was instructed. Agreed.
- "If I'm uncomfortable flying over water"... I have to think about that one. I fully intend to fly to Isle of Man, Britain, etc. in future when I get more experience, so maybe I need to come to terms with it. But on the other hand if I deliberately set out to fly over water I will fly higher and be suitably equipped.
- "Each time I fly I learn something." That's certainly true. I am a new and inexperienced pilot, and I learn potentially life-saving lessons EVERY SINGLE flight. After every flight I make a list of my mistakes, and I don't let pride or embarrassment get in the way of talking about them. I feel like I am learning more now than I did as a student.
- I can phone (who?) in advance to get advice about a suitable route through the zone. I like this idea.
- I probably shouldn't have been so worried about going in the water as we could have expected rescue fairly quickly. Hmmm. I'm not sure. Even with life-jackets on, you can get cold pretty fast in the water. I think I should look into buying a life-raft.

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Post by MCRO »

I guess the Duty Supervisor in ATC is the party to phone : unusual queries are welcome

I guess the 'overwater' attitude might be

My engine hath dual ignition, dual fuel pumps (gravity soetimes counts as one) a solid state oil pressurer and filter checked every 50 hr.

It shouldn't fail, and statistics of undeserved failure are minute and if it does why should it be on one of your very rare over-waters

Just pass the brown envelope to Lawyer Murphy now and again and among things in your avour is that flotation habis of light aircraft are good - provided you have a decent load of fuel - lighter than water

Maurice

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Post by Flyer1 »

Coming back from the channel islands a few weeks ago we were asked to remain " below 1000ft " for about 10 miles. We had no real choice. While it's not pleasant I didn't really see it as a big deal. Although we had the bonus of having lifejackets and a raft aboard.

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Post by MCRO »

Yes, the Channel Isles have always run a "keep the tiddlers low" regime

In point of fact, unless some extra height is going to buy you gliding distance from land, you can expect to be pin-pointed on Radar and so receive the rescue service you deserve

Maurice

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Post by cubpilot »

the trick with the channel isles is to give a quadrantial height you want on the flight plan rather than just put vfr. flying between the islands though you will find the common height is 1000ft. over time you get used to over water ops but do have the lifejackets and plb attached and a life raft if you have one.
i was told of a trick recently to improve your survival chances particularly in low wing single door aircraft. rather than try to keep wings level on hitting water where you may nose over or the impact makes you fall forwards onto the dash, the idea is to drop the wing opposite the door, eg pa28 drop left wing in first. this absorbs the impact energy but keeps the right wing intact. you may be twisted i the impact but the right wing supports the plane long enough to get out of the door. well thats the theory but i just hope it never has to be put into practice.

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Post by Pilot »

Coming back from the channel islands a few weeks ago we were asked to remain " below 1000ft " for about 10 miles. We had no real choice.
the trick with the channel isles is to give a quadrantial height you want on the flight plan rather than just put vfr
I have to agree with that. I've found the same thing with Dublin.

If you put 3000 ft on your flight plan, they'll ask you to go to the FIR boundary not above 1000ft, or 1500ft.

If you put FL75 on it, they will do your best to get you up there asap.

It makes sense too; you're only telling them in advance that you want to get up high.

Flyer, not saying you didn't or anything, but don't be afraid to remind them that you'd like to get up higher as soon as you can. I've often been cleared at 1000ft or 1500ft but gone back to ATC to tell them that I actually want a higher altitude. Sometimes they can instantly give me a higher one, and others, they say that can't be will come back to me asap, and they usually do. It's always work letting them know that you're not trilled about your cleared altitude ;)

Hibby, the biggest problem for you was that you told them you wanted to do the Lambay Transit. If you don't have life rafts and life jackets with you, then I too would have felt uncomfortable doing what you were asked.

An alternative might be to ask if you can transit directly over the airfield, though you can expect to be held for a could of minutes, as they don't let you over when someone is on short final, in case they go around.

But I suppose it's a case, of they aren't going to let you interfere with their arrivals or departures. Either you go low enough, high enough or around. You might have been happier with a low level transit on the western side, but it could be tricky enough to avoid built up areas and still have a time saving vs going out side the zone.

My advice would be to either bring life rafts and jackets if going the Lambay route, or ask for an overhead transit.

Don't be too hard on yourself though. We've all done things that we later think might not have been a good idea. So long as no one got hurt, and you've learnt what you'd like to do differently, then it's a good day's flying ;)

Congratulations for having such an open attitude to learning. It shows your professional approach to flying, which I think is a great credit to you.

P

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Post by oldvolvotincan »

This route is specifically intended to be flown AT 500'.

Asking for 1000ft is a no no unless there is no inbound traffic for Dublin.

Remember this route is visual and is not laterally precise.

Lateral separation between aircraft on this route at 1000ft and traffic on the ILS to runway 28 cannot be guaranteed hence the requirement to fly at 500'.

If you had flown at 500ft you would have been a lot closer to land than you were.

http://www.iaa.ie/safe_reg/iaip/Frame1.htm

You overfly Lambay Island pass close to Irelands eye and hug Howth before you climb south of Howth.

I'm surprised you were not instructed to turn around and head north to route North and west of the zone when you asked to remain at 1000ft and closer to land. This would have been easier for both parties to deal with.

All in all at least you acknowledge your short comings and willingness to learn. Hence your two topics.

Good luck with your flying career and don't get put off by this. Everyone is more than welcome to fly this route but be prepared to fly it at 500ft.

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Post by oldvolvotincan »

If you put 3000 ft on your flight plan, they'll ask you to go to the FIR boundary not above 1000ft, or 1500ft.
Which direction you going?

If its east to Holyhead. Then bare in mind we try and let you go direct so we minimise your time over water but this will be offset by getting late climb reference inbound traffic to Dublin.

If you need to climb then may be suggest a more southerly route ie south of Killiney to get the climb.

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Post by captain slow »

Hibby fair play to you. As the others have said a big thumbs up on your attitude.

I too would have been uncomfortable doing that even with jackets and a dinghy. But it is legal-just and its the published procedure. The other options involve a considerable detour.

My only experience with ATC is to ask for higherr due terrain which was granted shortly after and again to ask for higher due the built up area rule which was granted too. In general they do seem to recognise you are a SEP flying VFR and will facilitate you as much as as possible but they wont let you get in the way of line traffic unless you are experiencing difficulties.

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Post by Pilot »

oldvolvotincan wrote:
If you put 3000 ft on your flight plan, they'll ask you to go to the FIR boundary not above 1000ft, or 1500ft.
Which direction you going?

If its east to Holyhead. Then bare in mind we try and let you go direct so we minimise your time over water but this will be offset by getting late climb reference inbound traffic to Dublin.

If you need to climb then may be suggest a more southerly route ie south of Killiney to get the climb.
Yes, that's pretty much the way it works. File low down, and I get direct, but very low. File higher up, and I'm manouvered a bit but let climb.

This was also true when I used to fly from EIDW.

P

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