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Author Topic: Extreme Airports Tour (Read 24 times)
Scott Clifford
Executive Captain
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Total Posts: 31
Posted at: 03-09-2018 05:21:39 pm

In response to the recent email regarding the new extreme airports tour, I find myself compelled to make a few points.

"- Use the aircraft listed in the table or an approved substitute as listed."

This appears problematic for the leg departing Toncontin Intl Airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras destined for St Maarten. I get that the 747-400 arrival to TNCM would most definitely fit the picture ridden internet of the KLM 747 landing just a few feet above the beach at Princess Juliana Airport but, was their consideration for the complexity of operating an aircraft that is otherwise prohibited from opearting from MHTG? I'm assuming the recent reminder email was to ensure a realistic experience is achieved in performing flight operations at these unique and challenging airports. Pilots should also be reminded that although on ideal conditions the 747 can depart MHTG with many restrictions on fuel and payload. It would be a shame to always fly commercial airliners completely empty - pointless (may as well fly the Learjet). Perhaps these charts will assist pilots in making this leg a more enjoyable and authentic (although would not be authorized IRW).



NOTE: It's great the 747 is not used for arrival to MHTG. Boeing charts clearly show if the runway is wet, an empty 747-400 with anything greater than 15,000 lbs of fuel would not have the stopping capability on 6,600 feet of runway (based on 50' AGL at threshold)... Edit of note: I realize that the runway is 7000 feet for departures so my above calculations could possibly allow for an additional 15,000 lbs of fuel and/or payload.


"- If you are completing part 1 in 2 or 3 days you are you are not flying with the full intent of the tour."

Could you eleborate? Many of the legs are extremely short and if using the correct aircraft, most legs are relatively simple. For those of us who are veteran simmers (since 199cool like myself, I have flown to every single (and several more could be added) airport in both tours multiple times in many challenging scenarios (poor weather, heavy aircraft) pushing the limits of what is permissible for each of these airports. If I had a few days off with no disruptions I'm certain I can finish both tours inside a week. I know some of our fellow pilots are retired and have plenty of time ( especially to average 300+ hours a month) to complete these relatively short flights.

Perhaps more focus should be in commenting on some of the unlikely flights. I've tried Majestic Softwards Dash 8 300 with no passengers and minimum operating fuel, zero wind and clear skies to land successfully at TNCS Saba Island (done it hundreds of times in a Twin Otter) however, even at vREF hitting the end of the runway was unable to stop until I added at 17 knot headwind on landing. I love a challenge (the beauty of simming) but, if the objective of this tour was to make a realistic challenging enjoyable experience, I think the equipment restrictions should be enforced more strigently and possibly indicate that the nature of this tour will require pilots to meet higher caliber performance (ie. less than 450 fpm landing rate). This is after all, extreme airports tour - not break all safety protocols, be a hero and fly outside the envelope tour.

"- If you are an experienced pilot and not finding this difficult then you are not doing it right."

I can appreciate the suggestion of this comment however, I can't help but find it a little insulting. Naturally, nothing available on PC representing flight simulation can give a true experience to extreme airport operations (as testified by one of eight pilots certified to operate from Paro Airport (VQPR) for Bhutan Airlines after trying XP11's Paro Experience). However, as I have participated in a recent VATSIM fly-in to VQPR and watched several broadcasts of many experienced simmers of this fly-in online, I can assure you many of us experienced pilots are likely "doing it right".  Flight Sim is not without it's glitches and compromises to realism. I continually suffer with activesky's bug of upper wind glitches causing an otherwise smooth long haul cruise into a manual control sweat session until the glitch ends and the winds return to normal. The most recent was a descent to Quito airport in Ecuador.

I love my FlyVirtual group. I love my aviator freedom. I still maximize my realism settings and spend hours for preparation of hundreds of FVN flights per year. I am very excited to power through these extreme airports and post many screenshots of some of my favorites. I apologize for the rant. I'm just a golf pro that should have been a pilot.

BTW if you want a real challenge, fly to my hometown CYCG Castlegar in a medium turboprop and set your weather to 2 miles and a ceiling of 2,800 feet (4500 ASL). Those are the minimums for the RNAV circle to land approach (only available now) with mountains within 3 miles or less in all four quandrants.

Even the RNAV to 18 or 36 at Quito's new SEQM airport is great fun in a jetliner (which I just flew).


Last updated by Scott Clifford on 03-09-2018 05:24:20 pm.

Scott Clifford - DRK772

Randy Dettmer COO
Senior Executive Captain
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Total Posts: 170
Posted at: 05-09-2018 03:55:30 pm

Just a few notes on your response:

This email was to the general membership and not intended to “poke” any one pilot.  As always we have pilots that don’t read and understand the rules or guidelines when we put up tours and giveaways.  They just jump in and fly to get to the finish as fast as possible forgoing any complications along the way.  In this tour getting to the end is not to be the biggest goal.  The biggest reward is doing each leg as a personal challenge and doing it with class, style and proficiency.

Yes.  Choosing the B747 for MHTG to TNCM was a conscious choice to keep the arrival on track for TNCM even though it is a stretch.  It was planned to go through KMIA (RW A318 flight), but that leg was dropped to keep the tour from growing to 3 parts.  Getting a 747 into RW 02 is not very realistic, yes.  Getting a reasonably loaded 747 on RW 20 is a possibility. Getting it back out on RW 02 with a reasonable PAX load is also easily done with the small fuel load required for the trip. If you really want to get into the weeds, there’s a lot more considerations to putting the 74 into that airport other than runway length.  But I know even our most meticulous pilots wouldn’t look at that level. Back to the tour - no one was asked to land the 74 at MHTG – just depart with it. So, yes, it was fudged a bit for the tour’s sake.

As I knew the 74 at MHTG would come up I did a bit of testing before the tour release.  60% PAX Cargo 15K of fuel entering the approach to RW 02. First attempt was on the ground a bit late so went around.  Second attempt went well easily turning off before the runway end.  Never even tried landing RW 20 – if you can make 02 now need lol.Getting back out on RW 20 with 80K fuel and 70% PAX was a cakewalk.

Point 2: 

Several of the flights are very short, just like IRW.  If you can nail all these airports on the first go you can disregard what is said in the email.  I myself have done about 50 landings at TFFJ over the years. I just went into RW 10 about 2 months ago and did fine.  When flying the tour leg in a bit of WX I headed to the wrong clearing in the trees and had to do a bit of barn storming to get it on the runway.  A note on experience – we have many pilots that have thousands of hours and have never flown into some of these airports…or anything like them. So have to keep that in mind.

Point 3:

We did consider aircraft types for tour legs carefully. We have to temper that just a bit to keep it moderate for all, hence the requirements in the table.  We are expecting pilots who fly this tour to have some judgement and not go completely crazy one way or the other. I have seen a pilot put a B777 into VQPR (watched the approach and landing online and reviewed the PIREP - might have needed new tires and brakes afterwards), but doing that for the tour would get a reject. We’ve had one pilots that used an aircraft that could land and take off three times over at one of the tour airports.  The flight was a good one but didn’t meet the requirement.  We changed the flight number (so the tour module would not give credit for the leg) and made him re-fly the leg.  If the staff catches something like putting a Q400 onto TNCS that would be sweet if done successfully, but it would be outside what the intent of this tour is and credit would not be given.  Landing rates are very contentious as we have found over the past couple of years.  Sims and aircraft can be tweaked to keep landing rates very low.  Some addons also don’t do a good job of reporting landing rates.  Some sim pilots also have found tricks like holding the last click of flaps until in the flare to soften the landing.  While it works in the sim I’m not sure how that would work in the real aircraft and the safety of doing so might be just a bit much to even consider as even a bad practice. I have had the opportunity IRL to review FDR data, specially landing data, for heavy aircraft over 100s of flights.  We’ll just say that the very best pilots average just above -100fpm and leave it at that.

Point 4:

If you are a pilot that has mastered VQPR then this is not pointed at you and you should feel no ill feeling.  I can tell you in this VA you are one of few that has ever flown into that airport.  I’m certain your first attempt at VQPR did not go the best.  I watch the YTs of in cockpit video of the RW flights and you can see the focus and intensity of the pilots that are trained and practiced.  My hats off to you for working hard on these difficult airports and refining your skills.  I like to do the same. In the last year I did 8 approaches into VQPR back to back in one day until I got one that met my personal high standard. Very few sim pilots take this hobby as I, and apparently, you do.

A bit more on not doing it right. The flying time for part 1 of the tour is about 44 hours in all.  That considers short prep/preflight. That is almost 2 days in itself.  Hell it takes almost a day to install and check scenery – if that is not being done then, again, there’s a problem because some of the default airports are represent so poorly that anyone can fly them – at least in P3D/FSX.  I can never get feedback from the X Plane flyers.  With all that said, unless you are main lining Red Bull and Monster while drinking coffee, getting this done in less than 3 day is a bit of stretch.

I’ll have a look at CYCG.  Cant say I’ve ever been into that airport.  I really wanted to put SEQM on the tour.  I delayed the release of the tour for over a month waiting on Dream Flight to release the new payware for it.  When I got the message from them that is was delayed again by Rl issues I took it out (changed to SKBO – not real hard but a sweet stopping point on the way to MHTG).  The default SEQM airport in P3D/FSX is the old closed airport which is miles away from the new and there is no good scenery for the new.

No worries on the rant.  Again, if you are really well practiced on many of these airports (you would the very rare exception in the VA) then the email was not pointed at you. No need to fret.  The staff has been watching the PIREPs pretty closely and based on some of the turn times, flight logs and leg completion rates we feel that some pilots might not be living to the intent of the tour – so the email went out.  Lol. There has been staff members called out and made to re-fly legs.


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