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The worst runway design ever
Old 07-18-2007, 07:39 AM   #1
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The worst runway design ever

A Brazilian Airbus 320 skidded off a wet runway at Congonhas airport in Brazil yesterday and killed over 200 people. The jet tried to take off again when it was skidding, went off the ruway, and slammed into a fuel depot a short distance from the end of the runway. A fuel depot in line with the end of a runway? Helloooo. But it gets worse. That runway was notorious for poor drainage in heavy rains, and it rains there a lot. The day before another plane skidded off in rain. This problem was so bad that a local judge banned certain aircraft from using it, but the ruling was overturned by an appeals court.

I don't think I will complain about Washington National for a while.

Here is the story

BBC NEWS | Americas | Brazil jet disaster probe begins
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Old 07-18-2007, 08:19 AM   #2
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My son called last night and talked about the Sao Paolo airport. He flew there with his Brazilian girlfriend last year and took pictures from the plane to show how scary it looked. Not sure if this link will work for you:

IMG_4557.JPG on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Put your cursor on the lady on the sidewalk to see the comment he attached to the picture.
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Old 07-18-2007, 12:30 PM   #3
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The old Hong Kong airport was interesting to fly into - but not like this one.
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Old 07-18-2007, 12:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by grumpy View Post
Put your cursor on the lady on the sidewalk to see the comment he attached to the picture.
That's downright frightening. And the saddest thing is that they've waited until 200 people died before doing anything, that is, if they do anything about it even now. In spite of the FAA's problems, at least they don't allow this type of crap to go on in major US airports. The DC area has limits on building height, for example, to provide minimum clearances between National's landing patterns and the building tops. It's not much, but at least there is some regulation. There are smaller US airports that are a bit scary to fly into, the one in Monterey California comes to mind. The wheels almost touch the trees as the plane clears a hill on the approach.
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Old 07-18-2007, 02:09 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by dex
The old Hong Kong airport was interesting to fly into - but not like this one.
In the evening you could look in a couple dozen apartment windows and see what the folks were having for dinner during final approach to landing. In the afternoon you could help them take in the laundry hanging on their balconies!
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Old 07-18-2007, 02:31 PM   #6
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It's one thing that the runway is so close, but in order for that to happen, people have to want to live that close.

In the US people complain about living under/near the areas that planes often travel, let alone them living off the end of the runway.

That'd have to be some damn cheap rent for me to shack up that close.

-CC
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Old 07-18-2007, 02:40 PM   #7
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It is called the poor of the world stuck living where the can.
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Old 07-18-2007, 02:49 PM   #8
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The old Hong Kong airport was interesting to fly into - but not like this one.
I don't know if this link will work but here is a google maps photo of the airport. Look how incredibly close the houses are to the end of the runway. I think I also see where the fuel depot is, or was. These don't look like shacks, either, though it's hard to tell from overhead. But it looks like the airport was built first, then the houses went in, and they were allowed to build that close to the airport. Can you imagine the sound a jet on takeoff must make when you are inside one of those houses just a few hundred feet (or less) below the plane?

sao paolo brazil - Google Maps
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Old 07-18-2007, 04:39 PM   #9
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It is called the poor of the world stuck living where the can.
Hmmm not too poor for garages and swimming pools
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Old 07-18-2007, 05:09 PM   #10
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Sorry, Double
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:28 PM   #11
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DFW has fuel stores just offline from the runways near northeast air freight. (Two white circles upper center of the view. You can tell the active runways from the skid marks near the end.) Delta 191 hit them in 1985. They were dented for years...might still be if you look closely (in person, not in the Google photo) on the West side. On this article about Delta 191 the "Investigation & Clean Up" link in the box to the right has photos of the wreckage and the damaged fuel drums.


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Can you imagine the sound a jet on takeoff must make when you are inside one of those houses just a few hundred feet (or less) below the plane?
I don't have to. I got stranded at ATL a couple of Thanksgivings ago and got stuck with a motel that--as best I could tell by the sound--was only inches from the wheels of the landing jets. I'm pretty sure maker D on the map was my motel.
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Old 07-19-2007, 03:16 AM   #12
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At the time of the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska I was called back to active duty and stationed in Homer, Alaska. One day I sent a Petty Officer out to a town on the tip of the Kenai Pennisula to interview a few of the locals. He came back very shaken up and asked that I never send him there again. If he did have to go back, that I would arrange for him to go by heliocopter.

I asked him what was wrong (beside finding he had a fear of small aircraft). He told me the the pilot took several passes before setting down. When asked why, he was told that because the mountains were so close to each other there was not enough length for a straight runway so it had to be made curved. The pilot had to slide the aircraft on landing. He then told by interviewer that the locals had "used up" all of their aircraft earlier that year. I arranged for a helo for all others that I sent to that town.
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Old 07-19-2007, 06:57 AM   #13
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Homer's no picnic to land at, either. The mountain close to the runway causes all sorts of interesting winds.

People freak out about those small planes and don't understand some of the techniques. Slipping is needed for a small plane to keep aligned with the runway with strong crosswinds. I seriously doubt the runway itself was actually curved, but the approach might have appeared to be cockeyed because of the need to slip.

Multiple approaches isn't something to freak out about. It's just a safety thing. If the landing isn't set up perfect it's much better to go around again than to try to make a bad approach work. Or maybe the pilot was doing touch-and-go's to annoy your guy.

I lived in AK as a kid, and we owned a private plane. My mother flew commercially for Valdez Airlines and landed all the time at Homer, Kenai and other places. We took the Cessna 172 here and there, too. No biggie.
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Old 07-19-2007, 08:30 AM   #14
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BigMoneyJim, didn't realize DFW had the same problem with fuel tanks. Makes you go mmm... what were they thinking? And here's my very own Washington National, check out the fuel tanks. Guess I hadn't picked up on that from civilian runways, it's more common than I thought. Military runways tend to be a little more careful about collateral damage.

washington dc - Google Maps

On that ATL picture, there's a jet on final just to the right and below the motel you stayed at. And I note lots of tanks at what looks like a rail yard by the motel as well. Probably agricultural rather than fuel but still would make for a real mess.
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Old 07-19-2007, 08:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonToRetire View Post
There are smaller US airports that are a bit scary to fly into.
My DH, who once lived in Chicago, refuses to fly into Midway ....
Think it was also at Midway last winter that a plane went off the runway during a snowstorm, and ran into an intersection where it hit a car.
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Old 07-19-2007, 11:16 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by SoonToRetire View Post
On that ATL picture, there's a jet on final just to the right and below the motel you stayed at. And I note lots of tanks at what looks like a rail yard by the motel as well. Probably agricultural rather than fuel but still would make for a real mess.
I noticed that after posting it. "Inches" was exaggerating, but not by much! And there were military transports landing with wounded that night. Very very loud.

Also interesting...look at the landing zone on the runway...there's another plane just touching down. That's way too close! That must be two pictures of the same plane. I wonder if it's the same plane yet again on the high-speed exit ramp further down the runway. They're all AirTran Boeing 717's.

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My DH, who once lived in Chicago, refuses to fly into Midway ....
Think it was also at Midway last winter that a plane went off the runway during a snowstorm, and ran into an intersection where it hit a car.
"My light was green! You better be insured!"
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Old 07-20-2007, 09:05 AM   #17
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Also interesting...look at the landing zone on the runway...there's another plane just touching down. That's way too close! That must be two pictures of the same plane.
Wooow... I don't know, Jim, that may be two planes. If they were the same plane in two different frames, I would expect double images for each of the other planes but they are single. If those are two planes, they are about 3000 feet apart, which is the minimum separation for airports with parallel runways, like Atlanta, that use precision runway monitor (PRM) equipment. But AFAIK that only applies to planes landing on parallel runways, not to course separation, which I believe is at least 2.5nm. The most basic rule for aircraft separation is not to have two planes on an active runway at the same time. I thought maybe the plane was crabbing in a crosswind to land at the parallel runway but he's too close to the runway for that, and there's already a plane landing on the other one. I've got a buddy who works ATC I'll see what he says and let you know.
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Old 07-20-2007, 09:40 AM   #18
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CNN is saying "One of jet's thrust reversers was disabled after problem," but I haven't seen any more info than that. Does that mean that when they worked on some other problem on the airplane, someone turned on the "Thrust Reverser Safety Disabler" or something? It's not clear from the article.
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Old 07-20-2007, 09:48 AM   #19
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CNN is saying "One of jet's thrust reversers was disabled after problem," but I haven't seen any more info than that. Does that mean that when they worked on some other problem on the airplane, someone turned on the "Thrust Reverser Safety Disabler" or something? It's not clear from the article.
I wondered how long it would take this time before the cause was identified as "pilot error" or "maintenance error." It's a convenient way to keep the planes flying, just as they did with the Airbus rudder separation problem or the 737 rudder control.
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Old 07-20-2007, 11:56 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by BigMoneyJim View Post
Also interesting...look at the landing zone on the runway...there's another plane just touching down. That's way too close! That must be two pictures of the same plane. I wonder if it's the same plane yet again on the high-speed exit ramp further down the runway. They're all AirTran Boeing 717's.
The source of the photo is Google Earth, which is a mosaic of thousands of satellite shots put together like a huge jigsaw puzzle. Most likely the photo of the aircraft on the runway and that of the aircraft on short final were taken at separate times.
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