On Final: Sometimes, Slow Is Better – Aircraft Speed

On Final: Sometimes, Slow Is Better – Aircraft Speed

DavidMillerby David Miller

Recently, I wrote about my addiction to aircraft speed. But, as I found out on one of my latest flights, sometimes flying slowly is just as important.

An area of low pressure was moving into north Texas, with showers scheduled to arrive by noon. The forecast for Addison (KADS) was 1,500 overcast and more than 6 miles visibility as we approached from the southeast on a December morning. The ATIS, however, told a different story: “Information Sierra, wind 180 at 15, gusts to 24, visibility 2 miles in mist, ceiling 700 overcast. Expect the ILS to runway 15.” I quickly checked the weather at nearby Dallas Love (KDAL), which was reporting 600 overcast. Glad I put on a little extra fuel, I thought to myself.

“November 1865 Charlie, reduce to 210 knots,” came the request from regional approach as we crossed YEAGR intersection at 9,000 feet. Hum… slowing us down a little early today. Not too unusual, though, especially when weather is around.

As we neared Addison, the line of airplanes trying to beat the lowering weather lengthened. “65 Charlie, slow to 170 knots,” came the command from a fast-talking controller, now very busy. I could see the line of traffic on the TCAS display. Then came the restriction to 150 knots as we turned abeam final. “65 Charlie, I have a lot of traffic landing at Addison and I’ll have to put you on an extended final.” “No problem,” I said. “65 Charlie, reduce to your minimum approach speed. You are following several 172’s trying to beat the weather.”

With flaps and gear out, I had the CJ1+ slowed to 130 knots in solid IMC and light rain. “65 Charlie, can you reduce any further?” said the controller. I was doing the best I could to stay in line but this plan was not looking good. “Negative,” came my reply, just a couple of miles outside the final approach fix. “65 Charlie, cancel approach clearance, turn left to a heading of 090 and climb to 2,100 feet.”

Wow, I thought. This is just like my simulator training. And in the almost forty years I have been flying in and out of Addison, this was the first time I had to go missed in IMC. Power up, positive rate, gear up, flaps up, left turn to 090 degrees – all came quickly. Patty, sitting in the right seat, wondered what was going on, but I didn’t have a lot of time to discuss the situation.

“65 Charlie, I apologize. I got you too close to those 172’s. Their groundspeed was about 60 knots with that wind. I will take you around for another approach,” said the harried controller. “Not a problem, I said. I could use the practice.”

We flew another circuit and broke out at 600 AGL in light rain. It’s satisfying to use some skills you practice so many times in the simulator. Today, going slower was better. I even got a “high five” from Patty as we taxied in.

Fly safe.

With 5,000-plus hours in his logbook, David Miller has been flying for business and pleasure for more than 40 years. Having owned and flown a variety of aircraft types, from turboprops to midsize jets, Miller, along with his wife Patty, now own and fly a Citation CJ1+. You can contact David at davidmiller1@sbcglobal.net.

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