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Old 16th October 2007, 01:27 AM   #1
Penultimate Amazing
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 11,494
Civilian Airliners in Tight Turns

I ran across an interesting article recently in "Air & Space" magazine about the hazardous approach to Baghdad Airport.

Due to recent pot-shots taken with RPGs and the like at civilian airliners landing at Baghdad, they've begun using a corkscrew approach to minimize their exposure to ground fire.

Hundreds of civilian aircraft take off and land at Baghdad International every week. These aren’t the friendliest of skies, however. Outside the heavily defended airfield perimeter are bands of insurgents who occasionally target civilian and military aircraft with surface-to-air missiles. To avoid being knocked out of the sky, pilots employ an old, trusted tactic: the spiral, or corkscrew, landing approach. Once the plane arrives at about 18,000 feet—still safely beyond the range of weapons like the SA-7 shoulder-fired missile—the pilot banks sharply and descends toward the runway in a slow, tight circle, like someone walking down a spiral staircase. During the spiral the crew keeps an eye out for other air traffic, and for anything coming at them from the ground. After several turns, the pilot pulls out of the rotation with careful timing, straightens out, and lands. The whole thing takes seven to 10 minutes, roughly the same as a regular approach, but it all takes place directly overhead, instead of beginning 20 miles from the runway.

Though it sounds like something from a flying circus, the corkscrew is actually a straightforward tactic that uses fairly standard piloting skills. Airline pilots sometimes use a similar maneuver, descending quickly through clouds to get under bad weather. With a little on-the-job training, spiraling down to the runway becomes second nature, says Kurt Neuenschwander, international chief pilot for Air Serv International, a nonprofit organization that flies relief workers and supplies into Iraq. Landing in Baghdad, he has flown Embraer 120s, which can handle a maximum bank angle of 60 degrees. Neuenschwander keeps it under 55 to be safe.
Could ZENSMACK, Swing Dangler or Redibis please explain why all of the above is impossible and only F-15s and tomahawk missiles can turn more than 90 degrees at a time and commercial liscence holding Hani Hanjour couldn't have performed a maneuver that requires "fairly standard piloting skills"?
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