|"With it out and hanging"|
Stable or unstable?
Since the incident on Toronto’s 24 Left where an A340 (not ours) overran the runway and from anonymously analyzing flight profiles from our FDA (Flight Data Analysis) department, a new procedure came about three years ago. Hundreds upon hundreds of flights were scrutinized. Certain problem areas and particular airports stood out. (I’ll be off to one airport high on the list as a “problem child”….San Francisco). For example, some airports are known to keep a pilot high and fast, so configuring the aircraft proved to be a challenge in some situations. (Anyone who flies jets knows you can't "get down and slow down.") Thus ATC could be approached to resolve things or briefing notes can give a pilot a "heads up."
So what is required to be deemed a stable approach?
Here’s a few:
1. Aircraft is configured to land i.e. “it’s out and hanging”
(Ahem, this means the flaps and slats are out and the gear is down) :)))
2. Indicated airspeed is plus/minus 10 knots
3. Engine thrust is above idle
4. Rate of descent is NOT above 1000 feet/minute
5. We are on or within a half dot of the glideslope and within ½ dot deflection of the localizer.
So at 500 AGL in VFR conditions or 1000 feet IFR the PNF (Pilot Not Flying) gets to rate his co-worker by saying “stable” or “unstable.” Kidding! Actually, the call is either “Stable” or “Unstabilized.” So far...all my F/Os have been calling me “Stable.” An “Unstabilzed” call is an automatic go around.
I guess they figured “unstable” would be too similar sounding in the heat of the moment. It’s all about phraseology. Just like “yes” is affirmative and “no” is negative in aviation.
Speaking of which, a recent F/O of mine told me this joke….
A husband suspected his wife was having an affair with the pilot in the neighbourhood. He confronted her and asked, “are you having an affair with THAT PILOT down the street?”
His wife quickly retorted…."Negative!” :)))))