Friday, June 20, 2014

Taxiiway Closures

I'm arriving at an airport with no control tower, and no flight services on the field, but it's a mandatory frequency, and this time of day the radio is answered by a flight services specialist at another airport. It's not an uncommon situation in Canada. It's funny sometimes listening when a pilot doesn't realize that the control tower at the airport he has just landed at is unoccupied, and asks questions like, "Is this a good place to park?"

The descent is over rugged forest with little lakes in it. I point out a boat on the lake to a new, non-pilot crew member, part of my running commentary on what I'm doing, so they get to know what is normal. I called the flight services specialist about 30 miles out and then again entering the zone. The specialist tells me that three out of the four taxiways are closed, rattling off the identifying letters. This is the wrong part of the flight for me to be fumbling for a publication to determine how this should affect my runway choice or route to the fuel pumps. Taxiway letters don't correspond in an obvious way to the runway layout. How could they, with so many ways to lay out runways? I do know of an airport with taxiways S to the south and E to the east, but even that makes no sense without the diagram out the CFS, Did I miss this mess in the NOTAMs? I often check NOTAMs the night before and not morning of, and perhaps I missed this airport.

I can see a vehicle parked across one of the taxiways.  Another pilot on frequency says somethign about "these baldies."  Bald eagles, he means. They're the most common kind of eagle around here. I was about to describe one, but guess everyone in the world knows what they look like, because they're an American symbol. There's one near my altitude, but fortunately not right in my path. I flare, and no eagles decide to challenge me.

I tax off the runway and negotiate my way to the apron. There is construction going on, and large trucks trundling to and fro. We get to the fuel pumps without incident and refuel. At the end of the day I recheck NOTAMs. There is nothing for this airport about taxiway closures, just three unlighted towers and some non-standard runway markings. Ubiquitous enough NOTAMs that I hadn't written them down.

I call to talk to a flight briefer to see if I've missed a NOTAM somewhere. Nope, they don't have anything either. I tell them about the construction.

This sort of thing undermines my confidence in the system. I depend on this system to tell me if there is fuel and a place to put my wheels when I land. I check NOTAMs again in the morning. Now there are two unlighted towers plus non-standard runway markings. Overnight someone either put up some lights or took down a tower, I guess. But the construction still doesn't exist.

5 comments:

Chris said...

The system relies on airport operators to report closures. Some airport operators are good, some are bad. I always call the airport operator before I fly into an unfamiliar airport.

World'sMostAnxiousPerson said...

I'm glad it's not just me.On my solo cross country , there was an airshow
going on at one of my destination airports.

I ended up circling north of the field for about 15 minutes before i could land.
it wasn't NOTAMed , and while I found it funny I can see how it could have upset a nervous student.

on the other hand there are towers and cranes that have been listed in our local NOTAMS for literally years. It makes picking out the relevant ones a real pain

PPL Driver said...

Where I live, it's wind generators that take up all the space in the NOTAMS. Sometimes it makes it really tough to see the information that is truly needed.

PPL Driver said...

Ok, it's not that they generate wind, but more like wind turbines. But they're not turbines either... How about windmills? Not the cute Dutch things, but those monster things out of steel.

majroj said...

I see "wind powered generators" is acceptable. Need a snappy acronym.

You can hit 'em, and they also create false returns on Doppler with their moving aerosols.