Copy Connect with us:        ​            View this in your browser.

Ahoy Fellow Aviator <<First Name>>,

Improving the accuracy of CloudAhoy's flight analyzer is ongoing work. In the last few weeks we have focused on the Circling Approach.

Also in this newsletter - a quick tip video: how to send your track logs from ForeFlight to CloudAhoy, and Flying "The Gauntlet".

Read ahead!

Major Improvement: Debriefing a Circling Approach

Flying a circling approach is an essential skill that every instrument pilot must be proficient in. Our recent release includes significant improvements to the automated analysis and scoring of circling approaches.

The most common reason for flying a circling approach is when the active runway does not have an instrument approach procedure, but another runway does. 

The one minute debrief

In the example below, a Citation pilot was cleared to land on the active Runway 21 (because the wind favored it), but only Runway 03 has an instrument approach (because of the terrain). The pilot flew RNAV RWY 03, circling to Runway 21. The screenshot below includes the wind barbs - we can see that the RNAV approach (the magenta line) was to Runway 03, and the wind favoring the reciprocal Runway 21.

What makes a circling approach safe? The circling needs to be flown inside the protected area, needs to have the correct altitude and airspeed, and the pilot needs to complete the turn so the plane is aligned with the runway before crossing the threshold (no “cutting corners”).

This can be seen at a glance: looking at the profile view graph (above image, top right), note the level flight during the circling, and note that the airspeed was within the required range (the blue rectangle). The shape of the approach also looks good from the 3D track display, but CloudAhoy actually found that the circling started too early, outside of the protected area. 

Looking at expanded score details above, highlighted in pink, we notice a 0 on the “circling within protected area” criterion.  And - indeed, looking at the Circling graph, and moving to the pink-shaded area, we can see that the pilot started the circle a little bit too early, and was a 2.4 nm distance - outside of the required 1.9 nm.

A quick and efficient debrief shows that this approach was flown well, except for when starting the circle to the other runway; it occurred too soon. We’ve identified an area for improvement and something to monitor on future circling approaches to make sure it doesn’t become a bad habit. 

Under the hood - recent improvements

Our recent release now analyzes and scores the following aspects of a circling approach:

  1. Was the flight fully inside the protected area (per the aircraft category and the MDA)?
  2. Was the circling speed within the envelope?
  3. Was the plane aligned with the extended centerline on the very short final?

Opening the detailed scores show three items related to circling:

  • TRK at THLD: the scoring envelope allows for +/- 1.5 degrees off the runway heading. In this flight the nose was perfectly aligned with the runway.
  • Circling Speed: using the Vref for this flight and the scoring envelope, we determined that the airspeed was within the desired range.
  • Circling within the protected area: the protected area radius is based on the aircraft’s approach category.

The CIRCLING graph is new, showing the distance to the nearest runway during circling. We mark in pink areas in which the flight’s path was outside of the protected area. You can open the graph and drag the time, to correlate events marked in the graph with the actual aircraft positions.

Quick Tip: Importing into CloudAhoy from ForeFlight 

This short video shows you how to send ForeFlight track logs to CloudAhoy to debrief your flight. 


Debrief: Flying "The Gauntlet" 

The challenge of "The Gauntlet" is that in just 30 miles you encounter boundaries and shelves of Bravo, Charlie, and Delta airspace and must talk to San Carlos tower, Palo Alto tower, Moffett tower, San Jose Tower, and finally Reid-Hillview tower (and all over again to get back home). Read Britt's latest blog to find out how it went

As always, any comment is very welcomed; simply reply to this email, or use the Feedback link. We reply to every email!

Chuck Shavit
and the CloudAhoy team

CloudAhoy's previous newsletters          our blog             Connect with us:      ​       
Copyright © 2021 CloudAhoy, Inc., All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
CloudAhoy, Inc.
P.O.Box 585
Lexington, MA 02420

Add us to your address book
Share this article:
share on Twitter  Like Circling Approach Improvements, Upload from ForeFlight & More on Facebook