A Guide to the Paro Approach

Sorry I haven’t posted one of these in a while; IB schools suck

VQPR Approach Tutorial

Image Source

(https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/scaled/2011/12/29/article-2079836-0F4B6C3E00000578-470_308x185.jpg)

Overview

In this tutorial I will cover the Visual RWY 15 approach into Paro Airport. In this tutorial I will be in a generic a319 meant to represent Drukair 201 (DRK201) from Delhi.

Charts

Below is a link to Bhutan’s eAIP, which will provide you with the most up-to-date charts for the airport used by real pilots. I HIGHLY recommend using them!

https://www.doat.gov.bt/aip/

Part 0: Arrival and Notes

Just a note that on this flight I used the SUBSU1 arrival, which is what most flights to Paro use. It will set you up on the PR888 transition onto the RNAV (RNP) X/Y RWY 15/33 approach. If you’re arriving from the south or the east, the initial approach will look different, but the final approach will look the same.

This is a very challenging approach; only a handful of pilots in real life are licensed to fly this. Also no aircraft larger than an a320 can land here due to runway length and elevation. Finally, this approach requires daylight; the airport closes at dusk.

Part 1: Initial Approach

There are many step-down descents on this approach, so I’d advise keeping VNAV engaged until the visual portion of the approach. When you first begin the approach, slow to 185 KIAS over PR888. When you look at the chart, you may notice the word “Arc” sprinkled along some of the routes. This means instead of simply flying direct to the next waypoint, you’ll want to curve your flight path. I’m honestly not 100% sure if there’s a special professional way to follow these; I’d just eyeball it. If you don’t think you can follow the arc correctly, don’t sweat it. You can land just fine without doing so. That said don’t use LNAV. LNAV should be disengaged once you cross PR888. This is because LNAV likes to make turns early, and will sometimes make them too sharp, creating the risk of running into terrain.

When you fly over waypoints, adjust your heading to arrive at the next waypoint manually. Infinite Flight will tell you what heading to turn to.

When you reach PR712, you want to be in full landing configuration (gear down, flaps full, spoilers armed, etc.). Cut your speed to 145 KIAS and be at exactly 11800 ft. At this point, you should disengage your heading autopilot and prepare to make this turn manually due to terrain. If the “Arc” is still troubling you, just fly visually, making sure you follow the valley under you, and watching for the mountain to your left. You should begin to see the airport on your 2 O’Clock once you pass over PR710. If you do, switch to visual and fly directly towards the airport, descending and maintaining 9850 ft. If you don’t continue to follow the flight plan until you reach PR708. If you can’t see the runway by the time you are over PR708, divert.

Now, here comes the fun part ;)

Part 2: Visual Approach

When you’re over the airport, here’s what you should see:

Be sure you’re in full landing configuration. The mountainside circled in red is your first visual cue. As it passes you on your left, make a left turn, following it.

Continue to turn until you are headed directly for this valley, circled in blue:

Next you’ll want to make a right U-turn to head back towards the airport. You want to be disciplined here when deciding when to turn. Too early and you may run into terrain on your right, too late and you’ll slam into the valley you should be headed towards. Next is a sharp right turn, between 25 and 30 degrees. There isn’t a lot of room for error because there’s sharp mountainsides surrounding you, but if you maintain a 25-30 degree turn you shouldn’t have any issues. During this turn, you’ll want to be descending.

Below you, believe it or not, is a river, which you should start following. This is a little tricky since IF’s scenery isn’t the greatest close-up, but if you can’t follow it, you can just fly towards this crevice on the mountainside which I’ve circled in yellow:

This S turn is the trickiest part; every time I’ve crashed, it’s been here. You want to time your turn perfectly. Turn right to fly over a white patch on the ground that I’ve highlighted:

You’re GPWS isn’t going to like this next part. You want to graze the hill (not literally) to your right, making sure you are between 200 and 300 feet above the ground, all the wile monitoring your speed and keeping it at just above landing speed. The moment you clear the hill, make your left turn to align with the runway. Don’t let the simplistic wording fool you; this turn is very difficult. If you turn too sharply you may strike your wing, but if you turn too shallow you’ll fail to align with the runway and it will be very difficult to go around.

Touchdown isn’t anything too major, you have a little room to float. I’d suggest putting the plane on the asphalt the moment you can, no further down the runway than the taxiway entrance to the hangar.
(I’m not gonna show my landing because it was at around -300 fpm. Ouch)


That concludes this tutorial! Sorry if there’s a few mistakes, I’m a little rusty with these tutorials. I appreciate any feedback, and if you have questions I’ll be happy to answer them!

How’s my tutorial?
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

0 voters

11 Likes

Nice! You’re describing landing on 15, correct? For RWY 33 it’s just a straight descent from PR710 on the visual?

1 Like

If you’re landing on RWY 33, I think the pilots actually switch to visual somewhere around the FAF and take it from there, barring clouds/weather. If there’s visibility issues, then yes it’s a straight descent from PR710.

2 Likes