Hello everyone! Hope your holidays were well.
Ever since becoming an IFATC officer, there has always been one thing bothering me that I feel I need to mention to the IFC, not only to help us controllers but you as pilots and the service you receive. Yes, there are always the individuals that make mistakes or disregard our instructions, but I’m here to mention aircraft speed on approach, especially when approach is active.
Now some may be thinking, “well, approach has speed commands.” And while this is true, in a busy airspace where we have a ton of things to worry about, speed isn’t always top on our mind when we see good spacing.
So, speed. Over the past few months I’ve seen pilots going 250KIAS on downwind, base, and even final. Let me explain why this is wrong and what you should do.
Going 250 until final creates a few issues.
- Collision Course: If you decide to fly faster than an aircraft directly in front of you on the same STAR, the controller will not have to spend more time fixing your speed when they could be attending to other aircraft…
- Missing Waypoints: Flying at high speeds during crucial stages of the arrival will often lead to the plane overshooting a waypoint, which will then cause additional problems for the controller.
- Missed Approach: Going too fast can lead to missed approach. Same as up above, going too fast won’t allow the plane to turn and intercept in time, blowing through the localizer, and creating a missed approach.
- Flight Time Is Extended: Think of it this way. There are 3 aircraft on final, your ready to turn base. The faster you decide to go, the farther from the airport you go before we can turn you. Slowing it down allows the aircraft to pass by sooner and thus your turn comes earlier.
- Preparation: If a speed commands is issued for you, being slower already allows you to be at that speed command quicker, instead of not meeting the controller’s needs in proper time.
So, what are the appropriate speeds to fly during an approach?
If pilots could use these speeds, it would allow controllers to create a smooth flowing approach for you and other pilots and allows for a better journey.
Lastly, if you don’t choose to listen to this request, here’s my other request: Please, and I beg you, if you are in trail of an aircraft that is flying at a slower speed than you, try to slow down to match their speed. Aircraft take time to reduce their speed, especially heavy aircraft. If you are 5 miles in trail of another aircraft and you are flying 50 knots faster than them, it may be too late to slow down before separation is lost. Slowing it down earlier will help you, everyone around you, and your controllers.
I appreciate everyone for reading and hope this servers as a friendly reminder to all pilots. Again, approach controllers are here to help with speeds (and should be issuing them when needed) and have to right to slow you down instead of a pilot doing it themselves, but having pilots help always makes us happy and makes our job a little easier.
Thanks @PlaneGeek for the help in writing this reminder