Procedures at airports where landing and take-off are in opposite directions

Hi all,

This relates to a situation I found myself in at Sarajevo as a pilot a short while ago, but is not so much about that specific case but more a general ramble about controlling at an airport with terrain at one end of the runway, thus (largely) requiring landings and take-offs to be in opposite directions (e.g. at LQSA they arrive runway 12 and depart runway 30), on the assumption that there is no Approach controller on duty. Although in most cases there will be a tough visual approach option to the other end of the runway, in the real world that will rarely be used by anything other than GA and smaller prop airliners. Indeed, at LQSA the layout of the taxiways is a good indicator that they do not expect anything of any size to be landing on runway 30 or departing runway 12.

At a normal single-runway airport, when you have aircraft inbound you can put them into downwinds, sequence them based on other arriving traffic, and then slot take-offs in between where possible. However, the standard ATC commands do not seem to have appropriate commands for sorting out traffic where you need to avoid arriving and departing aircraft getting into conflict on the glideslope at this more complicated sort of airport. You do not have an option to sequence an arrival based on the position of a departing airliner (e.g. ‘number 2, after the aircraft taking off’), and nor does the Tower have an option to get an inbound plane to hold at a location while the approach funnel clears.

Back at LQSA the standard departure charts I have seen require a fairly quick turn to the north, presumably in part to get out of the way of the approach. Now, I know SIDs are not really part of IF, but in an airport like this having some means for the tower to instruct an aircraft to turn while departing (as we do with the Turn Base command for inbound) may be helpful so as to set up an inbound flow.

In the case of the approach I just failed to execute, runway 30 was being used for both landing and departing, presumably because it had the green for weather. Had I been inbound when there was little other traffic around I would have requested a change to runway 12 and then waited to see what the controller thought of that, but on this occasion I knew this would just get an Unable response based on the flow of outbound traffic (and a pilot doing a bizarre all-the-way-to-the-end-of-the-cone pattern). Instead I headed in for the visual to 30, but landed short of the runway while trying to make the final turn - my own fault of course.

Anyway, all a bit of a ramble, but would be interested to hear what other more experienced ATCers have to say about how to handle these sorts of airports.

Jon

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