The Kai Tak of Europe

I guess that the successful short hop to Courchevel I had done last time encouraged me to keep pushing the limits with trying more hair-raising approaches, so started a little southwest from France…at Porto, Portugal.

The destination; Madeira’s Cristiano Ronaldo Airport; a standard route operated by TAP Air Portugal. Due to its singular approach involving a 150 degree snake-turn into Rwy 05 (Nope, no ILS) , this airport is on occasion called the Kai Tak of Europe. Of course, its other unique feature is how Rwy 23 is supported with a bridge platform. Like the last time with the Kathmandu approach, rolled out in the Airbus A320

With no crosswinds and no turbulence, it was an uneventful takeoff and climb,

…before making the turn south away from shore



and approaching cruising altitude at FL320 with nothing but ocean out ahead.

The majority of the 2 hour flight was largely uneventful, though it was at cruise I had noticed ahead that Rwy 23 was unfavorable for landing, meaning I’d have to fly left downwind before making the turn into Rwy 05. Started my descent about 35 minutes out down to 4000 ft…and crossing the island of Porto Santo while reaching 7000 ft.

Dropping further to 2000 ft while traveling downwind, configured the plane for landing, before dropping to 150 knots (aiming to come low and slow) and making the hard right turn into Rwy 05.

Normally I’d drop the landing gear approaching at 1000 ft to minimize drag, dropped it while turning still at 2000 out of caution.

Had to make a hard descending turn to stay clear of the hills, before a fairly steep descent. In retrospect, I could have set spoilers in flight, but was focused on landing, and unfortunately increased my speed to 160 knots in the process. Cleared the hills and made a safe landing; albeit a sligihtly off-centerline one that had to be corrected while braking .

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Great pictures!

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Thank you :)

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I did this flight not too long ago actually, it was a fun approach! I used this topic, as well as Captain Joe’s video to help me.



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Ah, should have looked this up before trying. No matter, I’ll take care to use this the next time :)

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i have spent a lot of time making lands there coz is not easy, sometimes i need to do 2 goin around or more at runway 05! is like what u said ''the proper kaitak of europe ‘’

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Nice photos! Reminds me of Juneau’s 26 approach.

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I don’t blame you; if the speed went any higher due to the descent I seriously would have considered a go-around too. :)

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Thank you :)

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