There’s landing long, and then there’s this. Next time you fly a high approach or float down the runway, you should think about performing a go-around. Here’s why…
AIRBUS LANDS IN THE OPPOSITE DISPLACED THRESHOLD
Every pilot has a few touchdowns farther down the runway than they planned for.
We all know that you can’t land on a displaced threshold. But have you ever seen someone land on the displaced threshold on the opposite side of the runway? Probably not. And definitely not in an Airbus A320.
Sure, this runway is 10,000 feet long, and it appears in the video that this crew had plenty of room to stop. But there’s more to keep in mind than just stopping distance. Especially when flying heavy aircraft, where your touchdown point dramatically affects safety.
WHY THE MASSIVE DISPLACED THRESHOLD?
The Port Blair Veer Savarkar International Airport in India is the only large airport serving the Andaman Islands. Its single Runway 04/22 is 10,795 feet long, with a displaced threshold of 3,737 feet at the departure end of Runway 04. That’s a really long displaced threshold.
Departures are only possible from Runway 22, due to a large hill (pictured below) sitting right at the end of Runway 04 (departure end of RWY22). That’s the vantage point where the video was taken. The video makes it appear that the runway is significantly sloped, however, the gradient is only around .3%.
Landings on Runway 22 are unlikely for larger aircraft, due to this same hill. With local weather patterns, pilots are often confronted with strong tailwinds when landing on Runway 04. These are some very real hazards for pilots flying into Port Blair.
ONCE YOU are LANDING LONG, SAFETY IS GONE
Due to the terrain at the departure end of Runway 04, flying a high approach or floating past the touchdown zone means a safe go-around isn’t guaranteed.
Similar to Aspen, Colorado, last-minute go-arounds for Runway 04 are considered an emergency procedure. A landing within the touchdown zone isn’t just preferable here, it’s necessary for a safe landing.
Beyond go-arounds, your calculated landing distance usually assumes crossing the threshold at around 50 feet and touching down within the touchdown zone.
Once you fail to meet these parameters, there’s no specific way to tell how much runway you have left to stop. In this case, the pilots were fortunate to have a long runway, but imagine this same scenario with less margin for error.