Wednesday, February 16, 2011
There is a tropic low over Darwin at the moment. The airport is closed, and a few of the boys/planes had to overnight in Katherine. I was able to get back in before the really bad weather hit, but it was by the skin of my teeth, with the wind gusting to 30knots crosswind. When i left the cyclone warning had not been issued, and i didn't need alternate fuel. By the time i got back, the airport was below alternate minima, but i did not have the required fuel to get to Tindal, even if i had needed too. Instead i shot the ILS, visual at 900ft, severe turbulence, and windshear, but made a decent landing nonetheless.
Yesterday was decent IFR. Spent the majority of the day in cloud, shot 3 RNAV approaches to the minima, and even had to do one go-around, which is only the second time ever off an apporach (apart from training) that i have had to do one. It is very unnatural in the Titan, and you have to be very gentle with the geared turbo continental 520 engines. I did 2 ILS's, both with a lot of wind, rain, turbulence and low visibility. Good experience, and was really down to the minima. Becoming visual probably at 700ft, but that was with the approach/PAPI and runway lights shining through the muck. The ground was still obscured by the torrential rain. Good experience, but one can't help thinking that flying around in 35 year old piston aeroplanes in these conditions can't be good for the pilot, passengers or plane!
Anyhoo, till further notice, airport is closed and all flights cancelled or suspended.
Here is the Darwin TAF/TTF for those interested -
TAF AMD YPDN 152237Z 1600/1706
01025G40KT 3000 RAIN BKN005 BKN025
FM160300 04035G60KT 3000 RAIN BKN005 BKN025
FM161200 08035G60KT 3000 RAIN BKN005 BKN025
FM161800 11035G60KT 3000 RAIN BKN005 BKN025
TEMPO 1600/1603 VRB30G50KT 1000 THUNDERSTORMS WITH RAIN BKN008
TEMPO 1603/1706 VRB40G70KT 1000 THUNDERSTORMS WITH RAIN BKN008
T 25 26 26 26 Q 996 995 993 992
TTF SPECI YPDN 160004Z 19017KT 2500 LIGHT RAIN SCT010 SCT045 OVC100
FM0004 01025G40KT 3000 RAIN BKN005 BKN025
TEMPO 0004/0304 VRB30G50KT 1000 THUNDERSTORMS WITH RAIN BKN008
SPECI YPDN 160004Z 19017KT 2500 LIGHT RAIN SCT010 SCT045 OVC100 24/24
Basically issued at 8:37am on 16/2/11. wind is from 010 degrees and 25 knots gusting to 40. 3000m vis in rain, broken cloud at 500ft and 2500ft. From 12:30pm wind will be from 045 degrees, 35kts gusting to 60kts. QNH is 0997.
So essentially it is below the alternate minima, due wind, visibility and cloud considerations. Plus there is 60 minutes holding fuel required due to the 24 hour TEMPO period. The closest alternate is Tindal, which would need roughly 80 minutes worth of fuel with variable reserve.