Wednesday, October 26, 2011

P-3 Semi Prepared Runway Operations

Today's presentations closed-out with Maj. Alan Harvey of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Harvey discussed the need to land the P-3 on untraditional runways, like the P-3's "Herculean" sibling.

RCAF CP-140 Aurora crews are increasingly charged to support missions in Canada's north country, which is rough and rugged territory home to few paved runways. The vicinity has gravel runways that have been used by Canada's Hercules fleet, but the gravel runways are still uncharted territory for the Aurora fleet. It's a complicated issue. Can the aircraft handle the ice? Or the loose gravel in the summer, which could be a FOD issue?

The RCAF P-3 team prepared a risk estimate analyzing the probability of Aurora semi-prepared runway operations. Crew training took place in a modern Cat D certified simulator. Prep included lowering tire pressures, maintaining a "normal" configuration that required limited prep, landing on 300 ft. of the runway and analyzing RFI/JBI info from two testing locations with gravel (frozen) in March 2011 (in between blizzards) in Resolute Bay in Northern Canada and Thule Aircraft in Greenland.

The crews learned that the P-3 can land on frozen gravel runways with zero damage to the aircraft quite successfully. The team was ready to execute the same experiment in August and was very confident that the summer results would be as successful as the winter flights. Unfortunately, these tests were not able to take place as scheduled in due to other Aurora taskings. Harvey and his fellow crew members are more than ready to take on the challenge when it appears.

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