|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1801 To 2400|
|Locale Reference||airport : mmsd.airport|
|Altitude||msl single value : 14000|
|Controlling Facilities||artcc : mmex.artcc|
|Make Model Name||A320|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 121|
|Flight Phase||descent : approach|
|Affiliation||company : air carrier|
|Function||flight crew : first officer|
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 200|
flight time total : 10900
flight time type : 2920
|Affiliation||company : air carrier|
|Function||flight crew : captain|
oversight : pic
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : less severe|
non adherence other
other anomaly other
aircraft equipment problem : critical
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
other flight crewb
|Resolutory Action||controller : issued new clearance|
|Problem Areas||ATC Human Performance|
Chart Or Publication
Flight Crew Human Performance
|Primary Problem||ATC Human Performance|
Mmsd (sjd) approach control is presently a non radar facility (although they never issued a NOTAM). I contacted the NOTAM desk myself several weeks ago to get that NOTAM put in the system. Arriving from the north; the filed route (and route I've always flown in the past) is lto.V4.sjd. This route is on the sjd 347 degree radial and overlays the final approach course to the VOR-DME 3 runway 16 approach. On my prior flts to sjd; we were cleared for the VOR-DME 3 runway 16 approach via the xopru transition; basically a straight-in approach. Today; mazatlan center changed the final part of our route to read 'lto.V4.amoka..avsog.UJ23.sjd.' this route took us well east of our filed route and resulted in us approaching sjd on the sjd 022 degree radial from avsog. The problem here is that there are no approach transitions from the sjd 022 degree radial. Consequently; we figured we would be cleared for the VOR-DME 1 runway 16 approach using sjd as the initial fix with a procedure turn. Although the advertised WX was VFR; visibility was only about 10 mi because of the typical haze layer. We; therefore; planned to shoot an instrument approach until such time as we clearly saw the airport and it was safe to maneuver visually. When we checked in with cabo approach approximately 70 mi north of the airport at FL200; we were told to expect the VOR-DME 1 runway 16 approach. This made sense to us for the reasons stated above. A few mins later; we were cleared to descend to 8000 ft and told to report at sjd 25 DME. The problem here is that the MEA on UJ23 from avsog to sjd is 14000 ft (see the 10-1B page and the latin america #1 high/low chart). Although the VOR-DME 2 runway 16 chart depicts a 3100 ft peak in the approximately location of the sjd 022 degree radial; we couldn't discern why the MEA on that radial was as high as 14000 ft. Absent any other information and knowing that we were pointed towards the mountains; we refused the clearance and told the controller that we would only descend to 14000 ft. Once again the controller cleared us to 8000 ft; and once again we refused the clearance. After another min; the controller told us to 'maintain 14000 ft; turn left (no specific heading given) to intercept the sjd 041 degree radial and report established on the VOR-DME 2 runway 16 approach.' once established on the radial; we were cleared for the VOR-DME 2 runway 16 approach; 25 mi from the airport at 14000 ft. A tad bit high; but doable because we could lose altitude while flying around the DME arc. However; we had to initiate the approach using raw data for the following reason: the approach 'via' selections in the airbus FMGC do not match the transition fix names on the approach charts at this airport. We were looking for the VOR-DME 16 approach via menvi (as depicted on the 13-2 commercial chart); but it was not listed. This is all easy to figure out when you're at cruise altitude; but it's totally impossible to discern when you're 25 mi from the airport at 14000 ft; after being told to expect 3 different approachs; and trying not to hit the mountains while being vectored in a non radar environment below the MEA. Long story short is that we started the approach in raw data; were finally able to line select the rest of it (through sheer luck because we didn't know which transition to pick and didn't have time to research it); flew some of it in navigation; and then saw the airport while we were making our way around the 11 DME arc. The rest of the approach and landing were uneventful. The performance of sjd approach control today was totally sub PAR; to the point of being dangerous. Then we were told to descend below the MEA while pointed towards the mountains. When we refused due to lack of approach control radar services; we were given a pseudo vector to intercept the VOR-DME 2 runway 16 (just 'turn left to intercept' no heading given); which was also totally inappropriate in a non radar environment. Finally; we were left flying a DME arc in raw data because of bad approach transition coding in the airbus FMGC. As to be expected; the language barrier greatly exacerbated these events. Incidentally; we were told that the initial rerte was due to traffic; although we never saw or heard any traffic in that vicinity. ATC's 'cobble up your own approach transition' thing ina mountainous non radar environment is dangerous and needs to be stopped immediately. In a country not known for its ATC acumen; non english speaking controllers who don't follow standard procedures in a non radar environment are inviting disaster.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: AN A320 CREW COMMENTS ABOUT AN SJD APCH CTLR'S CLRNC PROCS; THE LANGUAGE DIFFICULTY AND THE ACFT'S FMGC PROGRAMMING.
Narrative: MMSD (SJD) APCH CTL IS PRESENTLY A NON RADAR FACILITY (ALTHOUGH THEY NEVER ISSUED A NOTAM). I CONTACTED THE NOTAM DESK MYSELF SEVERAL WKS AGO TO GET THAT NOTAM PUT IN THE SYS. ARRIVING FROM THE N; THE FILED RTE (AND RTE I'VE ALWAYS FLOWN IN THE PAST) IS LTO.V4.SJD. THIS RTE IS ON THE SJD 347 DEG RADIAL AND OVERLAYS THE FINAL APCH COURSE TO THE VOR-DME 3 RWY 16 APCH. ON MY PRIOR FLTS TO SJD; WE WERE CLRED FOR THE VOR-DME 3 RWY 16 APCH VIA THE XOPRU TRANSITION; BASICALLY A STRAIGHT-IN APCH. TODAY; MAZATLAN CTR CHANGED THE FINAL PART OF OUR RTE TO READ 'LTO.V4.AMOKA..AVSOG.UJ23.SJD.' THIS RTE TOOK US WELL E OF OUR FILED RTE AND RESULTED IN US APCHING SJD ON THE SJD 022 DEG RADIAL FROM AVSOG. THE PROB HERE IS THAT THERE ARE NO APCH TRANSITIONS FROM THE SJD 022 DEG RADIAL. CONSEQUENTLY; WE FIGURED WE WOULD BE CLRED FOR THE VOR-DME 1 RWY 16 APCH USING SJD AS THE INITIAL FIX WITH A PROC TURN. ALTHOUGH THE ADVERTISED WX WAS VFR; VISIBILITY WAS ONLY ABOUT 10 MI BECAUSE OF THE TYPICAL HAZE LAYER. WE; THEREFORE; PLANNED TO SHOOT AN INST APCH UNTIL SUCH TIME AS WE CLRLY SAW THE ARPT AND IT WAS SAFE TO MANEUVER VISUALLY. WHEN WE CHKED IN WITH CABO APCH APPROX 70 MI N OF THE ARPT AT FL200; WE WERE TOLD TO EXPECT THE VOR-DME 1 RWY 16 APCH. THIS MADE SENSE TO US FOR THE REASONS STATED ABOVE. A FEW MINS LATER; WE WERE CLRED TO DSND TO 8000 FT AND TOLD TO RPT AT SJD 25 DME. THE PROB HERE IS THAT THE MEA ON UJ23 FROM AVSOG TO SJD IS 14000 FT (SEE THE 10-1B PAGE AND THE LATIN AMERICA #1 HIGH/LOW CHART). ALTHOUGH THE VOR-DME 2 RWY 16 CHART DEPICTS A 3100 FT PEAK IN THE APPROX LOCATION OF THE SJD 022 DEG RADIAL; WE COULDN'T DISCERN WHY THE MEA ON THAT RADIAL WAS AS HIGH AS 14000 FT. ABSENT ANY OTHER INFO AND KNOWING THAT WE WERE POINTED TOWARDS THE MOUNTAINS; WE REFUSED THE CLRNC AND TOLD THE CTLR THAT WE WOULD ONLY DSND TO 14000 FT. ONCE AGAIN THE CTLR CLRED US TO 8000 FT; AND ONCE AGAIN WE REFUSED THE CLRNC. AFTER ANOTHER MIN; THE CTLR TOLD US TO 'MAINTAIN 14000 FT; TURN L (NO SPECIFIC HDG GIVEN) TO INTERCEPT THE SJD 041 DEG RADIAL AND RPT ESTABLISHED ON THE VOR-DME 2 RWY 16 APCH.' ONCE ESTABLISHED ON THE RADIAL; WE WERE CLRED FOR THE VOR-DME 2 RWY 16 APCH; 25 MI FROM THE ARPT AT 14000 FT. A TAD BIT HIGH; BUT DOABLE BECAUSE WE COULD LOSE ALT WHILE FLYING AROUND THE DME ARC. HOWEVER; WE HAD TO INITIATE THE APCH USING RAW DATA FOR THE FOLLOWING REASON: THE APCH 'VIA' SELECTIONS IN THE AIRBUS FMGC DO NOT MATCH THE TRANSITION FIX NAMES ON THE APCH CHARTS AT THIS ARPT. WE WERE LOOKING FOR THE VOR-DME 16 APCH VIA MENVI (AS DEPICTED ON THE 13-2 COMMERCIAL CHART); BUT IT WAS NOT LISTED. THIS IS ALL EASY TO FIGURE OUT WHEN YOU'RE AT CRUISE ALT; BUT IT'S TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO DISCERN WHEN YOU'RE 25 MI FROM THE ARPT AT 14000 FT; AFTER BEING TOLD TO EXPECT 3 DIFFERENT APCHS; AND TRYING NOT TO HIT THE MOUNTAINS WHILE BEING VECTORED IN A NON RADAR ENVIRONMENT BELOW THE MEA. LONG STORY SHORT IS THAT WE STARTED THE APCH IN RAW DATA; WERE FINALLY ABLE TO LINE SELECT THE REST OF IT (THROUGH SHEER LUCK BECAUSE WE DIDN'T KNOW WHICH TRANSITION TO PICK AND DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO RESEARCH IT); FLEW SOME OF IT IN NAV; AND THEN SAW THE ARPT WHILE WE WERE MAKING OUR WAY AROUND THE 11 DME ARC. THE REST OF THE APCH AND LNDG WERE UNEVENTFUL. THE PERFORMANCE OF SJD APCH CTL TODAY WAS TOTALLY SUB PAR; TO THE POINT OF BEING DANGEROUS. THEN WE WERE TOLD TO DSND BELOW THE MEA WHILE POINTED TOWARDS THE MOUNTAINS. WHEN WE REFUSED DUE TO LACK OF APCH CTL RADAR SVCS; WE WERE GIVEN A PSEUDO VECTOR TO INTERCEPT THE VOR-DME 2 RWY 16 (JUST 'TURN L TO INTERCEPT' NO HDG GIVEN); WHICH WAS ALSO TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE IN A NON RADAR ENVIRONMENT. FINALLY; WE WERE LEFT FLYING A DME ARC IN RAW DATA BECAUSE OF BAD APCH TRANSITION CODING IN THE AIRBUS FMGC. AS TO BE EXPECTED; THE LANGUAGE BARRIER GREATLY EXACERBATED THESE EVENTS. INCIDENTALLY; WE WERE TOLD THAT THE INITIAL RERTE WAS DUE TO TFC; ALTHOUGH WE NEVER SAW OR HEARD ANY TFC IN THAT VICINITY. ATC'S 'COBBLE UP YOUR OWN APCH TRANSITION' THING INA MOUNTAINOUS NON RADAR ENVIRONMENT IS DANGEROUS AND NEEDS TO BE STOPPED IMMEDIATELY. IN A COUNTRY NOT KNOWN FOR ITS ATC ACUMEN; NON ENGLISH SPEAKING CTLRS WHO DON'T FOLLOW STANDARD PROCS IN A NON RADAR ENVIRONMENT ARE INVITING DISASTER.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of January 2009 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.