08 March 2018

Oxford Part 2!

After having to cancel on Monday because I was ill, I was buzzing to fly again on Wednesday. As the schedule for Wednesday came out, I noticed that I was scheduled to for a flight in the afternoon. Luckily, the planning that I did earlier did not go all to waste as the route and the procedures all remain the same. Since we all know nothing changes more than the weather, this was basically the only part of the planning that I needed to redo. Studying the weather, it became clear that there was no reason to cancel the flight today and that we would be able to go as soon as we were ready.

Route to Oxford and back to Bournemouth, via Southampton and Compton (SkyVector.com, 2018)

After doing a thorough pre-flight inspection of the aircraft, we took our seats, set-up the aircraft for departure and taxied out towards the runway. Once we arrived at the holding point for Bournemouth’s runway 08, we had to wait for ATC to release our flight plan and give us the initial departure instructions. This was done all fairly quickly and we received the magic words “Cleared for takeoff”. As the plane accelerated and reached 70 knots, we took off on course to Southampton, which was our first waypoint. ATC cleared us to our cruise flight level 70 (approximately 7000ft). Whilst climbing away from Bournemouth, we left their controlled airspace and we were requested to contact Solent Radar (who controls airspace in the Southampton area). Over the afternoon, some storm clouds had been developing across mainland UK. These so-called Cumulonimbus (CB) clouds are typically associated with moderate to severe turbulence, icing and these are not the type of clouds we normally would like to fly through. As we were getting closer to Southampton, we saw there was one of those CB clouds on our route, in fact is was right over Southampton! Luckily, Solent Radar was aware of the weather and they directed us northbound to NORRY. We eventually were clear of the weather and Solent Radar transferred us to London Control. From previous flights, I know this frequency can be quite busy as it is also used by major airlines such as EasyJet (“Easy”), British Airways (“Speedbird”) and Virgin Atlantic (“Virgin”). It is important to maintain to the standard radio phraseology, especially on busy frequencies like London Control. As we established contact with London Control, they cleared us directly to Oxford, which meant we could deviate from the initial planned route to get to Oxford quicker. Whilst in the cruise, we listened to the ATIS. ATIS, Aerodrome Terminal Information Service, is a recorded message stating all the important information such as the runway in use, winds at the airport and the pressure setting that can be listened out on a dedicated frequency. The ATIS reported that runway 19 was in use, which meant we would be going for the NDB ILS DME procedure for that runway. London Control cleared us for our initial descend into Oxford and told us to contact Oxford Approach, who is responsible for all traffic around Oxford airport, including us. The procedure states that to be able to perform the procedure, a hold at the Oxford NDB must be flown prior to it. After completion of the hold, we performed the ILS procedure from which we commenced the missed approach procedure, from which we continued en-route to Bournemouth. On our way back it was clear that more of the earlier mentioned CB’s had been developing, but luckily this time they did not directly influence our routing, however it did offer for some very nice views!

The procedure we did in Oxford (NDB ILS DME) is categorised as a precision approach. On the IR test, students are required to demonstrate one precision and one non-precision approach, so I told my instructor I would like to finish the lesson with a non-precision approach into Bournemouth. Bournemouth also offers an NDB DME approach, but on the contrary of Oxford this approach procedure does position you in front of the runway. Same as in Oxford, we did not land from this approach as I wanted to practice a low-level circuit, which means basically a visual lap around the airfield at 700 feet, finishing off with a landing. And as the sun was setting over Bournemouth airport, I finally got this lesson done. Only four more lessons to go until the actual Instrument Rating test and things are coming together nicely!

© Daan van der Heijden