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Thread: Changes to OSH Arrivals procedures?

  1. #21

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    It is interesting seeing some new ideas such as multiple arrivals, though it might be some effort to reconcile that with other arrivals separate from the Fisk VFR procedure. Also agree that ATIS didn't keep us updated on conditions; that might take a little more effort from ATC to keep it real-time, but would be quite valuable. In my previous visits, ATC was very good about keeping the pre-Ripon traffic updated. While many would likely agree that pilots not conforming to the arrival procedure made a challenging situation worse, I think there are one or two things the NOTAM and ATC could change to mitigate the difficulties. I thought about this for a while after our 2-hour Sunday arrival adventure and contacted EAA to send feedback, not appreciating that many others had, too, and that EAA was already convening a group to consider the situation. To their credit, they contacted me back, cc'd some senior names and gave me the opportunity to pen the following note. Am I missing something or is there a gap in either the NOTAM or ATC instruction on how to handle planes kicked out after Ripon?

    My feedback is about our experience on the arrival at approximately 1:30-3:30pm, Sunday, July 22. My concerns relate primarily to system operation efficiency with secondary effects on airspace safety. I realize the weather Friday and Saturday helped create a heavy backup of aircraft attempting to arrive Sunday which was likely to saturate even the most well-designed procedure.
    The primary item is: The NOTAM does not describe, and ATC did not explain, what airplanes ejected from the Ripon-to-Fisk segment should do.

    Heavy traffic and pilots failing to provide the requested spacing (2 miles, for most of our time on the arrival) kept that segment clogged. When ejected, ATC simply instructed aircraft to "turn left, go back and try again". These pilots returned directly to Ripon, repeating the same spacing errors. Dozens of aircraft were stuck in the Green Lake hold with no way to enter at Ripon due to saturation and ATC did not update the holding aircraft on hold status. ATC kept the frequency nearly constantly open talking to the Ripon-Fisk segment traffic causing difficulties, so holding aircraft had no opportunity to ask. Holding traffic got tired of holding with no information and attempted to enter, making the saturation worse. It was unclear to me whether the hold was officially active at any time during our arrival. Even the few times ATC announced that all arrivals were stopped, there was no instruction for Ripon-to-Fisk traffic to enter either hold, and they appeared to continue re-entering at Ripon.

    The safety impact was that aircraft turning left from the Ripon-Fisk segment and returning to Ripon were, albeit briefly, approaching holding traffic head-on before turning toward Ripon again. For some reason, a number of those aircraft were descending from higher altitude while turning back in, not ideal for low-wings descending into opposite direction traffic. These seemed to be mostly RVs in tight spacing, perhaps attempting to land as flights? Another safety impact was the increasingly dense saturation at Green Lake and near misses. All of this led to frustration among some pilots, which affects their situational awareness and decision making. Add in the usual inattention to merging and failing to maintain altitude/speed requirements, and the Green Lake area got dicey.

    Potential mitigations might include:

    • Whether the NOTAM should have a procedure to address such situations, or whether ATC should be briefed on specific instructions for ejected aircraft. e.g., enter the Rush Lake hold, re-enter Green Lake hold to establish spacing before entering Ripon again, etc.
    • Specific ATC instructions prohibiting flights when congestion is a problem and aircraft are failing to maintain requested separation.
    • Periodic guidance/reminders to traffic not yet at Ripon, such as whether holding is active and to establish spacing prior to entering at Ripon.


    There are various considerations for the different re-entrance options for Ripon-Fisk ejections, including challenges integrating traffic streams, unintentionally prioritizing bad actors, and inadvertently punishing pilots unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The solution may be very simple – improving communication to set specific expectations.

    Thank you again for taking the time to consider these thoughts. I should add that, problems aside, we do appreciate the monumental task EAA and ATC take on to craft and operate a system that handles a staggering number of aircraft – and pilots of varying competence – and generally works well.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by TedK View Post
    What if you knew which runway you wanted? 36/18 or 27/9. What about avoiding the RIPON merge and having two arrival paths? Perhaps the existing FISKE arrival for 27/9, and separate arrival for 36/18? This ought to remove a little of the ground traffic as you self selected your desired runway closest to the parking area you wanted?
    Makes sense to me. Years ago, Mac said in an article the two runways convert to essentially make two airports for Airventure.
    Why not fully make it two airports with separate paths and frequencys to cut chatter in half?

    ATIS or ATC could advise the best airport to choose from time to time, if needed.

  3. #23
    MEdwards's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Berson View Post
    Makes sense to me. Years ago, Mac said in an article the two runways convert to essentially make two airports for Airventure.
    Why not fully make it two airports with separate paths and frequencys to cut chatter in half?

    ATIS or ATC could advise the best airport to choose from time to time, if needed.
    Runway situations change fairly often with no warning. You’d have a bunch of planes lined up for one “airport” when it closes and all those would have to fly around to the approach for the other”airport.” Better to let Fisk work the problem in real time.

    The existing system has worked well for decades. This year was essentially a weather problem. Some minor changes like better, more current ATIS are a great idea. But please don’t mess with the basic approach design.

  4. #24
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    Ages ago, the controllers used to sort out who went where. If you were an older plane or homebuilt, they sent you to 36, if you were a spam can you'd go to 27.
    Now it seems they largely don't care and will send you randomly to either runway even when both are in operations.

    This occurred when NATCA forced a switch from OSH being an invitation-only job for controllers and they brought back the best controllers every year to being a spoils program doled out by the union without regard as to who had the best experience for the job.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post
    Ages ago, the controllers used to sort out who went where. If you were an older plane or homebuilt, they sent you to 36, if you were a spam can you'd go to 27.
    Now it seems they largely don't care and will send you randomly to either runway even when both are in operations.
    I fly a tailwheel. Every time, they send me to the runway with the most favorable winds. Putting taildraggers in good situations and managing spacing seem to be the two of the factors which drive decisions.

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by MEdwards View Post
    Runway situations change fairly often with no warning. You’d have a bunch of planes lined up for one “airport” when it closes and all those would have to fly around to the approach for the other”airport.” Better to let Fisk work the problem in real time.

    The existing system has worked well for decades. This year was essentially a weather problem. Some minor changes like better, more current ATIS are a great idea. But please don’t mess with the basic approach design.
    If I could upvote this post, I would.

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post

    This occurred when NATCA forced a switch from OSH being an invitation-only job for controllers and they brought back the best controllers every year to being a spoils program doled out by the union without regard as to who had the best experience for the job.
    This may be a huge factor.

    "Back in the day", the top notch, Oshkosh experienced controllers seemed to manage spacing much better (with smaller margins) than I've seen recently. During busy periods, they really jammed aircraft onto the runways, eliminating the backups and holds upstream. This year, and a couple of years ago when there was a similar problem, the aircraft seemed to just trickle to the airport. You (I?) knew there were a gazillion little airplanes out there circling and the runways didn't seem to be stressed at all. To me, that's an ATC issue.

  8. #28

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    One year I, we landed with no problem, but then was a cog in the way of other planes taxing in. I felt pretty nuts. I flew the Fisk arrival years ago at least twice with no problem. But then I went the other route starting over Fon Du Lac and then the island and mostly rnwy 9 or 36 and with an overhead approach if is was crowded. I got to know the Warbird arrival well, and they didn't monkey with it much. It works well as is pretty simple and when you get to FLD you can hear who is ahead of you and a idea of relative speeds of the types involved. If you need to pass someone slower you can do it on the way to the island, you just need to me 150 knots at the island. I flew this approach for 20 years in two different planes, and the only sticky point is when you have to blend in with general aviation planes who may be as slow as 90knots and coming on right downwind for 9. Ive done a lot of go arounds at that point but it works ok, just circle overhead if needed to fit in, the contollers are pretty good about it.I have to keep the gear up till near the airport for engine cooling, so have to be alert to that, but that is the only critical item on my checklist. And after landing I never needed a parking sign as to where to go, its obvious to the ground people, So I did this for 20 years or more, no real problem. Then one year I flew in in my Bonanza, via the Fisk arrival. I wasntt expecting any difficulty, I can fly it 90knots, just have to concentrate and I reviewed the NOTAM. So I watch for traffic at Ripon, remember the gear and they send me to land 36, made and ok landing, but then realized I needed to go all the way to the north side of 27 and I didn't have prepared parking sign to hold up, never needed one before, so each controller had to try to figure out where we were going, finally got there , but not my best moment, and Tom P who I know was in his red VW on the side trying to speed up traffic. I now have not one, but 2 big printed signs for gen parking, GAP!
    I hope they don't make any major arrival changes and if weather is ok it works al these years.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 11-10-2018 at 04:17 PM.

  9. #29
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    The reason the alternative arrivals "work well" is there are not too many people using them and those that do have bothered to read the NOTAM. When I give rides during the show I usually come in the warbird arrival unless the passenger is a pilot who's never seen the normal Ripon/Fisk arrival in which case I show him that.

    My favorite arrival was when we grabbed a couple of Navions and took two of the Snowbirds up for a flight. We let them do one practice landing at an outlying field and then made them fly the Ripon/Fisk arrival to a landing on 36L. It was on their Oshkosh bucket list (they had already camped with their plane in Vintage, and got to go work the Moocows with the controllers). They also wanted to drive one of the VWs around so I borrowed the keys from one of our Vintage chairs to let them have a spin.

  10. #30
    Jeff Point's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MEdwards View Post
    The existing system has worked well for decades. This year was essentially a weather problem. Some minor changes like better, more current ATIS are a great idea. But please don’t mess with the basic approach design.
    While it may have worked for decades, I think the last few years have shown that it has been outgrown by the show and is no longer adequate for the task. In my view the obvious solution is to develop separate arrival procedures for 18/36, while allowing the traditional Fisk approach to feed 9/27. The 18/36 could start to the south near Fond du Lac, in fact the warbird arrival could be repurposed for this with warbirds using the high/ fast pattern to 9/27. The southern arrival should also have a low & slow component for those aircraft which can't maintain 90 kts. Since the majority of those are either Vintage or Homebuilt anyway, routing them to 18/36 makes sense. Over time folks would learn to self-select which arrival to take based on what kind of airplanes they are flying- showplanes to 18/36 and N40 types to 9/27.

    Of course, the issues this year were largely caused by the weather and exacerbated by poor decisions by both EAA and FAA, like rescheduling the mass arrivals for Sunday and FAA poor handing of traffic issues, holds etc. They were clearly not on their A game this year, and hopefully everyone learned a few lessons.
    Jeff Point
    RV-6 and RLU-1 built & flying
    Tech Counselor, Flight Advisor & President, EAA Chapter 18
    Milwaukee, WI
    "It All Started Here!"

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