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Landing at LAX

Landing at LAX
Edoardo Serra
Sep. 15 - 5 min read

Picking up someone was the best excuse we found to land at LAX. For the mission, we picked a Turbo Normalized SR22, able to approach at high speeds in the same order of magnitude as airliners.
On the most recent SR22s, the maximum flaps extension speed, for the 50% notch, is 150 knots, perfect for slowing down fast after a fast final approach. Our bird though, could extend flaps at a max of at 120 knots, good enough.

We elected to get there IFR, that would have made things easier for us and ATC. The sky was clear, and to avoid the wait, we took off VFR from KSQL and picked up our IFR clearance in the air.

We filed along airways to LAX VOR, and we were cleared as filed by NorCal. 

Getting closer, we were assigned the KIMMO3 arrival, one of the few STARs suitable for a single-engine piston also available for arrivals into KSMO. The procedure itself is pretty straightforward, no altitude prescriptions and a departure heading from the last waypoint after which you “expect Radar vectors.”

We were told to expect the ILS 24R and given a descent clearance not too far from the final approach course. The controller was likely expecting us to descent more aggressively, and when he saw that we were descending “only” at 800 ft/min gave us a vector outbound explaining that he wanted to “squeeze in just one more aircraft”. As promised, shortly after we had a vector to intercept the localizers.

The controller inquired us on what was our best final approach speed and cleared us for the approach asking us to keep that speed (170 kn) as long as practical. The weather was clear; we had the field insight throughout the whole approach; the extra speed was not a significant concern.

We started slowing down 2 miles out, added 50% flaps as soon as below 120 knots, crossed the fence at 100 knots and landed with flaps 50%.
Even with that extra speed, we cleared at taxiway W, not even 1/8 of the total runway length.

What if you are not comfortable flying the approach that fast?
Never let ATC let you do something that you are not comfortable with, advise them that you are “unable” and they will figure it out.

What if you slow down too soon?
If you tell ATC you will fly the approach at 170 knots, they expect you to, and will sequence everyone else accordingly.
If you have to slow down because it feels unsafe to you, by any mean, do so! Between the A380 creeping behind you and your little Cirrus, the chances are that you will be issued a go-around, not the A380.
It’s ok, ATC will resequence you and try to accommodate your request.

Once landed, we had to taxi all the way to the other side of the field to go to the FBO, Signature. Keep a taxiway diagram handy and write down taxi instructions.  ATC expects you to be on top of your game, but don’t feel intimidated and don’t be afraid to request clarification if you are unsure.

During taxi, while approaching crossing runways, we were instructed to “monitor tower”.  Instruction to monitor a frequency is very similar to “contact”, the only difference is that, for the sake of reducing radio traffic, you will not check-in.

At LAX, is the tower that issues runway crossing instructions and they expect you to be listening to them when you are holding short their runways.

Once arrived to the FBO we realized that there is no 100LL at LAX.
Yes, we could have checked that earlier, but we did not, and had to pay for our mistake with .5 on the hobbs to go refuel in Hawthorne.

Departing out of LAX is nothing complicated, but it’s slightly different than departing from your general GA field.

First, contact clearance delivery and request a VFR clearance.
Ours sounded like this:
“… cleared to climb into the Class B airspace, on departure fly runway heading until the shoreline, then turn right to exit the class B airspace, climb and maintain 1000, squawk 1200” Interesting to note that we were instructed to squawk VFR, which also means that they would not have coordinated our arrival into HHR.

LAX does not have runup areas… and if you show up at a hold short line, they will assume you are ready, and clear you for takeoff as soon as available. We did our runup at the FBO, but you can always do a rolling runup if you feel comfortable too.

Landing at LAX was fun, controllers were super helpful, even in the middle of the day with a lot of traffic. Give it a try!

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