Very Difficult RNAV(GPS) Approach

The Steamboat Springs (KSBS) RNAV(GPS)-E approach is very challenging for me to fly correctly. First, it is a non-precision approach so there is no Glidepath available. The only minimums are for Circling approaches only. The minimum waypoint altitudes are very high showing a 7.7% angle of descent instead of the normal 3%. The waypoints seem too close to the airport. There are nearby mountains that need to be avoided.

Even if I fly a slow approach speed to the minimums, I am overflying the airport too high to circle to land. Flying straight-in is impossible…

If the weather is clear skies, I cancel IFR and land visually as soon as I see the airport. The most challenging for me is to set the cloud base to just above minimums and land successfully. When I fly to the minimum descent altitude and see the runway and start maneuvering to land, I get disoriented. Trying to land successfully at night increases the difficulty. And flying the Missed Approach is not very easy either.

If you like difficult approaches, give this one a try. KSBS RNAV(GPS)-E Approach

Angle or gradient? 3 degree path is 5.5% gradient, 7.7% is not too bad, 7.7 degrees is really steep however.

Doesn’t seem too complicated, its quite steep indeed so need to slow down and configure early, throw everything out, then should be ok. Apart from the steep slope doesn’t seem to complicated?

Yup when I read it I was a little confused due to the „3%“… but as a standard approach is 3 degrees a 7.75% gradient is actually not too bad. Without doing any maths now it should be a rough 4 degrees approach. As said, drop your drag generators before MABKY and land normally.

The only thing to keep in mind is your pressure altitude, the airport is at almost 7000ft so your true and ground speed is significantly higher than your indicated airspeed. So your rate of descend will be even higher than at sea level.

I think it actually is 7.7 degrees. If I quickly calculate the height above elevation at WAKOR and divide by the 2.2 nm converted into feet its a 14% gradient!

As you say, at that altitude with higher TAS it could be a challenge. I would add some extra altitude to the MDA in case of straight-in approach. Gonna loose some altitude before positive climb is established when using it as a DA :sweat_smile:.

Woah yep… I looked at it and didn‘t realize it… %, degrees… 0:30 and tired lol… wow almost 8 degrees is something else for sure. At an approach speed of 100 knots that must be around 1500fpm ROD… At that altitude ~130ktas, ~2100fpm :see_no_evil:

The vertical profile is not drawn to scale, the last 2.2 nm is 7.75 degrees. The 2 nm before is only 600 ft, the 3 nm before that is 1000 ft so pretty close to a 3 degree path up to 2.2 nm from threshold, thereafter its a Stuka dive-bomber approach down.


Hm yes… depending on the airplane slip the last part :smiley: and make sure you brief the guys in the back BEFORE if there are any :smiley:

Good find for sure. I‘ll try it once my new PC is up and running ^^

Sorry for the typo in my original post. I meant 7.7°, not 7.7% which is different.

I agree that this steep approach is doable with good weather. I haven’t been successful in IMC. I’m going to try spiraling down when the runway becomes visible before reaching minimums.