I was talking with a good friend, who happens to be a SkyWest captain, about approaches into Aspen. He said SkyWest always uses the LOC/DME approach. I didn't question him any further on the subject, thinking I would just whip out the ol' LOC/DME-E and give it a good practice in the trusty ERJ. Now, I'm sure many of you have seen or studied this approach before as you prepared for a flight to Aspen:
BUT, have you seen this one?
By mere accident, I happened upon this 2002 Jeppesen LOC/DME Rwy 15 chart used by SkyWest! As you can see, it is quite different than the standard LOC/DME-E. Not only does it use completely different intersections and stepdowns than the one we all know and love but ... wait for it ... the MDA is 8780 feet MSL! That's a mere 1043 ft above TDZ. That's 1300 ft lower than the MDA on the standard published procedure. 1300 ft may not sound like a lot, but when you go missed in a valley surrounded by 12,000 - 14,000 ft peaks, I'm pretty sure the hair you have left on your head will stand straight up as you climb blindly into the clouds, hoping the folks who designed this procedure were seasoned veterans who designed it on a good day. You'll notice a nice long list of rules on the right side of the chart that, if conditions aren't met, you don't do it. And if you don't follow the rules strictly, you probably won't get out of the valley intact.
Anyway, I decided to give this approach a shot in the ERJ 145LR. To simulate a typical fall day in the Rockies, I set my clouds to broken (5/8), and a ceiling of 9000 ft, with visibility 5 nm, and a nice little headwind. I tried to follow the rules on the chart as best I could, albeit all by myself. Two authorized, specially trained pilots is definitely a good rule in real life. The approach is fun, however, and I recommend giving it a try. Here's mine.
Here's my cockpit view, having just passed Red Table (DBL VOR), and entering the procedure turn. I don't know if this how they do it in real life or not. My guess is yes, since you have to be fully configured for landing before intercepting the localizer, and nowhere on the chart does it say 'No Procedure Turn.' You'll see that I entered the intersections/fixes for the LOC/DME by hand in the FMS, as they are displayed on the MFD. Nav 1 is tuned to DBL VOR.Remaining images are done from replay in FS Recorder.
Outbound leg on procedure turn:
Inbound leg, just passing DBL, flaps 22 and gear down:
Turning to intercept the localizer. Snowmass ski area is visible just above the aircraft ... and clouds!
Office view of the intercept:
Over JIDKO, Roaring Fork River and Hwy 82 now visible:
Over SENOW, the MDA: