Corporate Jets & Grass Strips


#1

Hello -

I typically just browse this forum, but I came up with a few questions so I figured I would post. I’ve been interested in corporate jets since I was around five years old and I’ve always seen/tracked them flying into paved strips at various towns across the US. What corporate aircraft (jets) can land at grass or dirt strips and take off (4000ft strip Sea Level)? At 4000ft of dirt, is the strip mostly limited to Citations and Learjets? Inside of corporate jets, is their a chart or performance plate for grass/dirt strips?

If you increase the strip length to 5000ft, does that 1000ft of dirt make a big impact? With 5000ft of dirt, could you land and take off in a Falcon 900 for example? Will NetJets, Citation Shares, etc fly into grass and dirt strips? Lastly, at 3000ft elevation, does a 5000ft strip of dirt/grass further decrease performance of a jet compared to 5000ft of pavement given the same weather conditions?

Thanks!
Lance


#2

I am no corp jet pilot but I do not imagine their insurance companies allowing them to land on non-paved surfaces.


#3

I don’t see why some bizjets couldn’t land on gravel (not grass) landing strips. 737’s, among other airliners, are certified to land on them.


#4

Snow may be an exception…

Personally, I wouldn’t want to land on a dirt/grass strip in a $10million jet. While there are some preventative measures built into the aircraft to help prevent it, I wouldn’t want my jet sucking up a rock or crap like that.


#5

My area of knowledge is limited to corporate jets, so I’ll try to answer this :unamused:

The biggest single issue is FOD being ingested into engines. This can be caused by thrust reversers, intake forces, or nose wheel spray.

The Citation XL (which I teach on at FSI) USED to have a **supplement **(in fact is was #32) to the AFM (aircraft flight manual) that allowed for gravel runway operations. In ALL the jets I’ve flown, it was an operational limitation in the AFM to operate from paved surfaces only. It was EXPENSIVE to obtain the required supplement and a/c modifications that went along with it. The biggest modification required was to the nose gear. A small bleed air line was brought from the engine to the nose wheel. The nose wheel was retrofitted with a small “hamster cage” that would spin the nose wheel up to speed (using that bleed air) PRIOR to touching down. This limited the spray from the rocks that would otherwise occur when the nose wheel touched down and initially skidded. The supplement in question was used by one operator, and he was in Africa. It was never used by a US operator. So unless he came here, you would NEVER see an XL at a gravel strip. The supplement was removed from the AFM all together about 3 years ago, and as far as I know isn’t even available any more.

There were a few more limitations also such as the size of the stone used, runway shape, and compactness. The effect to landing distances was about an 70% increase. For take off it was about a 85% increase. For the example given:

What corporate aircraft (jets) can land at grass or dirt strips and take off (4000ft strip Sea Level)? At 4000ft of dirt, is the strip mostly limited to Citations and Learjets? Inside of corporate jets, is their a chart or performance plate for grass/dirt strips?

If you increase the strip length to 5000ft, does that 1000ft of dirt make a big impact? With 5000ft of dirt, could you land and take off in a Falcon 900 for example? Will NetJets, Citation Shares, etc fly into grass and dirt strips? Lastly, at 3000ft elevation, does a 5000ft strip of dirt/grass further decrease performance of a jet compared to 5000ft of pavement given the same weather conditions?

@ 3000’ on a standard day @ max t/o weight (18700, which is limited from 20000 b/c of the gravel) the XL would need 4260’, to land it would need 4240’. The same a/c being operated from a paved runway needs 3660’ 3070’ respectively.

I don’t have the FOM (flight operations manual) for NJA in front of me but I’m about 99% sure they are not allowed to operate from “unapproved” airfields.

No they’re not, just like the XL they have a supplement that allows for it, but the operator most posses that supplement. And generally speaking supplements are for individual a/c (ie N numbers) and not for entire fleets (ie all US Airways 737-200ER’s)

Again this is for FAA operated a/c, different governments might allow such operation with out additional manufacture in put.


#6

The new Grob SPn jet is being certified to land on grass. In fact, they have a video of it landing and taking off from grass. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=(http://www.b737.org.uk/unpavedstripkit.htm)
http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f177/cfijames/thumbdown.gifthis photohttp://www.b737.org.uk/737-200_rough_field.jpg


#7

cfijames, nice find. I remember seeing that video with the Grob. Forgotten about the dirt/grass/gravel runway part.

I do know that:

CE500, 550, 560, 560XL, 680, and 750
NA 265
F2000
LR24,25,31,35,36 and 55

Were not approved from the factory. I think only the Citation II and XL had a supplement.

As far as the 737, thought it was not certified that way, there was a supplement. A very cool supplement I might add. Wonder how often that nose wheel skid plate needs replaced. Does anyone operate those things anymore???


#8

The Falcon 900 can not land on an “unimproved surface”. It is however an excellent short field aircraft and can operate out of 4200ft. strips with little or not restrictions and decent range.

Anyone who operates Falcon 50 and 900 knows that the french girl likes dry, contamination free surface : tac generators, nose steering, carbon brakes and some hydraulic lines in the wheel wells are just not cut out for slush, ice, lots of water, let alone the off road stuff.


#9

When I flew corporate, we used to land our Citation I’s and II’s on gravel runways in Canada all the time. It was not a “preferred” place to land as it was known to cause stone chips in the paint, but we never had an issue with FOD. Our company SOP was to restrict use of reverse thrust unless in an emergency.

I do not recall any flight manual supplement for the operation and no additional equipment was installed.

We also operated in and out of a grass strip in Wisconsin in a Citation I, but that was way back when the I’s were relatively new.

Also, there are a few Canadian airlines that continue to operate 737’s with gravel kits installed. I see them from time to time at Canadian airports I visit. Always seems to be an early version of the 737’s with straight pipe Pratts on the wing.


#10

I ride to work in one…I work for ConocoPhillips at the Kuparuk River feild. We (shared with BP) are leasing two 737s that are still certified for gravel strips. I’ve heard that Alaska Airlines is no longer flying onto gravel strips.


#11

Flexjet does not land on unimproved surfaces. I can’t imagine the complexities that are introduced trying to land such heavy equipment on grass, dirt, or gravel. If it’s wet, then there’s obviously a problem with getting the landing gear stuck in mud. How long after it rained does a jet have to wait to land? The waiting period would obviously change if it was a sprinkle vs. a downpour. At such a small field there is probably not automated weather reporting equipment so how do you determine when it rained last at the field? Is there legal ramifications for the manager of the airport if he says the field is dry and the jet gets stuck/damaged in a patch of mud? I don’t have any experience landing jets or any other type aircraft on unimproved surfaces, but these are questions that come to my feeble mind.


#12

There are Gravel runway Protection options for Various airplanes, including CL-600/1/4, G-IV, but you dont find them installed very often.


#13

The Hawker line is also approved for unimproved surface operations. Well the 1A throught the 800XP, no clue about the 1000.


#14

I have flown jet planes for many years and I flew a Cessna Citation S-2 for 10 years as unique captain in Brazil. Now I am captain for a Falcon 2000, but I already flew Fokker 100 too.

That Citation S-II plane was equipped with a Nosewheel Spin-Up system that It made me feel comfortable on gravel runway landings.

All insurance company in Brazil allowed us to make landings on non-paved surfaces. There never been any restrictions for the pilots. We only consider to making Flight Safety “refreshments” in Wichita, KS every year.

You can take a look at my Blog Aviation Troubleshooting aviationtroubleshooting.blogspot.com/ and there you can see a video ( 19 MB WMV ) presenting myself operating on gravel runway.

I did that for ten years without trouble.

My operational base was Santos Dumont airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
So, We had only 1360 meters for landings. With thrust reversers. Sunny or in wet runway conditions. Day and night.

I took off from SBRJ (SDU) every morning around 8 AM and we were back home at 10 PM. At weekend we made tour in Brazil for many cities but, we always stopped on a gravel runway in a farm on Sunday. At sunrise on Monday we took off to SBCF (CNF) and again and again.

Cheers,
GR


#15

Of note and definitely related to this topic, I found a Falcon 50 flying into a Turf field today - flightaware.com/live/flight/N250 … /KPTK/3MI2

Since FA doesn’t have the airport in its database - here it is - airnav.com/airport/3MI2 (South Fox Island, MI) 4200x145 ft. Turf Runway. Large portions of the island including the airport are owned by real estate magnate David V. Johnson


#16

Actually this runway was improved to a paved surface in 2001.

realestate.victorintl.com/commun … CF99597E59

There is a pretty good slideshow showing the construction of the paved runway.

Sorry, I don’t know how to make the small links.


#17

That’s strange. I looked at the runway construction slide show. In the second picture, at least on my computer, it looks like there is a Lear levitating over the runway, gear up. How do they do that?


#18

Ssshhhhh! It’s a Michigan secret! :stuck_out_tongue:


#19

That’s some folks with some serious money. I bet that was a cool job to work on.


#20

Yeah! Like anyone would use it! Come on. It’s only a quarter million for a week. :smiley: