KSAN Approach

I fly every week in and out of KSAN, so very familiar with landings. This morning, United 273, 757-200, from SFO to SAN flew the normal approach coming on shore over La Jolla, over Mission Valley on base, turned to final east of SDSU. As we lined up for landing on 27, pilot executed some S turns, assume to scrub speed or ordered to slow by KSAN tower. Pilot didn’t have ATC on channel 9 this flight.

Then it got highly unusual, as he executed last S turn to the right, near Balboa Golf course, plane took an immediate hard right, and we were doing a real hard turn over North Park back east, parallel to final approach. Engine throttles were up and down, and I can imagine anyone on the ground in the area was wondering what was going on. My guess on the altitude was between 500 to 1000 AGL. Again, I fly every week so I’m pretty knowledgeable on what’s going on, though I’m not a pilot.

Was sitting in F on right side window, and even going east, we were pretty close to final to 27 route. Pilot then executed another tight right to get to final, but because of location, we wound up way south of alignnment, heading for downtown SAN. He continued turn and corrected with left turn and lined up for 27 over the Aerospace Museum in Balboa Park. Landing was uneventful, though it felt a bit fast for 757, reverse thrust was long, and braking hard, we passed normal exit, believe we came off at B7.

Anyway, I thought it was cool, sure the pilot had fun actually doing some real flying, but some of the passengers looked a little stunned, there was no announcement and flight attendants sort had that what just happened look on their faces. There were some pretty steep banks for airliner with passengers aboard. Wondering if someone can come up with ATC KSAN tape, time was around 8:05-:10 am Pacific Sunday 11/29, United 273, 757-200. Curious about manuevers, delayed traffic because slow takeoff in front of us, too much speed, lots’ of guesses, but if someone has an answer, I’m curious. Boy, it was fun flying though on a big plane! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Here’s the flight referred to above: flightaware.com/live/flight/UAL2 … /KSFO/KSAN

Track map is fairly accurate, though it doesn’t show that on the 360 turn, we were pretty well south of 27 final alignment. Posted time is wrong, turned on my cell phone once off runway, and 8:11 am was indicated time for anyone who might be trying to track down ATC tape for KSAN

It was prob for traffic separation, though I’m surprised that the Captain accepted maneuvers that close to the ground in the landing configuration.

Playing devil’s advocate, are you 100% positive your cell phone had the correct time?

Did the pilot have channel 9 turned on (the ATC channel)?

Liveatc.net doesn’t have a KSAN feed. Don’t know if KSAN radion would be streamed elsewhere on the Internet.

S-turns for spacing as directed by ATC.

Here’s one at LGA,

Delta 737 landing at LGA with strong crosswind - YouTube)

You can see the departing aircraft just as the runway comes into view.

I did one on a WN flight coming into OKC and by the time he rolled out on final we were pretty low. It was kinda surprising at the time but a lot of fun.

Reply to Dami, yes, because flight landed early despite manuevers, I texted daughter for pickup at airport. It’s iPhone ATT, so I’m guessing time is fairly accurate. Original post, I indicated ch 9 off, I’'m ff on United and listen most of the time, no 9 this time.

As far as your request for any recording of your approach, you may want to request that over at LiveATC.net. they may have a KSAN feed or at least a SOCAL feed for that area.

As far as why the turns, could be a number of reasons. You already mentioned speed. Obviously, separation comes into play… but what if Tower had some releases they needed to get off to meet their flow time for back east? If given enough space between the UAL arrival and the one before it, they could get off one or two flights, especially if locked and loaded (TIPH).

Just something more to think about…


Probably any of the reasons stated here could have been the cause of the 360.

Try a different way: look for the aircraft that landed in front of the subject 757 and check the times. If the pilot was s-turning, etc, he might have been a bit too close on final OR he could see the aircraft that landed ahead of him either missed a taxiway or dawdled on the runway after landing.

Maybe a little GA airplane or something in front of him???

Makes a lot of sense especially on the releases.

If it was a slower GA plane, ATC would probably turn the GA off the approach to let the airliner through.

Yeah… 757, maybe 150 KIAS give or take a few on the approach. GA airplane, between 55 and 65/70 KIAS, depending on the aircraft??? Correct me where wrong on the speed :blush:

This is the good thing about down there.

If it is a GA aircraft, they would more than likely AVOID trying to get into the Class B airport. They would defer to KMYF, KSEE, or KSDM. Now… props are another story. KSAN gets its fair share of S340s and Brasilias to make having a B757 slow down to keep the spacing. Those generally keep their maximum forward speed on approach to be 150KIAS. If they’ve slowed down, obviously the B757 will need to slow or make S turns to keep their spacing.

Same would be needed if two turboprops were departing. It could be that one prop was landing, and the other one departed prior to the B757 landing.


Maybe the pilot just dropped his joint

If you want to petition the FAA for a recording you have 15 days from the day of the flight. I don’t think liveatc has any feeds from the san diego area online.

I’ve seen this happen once before, where an airliner at KSAN went around and stayed in the close-in pattern. It was a Southwest B733, started the go-around over the fence. A United B722 (this was a while ago) to KORD was on a long roll, finally rotated about 7500’ down. Southwest rejoined final about 3 miles out, landing uneventfully.

Another possibility to your excursion, is that your crew called airport in sight when contacting the final approach controller (this usually happens just after you cross over La Jolla) and took the visual approach, but then dropped it in a little too close behind a preceding Brasilia, who might have been slowed way down to, say, 90 knots? (I Don’t have the E120’s POH handy)…Tower asks for S-turns, but it’s already too late, too close…go around.
Just a theory…I don’t know for fact, but it’s definitely a possibility, as I’ve seen a lot worse visual approaches in there.

Luckily, there wasn’t anyone behind you, or it would have added 10 minutes or so to the trip as you go the long way around.

As far as ATC live feeds, I keep checking to see if anyone has started a KSAN-area feed, but still nothing