Full Circle – Zero/Zero Landings, Part Two

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July 2012

My column in the May issue of Cessna Flyer had been prompted by a copy of a letter I’d received from a fellow who had flown with me as copilot on a great many of my international airline flights in the 1990s. Capt. Scott Reynolds (now retired) was a prince of an aviator to have sitting beside me in those days while I plied back and forth across the Atlantic in widebody jets. His recent letter reminded me of a particular flight from Rome, Italy to Philadelphia in a Boeing 767 when deteriorating weather, increasing ATC delays and lowering fuel reserves caused us some interesting moments.

The outcome was an approach and landing from which I had no intention of executing a missed approach; we were going to land this airplane on that runway, irrespective of what the ceiling and visibility might prove to be. In effect, we had mentally committed ourselves to a zero/zero landing. We would, if necessary, have made one—but it turned out that the actual weather remained at the legal minimums, so no zero/zero touchdown was necessary. Like I said, we were ready.

Let’s look again at the definition of what I’m talking about. A zero/zero landing would literally mean landing the airplane while the ceiling was absolutely zero and the visibility was absolutely zero, too—a condition we hardly ever encounter. In reality, zero/zero means “hardly any” ceiling or visibility to work with.

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