Kona Wind Procedures at PHNL

Fall and spring seasons in Hawaii bring with them characteristic wind shifts, aka “Kona conditions” which not only test your ability to handle cross-winds but cause implementation of necessary departure and arrival procedures that we rarely practice. The use of runways 22 and 26 creates issues that stem principally from the proximity of mountains just north of the airport, putting arriving VFR and IFR traffic close to the Waikiki shoreline (https).

By the same token, departing traffic has to be spaced to avoid conflicts with arriving VFR traffic near Ford island, or to avoid conflicts with missed approach procedures for IFR traffic approaching runways 22 and 26. VFR departures essentially direct aircraft either to the north-west of runway 26 after take-off (West Loch departure) or to the south (Kona Departure) for departures to the east.

The complications arise earlier than that, though. Ground and tower controllers have their hands full moving departing general aviation traffic on the south ramp to the east ends of runways 26R or 22 L, while landing airline traffic on runways 26L and 22L has to be routed across several taxiways and runways to their gates on the north ramp. If you park on the south ramp and you request a taxi clearance you will be given directions to either runways 26L or 22R via taxiway Charlie. The ground controller may have an intersection take-off in mind, which would be indicated by a hold-short instruction at taxiway Echo, Papa, or Charlie. Charlie essentially merges with the approach end of RWY26R, just east of the intersection with RWY22L. Since there will be a constant stream of arriving traffic for RWY22L and 26R you may find yourself in the middle of a parking lot waiting to move into take-off position. You may be cleared onto the runway with a “line up and wait” instruction with landing traffic in front of you on the intersecting runway 22L. To ease the congestion on the taxiways the ground controller may send you to the tiny taxiway Papa for a departure on RWY22L (you can reject an intersection departure if you need more runway and it may be a good idea to check the available runway length from these intersections in advance). A third option is an intersection departure on RWY26R from taxiway Echo. This would make you cross two runways 22L and 22R before holding short of 26R. The taxi instruction for this procedure may sound something like this: “Speedbird 123 cleared to runway 26R via taxiways Charlie and Echo. Hold short of runway 22L at Echo.” While taxiing or when you arrive at Echo you will be handed off to Tower who will issue a further clearance to cross 22L and 22 R: “Speedbird 123, cross runways 22L and 22R. Hold short of runway 26R.” If you are sitting on taxiway Echo, reference to the taxiway may be omitted from the clearance. If you are still taxiing on Charlie while the clearance is issued, ATC will specify “… cross runways 22R and 22L at taxiway Echo”.

It may be a good idea to think through these scenarios before firing up the engine if you are unfamiliar with the airport or you have not flown in Kona conditions for a while. Read back all clearances and in particular, hold short instructions. Request progressives or ask for clarification if unsure what ATC is asking from you.

Posted in GACH, VFR Procedures.

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