Samos, Greece SMI/LGSM

Samos, Greece 

Circling 09 & 27
Terrain, turbulence & windshear

Samos Airport lies on the SE coast of the island. The island is close to the W coast of Turkey. There is close-in high terrain with spot heights to 3800 ft amsl within 5 nm NW and 2600 ft amsl within 5 nmWSW. There is terrain to 4100 ft amsl 13 nm E over the border in Turkey.

Expect TURBULENCE with strong Northerly Meltemi winds.

A wind reading is available for both runways. There can be quite a difference between the two readings. Local experience suggests that a touchdown wind of 340°-360° will give little turbulence on RWY 09 approach, but excessive turbulence on RWY 27 approach. Under these conditions landing on RWY 09 with a tailwind component is preferable.


The video starts at the 4 DME point before turning left onto a track of 325 degrees.

RWY 09

RWY 09 with text commentary


Inbound routing from the west is usually via ORMOS to SAM VOR. Athens Control may require an early descent in order to comply with the upper limits of airways. Because of the relatively low altitude, communication problems with Athens and Samos are common both inbound and outbound, so use of the squelch button, if fitted, may be required. Expect late receipt of the SAM DME because of the combination of the low altitude and masking caused by the high ground to the NW of the airfield.

Runway acquisition is normally late and the combination of high ground, cloud/haze and the Turkish border make a visual approach difficult. Consequently a circling VOR/DME or circling NDB is recommended.


Operators are most likely to publish their own preferred approaches. Most will stipulate a visual circling approach from the south but some local operators will be able to perform a straight-in onto rwy 09 coming in over the terrain.

For Example:
Circling is to the S of the runway only – note reduced defined area. When visual follow the guidance depicted on the Visual Manoeuvring chart (see picture). Due to high close-in terrain (RWY 09) and Turkish airspace (RWY 27) a close-in curved approach is required, turning final at approximately 1-2 nms.

CAUTION: With southerly winds, commence turn onto finals slightly before reaching published turning point/radial to avoid over-bank requirement.


At D4.0 SAM select landing flap, commence descent from 1850 ft and track approximately 325° towards the coast-line. Cross abeam the fishing village pier at 1100 ft. Just beyond the fishing village a ridge with a spur will be seen on the left, with a hillside village beyond the spur. Abeam the spur (approx 240° R SAM) commence a turn at approximately 900 ft towards final aiming to cross a low white shed on finals at about 400 ft. A GPWS warning is possible when crossing the ridge.

The runway is grey tarmac and the white touchdown markings may be more visible than the runway itself when on the initial base leg. Turning final an abbreviated 2 box VASI should be seen. The upwind VASI box is abeam the 1000 ft touchdown markings, and the downwind box abeam the 500 ft markings. Consequently a normal approach to touchdown 1000ft beyond the displaced threshold will show white/white on the VASIS during the final stages of the approach. RWY 09 may appear shorter than it actually is.


At D4.0 SAM select landing flap, commence descent from 1850 ft and track approximately 040°. At approx 120° R SAM commence left turn to final. Aim to cross 120° R SAM at 900 ft. Cross the eastern end of the pier on the extended centreline at 400 ft. Do not overshoot the extended centreline. Avoid Turkish airspace by establishing on a left base no further E than the midpoint of the channel separating the island from mainland Turkey.


If it is necessary to discontinue the approach after passing D4.0 SAM inbound it is recommended to continue initially towards the runway and then turn to establish on the 161° radial outbound. At a safe height return to SAM holding. Advise ATC.


During strong northerly winds expect severe turbulence on initial climbout, just east of the runway end, due to rotor effects.


The runway surface is uneven. ASU/GPU and toilet servicing available. Follow instructions from ATC carefully with regard to entering and leaving the apron to avoid jet blast of terminal. Due to the vicinity of a public road just south of the runway, turns are to be made to the right when landing on rwy 09 to minimize jet blast


RWY 09

On backtrack for take-off ensure full length is used (taxi beyond the first set of runway end lights). Expect a visual departure if the weather is good.

RWY 27

The runway surface is uneven and this can cause pitching on the take-off roll. Expect a visual departure if the weather is good. For a normal take-off, turn south as soon as possible after reaching 200′ aal.

With strong northerly winds, rotor effects may be experienced on initial climb-out from RWY 09. In this case and subject to wind component / take-off performance requirements, take-off on RWY 27 may be preferable.

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