Chapter 15-Transition to Jet Powered Airplanes

Table of Contents
Jet Engine Basics
Operating the Jet Engine
Jet Engine Ignition
Continuous Ignition
Fuel Heaters
Setting Power
Thrust to Thrust Lever Relationship
Variation of Thrust with RPM
Slow Acceleration of the Jet Engine
Jet Engine Efficiency
Absence of Propeller Effect
Absence of Propeller Slipstream
Absence of Propeller Drag
Speed Margins
Recovery from Overspeed Conditions
Mach Buffet Boundaries
Low Speed Flight
Drag Devices
Thrust Reversers
Pilot Sensations in Jet Flying
Jet Airplane Takeoff and Climb
Pre-Takeoff Procedures
Takeoff Roll
Rotation and Lift-Off
Initial Climb
Jet Airplane Approach and Landing
Landing Requirements
Landing Speeds
Significant Differences
The Stabilized Approach
Approach Speed
Glidepath Control
The Flare
Touchdown and Rollout


A safe approach in any type of airplane culminates in a particular position, speed, and height over the runway threshold. That final flight condition is the target window at which the entire approach aims. Propeller powered airplanes are able to approach that target from wider angles, greater speed differentials, and a larger variety of glidepath angles. Jet airplanes are not as responsive to power and course corrections, so the final approach must be more stable, more deliberate, more constant, in order to reach the window accurately.

The transitioning pilot must understand that, in spite of their impressive performance capabilities, there are six ways in which a jet airplane is worse than a piston engine airplane in making an approach and in correcting errors on the approach.

  • ò The absence of the propeller slipstream in producing immediate extra lift at constant airspeed. There is no such thing as salvaging a misjudged glidepath with a sudden burst of immediately available power. Added lift can only be achieved by accelerating the airframe. Not only must the pilot wait for added power but even when the engines do respond, added lift will only be available when the airframe has responded with speed.
  • ò The absence of the propeller slipstream in significantly lowering the power-on stall speed. There is virtually no difference between power-on and power-off stall speed. It is not possible in a jet airplane to jam the thrust levers forward to avoid a stall.
  • ò Poor acceleration response in a jet engine from low r.p.m. This characteristic requires that the approach be flown in a high drag/high powerconfiguration so that sufficient power will be available quickly if needed.
  • ò The increased momentum of the jet airplane making sudden changes in the flightpath impossible. Jet airplanes are consistently heavier than comparable sized propeller airplanes. The jet airplane, therefore, will require more indicated airspeed during the final approach due to a wing design that is optimized for higher speeds. These two factors combine to produce higher momentum for the jet airplane. Since force is required to overcome momentum for speed changes or course corrections, the jet will be far less responsive than the propeller airplane and require careful planning and stable conditions throughout the approach.
  • ò The lack of good speed stability being an inducement to a low speed condition. The drag curve for many jet airplanes is much flatter than for propeller airplanes, so speed changes do not produce nearly as much drag change. Further, jet thrust remains nearly constant with small speed changes. The result is far less speed stability. When the speed does increase or decrease, there is little tendency for the jet airplane to re-acquire the original speed. The pilot, therefore, must remain alert to the necessity of making speed adjustments, and then make them aggressively in order to remain on speed.
  • ò Drag increasing faster than lift producing a high sink rate at low speeds. Jet airplane wings typically have a large increase in drag in the approach configuration. When a sink rate does develop, the only immediate remedy is to increase pitch attitude (angle of attack). Because drag increases faster than lift, that pitch change will rapidly contribute to an even greater sink rate unless a significant amount of power is aggressively applied. These flying characteristics of jet airplanes make a stabilized approach an absolute necessity.
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