Chapter 8—Approaches and Landings

Table of Contents
Normal Approach and Landing
    Base Leg
    Final Approach
    Use of Flaps
    Estimating Height and Movement
    Roundout (Flare)
    After-Landing Roll
    Stabilized Approach Concept

Intentional Slips
Go-Arounds (Rejected Landings)
    Ground Effect

Crosswind Approach and Landing
    Crosswind Final Approach
    Crosswind Roundout (Flare)
    Crosswind Touchdown
    Crosswind After-Landing Roll
    Maximum Safe Crosswind Velocities

Turbulent Air Approach and Landing
Short-Field Approach and Landing
Soft-Field Approach and Landing

Power-Off Accuracy Approaches
    90° Power-Off Approach
    180° Power-Off Approach
    360° Power-Off Approach

Emergency Approaches and Landings (Simulated)

Faulty Approaches and Landings
    Low Final Approach
    High Final Approach
    Slow Final Approach
    Use of Power
    High Roundout
    Late or Rapid Roundout
    Floating During Roundout
    Ballooning During Roundout
    Bouncing During Touchdown
    Hard Landing
    Touchdown in a Drift or Crab
    Ground Loop
    Wing Rising After Touchdown

    Dynamic Hydroplaning
    Reverted Rubber Hydroplaning
    Viscous Hydroplaning


From time to time on dual flights, the instructor should give simulated emergency landings by retarding the throttle and calling “simulated emergency landing.” The objective of these simulated emergency landings is to develop the pilot’s accuracy, judgment, planning, procedures, and confidence when little or no power is available.

A simulated emergency landing may be given with the airplane in any configuration. When the instructor calls “simulated emergency landing,” the pilot should immediately establish a glide attitude and ensure that the flaps and landing gear are in the proper configuration for the existing situation. When the proper glide speed is attained, the nose should then be lowered and the airplane trimmed to maintain that speed.

A constant gliding speed should be maintained because variations of gliding speed nullify all attempts at accuracy in judgment of gliding distance and the landing spot. The many variables, such as altitude, obstruction, wind direction, landing direction, landing surface and gradient, and landing distance requirements of the airplane will determine the pattern and approach procedures to use.

Utilizing any combination of normal gliding maneuvers, from wings level to spirals, the pilot should eventually arrive at the normal key position at a normal traffic pattern altitude for the selected landing area. From this point on, the approach will be as nearly as possible a normal power-off approach. [Figure 8-29]

Remain over intended landing area Figure 8-29. Remain over intended landing area.

With the greater choice of fields afforded by higher altitudes, the inexperienced pilot may be inclined to delay making a decision, and with considerable altitude in which to maneuver, errors in maneuvering and estimation of glide distance may develop.

All pilots should learn to determine the wind direction and estimate its speed from the windsock at the airport, smoke from factories or houses, dust, brush fires, and windmills.

Once a field has been selected, the student pilot should always be required to indicate it to the instructor. Normally, the student should be required to plan and fly a pattern for landing on the field first elected until the instructor terminates the simulated emergency
landing. This will give the instructor an opportunity to explain and correct any errors; it will also give the student an opportunity to see the results of the errors. However, if the student realizes during the approach that a poor field has been selected—one that would obviously result in disaster if a landing were to be made—and there is a more advantageous field within gliding distance, a change to the better field should be permitted. The hazards involved in these last-minute decisions, such as excessive maneuvering at very low altitudes, should be thoroughly explained by the instructor.

Slipping the airplane, using flaps, varying the position of the base leg, and varying the turn onto final approach should be stressed as ways of correcting for misjudgment of altitude and glide angle.

Eagerness to get down is one of the most common faults of inexperienced pilots during simulated emergency landings. In giving way to this, they forget about speed and arrive at the edge of the field with too much speed to permit a safe landing. Too much speed may be just as dangerous as too little; it results in excessive floating and overshooting the desired landing spot. It should be impressed on the students that they cannot dive at a field and expect to land on it.

During all simulated emergency landings, the engine should be kept warm and cleared. During a simulated emergency landing, either the instructor or the student should have complete control of the throttle. There should be no doubt as to who has control since many near accidents have occurred from such misunderstandings.

Every simulated emergency landing approach should be terminated as soon as it can be determined whether a safe landing could have been made. In no case should it be continued to a point where it creates an undue hazard or an annoyance to persons or property on the ground.

In addition to flying the airplane from the point of simulated engine failure to where a reasonable safe landing could be made, the student should also be taught certain emergency cockpit procedures. The habit of performing these cockpit procedures should be developed to such an extent that, when an engine failure actually occurs, the student will check the critical items that would be necessary to get the engine operating again while selecting a field and planning an approach. Combining the two operations— accomplishing emergency procedures and planning and flying the approach—will be difficult for the student during the early training in emergency landings.

There are definite steps and procedures to be followed in a simulated emergency landing. Although they may differ somewhat from the procedures used in an actual emergency, they should be learned thoroughly by the student, and each step called out to the instructor. The use of a checklist is strongly recommended. Most airplane manufacturers provide a checklist of the appropriate items. [Figure 8-30]

Sample emergency checklist Figure 8-30. Sample emergency checklist.

Critical items to be checked should include the position of the fuel tank selector, the quantity of fuel in the tank selected, the fuel pressure gauge to see if the electric fuel pump is needed, the position of the mixture control, the position of the magneto switch, and the use of carburetor heat. Many actual emergency landings have been made and later found to be the result of the fuel selector valve being positioned to an empty tank while the other tank had plenty of fuel. It may be wise to change the position of the fuel selector valve even though the fuel gauge indicates fuel in all tanks because fuel gauges can be inaccurate. Many actual emergency landings could have been prevented if the pilots had developed the habit of checking these critical items during flight training to the extent that it carried over into later flying.

Instruction in emergency procedures should not be limited to simulated emergency landings caused by power failures. Other emergencies associated with the operation of the airplane should be explained, demonstrated, and practiced if practicable. Among these emergencies are such occurrences as fire in flight, electrical or hydraulic system malfunctions, unexpected severe weather conditions, engine overheating, imminent fuel
exhaustion, and the emergency operation of airplane systems and equipment.

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Copyright 2012
PED Publication