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


Power-off accuracy approaches are approaches and landings made by gliding with the engine idling, through a specific pattern to a touchdown beyond and within 200 feet of a designated line or mark on the runway. The objective is to instill in the pilot the judgment and procedures necessary for accurately flying the airplane, without power, to a safe landing.

The ability to estimate the distance an airplane will glide to a landing is the real basis of all power-off accuracy approaches and landings. This will largely determine the amount of maneuvering that may be done from a given altitude. In addition to the ability to estimate distance, it requires the ability to maintain the proper glide while maneuvering the airplane.

With experience and practice, altitudes up to approximately 1,000 feet can be estimated with fair accuracy, while above this level the accuracy in judgment of height above the ground decreases, since all features tend to merge. The best aid in perfecting the ability to judge height above this altitude is through the indications of the altimeter and associating them with the general appearance of the Earth.

The judgment of altitude in feet, hundreds of feet, or thousands of feet is not as important as the ability to estimate gliding angle and its resultant distance. The pilot who knows the normal glide angle of the airplane can estimate with reasonable accuracy, the approximate spot along a given ground path at which the airplane will land, regardless of altitude. The pilot, who also has the ability to accurately estimate altitude, can judge how much maneuvering is possible during the glide, which is important to the choice of landing areas in an actual emergency.

The objective of a good final approach is to descend at an angle that will permit the airplane to reach the desired landing area, and at an airspeed that will result in minimum floating just before touchdown. To accomplish this, it is essential that both the descent angle and the airspeed be accurately controlled.

Unlike a normal approach when the power setting is variable, on a power-off approach the power is fixed at the idle setting. Pitch attitude is adjusted to control the airspeed. This will also change the glide or descent angle. By lowering the nose to keep the approach airspeed constant, the descent angle will steepen. If the airspeed is too high, raise the nose, and when the airspeed is too low, lower the nose. If the pitch attitude is raised too high, the airplane will settle rapidly due to a slow airspeed and insufficient lift. For this reason, never try to stretch a glide to reach the desired landing spot.

Uniform approach patterns such as the 90°, 180°, or 360° power-off approaches are described further in this chapter. Practice in these approaches provides the pilot with a basis on which to develop judgment in gliding distance and in planning an approach.

The basic procedure in these approaches involves closing the throttle at a given altitude, and gliding to a key position. This position, like the pattern itself, must not be allowed to become the primary objective; it is merely a convenient point in the air from which the pilot can judge whether the glide will safely terminate at the desired spot. The selected key position should be one that is appropriate for the available altitude and the wind condition. From the key position, the pilot must constantly evaluate the situation.

It must be emphasized that, although accurate spot touchdowns are important, safe and properly executed approaches and landings are vital. The pilot must never sacrifice a good approach or landing just to land on the desired spot.

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Copyright 2012
PED Publication