Tip of the Month

Three tips actually, all about landings: 

For some pilots, the main problem with landings is that at least one is expected every flight. Poor landings can have many causes (maybe more than one!), let's look at three: 

Speed: Bad landings often come out of flying well above the correct approach speed on final approach. Approaching too fast is far more common than flying too slowly. This can be a hangover from the reaction of instructors in ab initio training. Fly approaches too slowly as a student, and the instructor usually reacts by taking control. Fly it above approach speed, and the reaction is more likely to be comment/advice. The ingrained result can be that "slow is bad, fast is not as bad". Both are bad. So... "Correct approach speed"? Well, do you know what that is, or do you just think you know what it is? If you want a quick sense check, for flapped approaches, why not examine the minimum speed of ‘white arc' on the ASI. If you add 40%, that is likely to be close to the approach speed to aim for soon after turning final. If this calculation is clearly very different to the approach speed you use, It is well worth checking the official source for approach speeds if your landings are poor. 

Do you have the speed correct but there are still landing problems? Are you lining up with the runway early on final approach and staying there on the extended centre line, or is it something you sort out late on in the approach? The extra workload late on is not going to improve landings. If you are not settled at approximately the correct speed and lined up with 200' to 300' of descent to go, you might want to think about going around.  

If none of the above is an issue, do you have flat 'solid' landings which happen quickly after you commence the flare? Do you have more nosewheel or oleo problems over a period of time compared to others? Have you done a mass and balance for the expected landing mass, or is your mantra "no need, we can't be overweight"? Ever thought you might need ballast in the back to get the proper landing flare? It can be a common issue for some aircraft, pilot assumptions that 'only over weight is bad' - even some PA-28s need ballast in the back with only one or two people on board. Poor landing flare? Try the calculation!

These tips come from Irv Lee, Flight Examiner and aviation writer.