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On final Approach for Landing

Old 01-20-2010, 05:38 PM
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Default On final Approach for Landing

Hello Everyone,
I am really sorry if I am posting this in the wrong section. Please forgive me if i do. I am a student pilot working on my presolo, I have about 60 Hrs and have not solo yet. I am have serious problems on short final to flare. Some of the problems that I am having are: flaring too high and ballooning after touching down. I have not mastered the pitch and power on final approach. Can anyone give me advise on how to solve this problem that I am having? This program is costing me a lot and i always wanted to become a pilot and I don't want to see my dream go down the drain. Thanks in advance for your assistance.

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Old 01-20-2010, 05:56 PM
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"I have about 60 Hrs and have not solo yet."

I would try a different CFI. If you still have trouble, I'd have to tell you not everyone is able to excel at the skill set necessary to be a pilot. If you are going to consistently need extra training this far above the norm, then you simply would be better off doing something else.

The flare problem is simply judgment. You have to do it over and over until you see the sight picture necessary as to when to start your flare. I'd have your CFI do one landing, and you do the next, so can see how it's done properly. If your CFI is trying to talk you through 10 landings in a row during a lesson, and now you have 60 hours and haven't soloed, then he/she needs to try something different.

As to the balloon, I teach to hold the amount of back pressure that caused you to balloon and let a descent rate restart. Do not lower the nose. Do not raise the nose. Just hold what you have. As you get close to the ground again, then increase back pressure to slow your descent rate. If you run out of airspeed, you could even add a little power. But never forget that a go around is always an option.
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Old 01-20-2010, 05:59 PM
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Make sure you are looking at a point far down the runway when you flare...if you look at the runway right in front of the nose, you tend to over-correct. Use your peripheral vision to judge height.
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Old 01-20-2010, 06:19 PM
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Years ago I took over a student with almost 60 hours who hadn't yet soloed.

He was shorter (5'3" maybe?) and a seat cushion solved his problems flaring... he soloed a few flight later. Sometimes a different perspective is all it takes (literally). Try another instructor before giving up.
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Old 01-20-2010, 08:25 PM
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1. Don't grip the yoke tightly. You will have to remain actively aware of this while on your approach. Use one hand and hold the yoke with only three or four fingers. Make sure you are trimmed out perfectly on approach.

2. As another stated: look all the way down the runway. If the nose or dash blocks your view keep your perspective constant and pretend to look through them. Continue using your peripheral vision and keep your focus on the far end of the runway.
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Old 01-20-2010, 08:49 PM
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- Nail your approach airspeed and trim for it..... understand how the aircraft feels control-wise in that speed

- Don't over-control at any time. Think about your descent rate prior - if you maintain the same pitch use the power to correct for the descent rate. Pitch for the airspeed.

- Ease into the flare... don't over control, try to have smooth, confident movements. If it feels like you're going to balloon, you probably have too much airspeed... the only way to smoothly bleed the airspeed is to slightly reduce back pressure and make sure the throttle is at idle (or whatever application it calls for) and smoothly, slowly increase back pressure as not to climb but to bleed airspeed until it settles down to the runway.

Too much energy (airspeed) on final will give you an urge to arrest a rate of descent by jerking back on the control yoke (or stick)... resist that urge and make smooth, confident movements.

-Many aircraft are flown different in landing, some call for idle-power, some for a little throttle, etc. Consult your POH for proper approach speeds.

-The key to consistent, smooth landings is smooth control inputs
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Old 01-21-2010, 07:40 AM
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Hello Everyone,
I want to say thank you for your help and your advise. I really appreciate then. The problem that I am having also is consistency. On certain days i will do proper landings and on other day my landings sucks. I have change instructor a few days ago. I know 60 hrs it a lot before solo. I train on the piper cadet and the approach speed on final is 63 knots. I am really concerned about getting that 63 knots on final and i try to trim for it, but my instructor told me that I should not be too concern about the 63 knots but maintaining center line on the runway (Is this correct). I normally come into land at around 70 knots on a calm day. Here are some of the problems I had on my previous flight:

(1) I was drifting into the runway on downwind.
(2) Coming in above 63 knots on final.
(3) Not reducing power at the appropriate time.
(4) Was not stable on short final.
(5) Not knowing when to take out power completely
(6) Was not looking down the runway so i did not know then to start the round out and the flare.
(7) Not keeping my aiming point in one plane on the window.
(8) Did not get enough sleep the night before.

When coming into final, I normally aim for the numbers so I would land on the second stripe. If anyone one can offer me some assistance or advise on these problems that i am having i will really appreciate it. Thanks in advance. I think one of the reason why i have not gone solo yet is because I have changed instructors like six times and each instructor has a different way of teaching stuff so I have to adopt to there way of teaching. The school moved my previous instructors to different programs, and the instructors I have now is not experience instructors.

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Old 01-21-2010, 09:40 AM
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Do have concern about the approach speed. If you get too slow, it could lead to an infavorable condition where you are sinking at a high angle of attack, thus making a go-around difficult, let alone landing. As said before, if you are too fast, that brings too much energy into ground effect, thus possibly causing a float or balloon.

Also have concern about maintaining centerline. Especially if you fly at an airport with parallel runways. You can find points on the ground that line up with the centerline of the runway to track over, that will help maintain centerline.

As for your specific questions:
1) This error can be from a root cause stemming way back in the fundamentals. Remember ground reference maneuvers? Specifically Rectangular Course? We practice that maneuver to develop proficiency in maintaining a constant radius from a reference on the ground. In this case, the reference is the runway. Use visual cues to keep yourself at a constant distance from the runway on downwind. Since you fly a cadet, a low wing aircraft, it is difficult to keep the reference in view. What you can do to assist you, like what I recommended for maintaining centerline on final, is to find reference points on the ground that are the same distance away from the runway. When you turn onto downwind from crosswind, take a look ahead on the ground and pick as many points as you can along a line 1/2 to 3/4 mile from the runway. Then while on downwind, make sure you fly the airplane over them. Also, find a reference far far far out on the horizon, keep the airplane tracking to that point.

2) Coming in fast on final may have something to do with getting the airplane set up in the first place. Remember, the key to a good landing is to make a good approach. Well, what precedes the approach is the traffic pattern, thus you'll need a good pattern to make a good approach. You begin a descent, usually, at beam the touchdown point while on downwind. At that point, get the airplane set up and stablized for the recommended configuration for that airplane (I've never flown the cadet myself so I don't know the profiles/configurations). Make sure you have it trimmed for this condition that you want it in. Make the airplane stablize at the airspeed for this phase of the pattern, with a consistent pitch attitude. Then, when turning base, another configuration change is usually done. Remember that with any change in power and/or flaps, you will have to re-trim the airplane for the correct pitch to maintain speed. A common error during the turn from downwind to base and base to final is inconsistent pitch attitude. This error stems from fundamentals as well--descending turns. I've seen many times where the pitch (nose) of the airplane drops down during these turns. This will result in an increase in airspeed as you come out of the turn, and requires more adjustment on your part to get back to where you want it. So as you turn, keep the nose at the same pitch attitude. Once you turn onto final, and as long as you have maintained a constant pitch during the turn, your airspeed should be fairly close to the final approach airspeed. Then you can configure the airplane for final (i.e. another notch of flaps). Now you will be doing a fine, smooth, coordinated dance with the throttle and pitch. Trim for the final approach speed with a constant pitch attitude that will keep you on the desired approach path.

3) The proper point at which to begin the power reduction and transition into the round-out and flare depends on the airplane. It will have to come with experience. Therefore, you will have to see when your CFI begins to pull out power and find a visual cue when this happens. For the cessna, this cue point when I teach it happens when the threshold of the runway dissappears behind the glareshield. See if you can find a visual cue like that for your airplane. Something that is consistent and would work for every airport. Therefore, don't pick a reference on the ground that you fly over, because that will only work for that runway only.

4) Not being stable on short final may be caused by a number of factors, especially since there are many factors that deem an approach a "stable approach". First off, pick a point at which you must be stable in order to continue the landing. If you are not stable by this point, then go-around and try again. For the school I work at, the stable point in 100 feet above the ground (again, find a reference point that defines this so you are not staring at the altimeter during the approach). It may sound like you would be going-around a lot, and waste money, but if you have a defined goal, you are more willing to acheive that goal. Now the problem is, how do I fix my un-stable-ness before I reach my "stable point" so I don't have to go-around all the time? Well, after reading 2) up there, if your final is still getting unstable, re-evaluate what is going on and what the airplane is wanting to do. What is going on: Is there a gusty wind that caused this unstable approach? If so, you will need to add a little airspeed to the final approach speed (adding 1/2 the gust factor is the common one). What is the airplane wanting to do that it is making me unstable? Is it slow? Then lower the nose to increase the speed, if this will make the airplane low, then add some power to maintain the approach path. These are just a few examples. If there is something that is consistent that is making you unstable, share that with us and we can provide you with more advice on stable approaches.

5) This kind of goes along with #3 and what previous CFI's have said on this thread. If your airplane is recommended to land without power, a proper transition from when you begin the power reduction to flare should end with your power at idle. That is, when you begin the power reduction, continue all the way to idle at a nice, smooth rate. And again, this will be dependent on the airplane as some airplanes react differently when power goes to idle at slow airspeeds. If it is recommended to land with some power, a transtition to that power setting should be made. That does not mean to stare at the tachometer to set exactly 1200RPM (or whatever it may be). With 60 hrs, you should have a pretty good idea at which amount of throttle yields such an amount of RPM. Also note what the airplane tends to do when you reduce power. Typically, the pitch will go down with a reduction in power. Anticipate this, especially now when you are close to the ground. When reducing power, you will need to increase the back pressure to overcome this nose down tendency. Otherwise, what I call "dive-bombing the runway" occurs. The nose will dip down towards the runway and the student will pitch up, rapidly, and the airplane ends up either floating forever or ballooning up.

6) I guess you answered this one yourself. Visual cues are difficult to master during landing. Your eyes should be on a point way way way down the runway during the transition from the approach pitch attitude through the level pitch attitude (roundout). During the flare, from level-ish to the proper touchdown attitude, slowly bring your eyes a little closer to the nose so you know where the runway centerline is and you can use your perreferal vision to judge height. Flaring too early/high may be a result of focusing too close (or focusing on your aiming point) on the runway, giving you the illusion that it is coming up fast on you. Flaring too late may be a result of focusing too far down (or at the horizon), where your perreferal vision is not able to sense the ground movement.

Something to note while on roundout/flare: Whatever the rate at which the ground is coming up in your perreferal vision should match the rate at which you apply the backpressure to touchdown. If you think about this--if you notice the ground is coming up nice and steadily, this means you are descending nice and steadily, so pitch back nice and steadily. If the ground in coming up fast on you, this means you are dscending fast, which means you will need to pull back faster to avoid smacking the runway. If the ground isn't moving at all, you are not descending, therefore you shouldn't move the yoke back at all (and consider a go-around if you are too high). Never never never never never never never (enough? -- no) never never never push forward on the yoke when you sense that you are not descending anymore. The slightest push of the yoke will result in a LARGE change in pitch, descent, and bounce! (possibly porpoise) So, whatever you take from the yoke, you keep. Never give it back.

7) I'm having difficulty understanding what you mean. But I think what you mean is that you want to keep your aiming point inn one relative spot on the window. Which is good! Keep in mind that this relative spot (we call the "Number Reference Point") should always be consistent from one day to the next. We actually draw our Number One Reference Point (#1RP) with a grease pencil at the exact spot on the horizon that the nose is pointing at, on the horizon, in straight-and-level flight. Keeping your aiming point on the #1RP doesn't gurantee you are at the proper pitch during the approach, however. Think of the two extremes: First extreme is that you are directly over the aiming point (runway) at, say, 500 feet agl. You point down to have the #1RP on the aim point. So now you have the #1RP on the aiming point, but you are pitched down 90 degrees! That won't work. you're too high! What if you are on a 1 mile final, but you are on the ground, same elevation as the runway. You'll have your #1RP on the aiming point, but you'll be at 0 degrees of pitch! You're too low! So, what you want is to have the #1RP on the aiming point, but your nose pitched down at the correct pitch attitude. In the cessna, having a two-finger space between the horizon and the #1RP puts the pitch where you want it. Try it out on your airplane.

8) If you ever feel that you are not fit to fly, don't fly! Please, this is Aeronautical Decision Making, it all begins with you. I don't care what your CFI says, if you're tired, sick, furious, etc. you are not safe nor are you going to learn. If my student tells me he/she is not fit to fly, I'll let them decide to go or not. Now, don't make it habitual, of course. If my student consistently shows up tired, they need to either get a later flight block or learn how to manage time and sleep better. I won't make them fly, but they will have to pay the no-show. Anyway, use the IMSAFE checklist and manage your risks before flying.

That is very unfortuneate that you've had to fly with so many different instructors, especially pre-solo. You are right, every single CFI teaches differently. You'll find many other CFI's will have other ways besides mine up there for 1-8. Find whatever works for you and stick with it! Just wait until you teach a CFI something.

Also, if anything I said is confusing, let me know, and I'll try to better explain or even making diagrams.

Most importantly while you fly and get your license: HAVE FUN!

(1) I was drifting into the runway on downwind.
(2) Coming in above 63 knots on final.
(3) Not reducing power at the appropriate time.
(4) Was not stable on short final.
(5) Not knowing when to take out power completely
(6) Was not looking down the runway so i did not know then to start the round out and the flare.
(7) Not keeping my aiming point in one plane on the window.
(8) Did not get enough sleep the night before.

Last edited by inky13; 01-21-2010 at 09:58 AM.
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Old 01-21-2010, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by toney
I am really concerned about getting that 63 knots on final and i try to trim for it, but my instructor told me that I should not be too concern about the 63 knots.

It's hard to know what you are doing without sitting next to you but, if by this your instructor means that he's catching you staring at the airspeed indicator rather than out the window, he's right that you should be a little less concerned about it.

In visual flight, instruments are a backup. When you drive down the road at 45 mph, you don't (I hope) stare at your speedometer. You rely on visual cues about your speed. That's what you are trying to accomplish with all visual maneuvers, especially landing. If this is the problem, then your latest CFI might consider covering the instruments for a few landings. When you have to rely on your eyes, it tends to helps with a multitude of landing problems.

btw, I don't know what other sites you are using, but for a student pilot, I'd recommend you take a look at Student Pilot - Flight Training Online.
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Old 01-21-2010, 01:50 PM
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one of the reasons I took a little longer to solo was the fact that I started off by doing touch and goes. This was a bad idea. I soloed in about 5 hours after doing full-stop landings. This gave time for my instructor to explain and critique me when we were not flying. Also I happen to switch instructors as well, and it helped a great deal.
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