Emergency Approach & Landing


  • Emergency Approach and Landing simulate an emergency situation where an aircraft is required to descend as rapidly as possible to a forced landing with little or no power (engine failure) available
  • Additionally, Emergency Approach and Landing improve pilot technique for power off turns, wind drift control, planning, orientation, and division of attention
  • Gliding distance varies by airspeed, altitude, obstructions, wind direction, landing directions, landing surface and gradient, and landing distance required
  • When conducted for training expect the instructor to callout "Simulate Emergency Landing"

All procedures are GENERALIZED.
Fly the maneuver in accordance with the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH)
and/or current Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Emergency Approach & Landing Procedure:

  1. Perform clearing turns
  2. Establish best glide attitude for 68 KIAS
  3. Ensure that the flaps are up
  4. Trim to maintain airspeed
  5. Determine the wind direction
  6. Select a reference point that is near an area where an emergency landing can be made
    • Fields are best, roads may contain powerlines
    • Look for flat, high populated, low obstruction areas
  7. Turn the aircraft toward the landing site
  8. Complete the engine failure during flight checklist:
    • If engine restart is unsuccessful, plan and fly a pattern
    • Establish a high-key point at 1,000' AGL downwind and abeam to the touchdown point
    • Establish a low-key point at 500' AGL on base before the turn to final
  9. Maneuver as necessary to reach the high-key point
    • Not to exceed 60°
    • Clear the engine on the upwind legs every turn
    • Operating the engine at idle speed for prolonged periods may result in excessive engine cooling or spark plug fouling
    • Check engine operation during the glide by "clearing" the engine on every upwind or every 1,000' AGL (to minimize any variation in ground-speed and turn radius) as appropriate

    When spiraling, the bank angle can be adjusted to vary altitude loss so as to arrive at the high key point at the appropriate altitude. The Cessna 172S loses approx. 800-1000' in a 20° bank - 360° turn; and approximately 4-500' in a 45° bank - 360° turn. If altitude does not permit the use of a high-key point, proceed to a low key point

  10. Turn onto the base leg to be able to conserve or dissipate altitude to reach the desired landing point
  11. At low-key position, set flaps to 10° if desired
  12. Turn final to align with the landing site and, when the landing is assured, set the flaps to 30° if desired
  13. Complete the engine failure during flight checklist to secure the engine
  14. Touchdown slightly tail low and apply brakes as required
    • Fly slightly high with options to slip than too low with no options

    Unless the approach is made to an airport runway, the simulated emergency approach and landing should be terminated as soon as it can be determined that a safe landing could have been made, or 500' AGL, whichever occurs first

  15. Complete the cruise checklist

Emergency Approach & Landing Common Errors:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area
  • Poor coordination, resulting in skidding and/or slipping
  • Inadequate wind drift correct
  • Failure to coordinate the controls, so that no increase/decrease in speed results when straight glide is resumed
  • Failure to scan for other traffic
  • Failure to maintain orientation
  • Failure to raise the flaps
  • Improper checklist use
  • Failure to choose and fly by a high and low-key point
  • Flying an approach too high or low

Private Pilot - Emergency Approach and Landing (Simulated) (ASEL, ASES) Airman Certification Standards:

  • To determine that the applicant exhibits satisfactory knowledge, risk management, and skills associated with emergency approach and landing procedures
  • Note: See Appendix 6: Safety of Flight
  • References: FAA-H-8083-2, FAA-H-8083-3; POH/AFM

Emergency Approach and Landing Knowledge:

The applicant demonstrates understanding of:
  • PA.IX.B.K1:

    Immediate action items and emergency procedures
  • PA.IX.B.K2:

    Airspeed, to include:
    • PA.IX.B.K2a:
      Importance of best glide speed and its relationship to distance
    • PA.IX.B.K2b:
      Difference between best glide speed and minimum sink speed
    • PA.IX.B.K2c:
      Effects of wind on glide distance
  • PA.IX.B.K3:

    Effects of atmospheric conditions on emergency approach and landing
  • PA.IX.B.K4:

    A stabilized approach, to include energy management concepts
  • PA.IX.B.K5:

    ELTs and other emergency locating devices
  • PA.IX.B.K6:

    ATC services to aircraft in distress

Emergency Approach and Landing (Simulated) Risk Management:

The applicant is able to identify, assess, and mitigate risk associated with:
  • PA.IX.B.R1:

    Failure to consider altitude, wind, terrain, obstructions, gliding distance, and available landing distance
  • PA.IX.B.R2:

    Failure to plan and follow a flightpath to the selected landing area
  • PA.IX.B.R3:

    Collision hazards, to include aircraft, terrain, obstacles, and wires
  • PA.IX.B.R4:

    Improper airplane configuration
  • PA.IX.B.R5:

    Low altitude maneuvering, including stall, spin, or controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)
  • PA.IX.B.R6:

    Distractions, task prioritization, loss of situational awareness, or disorientation

Emergency Approach and Landing (Simulated) Skills:

The applicant exhibits the skill to:
  • PA.IX.B.S2:

    Configure the airplane in accordance with the POH/AFM and existing conditions
  • PA.IX.B.S3:

    Select a suitable landing area considering altitude, wind, terrain, obstructions, and available glide distance
  • PA.IX.B.S4:

    Plan and follow a flightpath to the selected landing area considering altitude, wind, terrain, and obstructions
  • PA.IX.B.S5:

    Prepare for landing as specified by the evaluator
  • PA.IX.B.S6:

    Complete the appropriate checklist


  • In the words of Bob Hoover, "If you're faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible"
    • In other words, accept what it is, and don't give up
  • Consider practicing maneuvers on a flight simulator to introduce yourself to maneuvers or knock off rust
  • The landing is only the beginning, check out the AOPA's article, Survive: Beyond the Forced Landing"
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