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Short Field Approach & Landing

Introduction:

  • Landing is the most dangerous phases of flight, as it is in a terminal area when the pilot is most likely to be fatigued and concentrating on the "get-there-itis"
  • The goal of the short-field approach and landing is to maximize aircraft performance in order to safely and accurately land when runway distance is limited
    • The approach is made with minimum engine power commensurate with flying towards the aiming point on the runway
    • This will result in a steeper approach than otherwise flown with other landing procedures
  • Calculate performance data, examples found here
  • Reference traffic pattern
  • The traffic pattern is the ultimate goal, which began with the Rectangular Course
  • Speed must be reduced progressively as the aircraft's height reduces, and after reaching the airspeed for final approach it must be maintained accurately. After touch-down, the pilot applies maximum wheel braking and maximum up-elevator. Wing-flaps are sometimes retracted to allow better braking performance
Margin Of Safety In Flight Phases
Margin Of Safety In Flight Phases

Short Field Approach & Landing Procedure:

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


  1. Complete the Descent Flows/Checklists
  2. Talk to tower as appropriate to the airspace you're operating within
    • Controlled: "[Tower], [Callsign], [Location], [Information], [Intentions]"
      • Example: "Palms tower, Cessna one seven two seven victor, fives miles to the west for touch and goes"
    • Uncontrolled: "[Facility Name], [Callsign], [Location], [Information], [Intentions], [Facility Name]"
      • Example: "Palms tower, Cessna one seven two seven victor, five miles to the west for touch and goes, palms tower"
    • Abide by tower's instructions and plan to enter the traffic pattern at Traffic Pattern Altitude (TPA) on a 45° entry to the downwind, maintaining a one-half mile distance from the runway on the downwind leg
  3. Set power to establish and maintain traffic pattern speed
    • Trim as necessary
  4. Abeam the point of intended landing, reduce power and set the flaps , begin a gentle descent and call
    • Controlled: "[Tower], [Callsign] abeam, gear 3 down and locked, [Landing Type]"
      • ATC: "[Callsign], [Winds], cleared for [Landing Type], [Runway]"
    • Uncontrolled: None
    • Anticipate the balloon effect when lowering the flaps
    • Trim as necessary
  5. At the 45° point to the intended touchdown point (or as appropriate for wind conditions), commence a turn to the base leg
    • ICS: "Cleared left, forward, clear right, turning [Left/Right]"
    • Controlled: None
    • Uncontrolled: "[Facility Name], [Callsign], turning base for [Runway], [Facility Name]"
    • The wind is now at your side, so depending on its strength, you will need to compensate for drift with a crab angle
  6. Set the flaps, then establish and maintain base leg airspeed
    • Anticipate the balloon effect when lowering the flaps
    • Trim as necessary
  7. Visually verify that the final approach (including the extended final and the opposite base leg) is clear, and turn final
    • ICS: "Cleared left, forward, clear right, turning [Left/Right]"
    • Controlled: None
    • Uncontrolled: "[Facility Name], [Callsign], turning base for [Runway], [Facility Name]"
    • Check your heading indicator against the runway heading to ensure you're lined up with the correct runway
  8. When landing is assured, set the flaps for landing and establish approach speed (+1/2 gust factor, if applicable)
    • Anticipate the balloon effect when lowering the flaps
    • Trim as necessary
  9. Transition from a crab to a slip
  10. By 300' above landing, complete a GUMP check
    • GUMP Check:
      • Gas: Fuel Selector and Pumps - SET
      • Undercarriage: Gear - DOWN AND LOCKED (if applicable)
      • Mixture: Mixture - FULL FORWARD
      • Prop: Prop - FULL FORWARD (if applicable)
    • If the approach is stabilized, call out, "300 feet, stabilized, continuing"
    • If the approach is not stabilized, callout, "300 feet, not stabilized, going around," and execute a go-around
  11. Before the round out, begin smoothly reducing power, continuing the power reduction to idle during the round-out while increasing the pitch to maintain a constant glide path to the desired touchdown point (airspeed will begin decreasing)
    • Avoid closing the throttle rapidly, which may result in an immediate increase in the rate of descent and a hard landing
    • Round out when the distant trees go out of sight (look long to flare)
    • Touch down at minimum controllable airspeed with a power-off stall pitch attitude, on the main wheels first (minimum float), and with the throttle at the idle (closed) position
    • Hold the nose wheel off with back pressure throughout the rollout; allowing settling gently
  12. Increase aileron deflection into the wind if present or has shifted from expected
  13. Increase "up" elevator to increase braking effectiveness
  14. At nose wheel touch down:
    • Callout, "flaps up, max braking"
    • Retract the flaps to the up (0°) position (for maximum braking effectiveness)
    • Hold the control wheel full back, and
    • Apply braking as necessary to stop within the shortest distance possible, consistent with safety and controllability
  15. Maintain directional control throughout the roll-out with the rudder, slowing sufficiently before turning on a taxiway
    • Reference board speeds: you should be traveling no faster than twice the distance remaining
    • Example: at the 3 board, you should be traveling no more than 60 knots
  16. If required, raise the flaps to decrease lift over the wings and therefore increase weight on the brakes
  17. Exit the runway without delay at the first available taxiway or on a taxiway as instructed by ATC
    • An aircraft is considered clear of the runway when all parts of the aircraft are past the runway edge and there are no restrictions to its continued movement beyond the runway holding position markings
  18. Proceed with taxi procedures

Tips:

  • Touchdown as close to the approach end as safely possible
  • Utilize maximum braking available
  • Keep tires on the ground to keep friction
  • Land into a headwind
  • Land as the lowest weight possible

Exiting the Runway After Landing:

  • Exit the runway without delay at the first available taxiway or on a taxiway as instructed by ATC
    • Pilots must not exit the landing runway onto another runway unless authorized by ATC
    • At airports with an operating control tower, pilots should not stop or reverse course on the runway without first obtaining ATC approval
    • Immediately change to ground control frequency when advised by the tower and obtain a taxi clearance
  • In the absence of ATC instructions, the pilot is expected to taxi clear of the landing runway by taxiing beyond the runway holding position markings associated with the landing runway, even if that requires the aircraft to protrude into or cross another taxiway or ramp area
    • The tower will issue the pilot instructions which will permit the aircraft to enter another taxiway, runway, or ramp area when required
  • Once all parts of the aircraft have crossed the runway holding position markings, change to ground control frequency when advised by the tower and obtain a taxi clearance
    • The tower will issue instructions required to resolve any potential conflictions with other ground traffic prior to advising the pilot to contact ground control
    • Ground control will issue taxi clearance to parking. That clearance does not authorize the aircraft to "enter" or "cross" any runways. Pilots not familiar with the taxi route should request specific taxi instructions from ATC
Base Leg and Final Approach
Airplane Flying Handbook, Base Leg and Final Approach

Short Field Approach and Landing Common Errors:

  • Inadequate wind drift correction on the base leg
  • Overshooting or undershooting the turn onto final approach, resulting in too steep or too shallow a turn onto final approach
  • Flat or skidding turns from base leg to final approach as a result of overshooting/inadequate wind drift correction
  • Poor coordination during turn from base to final approach
  • Failure to complete the landing checklist in a timely manner
  • Un-stabilized approach
  • Failure to adequately compensate for flap extension
  • Poor trim technique on final approach
  • Attempting to maintain altitude or reach the runway using elevator alone
  • Focusing too close to the airplane resulting in too high a round out
  • Focusing too far from the airplane resulting in too low a round out
  • Touching down prior to attaining proper landing attitude
  • Failure to hold sufficient back-elevator pressure after touchdown
  • Excessive braking after touchdown

Short Field Approach and Landing Airman Certification Standards:

Conclusion:

  • Every good landing starts with a stabilized approach
    • Avoid any urge to "chop and drop"
  • Before every clearance to land, tower will give you the winds
    • Pay attention to this information! It may indicate a wind-shift you did not expect!

References: