You’ve got to do it on your private license and you get to do it again on commercial, the wonderful power-off landings. Whether it’s practicing power-off 180’s to land on a point of the runway or encountering a real-life scenario of being in the traffic pattern without an engine, here’s some tips for making it safely and efficiently.
1) First step in any engine-out scenario: pitch for glide speed and HOLD IT. Trim for it so good (while multitasking the other items too) that you can forget about it and look back and it’d still be fine.
You want the most distance as possible to give yourself time to think and make the runway. On check rides and in a real emergency scenario, it’s better to land past your desired point than short.
2) Never lose sight of your landing point.
Depending on your altitude in the pattern, you may need to turn straight towards your landing point or extend one of your legs slightly. Either way, keep an eye on your target the entire time.
In these scenarios you’re nervous, the pressure can be high, and if you turn away from it without making note to keep a constant scan of its distance then you can easily forget about it. When you do remember to look back, you can be too low and now it’s too late to save the landing.
3) To help with number 2, in a lot of scenarios it helps to keep the landing point on the tip of your wing. This is because in most cases, you’re likely no more than 1,000 feet above the ground (this is how typical traffic patterns for both controlled and uncontrolled airports are designed for general aviation aircraft).
Don't get this confused with keeping it perfectly rounded like turns around a point.
Instead, you should still keep a fairly squared off pattern with just a shorter downwind and base than usual. Keeping it off your wing helps you maintain distance so you avoid getting too low, and as previously stated helps you maintain where you are in reference to it. The more you keep an eye on the point, the better you can judge if you’re too high or too low and your chances increase of landing “right on the money.”
4) Know how to efficiently conduct slips, use flaps, and apply crosswind techniques.
These are so important, it can make or break a safe power-off landing.
Slips of course are to help you get down in a short distance. Apply full rudder and opposite aileron and pitch for something slightly higher than glide speed.
Ex. if glide speed is 72 knots, a good slip is about 80 knots.
While it’s safer and best to land beyond your landing reference than short of it, you can only land beyond it to an extent. For a commercial check ride, it’s 200 feet. For a real engine out scenario, you need to be able to touchdown and smoothly apply breaking power before reaching the end of the runway.
Flaps help control airspeed and increase your descent rate if you’re high too, but don’t add them in early or you could fall too short.
And of course, crosswind techniques. Even without an engine, you should dip the aileron into the wind. Imagine landing right at your desired area, but strong wind pushed you off runway centerline and now you’re in the grass next to the runway. Not a fun day…
Power-off landings can be tricky and take time to get down, and are easily one of the toughest maneuvers, but they can be very fun. These help you understand your plane better and adjust where you are in reference to something without messing with the throttle.
Need some help working on these and don’t know where to go? Use the GlobalAir Aviation Training tool located under the Aviation Directory tab.
Whether you want to impress your instructor, pass a check ride, or make a safe landing be sure to try out these tips on your next power-off landings. Stay tuned and keep an eye out on the GlobalAir.com website for all things aviation!