Addi Hemphill Aviation Articles

4 Tips for Mastering Power-Off Landings

                       

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!

Commercial Pilot Check Ride Prep

Pilot Check Ride PrepFor any pilot looking to chase a career in aviation and especially those who have already passed their flight training days, we all have to experience the dreaded check ride. All the time, money and energy put into completing the requirements count on this one day-and it’s the most nerve wracking thing. If you’re like any pilot you can’t sleep the night before, you show up to your testing place early to restudy everything because you managed to forget it all that morning, and if the smallest thing goes wrong you’re discouraged. But it all becomes worth it when you shake your examiner’s hand as they pass you your new pilot certificate, and you know you earned it. So, let’s talk about some things that might help you pass your commercial check ride:

  • First things first, KNOW YOUR PLANE. Don’t test with a plane on a check ride you’re not familiar with. You should know factors like its glide capability, the systems, Vspeeds etc. This will play a part in both the oral and flight portion of the test. Consider some questions like what type of engine you have or how the electrical system operates. Glide capability comes into play on the engine out scenario and the power-off 180º.
  • Know commercial pilot limitations and where to find them in the regulations. Two questions almost every examiner will ask involve common carriage and holding out. Here’s a hint-both are illegal. You cannot use someone else's plane and charge passengers their rate along with yours. You also cannot go advertising flights for passengers after becoming a commercial pilot, such as “$200 flights round trip to the Bahamas!” with you. That gets into Part 135 operations that has different stipulations, and that you don’t have the privileges to do without a Part 135 certification. This license allows you to operate under 14 CFR 119.1 for flights such as bird chasing, aerial photography and sightseeing (NOT charter flights).
  • Another limitation as a commercial pilot is what you’re restricted to do if you do not have an instrument rating. If you’re unsure of where to find it, check out 14 CFR 61.133. Without an instrument rating, a licensed commercial pilot cannot carry passengers more than 50 nautical miles away from their departure airport. Regulations also restrict carrying passengers at night for hire.
  • Now that you can carry passengers for hire, your flight planning and flying skills should be well developed past what they were as a private pilot. After all, if you’re being paid for these operations you need to be good at them. It comes down to the small things, like turning to a new heading. Don’t throw the bank in there, but smoothly start rolling it in. In short: Make. Everything. Smooth. You want your passengers to be comfortable and feel like they’re flying with an experienced pilot. As for flight planning, use all the resources available for a safe and well-planned flight! This is especially helpful on cross countries, time building to meet testing requirements. One way to do this is finding an airport to refuel for the lowest price. The GlobalAir.com Fuel Mapping tool is perfect for this and ranks airports in a specified radius from lowest to highest fuel price.

The last tip for a commercial check ride, and any check ride for that matter, is to not test until you’re ready. Take it from a pilot with a previous failure and who has talked with other pilots, everything is on your timeline. It’s when you’ve studied and flown enough that you feel you’re truly ready for this new license that it’s time to test. Check rides are stressful and nerve wracking. It’s likely that you’ll fly worse than normal on a test day, and that’s okay because it’s your nerves.

Just remember that safety is the goal, not perfection! Take a breath, take your time, then show the examiner what you’ve been training for.  Do you have any tips that you would like to offer a student pilot you think might help?

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