High on Final Approach
IF YOU’RE HIGH ON FINAL APPROACH, HOW SHOULD YOU CORRECT?
Landing is one of the most exciting and memorable parts of your flight. A great landing is something you can really be proud of. But making great landings, over and over, is a challenge.
Last month, we opened up a survey about landings. Consistency was one of the top items you brought up. Many of us don’t feel like we can consistently make a great landings.
CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY, BUT HOW DO WE GET THERE?
So why is it so difficult to make consistently great landings?
Your environment’s constantly changing. The wind’s changing. Other traffic changes your pattern. Even if nothing else changes, as you fly, fuel burn is changing your aircraft’s weight.
That means each landing is a little different. And that’s why making landings consistently great is such a challenge.
When you know how to correct for those changes – wind, weight, the shape of the runway, then your landings are consistent, and much, much better.
In this article, we’ll focus on 4 scenarios you need to correct for on final approach.
MAKING CORRECTIONS ON FINAL APPROACH
So, how do you control your glide path on final? You’re managing two variables: airspeed, and descent rate. So what controls airspeed, and what controls descent rate?
On final, you use power to control your descent rate, and you use pitch to control your airspeed. That also means that to fly a consistent stable final approach, you need to trim for your final approach speed.
Let’s get into the common problems you’ll see on final.
SCENARIO 1: ON SPEED, BUT HIGH ON FINAL
If you’re high and on speed, you’re on a stable but high glide path. That means you need less power. When you decrease power, trim will lower your nose to hold your airspeed, and you’ll fly back to glide path. In this case, trim does the work. When you recapture glide path, add power to resume your normal descent rate.
SCENARIO 2: HIGH AND SLOW ON FINAL
If you’re high and slow, you’re probably holding in too much back pressure, and you’re fighting trim. Leave the power where it is, and let trim pull the nose down. Gently relax the yoke/stick, and trim will start pitching the nose down for your trimmed final approach speed. If trim isn’t pitching you to your target airspeed, re-trim the plane for the speed you want, and let the nose pitch down to capture that speed.
As your plane pitches down, you’ll recapture the glide path. If you need to descend more, remove a little bit of power. But remember, once you recapture glide path, add power back to your normal power setting for final.
SCENARIO 3: ON SPEED, BUT LOW ON FINAL
The same control inputs work if you’re low. If you’re low but on speed, add in some power to fly up to glide path. As long as you’re trimmed for your target speed on final, adding power will slow your descent rate, and you’ll fly back up and recapture the glide path.
SCENARIO 4: LOW AND FAST ON FINAL
If you’re low and fast, you’ve probably added in some forward pressure. Don’t change the power right away. Instead, let trim pull your nose up and then see if you fly back to glide path. If you’re still low, you can add a little power to recapture the glide path.
ONCE YOU’RE BACK ON GLIDE PATH…
When you change the power to correct your glidepath, you need to take two actions. First, add or reduce power to correct for the glide path. And second, as you fly back onto glide path, set the power to hold your path. If you forget to change your power setting back to normal once you recapture the glide path, you’ll fly right through it.