Part 5 — Approach and Landing

Objective

To facilitate the student learning:

  • power-on approach and landing
  • power-off approach and landing
  • crosswind approach and landing
  • approach and landing over obstacles
  • glassy water approach and landing
  • recovering from abnormal approach and landing situations

Motivation

A pilot who already knows how to land on a runway has to develop new skills to approach and land a seaplane — the glassy water landing is one obvious example. Because of the diversity of the possible situations that could be encountered, the seaplane pilot requires not only skill in this exercise, but a high degree of situational awareness to decide what approach is needed and how and where to carry it out.

Power-On Approach and Landing

Essential Background Knowledge

Ask the student to review applicable approach and landing techniques for landplanes.

Explain how to inspect and assess the suitability of the approach, landing, and departure paths.

Explain the environmental factors that apply to approach and landing situations on water.

Explain the use of the shoreline ahead as an important attitude reference for landing.

Explain that the flare and landing are similar to nose wheel aircraft except some power may be required to ease the touchdown (no shock-absorbing undercarriage) and maintain elevator effectiveness.

Explain that most seaplanes will dig (pitch down) if landed in a level attitude especially if the water is glassy or only has a slight ripple. The pitch down is more severe if the airplane is loaded near its most forward centre of gravity.

Explain that the upper limits of the landing attitude are reached when the step and heel contact the water at the same time (not possible on some seaplanes). If the heel touches first the seaplane may pitch down suddenly.

Explain that the throttle should be closed and elevators kept up as soon as the seaplane touches the surface.

Advice to Instructors

  • It is important that you try to expose the student to various approach and landing situations to be sure they have the necessary skill under different conditions.
  • Inexperienced seaplane students tend to flare too high on rough water and too low on water with only a slight ripple.
  • The smoothest landings result if the nose is pitching up as the floats contact the water.
  • Ensure that the student can recognize all essential environmental factors after an inspection of the proposed landing area.

Instruction and Student Practice

Demonstrate how to assess the landing situation.

Demonstrate, while taxiing, the range of attitudes within which a seaplane is landed. This can be accomplished with small amounts of power and full up elevator.

Demonstrate that the

  • power-on approach is the same as a landplane
  • flare is accomplished at same height as a landplane
  • hold-off is the same as for a nose wheel-equipped landplane. The nose should be kept up to ensure the smoothest landing.

Demonstrate how to maintain the correct landing attitude until the seaplane slows and the nose starts to pitch up. Follow through with full up elevator, slowly, to avoid slight pitch down when the seaplane comes off the step and resultant prop spray.

Have the student practise power-on approaches and landings.

Power-off Approach and Landing

Essential Background Knowledge

Explain that the power-off approach is the same as for a landplane.

Explain that this is an essential skill for completion of a forced landing.

Explain how to ensure that the flare is completed at correct height.

Explain how to hold off as for a normal landing, carefully pitching nose up so that floats contact water in appropriate attitude.

Advice to Instructors

  • This should be avoided during glassy water situations.

Instruction and Student Practice

Demonstrate that the power-off approach and landing is the same as for a landplane.

Have the student practise power-off approaches and landings.

Crosswind Approach and Landing

Essential Background Knowledge

Explain that, during crosswind approach and landings, drift may be more difficult to see unless landing alongside the shoreline.

Explain that landing in a crosswind in high waves should be avoided in small seaplanes because of the impact on the floats and resultant heel over as the seaplane comes off the step in a nose-high attitude.

Advice to Instructors

It is not uncommon for pilots new to seaplanes to have trouble seeing the drift. The relative motion in the absence of centre lines or runway edges is harder to detect.

Air Instruction and Student Practice

Demonstrate that the crosswind approach and landing is the same as for a landplane.

Demonstrate that as a seaplane comes off the step and the nose pitches up, to anticipate a roll and yaw away from the wind.

Have the student practise crosswind approaches and landings.

Approach and Landing Over an Obstacle

Essential Background Knowledge

Explain that the approach is the same as for a landplane.

Explain that if it is windy, to anticipate greater turbulence and wind shear in smaller lakes surrounded by high terrain.

Explain the importance of using a constant approach angle to the point of intended round out.

Advice to Instructors

  • During glassy water conditions this type of approach should be regarded as an advanced exercise.

Air Instruction and Student Practice

Demonstrate that the approach and landing over an obstacle is the same as for a landplane, including the use of a constant approach angle to the point of intended round out or flare.

Have the student practise approaches and landings over obstacles.

Glassy Water Approach and Landing

Essential Background Knowledge

Explain that most seaplanes will dig (pitch down) if landed in a level attitude especially if the water is glassy or only has a slight ripple. The pitch down is more severe if the airplane is loaded near its most forward centre of gravity.

Explain that the surface of glassy water is impossible to see and therefore approaches and landings must be planned alongside a shoreline wherever possible.

Explain that a glassy water landing may take as much as 3 to 4 times the normal distance.

Advice to Instructors

  • Have the student hold a constant attitude while decreasing and increasing rate of descent. Use the same technique for touch and go landings — hold a constant attitude throughout, use full power for take-off, reduce power to descend, increase power to flatten the descent, all in the landing attitude. This is one of the most important exercises that the student must master.
  • No attempt should be made to land on glassy water in the middle of a lake. Always approach and land alongside the shoreline, if at all possible.
  • If possible, have students practice flaring at 50 feet more or less above the surface in a light breeze (no turbulence) and practice attitude-power control until touchdown before glassy water is attempted.
  • Every effort should be made to do glassy water training in real glassy water conditions, otherwise the exercise will have to be simulated. Real glassy water conditions are most often found in the early morning or late evening.
  • Simulate the glassy water approach at altitude before attempting one on water.

Instruction and Student Practice

Demonstrate how to assess the glassy water situation.

Demonstrate the glassy water approach and landing, including

  • choosing the best approach path
  • controlling descent
  • cross-checking the shoreline
  • touching down
  • attitude and power after touchdown

Have the student practise glassy water approaches and landings.

Recovering from Abnormal Landing Situations

Essential Background Knowledge

Review the technique for recovering from a bounce or flaring too high.

Explain how to recover from a dig.

Explain how to recover from porpoising.

Explain that a descent rate that may be acceptable for a landplane may cause a seaplane to bounce.

Instruction and Student Practice

Demonstrate how to recover from a bounce by maintaining landing attitude and applying power as required to control sink and landing again. If insufficient room then overshoot.

Demonstrate how to recover from a dig by applying immediate back pressure. Do not apply power. If back pressure is too severe and the aircraft comes out of the water then recover as for a bounce.

Completion Standards

The applicant for the rating must be able to safely approach and land using the correct procedures for the actual conditions of water surface and depth, debris, wind, and terrain.

The student shall be able to:

  • select the most suitable approach path and landing area considering surrounding terrain, water condition and depth, debris, and wind
  • maintain the proper track on final approach
  • establish the approach and landing configuration and power required
  • maintain the recommended approach speed
  • make smooth, timely, and correct control application during final approach and transition from approach to landing attitude
  • contact the water at the recommended airspeed and with the correct pitch attitude
  • remain on the step after touchdown or assume the idling position
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