Part II — The Ground and Air Instruction Syllabus — Exercise 21 — Precautionary Landings

Objective

To teach the student the procedures to be followed in preparation for a landing at an aerodrome where the surface condition is unknown, an unfamiliar aerodrome or landing area, or an unprepared surface.

Motivation

As required.

Essential Background Knowledge

(1)  Describe the situations which could lead to a precautionary landing:

  1. Aerodrome surface conditions, unfamiliar aerodrome or landing area;
  2. Fuel shortage;
  3. Deteriorating weather;
  4. Lost;
  5. Approaching darkness;
  6. Other (sickness, mechanical, etc.).

(2)  Discuss points to be considered for selection of best available landing surface:

  1. Wind direction and speed;
  2. Search procedure for suitable field;
  3. Clues indicating surface conditions;
  4. Obstacles on approach;
  5. Best landing path;
  6. Proximity to roads and/or telephone;
  7. Sufficient length for take-off;
  8. Overshoot considerations.

(3)  Describe considerations for air inspection of field:

  1. Applicable cockpit checks;
  2. Flight configuration and speed for circuit and field inspection;
  3. Nuisance avoidance regarding persons and property on ground, livestock, etc.;
  4. Landing line orientation procedure — use of heading indicator and turning points under reduced visibility conditions;
  5. Inspection circuit pattern and altitude according to existing circumstances — terrain, visibility, obstacles, etc.;
  6. Considerations relating to drift illusions (see Exercise 20);
  7. Radio procedures — where feasible;
  8. Approach and landing techniques, landing configuration, airspeed selection and control;
  9. Final landing check;
  10. Removal of power after landing flare;
  11. Considerations for overshoot after a practice approach.

(4)  Discuss considerations for landing in trees or water.

(5)  The instructor shall review all pertinent Canadian Aviation Regulations regarding low flying as well as the necessity to conform to applicable circuit procedures when practising at an aerodrome.

(6)  Question student on main elements of the presentation and clarify as necessary.

Advice to Instructors

(1)  Basically, precautionary landings can be divided into two categories: a pre-planned landing where the pilot is unfamiliar with the aerodrome/landing area, or its condition is unknown, or both; and a landing made necessary due to deteriorating weather, darkness, fuel shortage, etc. on an unprepared surface. In the case of a precautionary landing, make the demonstration realistic; paint a picture to the student detailing the weather conditions, cloud base, etc., and having done so, do not change the conditions. When the demonstration is given on the aerodrome, the height and distance from the runway at which the pattern is flown should be consistent with the stated weather conditions, except where flight safety considerations, such as other traffic and built-up areas, may be a limiting factor. As well, on long runways, the portion to be used should be clearly defined. The touchdown point should not normally be the actual threshold of the runway.

(2)  When conducting the inspection and the final approach to a landing, any variation from a normal circuit and approach should be dictated by special existing conditions. The speed used for the field inspection should not be less than that stipulated in the Pilot Operating Handbook, or if this is not given, not less than the normal approach speed. The flight configuration, speed, and altitude selected should require minimum pilot attention to fly the aeroplane safely. This allows more time to be devoted to effective inspection of the intended approach and landing path.

(3)  A most important aspect of a precautionary landing is to make an early decision. The pilot then should have sufficient time to select the best available landing surface.

(4)  Emphasize the importance of speed control during the approach. This can be very usefully practised at altitude.

(5)  Accidents have been caused by the pilot thinking too much of the landing during the approach; teach the student to concentrate on the approach first. This, coupled with the proper use of power and monitoring of airspeed, sound airmanship, etc., should result in a safe touchdown.

(6)  It should be pointed out that in the final stages of a precautionary landing, the pilot may find that the aircraft is sinking too rapidly. This may not be apparent at heights above 50 feet. The pilot should be prepared to give increased throttle before and at the moment of landing in order to cushion the ground contact. This will also help to counteract any effect due to wind shear near the ground.

(7)  Flight instructors must realize that while they, as experienced pilots, may possess the skill to follow the procedure whereby the throttle is closed and the nose lowered significantly when an approach obstacle has been passed, most low time pilots do not possess the judgement necessary to consistently carry out a safe landing flare under conditions of low approach speed and a steep descent path. The inherent dangers of this procedure may be compounded by ground turbulence and wind shear. Once the touchdown point has been selected, the approach path should be set up so as to clear any obstacle, and the final approach power should not be removed until the landing flare has been completed at a satisfactory height. Additional power is also more readily available from a "spooled-up" engine should it be required to cushion a flare or touchdown. If the approach speed has been correct there will be minimum "float" once the throttle has been closed. As the graduate pilot accumulates experience, approach procedures can be varied, but unless the landing surface is minimal, there is little advantage to closing the throttle once the obstacle has been passed.

(8)  Ensure the student is made thoroughly aware of the dangerous situations presented during turns at low altitude caused by the illusions created by drift, while practising precautionary landings. The instinctive desire to increase the rate of turn with rudder will more likely manifest itself in turns from the base leg to final approach, particularly in a strong cross-wind. The hazards of skidding turns at a low airspeed and low altitude, while obvious to the instructor, must be emphasized to the student.

Instruction and Student Practice

(1)  Outline simulated conditions such as:

  1. Non-emergency conditions — landing at unfamiliar aerodromes/landing areas or the surface condition is unknown, or both;
  2. Emergency conditions — e.g., weather — cloud base and visibility, lost — fuel remaining.

(2)  Determine wind direction and speed — select suitable field, best landing run and overshoot flight path.

(3)  Set up suitable manoeuvring configuration and speed — and demonstrate:

  1. Safety precautions;
  2. Applicable cockpit checks — passenger briefing;
  3. Radio procedures — where feasible;
  4. Selection of final approach and landing path;
  5. Circuit size and altitude for effective inspection of landing surface (keep field in sight);
  6. Selection of aids for circuit pattern and line up for final approach — use of heading indicator.

(4)  Carry out field inspection.

(5)  Overshoot and proceed with circuit for landing if satisfied with field selected and demonstrate:

  1. Safety precautions — safe airspeed;
  2. Landing checks;
  3. Use of orientation aids for circuit and approach;
  4. Final approach procedure, airspeed, and flaps;
  5. Landing procedure — touch down on specific point of landing surface (if approved landing surface) — removal of power after landing flare.

(6)  Student practises principles learned, selecting the field and following approved procedures.

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