The existential flying question

HomeBuiltAirplanes.com

Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes.com:

Gregory Perkins

Active Member
Joined
May 25, 2019
Messages
39
Do you as a pilot want to be able to land on the runway without damage if you have an engine out anywhere in the traffic pattern?

If yes, what does the pattern look like and what is the routine from any place in the pattern ?

I am of the opinion that what is being taught by the FAA is dumbed down for the lowest common denominator pilot with little skills and experience.

I cannot agree with the lowering of flaps prior to turning to base leg and the 90 degree turns from downwind to base and from base to final.

Years ago I adopted a single large low-banked arc from downwind to final and would lower flaps only when I was sure I had the runway made. Lowering flaps reduces your glide ability if you lose your engine. What is being taught requires that medium throttle be maintained to drag you to the
runway threshold and if you lose the engine you go down short.

With so many stall-spin accidents in the base to final phase, I cannot understand why they still teach the sharp 90 degree turns ..... except for what I said about the need to dumb it all down.

A subset of this is that most pilots feel a subconscious need to line up with the runway as if the threshold was the opening of a bottle and if you miss it you cannot land. If you were to for instance extend a little too far on your base leg before turning.... instead of a paniced over reaction and over banked maneuver to line you up with the threshold, there is nothing wrong with a more leisurely maneuver that places your touch down one third down the runway.... which involves your flying over the threshold way out to the side etc. on your way to lining up with the runway. This assumes of course a runway that is much longer than needed which is the case at every airport I visit.

The only negative to what I advocate, is that you dont get much practice for short field landings during off airport emergency scenarios.
 

Turd Ferguson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2008
Messages
5,092
Location
Upper midwest in a house
With so many stall-spin accidents in the base to final phase, I cannot understand why they still teach the sharp 90 degree turns ..... except for what I said about the need to dumb it all down.
Out of all landing related accidents, which are most common:

a) engine failure in the pattern

b) Stall spin in the pattern

c) overshoot or undershoot from unstable approach
 

BJC

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Oct 7, 2013
Messages
11,233
Location
97FL, Florida, USA
Do you as a pilot want to be able to land on the runway without damage if you have an engine out anywhere in the traffic pattern?
Yes, that would be nice, but not possible at all airports because of runway length.

If yes, what does the pattern look like and what is the routine from any place in the pattern ?
From a shorter runway, there is a segment where turning back is not possible, nor is landing straight ahead on the runway.

I am of the opinion that what is being taught by the FAA is dumbed down for the lowest common denominator pilot with little skills and experience.
Yup, that's me.

I cannot agree with the lowering of flaps prior to turning to base leg and the 90 degree turns from downwind to base and from base to final.
Wouldn’t that depend on altitude, distance from the runway and glide performance of the airplane? Flying a base leg offers the opportunity to look for traffic.

Years ago I adopted a single large low-banked arc from downwind to final and would lower flaps only when I was sure I had the runway made.
That can work, but see comment above. Plus, it is non-standard, so others are less likely to see you.

Lowering flaps reduces your glide ability if you lose your engine.
Mine go up as well as down.

What is being taught requires that medium throttle be maintained to drag you to the
runway threshold and if you lose the engine you go down short.
Yeah, I don’t like that either.

With so many stall-spin accidents in the base to final phase, I cannot understand why they still teach the sharp 90 degree turns ..... except for what I said about the need to dumb it all down.
Who is teaching a sharp turn? What is a sharp turn in degrees bank? Note the radii if turns varies with airspeed, and what looks sharp at pattern speeds may not be sharp.

Note, also, that there are more stall/spin crashes from the turn to crosswind than the turn to final. If you want to know what I think about stall/spin crashes, search HBA.

A subset of this is that most pilots feel a subconscious need to line up with the runway as if the threshold was the opening of a bottle and if you miss it you cannot land.
You have mis-read my subconscious, and probably others too.

If you were to for instance extend a little too far on your base leg before turning.... instead of a paniced over reaction and over banked maneuver to line you up with the threshold, there is nothing wrong with a more leisurely maneuver that places your touch down one third down the runway....
Yes, but if you panic, perhaps you should find a different hobby. And, there are other options. With altitude and or power, a steep turn is OK as long as the wing in unloaded in the turn. A go-around is always s good option., especially for a botched approach to a short runway or one with trees just slightly further apart than the wing span.

which involves your flying over the threshold way out to the side etc. on your way to lining up with the runway. This assumes of course a runway that is much longer than needed which is the case at every airport I visit.
I encourage you to get out more. Experience comes from doing different things, not the same thing over and over.

The only negative to what I advocate, is that you dont get much practice for short field landings during off airport emergency scenarios.
See above.

Although you and I are not in total agreement, I thank you for bringing up these issues, and I anticipate some interesting discussion about your points, and mine.


BJC
 

Gregory Perkins

Active Member
Joined
May 25, 2019
Messages
39
I cannot agree with the lowering of flaps prior to turning to base leg and the 90 degree turns from downwind to base and from base to final.
/////////////////////
Wouldn’t that depend on altitude, distance from the runway and glide performance of the airplane? Flying a base leg offers the opportunity to look for traffic.
/////////////

That is the point. You the pilot control the altitude, and distance from the runway and turn locations. And In most cases you control the glide performance with the flaps and throttle. You should have finished all your searches for traffic in the downwind leg.

I maintain there is a glide slope for all speed, power, configuration and location combinations below which you should not go because you will not make it to the runway if engine quits. This glide slope is maximized by a large gently banked arc from downwind to final.

I should clarify that this discussion is solely focused on landing technique and not takeoffs and I am saying never expose yourself to the risk of not being able to reach the runway if engine out.
 

TFF

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
13,018
Location
Memphis, TN
Like they said about FAA licenses, it’s a license to learn. They teach you enough to get you through. Your job after is to find out all you can. No one said you can’t hire an instructor to work on more complex situations. A commercial license is a lot of that; it’s in an accelerated form so you don’t have to spend 1000 hours learning it on your own. Flaps up or down and when is a factor for the type of plane and airport and weather at that moment. Almost infinite combos. If you fly a Cessna 150, it will be different than a Barron, different than a Pitts Special... A lot of it is a challenge game. Challenge to master something harder or slimmer margins. Except for takeoff and the impossible turn, you should have at least a good chance to make the field in any pattern. If you are having to extend a downwind your choices are the same as if you lost an engine in a cross country flight. None of these should be surprise areas.
 

Dan Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
5,340
As BJC stated, a rectangular pattern gives you a much better chance of spotting other traffic. Midairs are most common near an airport.

Besides, if we teach to keep the bank angle within 30°, the stall speed increase is small indeed:



Low-powered aircraft will often not be able to reach the runway from just about any point in the pattern if the engine quits. Their climb angle is shallow so they need more time, which means more distance, to get to pattern altitude. And many are rather draggy; the old Champs I used to fly would never reach the runway from the downwind leg, especially if their was any crosswind against the airplane.

One just needs to be prepared. And one should make sure his airplane is well-maintained and well-cared-for. Engine failures are usually a result of neglect. There really is such a thing as false economy.
 

Dana

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 3, 2007
Messages
9,251
Location
CT, USA
I try to fly the pattern so I can make the runway from any point. That's not possible shortly after takeoff, of course, during the time where you're too high to put it back down but not yet high enough to do the "impossible turn". In a draggy biplane, that means a tight pattern... which means I'm sometimes cursing the pilots who seem to like log cross country time while in the pattern.

My normal pattern is throttle to idle abeam the numbers, and start turning base almost immediately after that. Base may be squared off or a continuous turn, depending on wind. Unless I've really underestimated the wind or following somebody else, I'll be [intentionally] high on final and slip to adjust. Typically I won't roll out of the turn wings level onto the runway heading, just go straight into a forward slip as appropriate.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BJC

Gregory Perkins

Active Member
Joined
May 25, 2019
Messages
39
QUOTE "Low-powered aircraft will often not be able to reach the runway from just about any point in the pattern if the engine quits. Their climb angle is shallow so they need more time, which means more distance, to get to pattern altitude. And many are rather draggy; the old Champs I used to fly would never reach the runway from the downwind leg, especially if their was any crosswind against the airplane. " ///////////////

I cannot think of any N numbered aircraft except for some ultralights that would have a glide ratio of less than 7 or 8 to 1. My intention was to limit this discussion to approaches and landing patterns as opposed to anything takeoff related. If you are at 1000 feet AGL and 1000 feet horizontal to the runway when downwind I believe any aircraft can glide to the runway if engine quits. If you were in the most vulnerable spot downwind you might have to reach the runway crossways but that is better than dropping it in the trees off airport.
 

TFF

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
13,018
Location
Memphis, TN
I spend lots of time with helicopters, if you want short glide, autorotation is hard to beat. Look between your feet and that’s where you will end up; if you need to do a 180 halve that. At least you don’t need a big spot. If you are flying a champ at a class C jet port, they don’t want you there and they will make you go way out. Non towered airport should be non issue if you need to be closer in than some Barron. Pilots being hard headed fools tend to browbeat anyone not doing their way. Plenty of airports that is easy to be the outsider.
 

12notes

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Log Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2014
Messages
1,056
Location
Louisville, KY
Lets say you're doing a textbook stabilized approach in a 172, just after turning final, at 70mph (which happens to also best glide speed), flaps 20, engine 1500 rpm, on glideslope, and your engine quits. You will not travel as far without the engine, you're already at best glide, and you're going to land short. I don't think raising the flaps will make up the difference.

I was so sold on the stabilized approach when a student that I couldn't land the plane. It was only when I gave up on it that I realized that the last 5 seconds before touchdown matter a million times more than the approach, exactly the opposite of what every FAA approved communication says on the matter, that I could land the plane.

When I'm doing touch & goes, I practice unstabilized approaches. Low & close patterns, power off 180's from 500' or less, some approaches that I'm still in a turn over the numbers. It makes normal approaches easier, things like sudden wind changes easier to deal with, and should help if I need to make an emergency landing.
 

Aerowerx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
5,568
Location
Marion, Ohio
I was taught, if the engine quite while in the pattern, to forget the pattern and head towards the closest part of the runway. Make a smooth gliding turn. I remember one engine out drill where I lined up just before the flair to land.

Another trick my CFI taught me. If it looks like you just might barely not make it, put in another notch of flaps. The resulting ballooning will give you a bit extra altitude to work with.
 

BJC

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Oct 7, 2013
Messages
11,233
Location
97FL, Florida, USA
Lets say you're doing a textbook stabilized approach in a 172, just after turning final, at 70mph (which happens to also best glide speed), flaps 20, engine 1500 rpm, on glideslope, and your engine quits. You will not travel as far without the engine, you're already at best glide, and you're going to land short. I don't think raising the flaps will make up the difference.
If the airplane is at best glide speed with flaps 20, raising the flaps will dramatically improve the glide angle with no need to lower the nose to accelerate to best glide speed.


BJC
 

12notes

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Log Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2014
Messages
1,056
Location
Louisville, KY
If the airplane is at best glide speed with flaps 20, raising the flaps will dramatically improve the glide angle with no need to lower the nose to accelerate to best glide speed.


BJC
Yes, but still don't think you'd make the field. Does a 172 descend faster at 70 with the engine out and a windmilling prop than it does at 70 with flaps 20 with the engine running at 1500 RPM?

And if you're flying a plane that doesn't have flaps, there's no way you're making the field from a stabilized approach if there's an engine failure near the turn to final.
 
Last edited:

Dan Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
5,340
I cannot think of any N numbered aircraft except for some ultralights that would have a glide ratio of less than 7 or 8 to 1. My intention was to limit this discussion to approaches and landing patterns as opposed to anything takeoff related. If you are at 1000 feet AGL and 1000 feet horizontal to the runway when downwind I believe any aircraft can glide to the runway if engine quits. If you were in the most vulnerable spot downwind you might have to reach the runway crossways but that is better than dropping it in the trees off airport.
Anyone at 1000 feet to the side of the runway on downwind is way too close. At non-towered airports with traffic in the pattern you would soon get run off the field. You'd be way inside the other airplanes and creating a huge hazard.

Let's see if the geometry works: To get to 1000' AGL at 1000' horizontally from the runway, with the normal turn to crosswind at 500' AGL, we need to gain another 500 feet in 1000 feet, or a 27 degree climb angle. Please tell me what affordable light airplane can climb at that angle? It would translate to a 1300 FPM climb at 60 MPH, or 1750 FPM at 80. Serious numbers.
 

BJC

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Oct 7, 2013
Messages
11,233
Location
97FL, Florida, USA
Yes, but still don't think you'd make the field. Do you descend faster at 70 with the engine out and a windmilling prop than you do at 70 with flaps 20 with the engine running at 1500 RPM?
I don’t know, but the relevant comparison is flaps 20 verses flaps retracted, both with no engine power and the prop windmilling. Flaps retracted will result in greater gliding distance.

With some altitude, the improvement in glide with a stopped prop can justify reducing airspeed to stop the prop, then lowering the nose enough to accelerate back to best glide speed, but I don’t know what that altitude is for my airplane, much less your’s.

And if you're flying a plane that doesn't have flaps, there's no way you're making the field from a stabilized approach if there's an engine failure near the turn to final.
That is a good argument not to fly an FAA defined stabilized approach. (I just watched a video, in another thread, of a twin on a long, flat final that made me cringe. YMMV)

For a typical visual approach, whether or not the airplane could reach the runway following an engine failure near the turn to final, depends on where you turned from downwind to base, the wind, the power setting before the engine failure, the type of propeller, and your distance from the runway.


BJC
 

Dan Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
5,340
And if you're flying a plane that doesn't have flaps, there's no way you're making the field from a stabilized approach if there's an engine failure near the turn to final.
I used to be an instructor, and taught such stuff. In Canada we don't reduce the power abeam the numbers; descending on downwind is frowned upon. The descent starts at the downwind-to-base turn, at 45° to the runway, and the turn to final is at 500'. One is normally about 2500 or 3000 feet back from the threshold at that point, translating to a 5:1 or 6:1 glide angle, well within the range of a 172 with flaps up. If there's a stiffer wind down the runway it gets a bit tighter but turning base sooner fixes that.

Why all the fear about losing an engine in the pattern? There are more people killed and airplanes wrecked by numerous other factors. Instructors and pilots should be concentrating on training for, or for prevention of, the most likely hazards. Carb ice, for instance, wrecks a lot of airplanes. Excessive speed at touchdown does, too. Getting lost. Crosswind landings. Running out of fuel. Doing stupid stuff like low flying or buzzing or showing off. Amateur aerobatics. Taking off into deteriorating weather. Taking off from a runway too short to clear obstacles. Overloading the airplane. These are statistically far more serious risks than an engine failure in the pattern.
 

12notes

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Log Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2014
Messages
1,056
Location
Louisville, KY
I don’t know, but the relevant comparison is flaps 20 verses flaps retracted, both with no engine power and the prop windmilling. Flaps retracted will result in greater gliding distance.

BJC
I agree that retracting the flaps has greater gliding distance. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear, but this is not the relevant comparison for the question I was asking. In a stabilized approach, you are set up to make the runway with the engine running at 1500 RPM until you're over the fence. At the stabilized approach distance and altitude near the final turn, the glide slope of the 1500RPM, flaps 20, 172 will get you to the runway, my question is if the engine goes out and you reduce flaps to 0 immediately, will the glide slope in this situation be the same or better (enough to get you to the runway from that distance and altitude), or will it be worse (land short, which I think is the outcome).
 
Top