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Should You Trim During Landing?

Is it a good idea to use trim to help with back pressure during landing?

First Off, What Does Trim Do?

Trim holds airspeed. If you trim for a speed and let go of the yoke, your plane will keep flying at that speed, regardless of power setting. If you trim and change your power, your plane will pitch up or down to maintain your trimmed speed. Trim for climb speed, let go, and you'll maintain climb speed. Trim for cruise, let go, and it'll maintain cruise speed. Trim for final approach speed, let go, and you'll maintain final approach speed. The list goes on. Trim holds airspeed.

That's how trim works in a perfect world. In reality, you might have to continue making small power, pitch, and trim adjustments to maintain attitude and speed.

_ Night Flier _

As you make turns in the traffic pattern, you'll need to either add back pressure or nose-up trim to prevent your airplane from trending nose-low. If you're doing landing practice, you might find yourself almost constantly trimming for all the different pitch attitudes and speeds of a traffic pattern.

Final Approach

If you haven't done them before, ask your instructor to demonstrate elevator trim stalls. They're stalls caused by adding full power when flying with substantial nose-up trim, without proper forward pressure on the controls to prevent a high pitch attitude as full power is added.

Imagine flying a perfectly trimmed, hands-off approach to the runway. Elevator trim stalls are supposed to replicate what would happen during a go-around with this kind of trim setting and not enough forward pressure on the yoke.

Because of the risk for an elevator trim stall, some pilots don't recommend trimming at all on final approach. But does this make sense? Just because the nose will pitch up during a go-around, doesn't mean we shouldn't use trim on final approach. It just means you need to apply forward control pressure and begin rolling trim forward on go-arounds as soon as practical.

After all, having a little bit of nose-up trim on final approach is a great way to make sure you're able to round out and flare smoothly.

When it comes to trimming on final, there's no definable "correct" way to do it. Like trimming in a steep turn, some pilots prefer flying final approach with heavier control pressures, while others don't.

But for most pilots, trimming on final is a what you should do. Trim will help you fly more stabilized, on-speed approaches. And doing that almost always results in better landings.

Boldmethod

Using Trim = Smoother Landings

There's no "perfect way" to trim an airplane. But using trim is an excellent way to reduce your workload in the cockpit, and make your flights more comfortable.

Practice trimming during every phase of flight, so you can fly with fingertip pressure. Just remember that if you're trimmed for your threshold crossing speed, you'll need to add extra forward control pressure during a go-around.


How do you use trim during final approach to landing? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and commercial pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He holds multi-engine and instrument ratings, and is an aviation student at the University of North Dakota. He's the author of the articles, quizzes and lists you love to read every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures at http://www.swaynemartin.com.

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