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Don't Make These 7 Mistakes On Your Next Final Approach

Want to make the best landing of your life? It starts well before reaching the runway. Don't make these mistakes on your next final approach.

1) Short field? Avoid the 'chop and drop' method.

The more stable your approach path is over the obstacle, the more likely you are to hit your landing point. Instead of flying low over obstacles, chopping the power, and diving for the runway, fly a steeper approach and keep your landing point steady in the windscreen.

2) Don't overshoot final.

We've all been there. Maybe it's because you have a tailwind on base. Or maybe it's because you just mis-judged your turn. Either way, you find yourself blasting through the extended centerline of the runway.

3) Don't ignore visual descent guides.

You don't want to solely rely on GPS, but you still use it. You don't want to solely rely on an autopilot, but you still use it. Vertical guidance from a PAPI or VASI is the same. It's a great way to ensure you fly a standard, stable approach with plenty of runway on either side of your touchdown.

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4) Crab or sideslip?

If there's a strong crosswind, you should feel confident using your crab or sideslip to approach the runway. Each method has its pros and cons, and you should know which works best for you.

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5) Approaching with full flaps isn't always the best option.

When you're at slow airspeeds, your aircraft is more susceptible to being tossed around by gusty winds. Use less flaps and a slightly faster approach speed (add half the gust factor to your approach speed). You'll find flying final approach and transitioning into the round out/flare will be a lot smoother.

Alan Wilson

6) Approach speed should not equal threshold crossing speed.

As you transition to a roundout and flare, you should be continuously decelerating well below final approach speed, somewhere just a few knots above stall speed. Simply put, don't fly your final approach speed all the way to the roundout and flare, or you'll be going too fast.

7) Take wake turbulence warnings seriously.

Until you've flown into wake turbulence, you'll never fully understand the power of wingtip vortices. No matter the size of airplane you follow, plan your approach to avoid wake turbulence based on where the wind is coming from and your relation to the previous traffic's flight path.


Want better landings? Sign up for Mastering Takeoffs and Landings today. You'll get tips and techniques to immediately improve your takeoffs and landings, no matter what situation you're in.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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