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9 Bad Approaches To Landing, And How To Recover From Each One

Even for an experienced pilot, landing can be tricky.

1) Slow final approach

You've probably heard an instructor say "pitch for airspeed, power for altitude." If you're slow on final, you should lower the nose slightly to regain airspeed. However, if you don't also add power, you could end up low on final.

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2) Late flare

This usually results from not transitioning your eyes down the runway during the flare. If you stare at the runway directly in front of the nose of your plane, you won't be able to use your peripheral vision as much to judge the last few feet of your flare. Transition your eyes about 4 centerline stripes down the runway to judge your touchdown more easily.

3) High flare

This is caused by the complete opposite reason - looking too far down the runway. If you do this, you won't have a good perception of how close you really are to the runway. Don't look so far, instead, transition your eyes about 4 centerline stripes down the runway.

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4) High final approach

Being high on final is often caused from using too much power. As mentioned before, "pitch for airspeed, power for altitude". All you have to do is reduce some power and allow the plane to pitch down to maintain your approach speed. Once you're back on glide path, return the power to your "home" setting.

5) Floating

In most GA aircraft, you need to start reducing power before you get within a wingspan distance from the ground. Why? Ground effect. If you come into the flare too fast, the airplane won't settle on to the runway, because induced drag decreases in ground effect.

If this happens, all you need to do is hold your plane in the flare, lose airspeed, and touch down on the runway as you slow down.

Also, keep in mind that low-wing aircraft have more pronounced ground-effect than high-wing aircraft. If you're too fast in the flare, you'll float more in a low-wing aircraft.

6) Ballooning

This is one of the negative effects of floating. If you start flaring when the airplane doesn't want to land, well...the airplane will start climbing out again. What you need to do is to again, hold it off the runway in a nose-high attitude until it's ready to settle back down. And if the balloon is excessive, go around!

7) Porpoising

A porpoise landing is a bounced landing that, if not recovered, results in your plane touching down nose first. If you let it continue, it will set your plane off into a series of "jumps" and "dives", like a real porpoise. Porpoise landings can happen when you're flying too fast during touchdown, or if your descent rate is too high at touchdown.

If you start to porpoise, the best solution is to immediately go-around.

8) Landing in a drift

This is caused by inadequate or excessive rudder usage during a crosswind landing. If you end up landing in a drift, don't jam opposite rudder in to correct for the drift. Instead, straighten the nose wheel first, and then gradually bring the airplane back to centerline. Excessive rudder deflection at high speed could cause you to skid, strike a wingtip, or go off the runway.

9) Bouncing

Bouncing can be caused by a firm landing. Bump up the power a little bit to stop the bounce, and hold the airplane off the runway in a nose-high attitude. Let your plane settle back to the runway when it's ready, and if the bounce is excessive, go-around.

Take The Next Step...

Do you have a perfect takeoff and landing every time? Neither do we. That's why we built our Mastering Takeoffs and Landings online course.

You'll learn strategies, tactics and fundamental principles that you can use on your next flight, and just about any takeoff or landing scenario you could imagine. Even better, the course is full of tools you can come back to throughout your flying career.


Corey Komarec

Corey is an Embraer 175 First Officer for a large regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota, and he's been flying since he was 16. You can reach him at corey@boldmethod.com.

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