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If You're High On Final Approach, How Should You Correct?

Boldmethod

You roll out on final, and you see 4 white lights on the PAPI. Your first time around the pattern, you were right on glide path. But this time, you're way off. Why?

A lot of it has to do with your environment. The wind is changing. Other traffic changes your pattern. And if you didn't start your base leg turn at the same point as the first time around the pattern, you're turning final approach at a different distance from the runway.

That means this landing is a little different than the one before, and you need to make some corrections to get yourself back on glide path.

Making Corrections On Final Approach

So, how do you correct your glide path when you're high? You're managing two variables: airspeed, and descent rate.

What controls airspeed, and what controls descent rate?

On final, you use power to control your descent rate, and you use pitch to control your airspeed. That also means that to fly a consistent, stable final approach, you need to use consistent power settings, and you need to trim for your final approach speed so you're not holding back pressure or forward pressure on the yoke/stick on final.

Now that we've covered that, let's get into the two scenarios that left you high on glide path in the first place, and how you should correct for them.

Scenario 1: On Speed, But High On Final

If you're high and on speed, you're on a stable but high glide path. That means you need less power. When you decrease power, trim will lower your nose to hold your airspeed, and you'll fly back to glide path. In this case, trim does the work. When you recapture glide path, add power to resume your normal descent rate.

Scenario 2: High And Slow On Final

If you're high and slow, you're probably holding in too much back pressure, and you're fighting trim. Leave the power where it is, and let trim pull the nose down. Gently relax the yoke/stick, and trim will start pitching the nose down for your trimmed final approach speed. If trim isn't pitching you to your target airspeed, re-trim the plane for the speed you want, and let the nose pitch down to capture that speed.

As your plane pitches down, you'll recapture the glide path. If you need to descend more, remove a little bit of power. But remember, once you recapture glide path, add power back to your normal power setting for final.

Once You're Back On Glide Path, You Need To Correct Again

Correcting your glide path when you're high is pretty easy. If you're high and on speed, reduce power. And if you're high and slow, relax pressure on the yoke and let your plane pitch down.

Once you've recaptured the glide path, though, you need to correct again. If you reduced power, you'll need to add it back to your normal power setting. Otherwise, you'll fly through the glide path, and you'll be low.

You may need to make some adjustments to your trim as well. Once you're re-established on glide path, re-trim so you're not holding forward or back pressure to stay on speed.

Want To See It In Action?

Want to see all of this in action, including videos of each correction from the cockpit? Our Mastering Takeoffs and Landings online course covers it all, as well as just about every situation you could face from takeoff to touchdown. It's full of tips and techniques you can use on your next flight.

Check out the course and sign up here.

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