View Full Version : Full flap at 500ft in a C152?

14th May 2009, 19:47
The CFI at my club insists on having an SOP whereby every student must lower full flap as they are turning final, typically 500ft.

I was taught (and was taught to teach!) to lower full (30 degrees) flap with 200ft to go, which has always worked fine for me and I can't say it upsets the a/cs attitude at all really - it helps to reduce from the speed from 65 to the 60kts over threshold.

I cringe inwardly whenever I see a student crawl towards the threshold all the way down finals because he has the drag flap down!

Its not a major issue so I let it slide, anyone else got any opinions on this?

Cows getting bigger
14th May 2009, 20:20
Interesting. We tend to teach to avoid altering the aircraft configuration in a turn, especially base-to-final. 500ft on final also seems a bit excessive, I think 300ft is nearer the mark. However, I would offer that we should be teaching application of flap when most appropriate and not at a specific time/place/altitude. Sounds like someone who is overly hung up on flying by numbers.

14th May 2009, 20:23
Any danger of revealing where this school is? Full flap when turning base leg to final approach is going to inevitably lead to someone spinning in, simple as that.

Have you asked your CFI why he insists upon this ludicriously dangerous SOP?

I teach lowering full flap once sure of making the runway. You will look a bit silly landing short of the runway with full flap on the day the donkey dies 1 mile out.... seen it happen before.


Cows getting bigger
14th May 2009, 20:25
I think my personal views regarding application of flap on the final turn are similar to VFE's, I was just trying to be a little more diplomatic.:)

14th May 2009, 20:48
Wings level on finals works well for us.

14th May 2009, 21:16
Its not so much the lowering full flap during the turn that he insists on, more the fact that it must be lowered so far out.

As for not lowering full flap until being sure of making the runway, thats an interesting idea ive not heard before other than when doing a glide approach. Makes sense, but unfortunatly I won't be teaching it!

14th May 2009, 21:33
I teach lowering full flap once sure of making the runway.

Which is not particularly clever on a powered approach - you are NEVER 'sure of making the RW' until you cross the threshold, which is far too late to wait to select full flap.

Sensible SOP for any SEP is:

Roll out of final turn.
Select landing flap, trim.
Adjust IAS to approach speed, trim.
Select touchdown aim point.
Maintain aim point with control column and approach speed with throttle.

So easy - and so intuitive!

14th May 2009, 22:12
Interesting, BEagle...

I've been taught (for VFR SEP initial training at least) to maintain approach speed with elevator and rate of descent with power...

14th May 2009, 22:30
Power/speed/elevator/slope arguments are a different thread, and have surely been done to death!

Airlines these days require stable approaches from at least 500', and most now from 1000'. I suspect that this is where this CFI is coming from. (When I first started on jets, it was a constant deceleration approach - which is nicer to fly, but less forgiving. The stable approach is much better when considering safety over an entire fleet.)

Is it appropriate for a light aircraft? I would think that the philosophy is correct, especially for students, as it allows them to concentrate on the landing rather than the configuration.

The distance though - if it is appropriate for a 737 with 130 knot approach speed to be stable at 500', then a C150 with a 70 knot approach speed should I think, use half that - 2 or 300' would be more appropriate, I should think.

Why not put this argument to your CFI - you recognise the training value of the stable approach, and fully intend to teach it, however you feel 2 or 300' to be a more representative value of airline flying?

14th May 2009, 23:11
Which is not particularly clever on a powered approach - you are NEVER 'sure of making the RW' until you cross the threshold, which is far too late to wait to select full flap.
Slight generalisation - should've read: "sure of making the usable runway surface"... but regardless, this particular debate regarding when to lower landing flap must surely be airfield specific?

To elaborate: The above procedure was introduced at a US institution I was with some years ago after a PA-28 fell short of the undershoot on approach following an engine failure. The NTSB investigation commented that had the pilot delayed lowering full flap "until sure of making the useable runway surface" (or words to that affect) then damage to the aircraft would have been reduced because it would not have landed on the approach lighting.

But in my experience, in the USA they try to teach student pilots how to actually fly an aeroplane whereas over here I get the distinct impression that we're encouraged to teach students merely how to cope with one. Flying exercises within the JAR PPL syllabus that actually deal solely with developing raw handling skills are sadly lacking IMHO and very soon someone here will pipe up about upsetting the aircraft configuration at the last minute being dangerous because the (basic) skills to handle it are not taught. :rolleyes:

I do believe a certain Capt.Sullenburger will back me up here...


14th May 2009, 23:34
I can't agree with BEagle on the control inputs on final, that's just asking students to stall and die.

Power controls rate of descent, pitch controls airspeed.

Maintain final and short final airspeeds with attitude (control column) and gentle changes in power to maintain the 'aiming point' on the runway.

Works a treat for me anyway...

15th May 2009, 02:08
What are his reasons for this?
The other thing is some of the 150/152s have 40deg flap and this makes a huge difference esp in the event of being a little low or slow on app or if on a go around.
Totally agree that "reasons why selecting certain configs" at this stage of the game.

15th May 2009, 07:06
The 'point and power' technique which I described is simpler and more intuitive than the old-fashioned way. It also leads to earlier solo (about 1-2 hour in most cases) - and is the way the RAF has been teaching it for about 20 years - yes, in light aeroplanes.

But most of the poorer FIC schools don't have a book to refer to and hence won't teach it as they don't actually understand the technique.

CC for IAS and throttle for RoD until you are aiming at the touchdown spot! Then the scan is simply touchdown point - speed - touchdown point - speed. Small prompt throttle changes control speed fluctuations; don't worry about the cause, just keep zero optical spin rate on the touchdown point and control IAS with power!

15th May 2009, 07:13
Beagle quotes the standard RAF method as taught by at least one well respected FTO teaching FIC. If the aircraft is at the correct height when full flap is taken there should be no problem and I suspect the SOP originates from the same stable.

My experience of PPL students who may not roll out on finals at the correct height, leaves me a little cautious and I have always adopted the technique of teaching selection of (land) flap when its safe to do so.
Power controls rate of descent, pitch controls airspeedIt can do, but its much more efficient to hold the required attitude with pitch and maintain speed with the throttle! Holding one of two variables constant, only leaves you with one variable to correct for. The RAF required us to teach this method on Flying Scholarships.

15th May 2009, 07:20
But why should we be teaching civilian pilots the same way as military ones? I agree that the mil have some great ways of teaching and produce the best pilots, but they do hand pick the people with the most ability to start with. The military world is also gearing the students up to become pilots of high performance aircraft, so teaching the techniques used in those aircraft from the onset is probably a consideration.

I don't think that earlier solo really matters in the civil world, we need to get civilian students to be able to control the aeroplane before they go solo. Probably the reason for teaching elevator for speed and power for rate of descent is to re-enforce in the student's mind that if you apply back pressure your speed will reduce whatever the power setting, and that if you make a power setting change you need to adjust pitch attitude. As the pilot becomes more experienced (post-PPL), sure they can adjust their own technique to one that is more "energy management".

I'm willing to be educated (having only just gained my FI(R)), but I think this is the kind of thing that we discussed on my course.

15th May 2009, 07:25
But why should we be teaching civilian pilots the same way as military ones?Guess where the PPL syllabus came from! The RAF, by courtesy of Ron Campbell, the same syllabus the JAA adopted. The basics are the same and sometimes you can learn from the experience of those who have done it the longest.

15th May 2009, 07:31
I think the main point about full flaps is that these are drag flaps rather than lift flaps. Consequently you do not select full flaps until you are certain of reaching the runway, and you can only judge this on final. Once full flaps are extended, you are committed to land. The same principle applies to both powered and glide approaches.

The point at which you select full flaps does not have to bear a relationship to the height AGL of the aircraft. Nor does it affect a go-around because you will be retracting flaps for that anyway (subject to what your POH says). Twins are different but I presume we are discussing singles here.

15th May 2009, 07:34
Hi all,

Just thought I'd add to this. My FI teaches the point & power. To be honest, I haven't come across anyone that teaches the Pitch = Speed & Thrust = Altitude/Rate of descent.

As I fly from an international airport, I'm always told not to lower the drag flap (30 in my 152) until we receive clearance from ATC to land. Typically around 300-400ft and about 0.5nm from threshold.

Makes sense to me to follow this where I am as the main rwy is used for commercial traffic to backtrack/position etc.. so the possibility of a late go around is present. Suppose its better to only have 20 flap if we get a late go around rather than struggle to get +rate with 30.

It can be a bit of slow ride down if your trailing 30 all the way down finals!! - Gotta love the logic of some people! :ugh:


Runaway Gun
15th May 2009, 07:37
Why is everyone mentioning "being certain of making the runway"?

When the reduction of just a few RPM of power is enough to land short, in most/all aircraft an engine failure is extremely likely to guarantee it!

I also argue the point that full flaps means you are committed to land. Going round is always an option - even after the flare/bounce/wibble.

As for the throttle/IAS/Aimpont debate, I've done it both ways, and the Air Force method is simply easier. However, if your own technique works, and you are happy with it, then fine. It can't hurt to have someone show you another method sometime though.

15th May 2009, 07:41
I guess all points are fair enough, but to prevent thread drift by debating the speed/power control philosophy, I think the point about when to take drag flap (which I take to mean 40 deg) is the topic, and I could be convinced either way by a compelling argument about taking either:

40 deg flap as early on final as practical and trimming, then focusing on the airspeed/attitude all the way down, or,
40 deg flap at mid-final (say 300' AGL) when I was taught to do PUFF (Pitch (Carb Heat off in 152), Undercarriage, Flap, Fixtures) checks.I think the point is that in a training aircraft, it is reasonably forgiving so that either method is safe and easily learnt. Just from an airmanship perspective when there's a KingAir on long final coming up behind a crawling 152 a bit quickly is when I would be saying let's get down to the runway as 'efficiently as possible' so the KingAir doesn't have to go around. :8

15th May 2009, 08:20
Wow. Storm in a teacup? Seems the concern would be more around giving the student time to process / concentrate appropriately.

The difference in speed between flaps 30 as mentioned by the original poster, and say flaps 20, or flaps 10 for a 152 is precisely... naff all!! Maybe 5 knots if generous? In fact you can fly pretty much any reasonable approach speed with the flaps anywhere you choose - even 40degrees. It just requires varying amounts of engine input/glideslope. None of which is going to make any difference to the mythical kingair chasing you down final..

You are certainly NOT committed to land once full flap is out, be it 40 or 30. Firstly it *will* climb at full flap (even 40), unless your density alt is pretty scary, secondly there's a little lever that makes the flap go away. In fact you are never fully committed to land until you're turning off the runway ('interesting' and one way strips aside)

Beyond that, I have little to add.. for point/power/pitch etc.. I don't know which is more intuitive, either can work, neither is a recipie for 'stall and die'. The fundamental point is that you watch your airspeed... keep that up and there's no stall and die. Should I mention the 'stall stick position' concept?

15th May 2009, 08:20
Not a FI, but interested in the drift topic of this thread!

Spent a chunk of time getting the idea of pitch=speed/power=height into my head for my PPL and now understand what I'm doing in terms of energy management using the above template. That there "stick and rudder" book re-enforces this somewhat.

I've looked for information online regarding the other method (which I would like to have a pop at if it's so intuitive!) but can find nothing. Yet.

Does anyone here have any links easy to hand?

Sorry for the drift. On the subject of full flap and when, I was taught to assess the situation and use them when I was happy e.g. if on base leg I seem to be a little too close in and high due to overcompensation for a perceived crosswind, then chuck the lot in and set up before turning final. If a bit further out and a bit lower down, leave it 'til I'm happy that full flap won't mean touching down in the pretty thicket that adorns the short final to our strip!



15th May 2009, 08:50
It al seems to be a mixture of common sense and personal preference really.

I learnt to fly at 2 different clubs throughout my time, one, as stated earlier, prefers 30 on short final and the 1st club I flew at tought me only to use the full 30 when you felt the need for it (High on approach, fast on approach or short field ops)

There really isn't much speed difference in these smaller types of a/c. There is a bit of a pitch difference for better view but thats all. Now it would be slighlty different for a larger a/c. The difference between a larger a/c flying approach with 15, 25, 30 or 40 flap, could be quite substancial depending on the MLM of said a/c. But thats a different topic!

Whats the LDA at this airfield? - For example, I learnt at an airfield where main rwy was 790m and was only told to use 20 for landing. Now, I fly at an airport with over 1800m and am instructed to use as much flap as humanly possible. Strange how some people think! - Personally, I would prefer just 20 at most times. Less drag flap = less drag!! Less drag = Less fuel consumed per hour. Less fue consumed = Cheaper flight!

Obviously, the final stages of flight where this induced drag is greatest isn't going to save a whole lot of fuel in a 152 if I decide to fly with less flap. But, if this fuel is saved on every trial, training, personal flight, there is a greater potential for saving fuel!!!

BTW, Im no tree hugger but if I can save a few extra per month/year, I'm all up for it!


15th May 2009, 08:52
Might as well pitch in......flaps as required for the stage of approach, not a good idea to leave deployment too late, use full flap as a matter of course but not blindly.
Attitude for airspeed/power for RoD - works for aircraft with low inertia and when it is not important to maintain an accurate glidepath
Point and power - works with any aircraft on any powered approach.
In all cases STAY IN TRIM!

Final 3 Greens
15th May 2009, 09:05
Once full flaps are extended, you are committed to land. The same principle applies to both powered and glide approaches.

A very dangerous mindset to get into, IMHO.

15th May 2009, 09:15

There is always the option to abort. If the situation becomes dangerous or puts anything at risk, forget about SOP's and the idea that you are "committed" and get it back up to try again!

Most training accidents that occur these days are from the bounce. Student lands a little heavy and becomes airborne again but instead of getting the power on and aborting that landing, decided that its better to put the a/c back down. Alas... crunch and wallop.....

All that because they believe they are committed.

"He the one that runs away, lives to fight another day!" (or goes around in this case!)

what next
15th May 2009, 09:16
Good morning!

I've looked for information online regarding the other method (which I would like to have a pop at if it's so intuitive!) but can find nothing. Yet.

Does anyone here have any links easy to hand?

Links? You need no link for that. Just point the nose of your aeroplane at the threshold using your stick/yoke (or keep the glidepath-needle centered if you fly IFR) and use the power lever(s) to maintain the desired speed. It couldn't be easier and it works with _every_ powered aeroplane. But you have to watch your speed all the time - there is no "built-in stall protection" as in the other method.

Regarding the flaps: Our syllabus says that full flaps are only set on final and "when landing is assured".

Greetings, Max

15th May 2009, 09:30
I'm learning to fly and have 6 hours so probably the least qualified to speak about this subject, however to me 'power and point' seems daft compared to 'elevator for speed, throttle for height'.

One of the 'airmenship' principles they teach you as a learner is that if you lose airspeed then you should pitch down and accept the loss of height, this makes a lot of sense because it's better to be in controlled flight near the ground than to be stalling 200ft above it.

I have heard that jet pilots use power and point and this is why some schools teach this to students, so they get into the seat of a jet as quick as possible, but in my opinion the other approach teaches students that airspeed is the priority, which makes a lot of sense! Lots of crashes (e.g. schipol) seem to be caused by pilots pitching up and increasing power (trying to make the runway) rather than pitching down and trying to keep flying so that if they land short they are atleast in control.

Interestingly the instructor teaching me elevator for speed, is former RAF

As for full flaps, I'm learning in a c152 and so far only put full flaps down when told but this seems to be about 200ft up with 65kt airspeed and runway is nice and big in the window...

15th May 2009, 09:35

I had occassion to check a Senior Instructor to type several days ago...he is of the 'airspeed is controlled by pitch' and ROD by power....I'm afraid that the approach was hardly a stable one on a day of 12 knots X/W at 70 degrees to RWCL. I find that students learn much more quickly (intuitively) using the point-and-power technique....great for aiming point discipline too (airspeed-centreline-aiming point)

Re Flap on base...too hard for many and if the engine fails then what?...we teach 'when you are sure that you can achieve your aiming point AND have considered X/wind conditions then select FULL flaps ... landing with full flap is not actually REQUIRED in the POH last time I looked and in the high wing Cessna types is positively dangerous.


15th May 2009, 10:37
landing with full flap [...] in the high wing Cessna types is positively dangerous.

Errrr... what exactly is the full flap setting for then if, as you say, it's dangerous...

Seems to be a little bit generalised!

15th May 2009, 13:13
sprthompson, CFIT accidents are in controlled flight near the ground right up until they hit it; even a full stall recovery will not use up anywhere near 200 feet with power. You are just starting out - don't become blinkered so early. The RAF flies Grob Tutors as well as C17s and Typhoons - think about it. And then try it :ok:.

15th May 2009, 16:39
I love the way you guys jump at my words as if I were some infamous politician from Canberra.

When I said you are "committed to land", you decide in your own mind that (as what next said) landing is assured. As I said in my post, it is a judgement call. You cannot forcibly commit yourself to land if you are way too high/low or off track. The fact that your nose is pointing at the threshold is not a statement that you are committed to land. If that were the case, nobody would be practising go-arounds.

I was just making the point that full flap is not like "flying the figures" in IFR - it must be viewed within the greater scheme of things, such as aimpoint/aspect/airspeed etc. If you or your instructor flies each VFR circuit with exactly the same numbers, I dare say you are flying a procedure, not the aircraft.

Runaway Gun
15th May 2009, 16:48
Sorry if I jumped the starting blocks RF, it just read a bit wrong to me.

Just got to be careful how I read things I guess.

And if I can do it, I bet some students can mis-comprehend it as well.

15th May 2009, 17:03
Full flap when turning base leg to final approach is going to inevitably lead to someone spinning in, simple as that.

Not true. That said, however, I prefer that a student handles landing gear and flaps before or after a turn largely to limit wear and tear on the airplane. Whether the airplane stalls or spins is 100% within the control of the student and instructor, and hardly a consequence of flap application.

I do a lot of different kinds of flying, and among that work, I do ag and firefighting. Raising and lowering flaps constantly in turns is normal as a way to increase or decrease turn rate, as stall protection, to vary performance or hold a speed, etc. It doesn't cause a spin, and lowering flaps doesn't commit me to land in a field or the bottom of a canyon. Flaps are a tool to be used as necessary.

That said, with students, I tend to approach flap useage incrementally. Just as a student is initially rather limited in the scope of what can or should be expected of him or her, one may not wish to introduce the full range of flap useage, types of approaches or landings, etc...in the first few lessons. Accordingly, initially I teach the student about landings by using one airspeed for takeoff, pattern, and landing. I do it at the best glide speed, which in most light trainers, closely approximates the best climb speed, too. In a Cessna 152 for example, one might use 60 knots for the climb, simply power back on the downwind a little, and use 60 knots for the approach to land...all the way down. The first introduction to landings may involve no flaps at all. Simply concentrating on keeping a descent path and airspeed going. Before the student knows it, the student has a grasp on flying no flaps at best glide speed to a landing...the single most important thing the student should know.

Then flaps are introduced. Now the student still flies the same speeds, but with the introduction of flaps. Initially one flap introdution, trim, and approach to land. A small, single change, and the student digests it quickly. Then the introduction of another flap increment, and no speed changes. Then another, and after that's mastered, speed changes with each flap increment.

The student should be fully comfortable with any flap setting, and ultimately, any flap setting introduced at any time. In the training environment, however, especially the early training environment, the more stable the approach, and the more specific the direction, the better the student can focus on learning one thing at a time, and building upon the last thing learned.

If one is instructing a student toward a position in the right seat of an airline operation, then fully configured and stabilized is quite appropriate at 500'. I do some instructing presently in aircraft ranging from Cessna 210's to turbocommanders and 400 series Cessnas, and I may be configured or have the student configured in a traffic pattern anywhere from abeam the numbers to turning final. It all depends what I'm looking for or to accomplish, what traffic there is to follow, etc. I may have someone fully configure in a light twin, for example on the downwind leg in order to fit with slower traffic using the pattern. Not a problem. Other times, the student may be counseled to wait until later, or even to apply the gear and flaps as he or she sees fit.

As for having the runway "made," I've always thought this to be a ridiculous concept. It's so widely spread, however. What does one do on final if the engine fails? The popular notion is that one must "always be able to make the runway." The truth is that during most of one's flight, one can't make the runway...and that includes just after takeoff, most of the cruise flight or maneuvering during training, and the return to the airport. Yet somehow it becomes all-fired important to be able to "make the runway" when one is on final approach. When people say "make the runway" of course, they mean make it if the engine fails...when for 99% of the flight it would be impossible to "make the runway" if the engine fails. Now, all of a sudden, it's such a critical issue. Why?

Again, the truth is that during a normal stable, configured approach, one may not be able to make the runway at all if the engine fails. It's that simple. Therefore, the notion of delaying flap application until the last moment so one can "make the runway" in the event of a power failure...is total nonsense.

One should always have an option in mind for a safe forced landing in the event of a power loss in a single engine airplane. This option needn't necessarily be the runway, any more than the runway is an option just after takeoff with an engine failure. Other options must also exist, and that's a big part of what we teach...the judgement to be constantly looking for a good place to set down. In the case of a multi engine airplane, more options are often available, but a good instructor still keeps the student thinking about options beyond the finite universe of the runway environment for forced landing options. One need not, and often cannot "make the runway" during the course of any given flight. Predicating when to apply flaps on that sole nonsensical criteria, is a foolish notion, and should be discarded.

15th May 2009, 17:34
The point going back to the OP is that having a SOP should ensure consistancy by all instructors so that students do not get differing messages from differing instructors.

This the biggest single complaint from students. Surely that is the point of the SOP getting consistancy with the customers or is that too much to agree on.

The pitch power argument is irrelevant.

15th May 2009, 17:48
That again, depends on the type of training environment. In a flight school with an inflexible training regime, then SOP is important to some degree. It's also very limiting in many environments.

I don't care to work with a student when placed under a restriction that the student *must* be configured as such-and-such by 500'. This is fine and dandy for the flight department where everybody acts the same in the company aircraft. It's not fine for the training environment in which the student should be encouraged to use and explore the range of configurations, techniques, and practices, in order to better learn.

15th May 2009, 18:14
Fortunately the UK CAA recommends that any particular school should have a standard technique - which makes things a lot easier for the school's students.

what next
15th May 2009, 18:23

It's not fine for the training environment in which the student should be encouraged to use and explore the range of configurations, techniques, and practices, in order to better learn.

Well defined "training procedures" (I only know the term "SOP" from commercial flying, not from the flying school environment) do not preclude this!

For example, when we fly "CPL patterns" with IFR and CPL/ATPL students, they always come in packs of four (on Piper singles and twins): Flapless, Flaps 10, 25 and 40. Sticking to the procedures and yet giving the student all possible configurations to explore!

Greetings, Max

15th May 2009, 18:23
Fortunately the UK CAA recommends that any particular school should have a standard technique - which makes things a lot easier for the school's students.

Perhaps that's why I see a disproportionately higher number of UK students on here complaining that they don't understand carb heat or leaning or this or that...because they're under too rigid a training environment. Same applies to the use of flaps, and the flexibility to use all or none at any point in the approach. It seems much of the basics just aren't getting taught...and those same individuals turn around and become instructor and pass on the same heritage of inexperience and improper thought.

That's not good.

Spunky Monkey
15th May 2009, 20:00
Sorry I have to take issue here with a couple of points and I don't mean to offend.

I was taught to be an FI by one of the most respected teachers in the country, he RAN the test pilots school for many a year.

He did not teach point and power in a light aircraft, for the simple reason of teaching FLWP.
In that instance when you are using a constant aspect to the field in the turn, you cannot use the engine because it is out. Pitch controls airspeed, why teach two different methods to a student?

As when the pressure is on after a failure, are they going to start thinking which method is best?

Also if you start using comments like "Commited to Land" a student will believe that is the correct terminology. Hence why people picked up on this point.

At the small grass strip I frequent, I teach to drop 30deg (C152) after clearing the trees or cables that live at the end of the runway.
I only use full flap 40deg in a strong wind when I am trying to go backwards!
Flaps in a turn - not if I can help it, change of centre of pressure, movement of CofG, change of stll speed et al.
A student should understand that the approach should be unhurried, stable and enjoyable.
Definately not by rote.

Spunky Monkey
15th May 2009, 22:27
Then again your arguement is flat...why teach something, that if the engine fails, you have to use a completely different method.
The RAF may teach a method to their cadets, because, they will be flying the aircraft for a matter of months before moving onto a high inertia aircraft, where the tehnique will be relevant.
Your techinque may not be wrong, but has poor value in a light aircraft with little momentum.

Big Pistons Forever
16th May 2009, 02:01
IMHO one of the problems with ab intio instruction is a failure to transition from rote canned procedures to assesing the situation and appropriately configuring the aircraft. At the beginning of training the student has to have a consistant template to allow them to have somehting to reference to. So a very methodical step wise approach is appropriate. However as training progresses I coach the student to start adapting to varying conditions by advancing/delaying flap and power reductions with the aim that the aircraft will always cross the threshold on speed and on an appropriate glide path. For advanced post PPL training and CPL students I expect them to be able to fly an approach from power off 1.3 VSO to cruise speed to short final and everything inbetween.

16th May 2009, 02:14
Personally I avoid even mentioning flaps for the first few circuit lessons. I find students are maxed-out with just flying the circuit and I like to see them build up their judgement of an approach without using the "get out of jail free card" of 30/40 degree flaps when coming in high...

16th May 2009, 02:31
OK, post deleted as it was a bit harsh and cast aspersions inappropriately.

Your reference to .....poor value in a light aircraft with little momentum. confirms by whom you were taught as this is one of his pet hobby horses.

Many of us happen to disagree strongly - the method works perfectly well in anything. By the time the student is proficient in flying normal powered approaches, he/she will be very familiar with selecting a touchdown reference point - so when glide approaches (and later, PFLs) are introduced, the IAS/touchdown point assessment technique can be adapted appropriately.

I consider the accumulated wisdom of the Central Flying School to have more cogency in this argument than the opinions of one ex-test pilot.

Back to the thread - the most important point is that the student should NOT be introduced to the circuit before he/she is completly ready - and a standard method should be used by all instructors at the particular Club/School.

16th May 2009, 06:59
The RAF may teach a method to their cadets, because, they will be flying the aircraft for a matter of months before moving onto a high inertia aircraft, where the technique will be relevant.Flying Scholarship cadets! Hardly Likely! One of the reasons was to ensure they did not go low on the approach and scare villagers and motorists on the approach path. Constant aspect=equals constant angle= correct glide path.Personally I avoid even mentioning flaps for the first few circuit lessonsSo what are you teaching them then? Remember the law of primacy, where students remember best, the thing they are first shown, so under pressure i.e. an engine failure, there is a high probably they will land flapless! In the UK/JAA syllabus teaching use of approach flap is in Exercise 8(ii) Circuits are 12/13.

16th May 2009, 20:13
Personally I avoid even mentioning flaps for the first few circuit lessons

Well have you taught exercise 4.2 sufficiently?

And are you breaking down the circuit into exercise 12 and exercise 13 instead of "a circuit lesson"?


PS: Had an interesting chat with John Farley about the question of approaches following an article he did for a magazine once. Personally, I teach power = height and attitude = airspeed to maintain constant perspective down the approach until flare height.

18th May 2009, 12:39
On a purely personal level, I have taught throttle=height, power=speed as the primary method for more years than I care to remember. However, I bought a 3-axis microlight for my own pleasure last year and I slipped, without conscious thought, into power and point in this machine. My best guess as to why is that flying into fairly amorphous fields gives a different set of visual cues to those approaching a defined runway.