PDA

View Full Version : Question on technique.


Flyingmac
4th Nov 2009, 09:15
I've recently had occasion to fly with several low-time pilots .Mostly at their request. As a result I've witnessed a wide range of techniques. On approach and landing I've seen Power for speed, Attitude for rate of descent and vice-versa. Bursts of throttle to 'cushion the landing'. Dropping the flaps to 40 degrees in a 172 at ten feet..for a 'positive touchdown'. Crabbed and wing-down x-wind approaches . Bomber circuits at grass strip fly-ins etc etc. They've all said that this was what they've been taught.

Would it be fair to say that how a newly qualified pilot flies reflects the personal preference of his instructor?

Capt Pit Bull
4th Nov 2009, 09:48
Would it be fair to say that how a newly qualified pilot flies reflects the personal preference of his instructor?

Depends on the effort (or lack thereof) applied by the school's CFI regarding instructor standardisation.

Whopity
4th Nov 2009, 12:51
A student who has one instructor will emulate the bad habits of that instructor. A student who has had many instructors may emulate a range of bad habits that reflect his confusion by being taught many different things.

There is a growing incidence of teaching in the circuit after a very poor covering of the basic exercises which may lead to the things you have described.

Another factor is that by the end of a two and a half hour skill test the candidate is extremely tired, and will not fly very good circuits. In most cases I think the examiner gives them the benefit of the doubt whereas pre JAR with the former GFT, they would have failed.

Duchess_Driver
4th Nov 2009, 15:42
As is evidenced by the responses to most threads on this forum, there is always more than one way to skin a cat.

Most will profess that the way that they do it is the best because of X, Y and Z. Some may even be right.

Unfortunately, until a national authority mandates that exercise Y contains element a, b, and c and it shall be taught in a specific way then this situation will continue. This could only then be implemented by FIE's on initial FI ratings and subsequent renewals - but even they can't agree which is the best way to undertake certain exercises. It's all down to personal preferences and they way we were initially taught - and what standardisation techniques are employed by our various CFI's.

I too fly with pilots on refresher sessions, 'hour withs', new hirers requiring checkouts or on differences training and have seen a number of different techniques employed. I have no preference how they land the aeroplane so long as.....

a) they know what they are doing,
b) they know why they are doing it and
c) they execute whatever they choose in a safe manner.

If I suspect they will be receptive then I will offer an alternative way of performing, but the choice at the end of the day is theirs.

DD

DA-10mm
5th Nov 2009, 06:17
it certainly does..

as has been previously exhausted on this thread, me an DD agree...any student's ability to grasp a subject, understand a maneuver, etc...is a direct correlation to their own instructor.

as has been said before...any student's mistakes, whether minor/major are a DIRECT result of the instructor's incompetence

foxmoth
5th Nov 2009, 09:24
On approach and landing I've seen Power for speed, Attitude for rate of descent and vice-versa. Bursts of throttle to 'cushion the landing'. Dropping the flaps to 40 degrees in a 172 at ten feet..for a 'positive touchdown'. Crabbed and wing-down x-wind approaches . Bomber circuits at grass strip fly-ins etc etc. They've all said that this was what they've been taught.

There is a big difference in some of these techniques, some, such as crab/wing down for crosswind are just different methods that are equally valid, others are just WRONG (Dropping the flaps to 40 degrees in a 172 at ten feet..for a 'positive touchdown'.:mad:), I have no problem with different methods as long as they are safe:}

ReverseFlight
5th Nov 2009, 12:24
I agree with foxmoth. At our FTO, instructors have to demonstrate both approaches. Flying technique is not really about preferences.

BroomstickPilot
6th Nov 2009, 09:49
Hi Flyingmac,

First of all, let me say I am not a professional; I'm a private pilot. But I do have strong feelings about instruction standards and I did do ATPL groundschool full-time at college some years ago.

I assume that in your post you are referring to low hours PPLs and NPPLs, rather than low hours CPLs. Assuming this to be the case, I wonder how many of the occurrances you describe stem ultimately from the absence of adequate groundschool for private pilots in most clubs.

In all too many clubs the students are left to read the AFE/Thom books and then take the exams. Needless to say, you can't ask a question of a book, and much of what is learned in this way is forgotten within a fortnight of passing the exam anyway.

Any face to face teaching too often amounts to asking an odd question of an instructor, (and not always the same instructor,) either in the club-house, (while the instructor has stopped for a bacon butty) or actually while airborne.

One club I belonged to commenced to offer groundschool classes while I was a member there. When I enquired about these classes, I discovered that they had been introduced, not to improve standards, but purely because some hours-building instructors wanted to earn extra money! When these instructors eventually moved on to airline jobs, the classes ceased - abruptly!

Anyway, what you end up with is a pilot who has passed the exams, but still has only a fairly tenuous grasp of his/her theoretical knowledge subjects, (in this case PoF). Such a person is then unable to think through the consequences of his/her actions in the air, or to challenge what he/she may be told by an instructor in order to gain a better explanation of some area of theory.

I know there are commonly issues over instructors' pay for ground instruction. I am also aware that groundschool teaching is not popular among instructors as it does not help 'unfreeze' an ATPL. But the club is there to instruct a paying student, (as the instructor once was). And payment concerns are just issues that need to be sorted by the club management to the mutual satisfaction of all sides.

Broomstick.

Flyingmac
6th Nov 2009, 11:58
Broomstick. I take your point, but what concerns me most is the obvious lack of what I believe to be basic stick and rudder skills. For example; go-arounds from too high approaches when a simple sideslip would have sorted it out. Trying to fly 90 degree turns on glide approaches from downwind etc etc. The answer to "Why didn't you?" is invariably "I've never been taught".

I'll just put my flak jacket on.......

DFC
6th Nov 2009, 13:18
flyingmac,


I am a little worried that for the most part what you are describing as being "a lack of basic stick and rudder skills" could really be more a case of the PPL holder is not doing it in a manner that pleases you personally or is to a standard that you have arbitarily set as your own.

In the case of PPL flying there is really only one non-negotiatiable standard - safety. Do it all safely and everyone is happy.

Therefore, a PPL cancelling a flight because the wind is more than 5 knots is to be commended for setting a safe limit and sticking to it. In other words - perfectly safe.

Let's look at the points you raised;

1. I've witnessed a wide range of techniques

Yes of course. There are several ways to aceive safe and efficient flight. My methods would probably differ from yours. Are they incorrect or just different?

2. On approach and landing I've seen Power for speed, Attitude for rate of descent and vice-versa.

Both ways of thinking about what the pilot is doing are common. Nothing wrong with either provied a stable safe approach if flown which crosses the threashold at the appropriate safe height and speed and touches down safely a reasonable distance beyond the threshold.

3. Bursts of throttle to 'cushion the landing'

If it was necessary then it can save the day. However, you may judge that it was not necessary which is your opinion. However, the question is not about using a burst of power to cushon an excessive rate of descent it is about a stable approach and early decision to go-arround if it is not working out while emphasing the point that a burst of power while cushoning the landing will severely increase the landing distance. Therefore it is not a recomended technique when close to the limits of landing distance - a go-arround is usually safer.

4. Dropping the flaps to 40 degrees in a 172 at ten feet..for a 'positive touchdown'

I have never come across that. It would not be something I would recomend. Most instructors have (and recomend PPLs abide by) a minimum height at which the approach should be stable and fully configured - if not then go-arround. So here is one case where most instructors would agree that the technique is not recomended - but did they do it safely and can the technique be repeated safely every time?

5. Crabbed and wing-down x-wind approaches

Both acceptable methods in most types. Isn't the requirement to simply safely approach and land the aircraft in a crosswind?

6. Bomber circuits at grass strip fly-ins etc etc

Pilots flying too large a circuit is a common problem. The opposite is also true - pilots flying too tight a circuit and failing to maintain an adequate margin above the stall in the tight turns.

7. Trying to fly 90 degree turns on glide approaches from downwind etc etc.

Are you talking angle of bank? I doubt that. Therefore you must be talking about turning through 90 degrees from downwind to base and having flown a straight base leg, turning through 90 degrees onto final approach. If that is the case then clearly if they make the runway they have flown a very nice circuit and acheived the aim - to safely land from a glide approach.

Not everyone teaches SLA and no one is required to use it or any other method if they don't want.

------

At least one of the above points has some merit as a method not to be condoned.

However, I think that as an instructor dealing with a PPL you have totally missed the point when you say;

For example; go-arounds from too high approaches when a simple sideslip would have sorted it out.

Go-around when unfavourably positioned for a stable approach is always a safe option and should never ever ever ever be questioned.

You seem focused on the side-slip as a rescue to fix a bad approach. Why not;

a) Concentrate on the reason why the aircraft was badly positioned in the first place and then;

b) As an option introduce the side-slip as a method of making a more steep approach if desired - NOT as a method of saving a bad approach.

and

c) Congratulate the PPL on good decision making by going arround from a poor approach.

You are dealing with a qualified pilot. You can not expect your standards. You can only demand safe standards within the rules of the flying club/ group / school they are flying at.

When you see something dangerous or about to be so you immediately intervene in the interests of safety and when safely on the ground or at altitude explain why you said "I have control".

Between that and your high standards is a big grey area and you have to decide how you are going to encourage the PPL to operate in the grey area at an ever increasing distance from the danger line.

I think if you read your comments again you can in all honesty see yourself sucking your teeth and saying "I would not have done it like that" - but you are not being checked so it has little to do with your technique and more to do with encouraging safe flight.

For homework sit down and lits the non-negotiable standards of safety and then make a list of the optional techniques. You will have one very short list and one so long you will never get to the end!! :)

Flyingmac
6th Nov 2009, 13:51
Perhaps I should just restrict myself to the low fly-by to chase the sheep off, the glide approach to keep the neighbours happy and the sideslip after clearing the 80 ft trees to bring the threshold back into sight and leave the proper flying to guys like you.

I bow my head in deference.

DFC
6th Nov 2009, 17:59
Perhaps I should just restrict myself to the low fly-by to chase the sheep off, the glide approach to keep the neighbours happy and the sideslip after clearing the 80 ft trees to bring the threshold back into sight and leave the proper flying to guys like you.

I bow my head in deference.


You have missed the whole point.

When flying as an instructor with a PPL it has nothing to do with what you fly and how you fly or how good you fly but more to do with the safe operation of the pilot you are flying with.

A PPL is quite entitled to say to you "I never side-slip. I only fly in winds of less than 5Kt. I only fly when it is CAVOK. and If I don't like the approach I will go-arround at 300ft". There is nothing in those personal limits that you as an instructor can complain about. They are all safe.

You may feel that as far as you are concerned they are overly restrictive but you are not that PPL.

Nothing wrong with explaining after the flight the benefits of sideslipping and offer to give them a lesson if they want but they are no less a PPL if they choose not to.

To sum it up;

PPL turns up for GST. Looks at the weather - 10Kt down the runway and CAVOK. They decide that they will not proceed because there is too much wind. I get the impression that you would not reply with "Well done. A safe decision."

PPLs are flying for fun and enjoyment. In other words, they are leisure pilots. As long as they are safe and legal they can not be critised.

BroomstickPilot
7th Nov 2009, 10:31
Hi Flyingmac,

'Sorry, I didn't mean to irritate you. But I still feel poor theoretical training is at the very back of much bad flying, if only because it prevents some people from spotting the questionable veracity of some of the stuff they are 'taught'.

However, let me try to respond to some of the actual points you have very correctly raised. For this purpose it is relevant to mention that I obtained my PPL in 1960, so it is interesting to compare how I was taught then by instructors, who were almost all ex wartime RAF aircrew with heavy, tail-dragger experience, and how people are being taught now.

Power for speed, Attitude for rate of descent and vice-versa.

In the 60s private pilots were always taught to control rate of descent with the throttle. Although even then there were people around, (mostly people with military jet experience so far as I could tell), who were beginning to question this and say that power for speed was what ought to be taught.

Personally, I stuck to what I had been taught, but as I gained experience I did occasionally find myself using a bit of power, as well as stick forward, to gain some speed when speed decayed on me unexpectedly during an approach in a draggy aeroplane.

However nowadays, this whole principle seems to have become subject to some kind of unnofficial re-evaluation. About a year ago, for example, the test pilot John Farley advocated 'power for speed' in an article in one of the flying magazines, and I suspect a number of instructors will have taken this idea up from that.

Perhaps what we need is a standard government fight instructor's handbook, which instructors would be unwise to depart from, rather like those of CASA and the FAA.

Dropping the flaps to 40 degrees in a 172 at ten feet…for a 'positive touchdown'.
Bomber circuits at grass strip fly-ins etc etc.

Heaven knows where these have come from: they're just plain wrong. People may say this is what they were taught, but how can one know whether they were telling the truth?

Crabbed and wing-down x-wind approaches.

In 1960 I was required to learn both wing-down and crabbed cross wind approaches and also three point and wheeler landings; (I was trained in an Auster J1). The principle was that wing down was fine in the Auster, but much private flying then was done in the Tiger Moth, which had a narrow undercarriage and where there was much less clearance between the lower mainplane and the runway, so on that and similar aircraft the ability to 'crab' was essential.

When I renewed my licence in 2005, after a long break from flying, a very senior flying instructor, taught me to land a Cessna taildragger crosswind using only wing down and a two-point landing, (something I had never seen before). When I asked to revise wheeler landings, he said "no, do it as I have shown you". The method I was taught on this occasion strikes me as adequate only for light to moderate crosswinds and only in high wing aeroplanes. It also deprives you of rudder authority relatively early in the landing roll in conditions when you really need it. Result: my very first ground-loop. In a strong crosswind, especially in a low wing aeroplane with a tail-dragger undercarriage I feel ability to do a wheeler is VITAL.

Finally, you mention the inability to side-slip. I was taught to side-slip as part of my PPL training and always considered this to be a most useful and safe technique, especially if one was to be confronted with having to do a power-off forced landing. However, this valuable technique is no longer part of the PPL/NPPL syllabus. During an approach to a dead stick landing now, one is supposed to weave from side to side, thus repeatedly losing sight of one's chosen emergency landing ground.

Regards,

Broomstick.

Big Pistons Forever
8th Nov 2009, 01:02
One point that has not been mentioned is the context that flight is usual performed at a flight training establishment or club. In that case I emphasis that since the owner of the aircraft is the school/club then if they are renting it than they had an obligation to operate it in accordance with the owners SOP's and policies. Failure to do this would result in an unsuccessfull assesment. Beyond that I think you have to keep an open mind. Just because you do not like how a manoever is beeing performed does not necessarily mean it is wrong or unsafe. When I am doing a skills test the
primary concern I have is "is the pilot flying the airplane or is the airplane flying him" ?

Dudley Henriques
12th Nov 2009, 01:57
I totally agree with this approach. Flying is a dynamic activity performed in real time in 3 dimensional space and as such what I looked for as a check pilot was fluidity and the ability to adapt competently in this constantly changing environment.
In fact, this approach to flying is what I have attempted to instill in instructors who have crossed my path all through my career.
Dudley Henriques