Author: David Jacobson

The Jacobson Flare rounds-up the loose ends

Whenever the subject of landings is discussed, the expression ‘can of worms‘ often comes into the discussion. It’s a term that loosely refers to the multitude of variable factors at play, when an approach and landing is executed. It attempts, also, to describe the challenge, the frustration and seeming impossibility to understand and to constrain these factors with consistency. A key issue is that these factors vary, individually and collectively and they present with different emphasis, on each and every single landing.

 

 

For over 100 years pilots have attempted to react and respond to each ‘worm‘, as it appears and this only adds to the dilemma. An old saying goes, “when you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s sometimes really difficult to remember that your initial aim was to drain the swamp!” Conventionally, we just keep attempting to correct our own corrections, as we stumble towards the landing, which takes only 5-6 seconds and the landing cannot be adequately mastered in 5-6 sec repetitive ‘grabs’, during a session of circuits.

And therein lies the main problem: we forgot that initial aim: ‘to drain the swamp’, or to relate back to the landing, we forgot – at least until 1985 – to research and to define the main common denominator to all landings, namely the pilot’s eye path. By understanding and then flying this predictable eye path, we can all fly a consistent and stable approach and landing in any airplane. The ‘worms‘ are still present, BUT they are ALL taken into account, without you needing to wrestle with them, one by one. They are still present, but they are constrained.

When a pilot can fully understand:

  1. Where to aim, then we have a definite initial target for our eye path – aim point 1.;
  2. How to aim, then we can fly a consistent eye path to that initial aim point. The approach path angle, aircraft attitude and the cockpit lower visual cut-off angle (the lowest angle you can see over the nose, ignoring any visible engine cowling) and airspeed become very much more stable, with minimal corrections required; You won’t get high and fast, or low and slow and have to make big corrections.
  3. When to flare, based on a visual fix – NOT a guess of height, then the flare point becomes consistent;
  4. How much to flare, by the selection an additional aim point 2, related to the runway slope (level or not), together with:
  5. How fast to flare, then the classic, long-sought after exponential curved flare manoeuvre can be executed, consistently well, achieving a perfect touchdown on or just beyond the original aim point 1.

These 5 elements combine to present the Jacobson Flare as a complete approach and landing training technique for ALL fixed-wing airplanes that are flared for landing and the variables are accounted for.

Compare this with conventional techniques, where pilots are often pitching up and down chasing airspeed; and then having to make coarse throttle adjustments, in the mistaken belief that this will control the rate of descent and, therefore the path angle. These are very second-rate methods that hark back to the earliest days of aviation and they have remained unchallenged since World War 1, except for the Jacobson Flare. If they were ever valid, they are most certainly not, now, when every other subject and manoeuvre in the flight training syllabus is defined, precisely.

At an approach ground speed of, say 80 kts, a 2nm approach from 600ft will occupy just 90 seconds, with the flare itself, adding a further 5-6 seconds. That’s not a long time, each time, to ‘get the hang of it’.

It is just not possible to understand the approach and landing manoeuvres through the classic, repetitive pre- and post-flight briefings, together with 5-6 sec repetitive ‘grabs’, during a session of circuits.

The worlds’ textbooks, training manuals and YouTube clips remain silent on HOW to Land a Plane, because they are still trying to contain these ‘worms‘, while The Jacobson Flare has rounded-up ALL of the loose ends, since 1985. 

 

 

Would you care to experience that unsurpassed sense of accomplishment, derived from executing consistently beautiful landings, more often?

Read what pilots of all levels of experience have to say about the Jacobson Flare technique and the App, on our Testimonials page.

Then download the COMPLETE Jacobson Flare app – for iOS or Android. You’re already possibly paying $300+/hour to hire an airplane : You’ll recover the cost of the app, in just ONE LESS-NEEDED CIRCUIT.

We invite you, also, to download our new, FREE companion app: the Jacobson Flare NEWS.

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare Apps – for iOS

Download The Jacobson Flare for iOS devices now.

 

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare Apps – for Android

Download The Jacobson Flare for Android now.

 

 

Planning the final-approach commences at the end of it… NOT the start

From the time that a student pilot ‘escapes‘ the familiar bounds of the circuit area of his or her ‘home‘ airfield, a new challenge (among many others) is to understand how to plan the re-entry to the circuit, either at ‘home‘, again, or at a new an unfamiliar airfield, when starting to venture ‘cross-country‘. No two airfields are alike, for many reasons.

The generally-standard circuit entry tracking and altimetry procedures for both ATC-controlled and uncontrolled airfields and aerodromes are well documented by aviation authorities’ publications: But what about the considerations applying to the   re-configuring of the airplane with landing gear and flaps and the finer points of airspeed control? Has your flight instructor offered any advice, or referred you to a written explanation?

Have you ever been made aware of a universal technique – one that can be applied in any situation: Whether VFR or IFR? Small airplane or large? High performance or not? Many pilots haven’t and resort to just ‘winging it‘ (no pun intended) on each and every approach. That makes it hard to be safe, efficient and graceful.

There is such a simple and well-proven technique; however, interestingly, the planning starts at the END of the approach … NOT the start. It may prove quite helpful before and, perhaps, even after you gain further flying experience. We approach airfields in 3-dimensions, so why not add altitude into the mix?

For EVERY approach, in ANY airplane, the simple key is to decide on a ‘Height above (runway)threshold(elevation) – (HAT), by which the airplane should be fully re-configured for landing, and fully stable: That is, established on the runway centreline, on a standard 3º approach path angle – to the correct visual aim point for the subject airplane – and stabilised on the correct approach airspeed (Vapp). This ideal condition is often referred, colloquially, as being established ‘in the slot‘.

(Note: Vapp is based on Vref for the landing weight and landing flap setting, plus additives for variations in airfield elevation, ambient temperature and wind velocity. In turn, Vref is based on 1.3-times the stall speed for that landing weight and landing flap setting.)

This height will vary for each airplane size, weight and approach speed. For example, many airlines use 1000ft HAT, when in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) and 500ft HAT, for visual meteorological conditions (VMC). Furthermore, the pilot not flying (PNF) makes the standard call, “1000 STABLE” or “500 STABLE“, as appropriate, or “500 GO-AROUND“, if the approach is assessed as unstable and, therefore, unsafe to continue the approach.

For much smaller RA and GA aircraft, figures of, say 300ft HAT (VMC) and 800 or 1000ft (IMC) may be considered suitable.

The point is, that this HAT becomes the basis of the approach sequencing, BACK from which the pilot computes when to make each successive flap and landing gear selection and reduce airspeed accordingly, until finally configured and stable by the selected HAT.

The following example illustrates the technique:

My former employer, Qantas Airways Ltd had a standard operating procedure (SOP), among many, that stipulated 500ft HAT (VMC) and 1000ft HAT (IMC) as the target height at which the aircraft had to be stabilised, with landing gear extended, flaps 30º or 40º (whichever was decided) and stabilised ‘in the slot‘ and on the selected approach speed. In the interests of simplicity – and safety, to avoid making a rushed approach, it was my practice to assume 1000ft HAT for all landings.

Now, in order to allow time for the flaps to run from 25º to 30º or 40º and for the airspeed to reduce and to stabilise on VApp, it was appropriate to select flaps 30º or 40º at 1200ft HAT. Experience on type proved that 500ft height intervals between the successive configuration changes were ideal. Working backwards up the approach, shows how the sequence plan is unfolded.

Note: It can be seen that the ‘end of descent‘ was located, nominally, at approximately 13nm from the runway threshold, at 3700ft, at Vref 40º +70 KIAS, at which point the first selection to Flaps 1º and Vref 40º +50 KIAS could be made, to be stabilised at 3500ft and so on.

It should be noted, also, that the technique is not restricted to straight-in approaches. A further advantage offered by the 500ft stepped configuration changes technique is that it lends itself readily to ‘bending‘ around a circuit or instrument approach procedure. 

                       

Similar flap extension schedules can be developed for other airplane types. Here’s an example for the Cirrus SR 22:

                                            

There are major benefits of this HAT-sequencing technique. The first is that it can be tailored to any airfield, simply by adding the runway threshold elevation to the preferred HAT figures. (If the runway threshold elevation was, say 430ft AMSL, then that figure could be rounded to 500ft and added to each ‘gate‘. So, in the Cirrus SR 22 example, above, flaps 50%/16º would be selected at 1500ft QNH, with the airplane stabilised at 85-90 KIAS by 1300ft QNH.  Then, flaps 100%/32º would be selected at 1000ft QNH and stabilised at 80-85KIAS by 8ooft QNH.

This intelligent technique can be applied to both a straight-in approach situation, or ‘bent‘ around the  applicable legs of a circuit. A further benefit is a smooth and stable re-configuring schedule that is comfortable for fare-paying passengers (remember them?) and un-hurried in its execution, improving flight safety, in the process. Finally, the 500ft intervals in the sequence provide some predictable ‘space‘, to re-assess, to execute landing checklists and to receive, consider and respond to radio calls.

May we suggest that you consider the above in reference to your airplane and then give it a go: It works.

 

Happy Landings

 

Would you care to experience that unsurpassed sense of accomplishment, derived from executing consistently beautiful landings, more often?

Read what pilots of all levels of experience have to say about the Jacobson Flare technique and the App, on our Testimonials page.

Then download the COMPLETE Jacobson Flare app – for iOS or Android. You’re already possibly paying $300+/hour to hire an airplane : You’ll recover the cost of the app, in just ONE LESS-NEEDED CIRCUIT.

We invite you, also, to download our new, FREE companion app : the Jacobson Flare NEWS.

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare Apps – for iOS

Download The Jacobson Flare for iOS devices now.

 

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare Apps – for Android

Download The Jacobson Flare for Android now.

Two pilots dressed for a fancy-dress party, in a cow-suit .. or .. What controls what, on final?

Do you know why some pilots still try to fly a final approach using the SECONDARY effects of the PRIMARY flight controls?

Neither do we!

Arguing about what controls what, on final, has occupied far too much time and confused far too many pilots, for over 100 years. It is vital to the understanding of HOW to aim the approach, accurately, yet the argument still rages. It shouldn’t.

Let me conceive a comical image: Imagine how ridiculous-looking, ungainly and haphazard would be the sight of two pilots dressed for and heading out to a fancy-dress party.

The guy in the front would, presumably, be responsible for finding their way to the venue and steering the ‘beast’, while the poor individual providing the hindquarters would essentially maintain a stooped-over profile and act as the limiting factor on their speed, neither pushing too hard, nor allowing the front half to drag him/her along, too fast.

Now, please hold these thoughts, for a minute or two.

On a normal, powered, manually-flown approach, the pilot’s flying hand – the one holding the control column – is  maintaining both the extended runway centreline and the consistent 3º approach path angle, just like finding the party in the above scenario; the hand on the throttle maintains the selected approach speed and, together with the brain of  the pilot, the complete approach is coordinated. It is instructive, also, to consider how an ‘artificially-flown’ approach is constructed.

In an airliner, conducting a ‘coupled instrument approach’, the autopilot and autothrottle systems perform the same functions, respectively, yet quite independently from each other, using only the primary effects of controls. It is the automated flight control system (AFCS) that coordinates the inputs to control both the approach path and airspeed and simulates the manually-flown approach with impeccable accuracy and stability.

Moreover, because the aircraft is not pitching up and down, the stability of this ‘PATH’ descent also facilitates the application of the unique Jacobson Flare visual fix. It is an accurate, far straighter flight path than the ‘conventional roller’ coaster path of varying amplitude and runway threshold crossing heights, resulting from pitching to maintain approach airspeed. A handy side-effect is enhanced passenger comfort, especially in large aircraft with inherently great inertia and a limited supply of  airsickness bags!

The stability of this PATH descent also facilitates the application of the unique Jacobson Flare visual fix: No roller coaster path, here.

 

There are two occasions, however, when it IS appropriate to control airspeed with the SECONDARY effects of the elevators:

On take-off and in the subsequent climb, for example, with take-off power or climb power set, the pilot must utilise the elevators to control the airspeed. There is no alternative.

The second occasion is on approach, IF the power output is constant (or failed, partially or completely). It is necessary, then, to control airspeed with the elevators (along with refining the approach path angle, through judicious tracking and deployment of landing flaps). This is generally a training manoeuvre, such as when practising a NON-NORMAL procedure, such as a forced landing. It is a compromise – inaccurate and results in an oscillating, inconsistent, ‘rollercoaster’ path.

Now, why would anyone want to apply the secondary effects of controls, rather than the primary effects, IF THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO, when flying the most precise manoeuvre that most pilots ever need to master? Not to mention making so many corrections of corrections. Absolutely NOTHING remains stable: Not the power setting, the elevator inputs, the path angle, airspeed, vertical speed or aircraft trim.

Sailplanes (gliders) are normally flown this way; for without power, these aircraft are always descending through a parcel of air which, hopefully, is itself rising faster than the actual descent rate of the sailplane within it (that is, a thermal).

However, most approaches and landings are flown in powered airplanes, where the power output is variable and reliable: Therefore, the afore-mentioned PRIMARY effects of the controls should be applied: The constant approach path angle is maintained with the elevators, by aiming the pilot’s eyes at a suitable aim point and the throttle is utilised to vary the power, slightly, to maintain the selected approach airspeed (IAS) through each flap configuration and wind change.

This is not new to generations of military and airline pilots, but seems to meet ignorant and stubborn resistance, by some misinformed general aviation (GA) flight instructors and their unsuspecting students. The costs are immense, in terms of time, cost, pilot stress and aircraft damage. Many instructors insist that airspeed is controlled with the elevators and the vertical rate of descent is controlled with power; this is misconceived. The use of an increase in power certainly does facilitate descent flight at a reduced path angle, for a given airspeed): Howeverit is the reduced path angle that reduces the rate of descent, not the power. This particular point has been long-lost in the translation, over the last 100 years.

The rate of descent on an approach is the result of two variables: the flight path angle and the aircraft’s ground speed.

OK, let’s return to where we started: Two pilots dressed for a fancy-dress party, in a cow-suit …

From the foregoing, it should become clear that flying a NORMAL, powered approach with a ‘SPEED’ descent, that is, with the secondary effect of the elevators controlling airspeed and power supposedly controlling the rate of descent/path angle, is just as silly as having the guy in the front of the cow-suit, who can see where to steer, worrying only about how fast they are going; and the guy down the back, who cannot see a damn thing, trying to find the party.

So, the comical cow-suit analogy is quite relevant.

There are many more advantages in flying an accurate ‘PATH’ descent: To learn more on this, please review FAQ #5, in https://www.jacobsonflare.com/our-most-frequently-asked-landing-questions/ . The Jacobson Flare App, of course,  expands at length, also, on this critical aspect.

 

Captain David M Jacobson

Happy Landings

 

Would you care to experience that unsurpassed sense of accomplishment, derived from executing consistently beautiful landings, more often?

Read what pilots of all levels of experience have to say about the Jacobson Flare technique and the App, on our Testimonials page.

Then download the COMPLETE Jacobson Flare app – for iOS or Android. You’re already possibly paying $300+/hour to hire an airplane : You’ll recover the cost of the app, in just ONE LESS-NEEDED CIRCUIT.

We invite you, also, to download our new, FREE companion app : the Jacobson Flare NEWS.

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare Apps – for iOS

Download The Jacobson Flare for iOS devices now.

 

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare Apps – for Android

Download The Jacobson Flare for Android now.

Simple triangulation means that the Jacobson Flare self-corrects for just about everything: Does yours?

The innovative and long-proven Jacobson Flare owes its 1965 inspiration to the famous 1943 RAF 617 Sqn ‘Dambusters. Critical to the accuracy of Barnes Wallis’s 6-ton ‘skipping’ bomb, the simple principles of two different visual fixes were utilised, to solve the dilemma of accurate low-flying over dark water, at night:

The first fix employed 2 spotlights, mounted beneath the Avro Lancasters with the beams of light focused to intercept each other just 60ft/18m below the aircraft. The resulting ‘figure 8’, projected onto the water surfaces of 3 large reservoirs, confirmed, simply and accurately, that the aircraft was at that precise and critically low height above the water.

The second application was a simple wooden bomb sight that triangulated from the anti-aircraft gun emplacements on each of the 3 dam walls back to the aircraft, providing longitudinal confirmation of the bomb release point.

These revelations became the cornerstone of what is now the Jacobson Flare, providing the third vital and consistent ‘when-to-flare fix‘ component of the five that define the pilot’s visual eye path, throughout the Jacobson Flare approach and landing.

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the noted British artist, Mr Nicolas Trudgian, for his very kind permission to display images of our print (No 139/500) of his magnificent painting (1996), ‘Breaching the Dam’.

During the research and developmental stages from 1985 onward, it became apparent that the visual fix, applied to the landing manoeuvre, actually self-compensated, geometrically, for a number of key variations that would otherwise require a conscious correction by the pilot, in every such case.

Does your current technique (do you have one, other than trial-and error, judgment and experience?) self-compensate, varying the actual flare point (or height) to suit the considerations, summarised below?

Take a close look at the details depicted in the following example illustrations. (In the Jacobson Flare app, these illustrations are enhanced with comprehensive text sections, accessed via the ‘read‘ button at centre R.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: These illustrations, from the Jacobson Flare app, apply generically to the B737 series, NOT necessarily to your airplane type. The aim and flare cut-off points are pre-calculated – just once in your life, per airplane type. The Jacobson Flare app reveals HOW. 

  1. Non-standard landing flap settings – what corrections do you make?

Automatically compensates for variations in landing flap angle. (Note: With less flap extended, the aim point is lower in the windscreen.)

 

2. Approach path angle variations – what corrections do you make? and how much of a correction?

Automatically compensates for variations in approach path angle: Earlier (higher) if steeper; later (lower) if less steep than the normal 3º.

 

3. Runway slope variations – what corrections do you make? and how much of a correction?

Automatically compensates for variations in runway slope variations: Earlier (higher) if landing uphill; later (lower) if landing downhill.

 

4. Runway width illusions – have you been caught out, flaring too high over a wider-than-usual runway, or too low over a narrower-than-usual one? It need not ever happen, again.

Automatically compensates for variations in runway width: understand the visual illusions, but trust the reliable visual fix.

 

 

Would you care to experience that unsurpassed sense of accomplishment, derived from executing consistently beautiful landings, more often?

Read what pilots of all levels of experience have to say about the Jacobson Flare technique and the App, on our Testimonials page.

Then download the COMPLETE Jacobson Flare app – for iOS or Android. You’re already possibly paying $300+/hour to hire an airplane : You’ll recover the cost of the app, in just ONE LESS-NEEDED CIRCUIT.

We invite you, also, to download our new, FREE companion app : the Jacobson Flare NEWS.

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare Apps – for iOS

Download The Jacobson Flare for iOS devices now.

 

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare Apps – for Android

Download The Jacobson Flare for Android now.

 

 

“I’ve just lost my treasured aviation job: What do I do, now?”

Happy New Year 2021 to all of our friends and supporters around the world.

Thanks to the current and unrelenting Covid-19 pandemic, the world is witnessing unprecedented restrictions and shutdowns in trade, industry, commerce, education and transport, to name a select few. Aviation, particularly, has been hit hard. 20/20 hindsight has taken on a whole new meaning!

Airlines have stood-down entire fleets of old and new international and domestic jet transports, such as the A380, A350, B747 and B787 and positioned them in desert airports; Loyal, long-term staff, in many categories, including senior aircrew, have been stood-down; some have even been offered voluntary and forced redundancy packages. Fleets of training aircraft stand idle.

Some airlines and many general aviation companies, such as flying schools, have been forced into administration for various reasons. Many pilots have, for the first time, found themselves considering temporary and permanent re-employment and re-training alternatives to their cherished first choice: flying. And this hurts, badly, because a professional pilot does not regard flying so much as work, but as sheer joy. The trick is to find as secure a suitable and satisfying position as possible and then embrace it, fully.

We hope, sincerely, that all who wish to may find new positions in their chosen career, by reducing to turbulence penetration speed, tightening your seat belts and riding out the rough air. This will never be just a ‘storm in a teacup‘, but it will pass.

Nevertheless, it’s always tough when this stuff occurs and I wish to offer some reassurance that, sooner or later, other doors will open for you; the professionalism, knowledge and skills that you have honed will not be wasted. Over my 55 years in the industry, when things like this have occurred, I cannot recall anyone, who was totally dedicated to the profession, failing to secure a new position, better than the last and, hopefully, in no time at all. I wish everyone success for the future.

The airline scene and flight training will open up again and when it does, there will be many gaps to fill – perhaps more than ever before. Utilise this opportune time to upgrade your ATPL theory subjects and any other related qualification; apply everywhere that is of interest to you and update those applications: every 100 hours, every specialist rating or renewal, every airplane type endorsement, gas turbine theory, (almost to what you received at Christmas and what you had for lunch yesterday!), etc, etc. Add further value to your C.V. It won’t be wasted. Any excuse to make some clerk, somewhere, re-open and update your application file and maybe remark, to someone important, “Gee, this one is really keen”: They’ll get so sick of hearing from you, they’ll offer you a job! (It worked for me, back in 1969!)

DJ Beechcraft B23 (VH-CFG) at Mangalore VIC 18  September 1965

DJ B737-838 Melbourne VIC 22 June 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

May I commend some further reading: the blogs, https://www.jacobsonflare.com/from-our-logbooks/the-best-advice-i-was-ever-offered-by-the-best-pilot-i-ever-flew-with-captain-geoffrey-w-lushey-dfm-7-july-2020/ and

https://www.jacobsonflare.com/from-our-logbooks/just-sayings-building-pilots-resilience-in-aviation-august-16-2020/

In the meantime, understand that it doesn’t matter so much when something goes wrong: What matters is what you do about it.

Don’t wait for ’someone’ to fix it: Take whatever steps you see fit, to take command of your own destiny, as soon as possible. That’s how you will survive this regrettable situation and fly further, faster and higher than ever.

Happy Landings, everyone.

 

Would you care to experience that unsurpassed sense of accomplishment, derived from executing consistently beautiful landings, more often?

Read what pilots of all levels of experience have to say about the Jacobson Flare technique and the App, on our Testimonials page.

Then download the COMPLETE Jacobson Flare app – for iOS or Android. You’re already possibly paying $300+/hour to hire an airplane : You’ll recover the cost of the app, in just ONE LESS-NEEDED CIRCUIT.

We invite you, also, to download our new, FREE companion app : the Jacobson Flare NEWS.

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare Apps – for iOS

Download The Jacobson Flare for iOS devices now.

 

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare Apps – for Android

Download The Jacobson Flare for Android now.