For some time, I’ve been considering how to simplify the gap between the comprehensive wealth of information already contained within the Jacobson Flare App for iOS and for Android and the practical application – and revision – of that knowledge, given the obvious fact that the JF App is designed for pilots at any level of experience, from student to professional.
That is one of the strengths of the JF App presentation: it is a tool that will serve a pilot throughout an entire career.
In early 2021, while delivering a JF training package in Brisbane, Australia, for yet another flight training organisation – FlightScope Aviation – a highly experienced instructor asked, “Have you considered adding a new section in the App, containing the accurate phraseology and useful pointers, including the ‘patter‘, that we applied, in the air?”
After some deliberation, we have decided to add a new appendix G to the JF app, which will highlight many practical tips, together with key terms and phrases, all designed to emphasise and achieve the vital application of the 5 essential elements which comprise the ubiquitous and uniquely-quantifiable Jacobson Flare:
- Where to aim (a pre-calculated aim point, not a vague ‘area’, such as the threshold);
- How to aim (applying the primary effects of the elevators and the throttle(s) – not the secondary effects);
- When to flare (utilising a pre-determined and consistent longitudinal visual fix – not a haphazard guess of vertical height);
- How much to flare (through the implementation of a secondary aim point, located normally at the upwind runway threshold, but adjusted for undulating runway slopes); and
- How fast to flare (that is, the flare rate. This is determined by a timed 4-second sequence, for the pilot’s eye path to transition from aim point 1 to aim point 2, and for the reduction of power/thrust back to idle)
It should be clearly understood that all 5 elements must be applied, if consistent results are to be obtained.
In due course, a free update containing the new Appendix G will be made available to all owners and users of the Jacobson Flare App for iOS and for Android.
The points to be addressed in the new Appendix G will include (but not be limited to) the following:
- Emphasising the physical locations of aim point 1; the flare cut-off point and aim point 2 for the airplane type, using references to the runway centreline or fixed-distance runway markings, or equivalent and recognisable points on the ground if the airstrip is unsealed, such as gravel or grass. Google Earth, maps or actual aerial photos of the specific runway may be useful for identifying these points.
- Nominating landing flap configurations, the corresponding approach speeds for the landing weight and the practical considerations for each type of landing. These will include normal landings, including full flap/reduced flap/flapless, short/soft-field, cross-wind and tailwheel undercarriage and non-normal landings such as engine inoperative forced landings and ditchings.
- Understanding how the standard 3-degree (or other) final approach path angle applies from the base turn and ‘bends‘ around the turn onto final, the objective being a stable and consistent descent profile, throughout the approach.
While recognising that the pilot’s eye path is tracking initially for aim point 1 and, following the transit of the flare fix, aim point 2, understanding that it is vital NOT to fixate or focus on these points, especially NOT the flare point. Avoiding the act of ‘zooming-in‘ also assists in slowing things down, visually, especially at night when the runway outline often becomes the predominant feature in the pilot’s field of view, against an otherwise dark background.
Common errors such as allowing the airplane to gradually pitch up, slightly, as the runway is closing, whether due to pilot input, ground effect or wind gradient, causing aim point 1 to be overshot with a resulting and unintended, deeper touchdown.
- Noting that the 4-second flare refers to the suggested flare-rate timing for the pilot to transition his or her line of sight from aim point 1 to aim point 2 and reduce power or thrust back to idle. It is not necessarily the case that the touchdown will occur at the end of the 4th second: it may (as evidenced in the B737 and B777 video clips in the JF App), but it is more common for the touchdown to occur after 5-6 seconds have elapsed, generally because of slight excesses of indicated airspeed (IAS) above Vref for the landing weight and landing flap setting, a slower reduction of power/thrust to idle, or even a slightly premature flare.
- While flying the downwind and base legs, interrogating the runway centreline or landing zone markings (if the runway is so presented or suitable substitute cues on a grass or gravel airstrip) to identify aim point 1 and establishing a vertical relationship between aim point 1 and a perceived extension, L or R, of the airplane glareshield around the cockpit or flight deck – perhaps even utilising the side window sills. (Even if there is a discrepancy from the ultimate relationship on final, between aim point 1 and the glareshield, any discrepancies in the actual path angle around the turn will be minimal, because of the distance out from aim point 1, which should be between 4 and 2 nm.)
Emphasising the maintenance of the correct position of the aiming point in the windscreen. (Note that it is in a vertical relationship in the windscreen, similar to where the horizon would be during straight and level flight, but defined by the pilot’s physical stature when seated, the seat height, the flap setting and approach IAS.)
- Outlining the concept of visualising the pilot’s direct line of sight to aim point 1 and using the flight controls to ‘fly the eyes’ down this line, while utilising the entire field of view and not ‘zooming in’.
- Emphasising the value of the final approach work cycle of ‘Aim point, Centreline, Flight path angle* and Airspeed‘, in maintaining these parameters for the intended flight path. (*Note: It is the flight path angle that needs to be constant – not the often- and inappropriately-used term ‘aspect‘. The runway aspect ratio of length:width actually reduces as the runway is approached – watch any landing video clip, shot from the cockpit.)
- Highlighting that it is the airplane that is moving and approaching the runway: Nothing on the ground is ‘moving towards’ the airplane! (This seemingly obvious point is important, to avoid fixating on any of the aim points and flare cut-off point.)
- Further emphasising the maintenance of the correct position of the aiming point in the windscreen, all the way down final approach until just before the flare fix is reached, to avoid aim point 1 being overshot with a consequential deeper touchdown than planned.
- Handling the effects of normal wind gradient.
- Managing wind shear conditions.
- Understanding the 4-second transition of the pilot’s eye path from aim point 1 to aim point 2 from the flare point, together with a corresponding reduction of power/thrust back to idle.
- Understanding the self-correction by the Jacobson Flare, for varying flap angles, approach path angles and up- and down-sloping runways.
- Finessing the Jacobson Flare to suit undulating runways.
- Applying the Jacobson Flare to 3-point landings in a ‘tail dragger’.
- Simplifying the entire landing manoeuvre into a smooth, continuous flare, overcoming the many deficiencies suffered when attempting to land, using conventional methods that rely on haphazard estimations of height above the landing surface, ‘feel’, experience and judgment – none of which can be taught. Once the Jacobson Flare ‘system‘ is understood, the principles can be applied, simply to any runway, airstrip or field and to the practical considerations for each type of landing, whether normal or non-normal (as outlined in the second Briefing point, above).
Work has commenced on this exciting new practical addition to the Jacobson Flare App: Stay tuned and we’ll advise when the app update is published!
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