FAQs

Regarding the Jacobson Flare  

Since its release in June 2014, the Jacobson Flare App was available only for the iPad. Version 2.0 has recently been released (March 2020) for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. In addition, we have also released The Jacobson Flare App Version 1.0 for Android.

The iPad has largely captured the aviation market and is used widely, being approved for the military, airlines and other GA operators, as an electronic flight bag (EFB), supporting flight planning, aircraft performance and operation and instrument departure and approach applications, for use on the ground and in flight.

Our new Android version is identical to the iOS edition, subject to the cross-platform distinctions, which in this application, are negligible.

The Reference Section, particularly the set of Calculators included within The Jacobson Flare App for iPad, complements and enhances these EFB applications for in-flight* use, if desired. (* Note: Internet connectivity must be accessible.)

 

You do not have to understand the maths to use the Jacobson Flare, but the basis is just simple triangulation. And illustrations simplify and explain graphically the various aspects, without resorting necessarily to symbols and formulae. They are there, of course, fully defined for those who are curious or want the proof, but the built-in calculators relieve the pilot from even having to bother with a formula.

The Jacobson Flare is NOT some sort of mathematical thesis, which attempts to make life unnecessarily complicated for pilots.

Far from complicating the explanation, it is demystified. Hundreds of thousands of pilots have noted an immediate improvement in quality and consistency, because they now have a visible instructive and quantifiable model, based on sound principles and not a loose, non-descript set of personal opinions, recycled for 100 years. Myths, legends and misinformation is replaced with a fully defined visual eye path, based on sound mathematical principles.

 

No parlour trick

"The Jacobson Flare is not a parlour trick. It doesn't involve a deck of cards or a pact with the devil. 

It's my considered opinion that pilots who learn to apply Jacobson's techniques can make consistently good landings, provided they know how to configure their aircraft and fly a stable approach at the appropriate airspeed.’ 

‘I'm excited to have a cool, new tool in my teaching toolbox. I can't shake this feeling of a kid in a candy store." 

- John Ewing, Flight Instructor, California, USA

"If this was any good, it would have been developed by someone, years ago!" is a lame and unenlightened alternate response. "But we've always done it THIS way", is another. If similar attitudes had prevailed through the rest of aviation, we would not have progressed beyond spruce, wire and fabric structures, unreliable power plants and navigating by DR; we would not have weather radar, GPS, GPWS or TCAS.

The truth is it was developed over 30 years ago by Captain David Jacobson, a career flight instructor and airline pilot. Since the original Jacobson Flare Paper, 'Where to Flare' was published in 1987, the multifarious responses by pilots have been insightful, to say the least.

Many pilots have been open-minded, self-aware and honest enough to realise that conventional landing training methods have been inadequate, at the very least. The most common and insightful observation, by a great many pilots celebrating that 'Eureka' moment when they execute another consistently sound landing by applying the Jacobson Flare, is: "This probably what we've all been trying to achieve, without realising!"

These more enlightened pilots understand that the best that generations of flight instructors and flight training organisations have been able to manage is to attempt to describe what they, themselves, do and this loose collection of opinions has been passed down, as fact. This explains why every flight instructor has a different explanation, none of which really explain 'how' to land an airplane. Trial and error is not good enough, when the rest of aviation has grown from the days of World War One.

At best, all conventional landing methods have revolved around opinions, myths and legends that have well and truly passed their use-by dates. They lean heavily on judgment, perception, false information, experience, repetition and an educated guess of vertical height above the landing surface – none of which can be taught. They are inconsistent and unreliable. Competence comes at some indeterminate time, for each individual pilot and is fallible in differing circumstances. From the dawn of aviation until 1987 there was no definitive, universal landing technique and, even more puzzling, little recognition of the need for one.

"We've always done it this way!"

The Law of  Primacy in the discipline of education, refers to the way that many people tend to believe implicitly what they are first taught, creating unshakeable views about any given subject. This very much includes any attempt to discuss a different viewpoint on landing training, which the majority of pilots regard as an 'art'.

It has been noted by the author, often during the past 35 years, that when a pilot is presented with an alternative to conventional ideas on landing training, defence mechanisms kick in and any new idea can be regarded as a personal challenge to their ego. Instead of listening, or reading, or watching and then considering, many pilots tend to become quite defensive, immediately throwing up as many reasons as they can think of, as to why the Jacobson Flare "cannot work". They will argue – from a position of total ignorance in relation to the principles and advantages of the Jacobson Flare – about the wide number of variables that certainly do affect the outcome of all landings (all of which and more are, in fact, embraced and diminished by the sound principles behind this innovative technique. They are not to know yet that is does work and has always worked, ever since the sound mathematical principles used to explain David's 1965 inspiration were applied.

So, what's so different about the Jacobson Flare?

Essentially, the Jacobson Flare uses a logical, geometric visual 'framework' to guide the pilot through the entire manoeuvre. Since the development of The Jacobson Flare from 1985, pilots are presented with a fully-defined visual eye path, specified by the airplane type – making the landing safe, sure, simple and universal.

Accounting for all – even self-compensating for many – of the variable parameters that distract the attention of pilots away from the 5 essential elements of all landings:Where to aim; How to aim; When to flare; How much to flare; and How fast to flare, the Jacobson Flare explains landings as never before.

Simply put: Consistently sound landings – in the right place – are obtained through 'flying' a constant-angle final approach to a suitable initial aim point, commencing the flare at an equally-suitable pre-determined visual fix and then executing a 4-second flare through to a new, secondary aim point. That's it. The framework confirms to the pilot exactly what is happening, at every stage dispelling the myths that 'trial and error', 'developing a mental picture' and 'feel' are the only ways to master the landing.

Flown initially at a constant angle, the eye path translates to the classic exponential flare curve that generations of pilots have attempted to execute by judgment alone. The flare is initiated from a visual fix, derived from the cockpit lower visual cut-off angle and the flight path angle, offering a precise and visible model for both student and instructor.

The airplane type/size determines the exact positions of aim points 1 and 2 and the flare initiation point and, on a normal powered approach, is flown using a PATH descent - using the elevators to aim the pilots eye and power/thrust to control airspeed. The technique is equally applicable and adaptable to both light and heavy airplanes, from sailplanes to A380s.

(For those pilots taught that airspeed is controlled with the elevators and rate of descent is controlled with the throttle, the use of elevators to control airspeed, on final approach is more correctly applied to the Non-Normal cases when power/thrust is fixed – or failed – such as in a forced landing. For further explanation, please see FAQ #5, in the FAQs tab.)

The flare fix determines a longitudinal flare point on the runway centreline (based on the correct conventional flare height) while gradually reducing power/thrust back to idle). The concept of using a longitudinal flare point rather than flare height has two great advantages:

  1.  The flare point is visible and therefore easily identified and able to be repeated, consistently; and
  2.  Any longitudinal error made in mis-identifying the longitudinal flare point DIMINISHES 20 times, compared with the fact that any error in mis-identifying a conventional vertical flare 'height' COMPOUNDS 20 times. This is due to the fact that the standard approach path angle is - approximately a 1:20 gradient. Overlooked by the entire flight training industry for 100 years, this angle is routinely misrepresented in text books and manuals as approximately 25-30º and this has masked its significance.  Triangles have 3 sides and only 2 were ever utilised. The third (adjacent) side is fully visible as the runway centreline and, on sealed and painted runways, is effectively a calibrated ruler.  The 1:20 tolerance, afforded by utilising a longitudinal flare point, has the great advantage of being so tolerant of error that the technique can be equally applied on unsealed airstrips of grass or gravel, where an estimation of runway segment distance is required.

The Jacobson Flare is comprehensive yet practical, simple to master and extremely effective. Since 1985, it has been adopted in 65 nations by thousands of civil and military pilots of various ages, abilities and experience, in airplane types ranging from sailplanes and single-engine light airplanes to large jet transports. The improvement in confidence, competence and progress of pilots – at all levels – is not only breathtaking: It's measurable.

The Jacobson Flare addresses obvious differences between airplanes but embraces their similarities. It delivers a basic system of flight training that may be adapted as necessary to meet specific requirements. Its universal application is long overdue and the App presents the Jacobson Flare clearly and comprehensively as never before – on both iOS and Android devices.

An expanded version of this FAQ appears in our Blogs tab.

The concept of ‘elevators controlling path angle and power/thrust controlling airspeed’ is not new. The use of the primary effects of the flight controls is essential in achieving a stable approach path, on visual and instrument approaches in ANY airplane and has been widely used for decades.

Using the secondary effects of the flight controls, ‘elevators controlling airspeed’, with the concept of ‘power/thrust facilitating rate of descent, is valid only when power/thrust is fixed and is ineffective on larger/faster airplanes. The rate of descent on final approach is a function of just two factors: flight path angle and groundspeed. The use of power/thrust facilitates a change in path angle, at a given indicated airspeed. It does not directly control rate of descent. In any case, it is a very second-hand way of flying an approach and offers no stability. A roller coaster flight path is the inevitable result, leading to unstable approaches. This is one of several major reasons for inconsistent and poor quality landings.

Another critical issue is to consider the two common errors that student pilots (and licensed one, also), who have been taught this incorrect method, make frequently:

1. High and fast, on final approach; and/or
2. Low and slow. In each case, the initial response, for a pilot trained to think that the elevators control airspeed will, COMPOUND both problems.

The pilot who is HIGH will pitch UP, making things worse and the pilot who is LOW will pitch DOWN – the LAST thing the pilot should be doing, to resolve each error! A third major issue is that the roller coaster flight path ensures that the threshold crossing height of the aircraft will be totally inconsistent, making landing judgment quite haphazard.

As if all that is not enough of a problem, the situation worsens at a most critical phase: the flare point. A pilot, incorrectly pitching the aeroplane with the elevators to control AIRSPEED, now needs to transfer the use the elevators, to pitch the aircraft to control the FLIGHT PATH ANGLE. What a ridiculous moment to completely redefine the flight path control philosophy! It defies all logic.

“But this is just contrary to the way VFR training is frequently taught. I went through several instrument instructors, and never found one who could adequately explain why we (CFIs) teach aircraft control differently to VFR and IFR students. Your explanation was right on, and satisfied my thirst for that understanding with an easily to implement and repeatable solution.”

You’re dead right – that aspect has long bemused me, also. Why teach the correct method when IFR, and the flawed ‘speed descent’ method when VFR? After all, the airplane doesn’t know the difference between IFR and VFR! But it does know the difference between a powered and a glide approach And that is the arbiter.

The full discussion on this and many other related topics may be found in The Jacobson Flare App for iOS and Android devices, available on the App Store and Google Play.

 

Absolutely! The aim point and flare cut-off point are generally visible, but if faded paint marks or heavy rain (or even snow) make this task difficult, then the axes through suitable pairs of runway edge lighting can provide an alternative means to locate these points.

Even if the actual flare cut-off distance has to be estimated, rather than seen clearly, the 1:20 ratio of the 3° flight path angle ensures that any longitudinal error made is reflected, vertically, by just 1/20th of that error, making the Jacobson Flare 400 times more accurate than methods involving a guess of flare height.

The Jacobson Flare App for iOS and Android explains this point and many others, clearly and simply.

 

If you are thinking of learning/refining your technique on sealed and painted runways first, before applying the longitudinal flare cut-off point to unpainted runways or grass or gravel strips, you are on the right track. They could come later, unless your ‘home’ airfield is unsealed grass or gravel. In that case, you could adopt a suitable marker or a transverse axis across a pair of gable markers, or cone markers (see the YPOK Porepunkah video clip in the app or app preview) for the flare cut-off point and then physically measure the flare cut-off distance from there, forwards to the aim point 1 position.

There are always some reference marks available, due to the natural contrasts in colour or texture on any runway or airstrip. Here is the important point:

You will read (if you haven’t already) that using the conventional method of guessing a flare height, a 1ft vertical error compounds about 20 times, one way or the other along the runway (1ft high: 20ft long – 1ft low: 20ft short). When we start using a longitudinal flare point on the ground, short of our aim point 1, any error, possibly due to our inaccuracy in assessing that cut-off point distance or a wind gust lifting or dropping the nose slightly (and changing the cockpit lower visual cut-off angle) is reflected, in vertical terms, as only 1/20th of that error.

So instead of a height error compounding 20 times, a longitudinal error REDUCES 20 times, mathematically. That’s why this technique is so tolerant of error and why it is not so critical a problem that the runway is unpainted or is grass or gravel. Even a 100ft error would only make a difference of 5ft, vertically, and it is Improbable that any two pilots would flare within 5ft of each other, using conventional guesswork. That’s why this technique works just as well, on unsealed surfaces, as it does on a sealed and painted primary airport runway.

 

The app explains The Jacobson Flare far better than the earlier papers ever could.
It is more comprehensive than any previous explanation and for this reason the revised and expanded paper (which David now regards as inadequate) is presented only for historic reference purposes. The original paper,Where to Flare? is available here as a .pdf file.

This original paper was written for the 1987 Australian Aviation Symposium, sponsored jointly by The Institution of Engineers Australia and The Royal Aeronautical Society, following my initial two years of research. The size was limited to just 4 pages and an abstract. By 1999, the original paper had grown to about 17 pages. In 2012, the project to develop The Jacobson Flare App for iPad began.

Now, the modern The Jacobson Flare App for both iOS and Android presentations make for an interesting comparison with that original paper. How times have changed!

Do you want to experience, more often, that great feeling of fulfilment derived from executing consistently beautiful landings?

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

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare App – Available now for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch!!

Download The Jacobson Flare for iOS devices now.

** NEW ** The Jacobson Flare App – Available for Android!

Download The Jacobson Flare for Android now.