After 100 years, the explanation of HOW to land a plane simply could not be made any harder … so we made it easier. 16 June 2018
When learning to fly in 1965, at just 17 years old, I couldn’t understand why an intelligent explanation of how to land a plane didn’t seem to exist. Everything else in the training syllabus was well defined and easily understood … but NOT the landing. It is ALMOST * still the case today.
First, my early instructors insisted that I flew the approach using the secondary effects of controls, rather than the primary effects. The net result was a rollercoaster path, instead of a straight-line stabilised approach.
Second, the decision on when to commence flaring the airplane was made on the basis of guesswork, rather than something more accurate. So, every landing was haphazard and unpredictable. This accounts for the accidents statistics on landings remaining virtually unchanged , for over 50 years.
Fortuitously, as I trained for my CPL, a senior ex-RAF instructor confirmed that, for powered aeroplanes, it was essential to use the primary effects of the flight controls to control a stabilised flight path angle … and I never looked back, even much later on sailplanes (gliders). It also turned out to be the standard approach technique employed by the RAAF and all major airlines. Sadly, to this day, many pilots are still taught how to land the hard way. It makes it impossible to fly a consistent and accurate approach path.
I knew also that the 1943 RAF 617 Squadron ‘Dambusters’ had applied triangulation techniques very effectively and was certain they could also be applied to fix the landing flare point, instead to relying on an inaccurate (and, as it turned out, compounding of any errors in the) assessment of vertical height. Instead of waiting for each individual pilot to ‘get the hang’ of landing, initially and then on each successive airplane conversion.
It took 20 years of solid airline experience under my belt, before I dared to challenge the conventional wisdom that competency in landings can only be achieved by developing the required judgment and perception through repetition, guesswork and other trial-and-error methods, that are basically unchanged since the end of WW1, in 1918.
* The result is the Jacobson Flare, the world’s first and only universal, quantifiable, safest and most SIMPLE approach and landing training technique.