Re-think landing technique conventions

Re-think landing technique conventions

“But we’ve always done it this way”: Here’s why this excuse is wearing thin when it comes to landing technique:

We don’t start aero engines as we did, back in 1918. Everything in aviation has progressed. So why are we still using the same approach to landing

EVERYTHING in aviation has progressed since 1918, except for one thing: training technique for the manual landing flare manoeuvre. It’s still taught by trial and error.

As a result, many pilots are underconfident in their landings and those who are confident still cannot describe HOW they land. “You just get the hang of it!”, “Cross my fingers” or “Stuffed if I know!” are common responses pilots give when questioned on how they land. I have never accepted these as valid. Do you?

The reason for this lack of progress seems to come down to just one phrase: “WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT THIS WAY!” is the most dangerous phrase in any language.

‘Circuits and bumps’: It doesn’t have to be this way.

By 1987, nearly 30 years ago, I had developed and published the world’s first and only universal, quantifiable and consistent approach and landing training technique – a simple and practical solution to a problem whose existence continues to be ignored or fails to be understood or acknowledged by many in the aviation industry. It is well proven.

Unfortunately, even the Cirrus Landing Standardisation Course, from a modern and very innovative company, accepts the status quo and fails to offer any fresh enlightenment on conventional landing technique and what has been taught historically.

Conventional landing technique vs The Jacobson Flare

Briefly, conventional techniques require a critical, visual estimation of vertical height to commence the flare. This estimation is subject to many errors and these vertical errors compound 20 times one way, or the other, longitudinally, on the runway.

The Jacobson Flare, on the other hand, utilises the surface of the airstrip (grass or gravel) or the centreline of a sealed runway to take advantage of a simple visual fix for the flare point. This creates a flare point which is visible (instead of a guess), tolerant of error (any longitudinal error diminishes 20 times, vertically) and consistent in its results.

To land an airplane consistently well, a pilot must be able to understand, explain and reproduce the answers to these 5 key questions:

Where to aim?
How to aim?
When to flare?
How much to flare?
How fast to flare? (i.e., the flare rate)

In my 50 years of professional aviation, I haven’t yet seen a flight training manual or textbook that answers even ONE of these questions. The Jacobson Flare answers all FIVE with ‘SIMPLE, UNASSAILABLE, AERODYNAMIC LOGIC’.

The technique is easily transferred to, and has been proven by many pilots on, a wide range of aircraft types, from sailplanes to the A380.

Perhaps it’s time to ask your flight instructor, training manager or chief pilot about the Jacobson Flare. Have they heard of it? Have they tried to understand it? If so, do they use it? If not, why not?

The many instructors who understand the problems of landing training have no trouble embracing the Jacobson Flare themselves and introducing it to their students at any level.

If your instructor claims that the Jacobson Flare “doesn’t work”, or it’s “unnecessary”, then he or she does not understand the technique or its many benefits, or how to apply it. It’s that simple.

Interestingly, people who do not fly understand the concept immediately. Many of those who do are ‘conditioned’ and are blind to anything different.

A strong case for change within the aviation industry

The sole basis of my life’s work on this landing technique project has been consistent: to IMPROVE FLIGHT SAFETY. However, you’ll also find that it’s a sure path to simply better landings, too.

I am often asked why I thought it necessary to ‘bother’ with trying to turn the landing into a science when most pilots have been indoctrinated to believe it to be an art.

For a start, I regard the landing as a SKILL, not a science. But to explore this a little more, I was drawn to looking at how the rest of the flight training syllabus has been taught, historically.

Head and heart-based learning

 There is a clear distinction between head and heart-based learning processes.

It is well understood that training is generally based on head-based learning, however there is a stand-out exception.

Since the earliest days of aviation, head-based or technically definable training processes have been applied to just about all flight training sequences, but not the landing manoeuvre.

Change as a learning process

Consider the following (and I am indebted to the School for Social Entrepreneurs Australia for the succinct ‘Change as a Learning Process’, referenced from their ‘INTRODUCTION TO ACTIVE LEARNING’ participant workbook (page 3, v.2.0 2015)):

SSE_CaaLP 160731

The landing as a learning process

It is fascinating to note how the most precise manoeuvre that most pilots have to master, has been relegated to esoteric expressions such as, “about here”, “about now”, and getting the “hang” or the “sight picture” or the “feel” of it. Mislandings are the butt of derision and ridicule.

That is why the Jacobson Flare was developed  and why I’ve produced an App for iPad. Without a technically factual explanation, pilots have had no hope of predictable, consistent and universally quantifiable landings. The proven and potential cost savings in training time and competency at all levels, wear and tear on pilot and machine and airport runway occupancy times are immense.

TJF TLaaLP 160731

 Embracing change

A steadily growing number of pilots – from students to A380 Captains – are fans of The Jacobson Flare.

 Isn’t it about time for the aviation industry to re-consider the statement, “We’ve always done it this way”?

Are you satisfied with conventional landing technique?

Or are you ready to question conventional landing technique?


“Handing over – ”

What will you do about this anomaly?

PS: If you liked this article: Please share – especially with your flight instructor, CFI, training manager, flight examiner and chief pilot, or any pilot you may know.


Wishing you many safe landings


Captain David M Jacobson FRAeS MAP


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

For starters, Download the FREE Jacobson Flare LITE, our no fuss/no frills introduction. Here we demonstrate, step by step, the application of the Jacobson Flare on a typical grass airstrip at Porepunkah, YPOK.


We invite you to browse the consistently positive comments on our Testimonials page. Many pilots, of all levels of experience, have downloaded our Apps. Read about their own experiences with the Jacobson Flare technique and the App.

Then download the COMPLETE Jacobson Flare app – for iOS. You’re already possibly paying $300+/hour to hire an aeroplane: You’ll recover the cost of the app, in just ONE LESS-NEEDED CIRCUIT. Moreover, you’ll have an invaluable reference tool, throughout your entire life in aviation.

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David Jacobson