Faulty Approaches and Landings (Part Two)

Floating During Round Out

If the airspeed on final approach is excessive, it usually results in the airplane floating. [Figure 8-34] Before touchdown can be made, the airplane may be well past the desired landing point and the available runway may be insufficient. When diving the airplane on final approach to land at the proper point, there is an appreciable increase in airspeed. The proper touchdown attitude cannot be established without producing an excessive AOA and lift. This causes the airplane to gain altitude or balloon.

Figure 8-34. Floating during roundout.

Figure 8-34. Floating during roundout. [click image to enlarge]

Any time the airplane floats, judgment of speed, height, and rate of sink must be especially acute. The pilot must smoothly and gradually adjust the pitch attitude as the airplane decelerates to touchdown speed and starts to settle, so the proper landing attitude is attained at the moment of touchdown. The slightest error in judgment and timing results in either ballooning or bouncing.

 

The recovery from floating is dependent upon the amount of floating and the effect of any crosswind, as well as the amount of runway remaining. Since prolonged floating utilizes considerable runway length, it must be avoided especially on short runways or in strong crosswinds. If a landing cannot be made on the first third of the runway, or the airplane drifts sideways, execute a go-around.

Ballooning During Round Out

If the pilot misjudges the rate of sink during a landing and thinks the airplane is descending faster than it should, there is a tendency to increase the pitch attitude and AOA too rapidly.

This not only stops the descent, but actually starts the airplane climbing. This climbing during the round out is known as ballooning. [Figure 8-35] Ballooning is dangerous because the height above the ground is increasing and the airplane is rapidly approaching a stalled condition. The altitude gained in each instance depends on the airspeed or the speed with which the pitch attitude is increased.

Figure 8-35. Ballooning during roundout.

Figure 8-35. Ballooning during roundout. [click image to enlarge]

Depending on the severity of ballooning, the use of throttle is helpful in cushioning the landing. By adding power, thrust is increased to keep the airspeed from decelerating too rapidly and the wings from suddenly losing lift, but throttle must be closed immediately after touchdown. Remember that torque is created as power is applied, and it is necessary to use rudder pressure to keep the airplane straight as it settles onto the runway.

When ballooning is excessive, it is best to execute a goaround immediately; do not attempt to salvage the landing. Power must be applied before the airplane enters a stalled condition.

The pilot must be extremely cautious of ballooning when there is a crosswind present because the crosswind correction may be inadvertently released or it may become inadequate. Because of the lower airspeed after ballooning, the crosswind affects the airplane more. Consequently, the wing has to be lowered even further to compensate for the increased drift. It is imperative that the pilot makes certain that the appropriate wing is down and that directional control is maintained with opposite rudder. If there is any doubt, or the airplane starts to drift, execute a go-around.

 

Bouncing During Touchdown

When the airplane contacts the ground with a sharp impact as the result of an improper attitude or an excessive rate of sink, it tends to bounce back into the air. Though the airplane’s tires and shock struts provide some springing action, the airplane does not bounce like a rubber ball. Instead, it rebounds into the air because the wing’s AOA was abruptly increased, producing a sudden addition of lift. [Figure 8-36]

Figure 8-36. Bouncing during touchdown.

Figure 8-36. Bouncing during touchdown. [click image to enlarge]

The abrupt change in AOA is the result of inertia instantly forcing the airplane’s tail downward when the main wheels contact the ground sharply. The severity of the bounce depends on the airspeed at the moment of contact and the degree to which the AOA or pitch attitude was increased.

Since a bounce occurs when the airplane makes contact with the ground before the proper touchdown attitude is attained, it is almost invariably accompanied by the application of excessive back-elevator pressure. This is usually the result of the pilot realizing too late that the airplane is not in the proper attitude and attempting to establish it just as the second touchdown occurs.

The corrective action for a bounce is the same as for ballooning and similarly depends on its severity. When it is very slight and there is no extreme change in the airplane’s pitch attitude, a follow-up landing may be executed by applying sufficient power to cushion the subsequent touchdown and smoothly adjusting the pitch to the proper touchdown attitude.

In the event a very slight bounce is encountered while landing with a crosswind, crosswind correction must be maintained while the next touchdown is made. Remember that since the subsequent touchdown is made at a slower airspeed, the upwind wing has to be lowered even further to compensate for drift.

Extreme caution and alertness must be exercised any time a bounce occurs, but particularly when there is a crosswind. Inexperienced pilots almost invariably release the crosswind correction. When one main wheel of the airplane strikes the runway, the other wheel touches down immediately afterwards, and the wings becomes level. Then, with no crosswind correction as the airplane bounces, the wind causes the airplane to roll with the wind, thus exposing even more surface to the crosswind and drifting the airplane more rapidly.

When a bounce is severe, the safest procedure is to execute a go-around immediately. Do not attempt to salvage the landing. Apply full power while simultaneously maintaining directional control and lowering the nose to a safe climb attitude. The go-around procedure should be continued even though the airplane may descend and another bounce may be encountered. It is extremely foolish to attempt a landing from a bad bounce since airspeed diminishes very rapidly in the nose-high attitude, and a stall may occur before a subsequent touchdown could be made.

 

Porpoising

In a bounced landing that is improperly recovered, the airplane comes in nose first initiating a series of motions that imitate the jumps and dives of a porpoise. [Figure 8-37] The problem is improper airplane attitude at touchdown, sometimes caused by inattention, not knowing where the ground is, miss-trimming or forcing the airplane onto the runway.

Figure 8-37. Porpoising.

Figure 8-37. Porpoising. [click image to enlarge]

Ground effect decreases elevator control effectiveness and increases the effort required to raise the nose. Not enough elevator or stabilator trim can result in a nose low contact with the runway and a porpoise develops.

Porpoising can also be caused by improper airspeed control. Usually, if an approach is too fast, the airplane floats and the pilot tries to force it on the runway when the airplane still wants to fly. A gust of wind, a bump in the runway, or even a slight tug on the control wheel sends the airplane aloft again.

The corrective action for a porpoise is the same as for a bounce and similarly depends on its severity. When it is very slight and there is no extreme change in the airplane’s pitch attitude, a follow-up landing may be executed by applying sufficient power to cushion the subsequent touchdown and smoothly adjusting the pitch to the proper touchdown attitude.

When a porpoise is severe, the safest procedure is to execute a go-around immediately. In a severe porpoise, the airplane’s pitch oscillations can become progressively worse until the airplane strikes the runway nose first with sufficient force to collapse the nose gear. Attempts to correct a severe porpoise with flight control and power inputs is most likely untimely and out of sequence with the oscillations and only make the situation worse. Do not attempt to salvage the landing. Apply full power while simultaneously maintaining directional control and lowering the nose to a safe climb attitude.