Short-Field Takeoffs and Climbs and Approaches and Landings in Multiengine Aircraft

Short-Field Takeoff and Climb

The short-field takeoff and climb differs from the normal takeoff and climb in the airspeeds and initial climb profile. Some AFM/POHs give separate short-field takeoff procedures and performance charts that recommend specific flap settings and airspeeds. Other AFM/POHs do not provide separate short-field procedures. In the absence of such specific procedures, the airplane should be operated only as recommended in the AFM/POH. No operations should be conducted contrary to the recommendations in the AFM/POH. On short-field takeoffs in general, just after rotation and lift-off, the airplane should be allowed to accelerate to VX, making the initial climb over obstacles at VX and transitioning to VY as obstacles are cleared. [Figure 12-9]

Figure 12-9. Short-field takeoff and climb.

Figure 12-9. Short-field takeoff and climb. [click image to enlarge]

When partial flaps are recommended for short-field takeoffs, many light-twins have a strong tendency to become airborne prior to VMC plus 5 knots. Attempting to prevent premature lift-off with forward elevator pressure results in wheel barrowing. To prevent this, allow the airplane to become airborne, but only a few inches above the runway. The pilot should be prepared to promptly abort the takeoff and land in the event of engine failure on takeoff with landing gear and flaps extended at airspeeds below VX.

Engine failure on takeoff, particularly with obstructions, is compounded by the low airspeeds and steep climb attitudes utilized in short-field takeoffs. VX and VXSE are often perilously close to VMC, leaving scant margin for error in the event of engine failure as VXSE is assumed. If flaps were used for takeoff, the engine failure situation becomes even more critical due to the additional drag incurred. If VX is less than 5 knots higher than VMC, give strong consideration to reducing useful load or using another runway in order to increase the takeoff margins so that a short-field technique is not required.


Short-Field Approach and Landing

The primary elements of a short-field approach and landing do not differ significantly from a normal approach and landing. Many manufacturers do not publish short-field landing techniques or performance charts in the AFM/POH. In the absence of specific short-field approach and landing procedures, the airplane should be operated as recommended in the AFM/POH. No operations should be conducted contrary to the AFM/POH recommendations.

The emphasis in a short-field approach is on configuration (full flaps), a stabilized approach with a constant angle of descent, and precise airspeed control. As part of a short field approach and landing procedure, some AFM/POHs recommend a slightly slower than normal approach airspeed. If no such slower speed is published, use the AFM/POHrecommended normal approach speed.

Full flaps are used to provide the steepest approach angle. If obstacles are present, the approach should be planned so that no drastic power reductions are required after they are cleared. The power should be smoothly reduced to idle in the round out prior to touchdown. Pilots should keep in mind that the propeller blast blows over the wings providing some lift in addition to thrust. Reducing power significantly, just after obstacle clearance, usually results in a sudden, high sink rate that may lead to a hard landing. After the shortfield touchdown, maximum stopping effort is achieved by retracting the wing flaps, adding back pressure to the elevator/ stabilator, and applying heavy braking. However, if the runway length permits, the wing flaps should be left in the extended position until the airplane has been stopped clear of the runway. There is always a significant risk of retracting the landing gear instead of the wing flaps when flap retraction is attempted on the landing rollout.

Landing conditions that involve a short-field, high-winds, or strong crosswinds are just about the only situations where flap retraction on the landing rollout should be considered. When there is an operational need to retract the flaps just after touchdown, it must be done deliberately with the flap handle positively identified before it is moved.