The FARs require “10 takeoffs and 10 landings to a full stop” at night for private applicants, and 10 takeoffs and landings at an airport with a control tower at night for commercial applicants. No other requirements for landings are found. In the interest of scenario-based training and safety, all of my students “lose” their landing light for 2 night takeoffs and landings. The goal here is not just to make sure you can safely land when the light fails, but this lesson forces students to demonstrate aeronautical decision making.
When might you need to land without the light:
What you learn:
I meet high time pilots from all certificate levels that have never landed without landing lights. My private instructor trained me how to deal with the situation. As a 135 pilot I had to land without lights and a full load of passengers. On Beechjets, landing lights extend outward from the nose when the gear is extended (see below). One night with one light burned out and deferred per the MEL, the motor on the other side failed to extend. The captain had never landed without lights, luckily I had. I used my private training from 15 years earlier to brief him on the above lessons and how I was going to land.
This is also a good lesson in crew resource management. In this abnormal operation, the pilot with the most appropriate experience for the situation, the FO, performed the landing.
If you have never had your landing light “fail” use this as an excuse to grab an instructor and go for a ride.
Next time: "Blinded by the Light"
We all know flyinat 1,000 AGL in a piston driven single is a bad place when the engine fails. All pilots should be able to lose the engine in the traffic pattern, and safely land at the airport. This may mean landing on a less favorable runway or adjusting the traffic pattern to ensure a safe landing on the favorable runway.
The power-off 180 is a great training task to demonstrate good judgment and aircraft control in a pattern engine out scenario. It is required by the commercial ACS for ASEL and ASES applicants, and I require all private students do one or two prior to solo as part of simulated emergency landings. It is a practical application for engine failures low to the ground, specifically the pattern.
In short, the task requires the pilot to pull power to idle abeam the landing point, pitch for Vg or 1.4x Vso, and adjust the base and final turns (180o) to allow the aircraft to glide from pattern altitude to the landing point without adding power. Add flaps when landing is assured.
This maneuver helps demonstrate your mastery of the aircraft, and helps ensure you are ready if you lose your engine in the pattern. They are also fun, especially when you are flying something that sinks like a rock when you pull the power to idle. Ask to do one on your next flight review as part of the engine failure regime, or grab a CFI and go for a ride.
Next time: Night landings without landing lights
On a severe clear (VFR) Saturday afternoon in early spring, you are flying into Troy, AL (KTOI), a field non-towered on the weekends, practicing your IFR skills on the ILS RWY 7 approach. The VFR “weekend flyers” are out in the pattern getting their currency (practicing landings) as this is their first flight since a rainy winter started in Alabama. You come up on the final approach fix about to join the glide slope and make a proud radio call on CTAF, “Troy traffic, Commander 727BR, BLOOD inbound runway 7, Troy Traffic.”
But there is a problem. You just told those VFR only pilots NOTHING.
- They have no idea what BLOOD refers to.
- They have no idea where you are.
- They have no idea what you are about to do.
How do you fix the problem?
- Save the fix/intersection reports for ATC.
- Use standard VFR position reports when flying to uncontrolled fields “….5 mile final runway 7”.
I fly IFR on every flight I crew. When VFR or IFR conditions prevail we almost always perform an instrument approach even when backing up a visual approach. We always use the position reports we learned flying the mighty Cessna 152 during private pilot training. It is important in ensuring other pilots maintain their situational awareness so that they can make adjustments to compensate for our straight- in instrument approaches.
Starting May 1, 2019 I will begin publishing an article in Gene Benson's Vectors for Safety, a monthly aviation safety newsletter. While Gene continues to focus on human factors in aviation, I will write about operational safety issues I see in the system. If you think there is an operational safety item I should discuss, feel free to e-mail me your ideas.