Now we’re going to execute a Power Off 180º Accuracy Landing. Essentially we’re reducing the power to idle abeam the touchdown point, and exercising the same requirements for short field in terms of our spot — 0 + 200 feet.
Why would we be doing this procedure on the commercial pilot level, anyway? Well, it takes a lot of skill, great energy management, and the proper execution increases your (and your passengers) likelihood of survival were you ever to have an engine out. Therefore, it’s actually quite practical. You have a theoretical issue, you have some tools in your toolbox to get down on a perfect spot, maybe THE only spot, to land.
This power off 180º (or short approach, as ATC calls it) is a fantastic way to learn how your airplane flies. It’s one thing to fly around with a bunch of power, and to approach with power. It’s an entirely different thing to feel all the extra energy your airplane has on it’s own, with the addition of gravity bringing you down.
A great way of thinking of this is ‘buoyancy’. Like a boat, we have a certain amount of that buoyancy left in the wing as we work our way down. It’s a matter of timing and precision, feeling out the constant energy state of the airplane, and flying accordingly.
As you’re abeam and setup, pull the power. Immediately shoot for best glide. In my case, it’s 80MPH or about 70KTS. You’ll fly one continuous arc to the runway touchdown spot, constantly evaluating your energy state.
Several tools are available to you to nail this landing. The first is distance. As you draw that curve to 180º, the size of that arc really matters. You get to pick how much distance you cover over the ground on the way to your landing spot. Shallow out your bank and stay out a bit longer. Even consider squaring up your turns if you’re still too high.
The next tool is drag. Think flaps. The timeliness of your flap deployment is essential. Too high, or too fast? Consider adding the drag earlier, to slow down and increase your descent angle, or simply slow down. Too low, too slow, or just enough energy? Use your distance to go more direct to your landing point, and don’t think about adding drag yet unless necessary. You don’t even have to add those flaps. Keep the speed up and get there if you’re running out of distance.
Now, hit your target with final adjustments. This will take time to understand. It’s better to come in a little too high than too low. You can always slip down, or zig zag on final to make some more distance.
Don’t forget to use ground effect to your advantage. It’s amazing what a little bit of floating in ground effect will do. It could give you that extra little bump to get to the touchdown zone, so don’t panic.
Also, too much energy and you’ll float.