## Airplane Flying Handbook Approaches and Landings Stabilized Approach Concept

Airplane Flying Handbook

Glossary

Index

 STABILIZED APPROACH CONCEPT A stabilized approach is one in which the pilot establishes and maintains a constant angle glidepath towards a predetermined point on the landing runway. It is based on the pilot's judgment of certain visual clues, and depends on the maintenance of a constant final descent airspeed and configuration. An airplane descending on final approach at a constant rate and airspeed will be traveling in a straight line toward a spot on the ground ahead. This spot will not be the spot on which the airplane will touch down, because some float will inevitably occur during the roundout (flare). [Figure 8-9] Neither will it be the spot toward which the airplane's nose is pointed, because the airplane is flying at a fairly high angle of attack, and the component of lift exerted parallel to the Earth's surface by the wings tends to carry the airplane forward horizontally. For a constant angle glidepath, the distance between the horizon and the aiming point will remain constant. If a final approach descent has been established but the distance between the perceived aiming point and the horizon appears to increase (aiming point moving down away from the horizon), then the true aiming point, and subsequent touchdown point, is farther down the runway. If the distance between the perceived aiming point and the horizon decreases (aiming point moving up toward the horizon), the true aiming point is closer than perceived. When the airplane is established on final approach, the shape of the runway image also presents clues as to what must be done to maintain a stabilized approach to a safe landing.
 Figure 8-9. Stabilized approach.
 The point toward which the airplane is progressing is termed the "aiming point." [Figure 8-9] It is the point on the ground at which, if the airplane maintains a constant glidepath, and was not flared for landing, it would strike the ground. To a pilot moving straight ahead toward an object, it appears to be stationary. It does not "move." This is how the aiming point can be distinguishedâ€”it does not move. However, objects in front of and beyond the aiming point do appear to move as the distance is closed, and they appear to move in opposite directions. During instruction in landings, one of the most important skills a student pilot must acquire is how to use visual cues to accurately determine the true aiming point from any distance out on final approach. From this, the pilot will not only be able to determine if the glidepath will result in an undershoot or overshoot, but, taking into account float during roundout, the pilot will be able to predict the touchdown point to within a very few feet. If the airplane continues down the glidepath at a constant angle (stabilized), the image the pilot sees will still be trapezoidal but of proportionately larger dimensions. In other words, during a stabilized approach the runway shape does not change. [Figure 8-10] If the approach becomes shallower, however, the runway will appear to shorten and become wider. Conversely, if the approach is steepened, the runway will appear to become longer and narrower. [Figure 8-11] The objective of a stabilized approach is to select an appropriate touchdown point on the runway, and adjust the glidepath so that the true aiming point and the desired touchdown point basically coincide.

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