Every pilot wants to be on the glide path and have a perfect landing.
However, it’s always challenging to maintain the correct landing approach altitude for inexperienced private pilots.
This post will teach you what other factors with landing approach altitude in VFR flights aids in a good touchdown.
- What is the correct landing approach altitude?;
- Why do you have difficulty maintaining the glide path?;
- Traffic pattern altitude for landing in towered airports;
- Traffic pattern altitude for uncontrolled airports;
- What are the altitudes and engine settings for each leg of a VFR flight approach?
Establish the final approach with the correct altitude alone can’t make much difference if you don’t maintain a proper descent rate for landing.
What is the correct landing approach altitude?
You might be asking the wrong question here. Private pilots often relate perfect landing with maintaining the appropriate altitude.
However, it is vital to learn to maintain a glideslope for a better landing.
Maintaining the glideslope on approach means a private pilot must have a steady descent rate. If a pilot loses altitude quickly on the final approach, the aircraft might crash short.
So, the question should be:
How to maintain the glideslope and have a steady descent rate?
To be on the glideslope and have a steady descent rate, a private pilot needs patience and a lot of practice.
- Impatient pilots tend to overcontrol the airplane. Suppose a pilot is overcontrolling the aircraft, then the aircraft reacts to the input instead of responding correctly. Thus the pilots end up having a lousy landing.
- Likewise, practice is essential for pilots to understand the visual changes in runway geometry while steadily descending towards the runway.
Hence the correct landing approach altitude has nothing to do with the bad landing. Instead, the changing height has the most contribution to good landings.
Why do many pilots struggle to maintain the glideslope on VFR flights?
If a pilot struggles to maintain the glideslope, then there is a likelihood the pilot has entered the final with a very high altitude.
Having a high altitude on the final is safer than being low on the final.
While a pilot turns final from the base, multiple other factors can change the airplane’s attitude.
- Abrupt changes in the aircraft’s attitude due to crosswind or tailwind can make it hard to be on the glideslope.
- A sudden change in weather can bring about updraft or downdraft on final, making the landing sloppy for pilots.
Changes in the airplane’s attitude on the final make it challenging to have a steady rate of descent.
If a pilot is below the glideslope on final, likely the pilot will try to climb by adding power. Adding power will change the attitude of the airplane and will rise to the glideslope. However, many pilots forget to do corrections after the aircraft is on the glideslope. Thus the plane keeps climbing if the power is not adjusted to be on the glideslope.
If the pilot forgets to adjust the power to maintain the glideslope, the aircraft will be higher than the glideslope.
Likewise, a pilot must reduce power to maintain the glideslope if an airplane is higher than the glideslope. Once the aircraft is on the glideslope, the pilot must add RPM to keep the glideslope and a steady descent rate.
Pilots often forget to adjust the throttle once they establish on the glideslope. Hence they push and pull on the yoke or the stick, resulting in a lousy landing.
Traffic pattern altitude for landing in controlled airports.
If you are approaching a controlled airport, then there is a rule of thumb.
You must always enter the downwind at an altitude of 1000 feet AGL.
It means a private pilot must enter the downwind at 1000 Feet if the airport elevation is 0 Feet.
If the airport elevation is 200 Feet, a pilot must enter the traffic pattern by downwind at 1000+200 = 1200 Feet.
It is a fundamental approach to landing altitude entering the traffic pattern in controlled airspace.
Traffic pattern altitude for landing in uncontrolled airspace.
The same rule of entering the traffic pattern at 1000 Feet AGL applies for non towered airports.
And if the non-towered airport has an elevation, the pilot must use the AIM before flying there and learn what airport height is.
After learning about the airport, the elevation pilot can add 1000 feet to the elevation to find out the traffic pattern altitude for that airport.
There is also another thing to do while approaching an uncontrolled airport. A private pilot must identify the runway in use.
A pilot must fly overhead the runway at an altitude of 1500 Feet AGL overhead the runway to identify which runway is in use.
So if the uncontrolled airport has an elevation of 200 Feet, you must fly over the runway at 1500+200 = 1700 Feet to identify which runway to use for landing.
But of course, before doing any maneuver, you must always be aware of the traffic in the vicinity.
As a pilot, it is your responsibility to avoid air traffic collisions.
What are the altitudes and engine settings for each leg of a VFR flight approach?
I can’t tell much about the engine RPM settings of an approaching aircraft. But any aircraft need to maintain the traffic pattern altitude.
Now the landing approach altitude will vary for different legs in different airports.
Likewise, every flight instructor teaches differently. If your flight instructor taught a set of altitudes for flying that worked for you, why do you need to change it?
In time, a private pilot will have his technique to make a perfect landing as long as he can maintain the glideslope on the final approach.
Therefore keep practicing, and you will have better landings.