January 12, 2015 – Low IFR and landings in Dash 300’s

Problem Identified: Last week I had a few 300 landings I wasn’t happy with. I don’t get to fly the larger airplanes as much as the 100’s, and that is the only excuse I’ll throw out there at the start.

Speed it up: I have been executing stable approaches reliably in low IMC and weather into Newark and a few other complicated places lately in 100’s. There I earned the comment that I’d been slowing down too early when a big ole 757 was barreling in behind me. They were right – I was wrong. I vowed to work on it.

Flatten it out: On my recent trips I picked up southern routes out of Charlotte, and found myself flying the 300 series for awhile. With the thought still on my mind about slowing too early on my ILS approaches and backing things up, I decided to change up my approach to the problem, if you will.

My first landing was fine and a little faster, but the Captain pointed out that I had flared high enough to trigger the 6 degrees of pitch warning just as we touched down (300 series only). Go much beyond that (8 degrees as I recall), and you run the risk of a tail strike in the longer fuselage of the 300. I had another leg coming to me today, so I’d correct that next time out. I should note that the touchdown was silk smooth, but that doesn’t help if you scrape the tail. Must go faster; be flatter; and still land smoothly.

I’m not impressing anybody: On my next landing – I did a great job of keeping the speed up, and was paying attention to my pitch attitude. My landing routine is all new now – and my scan is different as I attempt to monitor my own pitch attitude. I come in HOT; was late slowing down; and floated longer than I’d like while the world was watching. Touchdown was firm and right of center line. This was my last landing on this trip with this Captain, so I’d have to redeem myself with him on some other day.

Cool – I get to try again: After four days off, I start a two day trip with another captain with the Southern routes and 300’s. He graciously gives me three of the five legs, and I enjoyed some hand-flying in low IFR. I vow to improve my landing attitude and get back to silk smooth touchdowns.

Ah – I’m getting it now: In actual low IFR I do several ILS approaches to minimums. My approach speeds are good and I think I successfully manage the transition from a faster approach speed to TOLD card speeds all day. I am feeling pretty good about myself,and the landings are actually pretty good. I am at the right airspeed over the numbers, and find myself adding a smidge of power just before touchdown so that I can bleed it off very precisely as the wheels are a foot or so off the runway. It works fairly well and keeps the pitch where I want it.

Hey Frank – you’re slow again: While I’m silently congratulating myself as I complete my third ILS of the day, I notice the Captains hands moving behind mine on the throttles – just as I’m into the flare. I ask him what his concerns were, and he tells me I was getting too slow; he was afraid I’d drop it on and was ready to get involved. He further explained that he was relying on the speed bug provided by the angle of attack indicator to make his determination, and that the TOLD speeds are not always correct. Here I’ve had varying guidance from other Captains, so I’ll make my own determination through practice.image

Up to now, I have not been paying any attention to the angle of attack information on the left of the AI at all. I have been relying on the airspeed indicator and TOLD cards. My bad. Can’t believe I am still learning fundamentals here.

Now I have gone from thinking I’ve done a good job, to realizing that once again I’ll be incorporating something new on my next 300 trip. The ‘fast/slow’ AOA scale on the left side of the AI is depicted on the picture above, will now be part of my instrument scan. I am looking forward to a complete and flexible instrument scan (the 100’s don’t have AOA indicators). I’m learning.

What I am doing now works: I think the well meaning input I am receiving is valuable, accurate, and well-intended. Perspective is important, however, and I’ve received additional input that indicates that I shouldn’t change too much and am operating safely. I am looking forward to trying this new-to-me instrument into my process.