Posted on Feb 1, 2021
by Bill Frank
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On July 31, 2015, a Phenom 300 with a pilot and three passengers was attempting to land at Blackbushe Airport outside of London, England. The aircraft ran off the far end of the runway, struck an earthen embankment and became airborne again before colliding with cars parked in an adjacent lot. The subsequent accident investigation revealed a highly unstable approach in VFR conditions. The pilot was descending on final at 3,000 fpm and crossed the runway threshold at 151 knots, 40 percent faster than the Vref of 108 knots. This was a pilot fixated on landing. The first point of touchdown was three quarters of the way down the length of the runway, at which point the outcome was no longer in doubt. All aboard died in the crash.
Several years ago, following a rash of Cirrus landing accidents I wrote a set of articles in the COPA magazine titled “Landing a Cirrus – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.” The two-part article focused on the mechanics of landing, beginning with the base-to-final turn through rollout and a possible go-around. Cirrus Aircraft sent an open letter to all current owners of Cirrus airplanes encouraging more landing practice and training which, shortly thereafter, led to the development of the Landing Standardization syllabus. I promised a follow-on article discussing flying a stabilized approach, as the saying goes, “A good landing follows a good approach.” Cirrus has incorporated the criteria for stabilized approaches in the iFOM and this will be the focus of the following discussion.
ALL of these criteria must be met by 500 feet AGL or a go-around is mandated. If your superior flying skills couldn’t meet the above criteria, those skills are not likely to salvage the approach so take the go-around and try again. No penalty is applied.
These criteria must be met at 1,000 feet AGL:
Flying a stabilized approach to landing, whether in the traffic pattern or an instrument approach, will allow the greatest chance of a successful landing. Recognizing when the approach becomes unstable is critical to decision making and is where many pilots become fixated on salvaging the approach. Often these attempts are successful, creating a cache of negative learning. Pilots, particularly professional pilots, are often embarrassed to execute a go-around, fearing criticism from their company and their peers. Fortunately, that attitude is changing, and go-arounds from unstable approaches are being encouraged. We Cirrus pilots, flying technically advanced, high-performance aircraft should push ourselves to make an early decision to perform a go-around when we can’t meet the above criteria. It’s a responsibility to ourselves, our passengers, and those on the ground to standardize our flying and strive to constantly improve our skills.
This article was initially published in the July / August 2019 issue of COPA Pilot.
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