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Author Topic: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea  (Read 2802 times)

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HalfFullGlass

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Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« on: May 07, 2016, 07:58:24 AM »
Several interesting issues are illustrated by this German pilot's landing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2lWaOmvRmA

When I first saw the image I thought this was an emergency landing on a populated beach.  Nope, just rotten technique.

whebert

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2016, 03:51:57 PM »
Was that really dragging it in?  Looks like it was a pretty by-the-book approach and landing - to an imaginary runway that was 200 ft closer to him.

To me, dragging it in means you're in a landing attitude (i.e. nose high), with lots of power in well before you get to the threshold, and there really isn't a "flare," it's more of a "stop the descent quickly with more power."

hotrod180

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2016, 06:51:53 PM »
To me, "dragging it in" means a very flat approach with lots of power. Generally  this doesn't give you a very good chance to make the runway if the engine quits.
A steep slow approach, if done correctly (using power to moderate the sink rate) will let you land slow and stop short, but still allows you to reach the runway if the engine quits by pushing the nose down for more airspeed which extends the glide.

HalfFullGlass

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2016, 09:34:36 PM »
Was that really dragging it in?  Looks like it was a pretty by-the-book approach and landing - to an imaginary runway that was 200 ft closer to him.

To me, dragging it in means you're in a landing attitude (i.e. nose high), with lots of power in well before you get to the threshold, and there really isn't a "flare," it's more of a "stop the descent quickly with more power."

Looked like a pretty flat approach to me.  The pilot just about lost the gear on the posts at the end of the runway.  He was nose high as well.  It looked like power got added just about the time the plane nearly squatted on the poor guy on the beach.  I prefer a steep approach and a 'spot' landing.  The pilot hit the "spot", but it wasn't in a constant location on his wind screen (the namesake of a spot landing).   Had the engine burped at any point well before over flying the guy in the sand the plane wouldn't have made the runway.

hotrod180

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2016, 09:44:22 PM »
Hard to tell from that short clip, fairly flat approach but didn't look to me like "dragging it in".
I agree with Whebert, looks like a textbook approach and landing...which should have happened about another 100' down the runway.
He not only just about "buzzed" that guy laying down on the beach, the airplane did in fact send one of the runway-end barricade posts flying.
I thinks they need to displace that threashhold a ways before that happens again.

Cabbage

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2016, 06:05:46 AM »
I'm with GlassHalfFull.  I that was drug in.  If you look, he actually touched down about 100 feet short of the threshold.  He also actually hits the fence.  If you step through frame by frame you can see a piece of wood go flying just after he passed the fence.  Assuming that sunbather was about 200' from the threshold, a standard 3 degree glideslope would put a plane about 10' AGL as it went by.  And that's if you extend the glideslope back from the threshold.    This guy was less than 2'.  An ILS will aim you about 1500' down the runway.  On a visual, I aim for the numbers, not the threshold.  That would put me even higher.  Probably something like 20 or 30'.

I've seen a plane drag in an approach at Auburn.  He almost took out street lights at the Lowe's across the street.  I almost made a transmission telling him to go around.

While I was in the Air Force, our F15 squadron did a flight evaluation board on one of our guys because of drug in finals.  He just could not see what a normal glideslope looked like without electronic guidance.  After several evaluation flights, they took his wings away.

We all make mistakes, but if this guy routinely flies his approach like that, he shouldn't be flying.

Wombat

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2016, 08:42:02 AM »
I'm in the camp that 'dragging it in' means using lots of power on final while maintaining a path below the glide slope.  You can land short with no power and that's not dragging it in, that's just landing short.  From that video I can't tell if the pilot had lots of power in or not.  If the pilot had lots of power in, that was dragging it in.  If not, then it was just a stupidly short landing.

Most aircraft can't fly a 3 degree glide slope with no power.   To get a 3 degree glide slope you need a glide ratio of about 30 to 1 and none of our normal GA planes have that.    While you might crash closer to the airport, you still won't make it if you lose all power.

This doesn't mean I advocate flying below the glide slope because you can't make it on the glide slope anyway.  There are many scenarios where you could have a partial loss of power and the extra altitude could be enough to get you to safety or even all the way to the runway.   But most of us fly in locations occasionally where there is not a good landing spot available if we experience a full loss of power.   Upwind is a really common one that few people think of.     At 200' to 500' AGL not many planes can make the takeoff runway without engine power even with a fairly long runway.  I know I can't.   

I think our goal should not be to eliminate all times where you can't land on a runway or other acceptable landing area but to minimize them to our personal level of safety and have a plan for what to do if you lose power.
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will moffitt

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2016, 08:43:15 AM »
Risking your own life is one thing, someone else, that's another.   If I was the guy on the beach next time I wanted rays I would move over about 10 feet.

will

stearmann4

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2016, 04:37:55 AM »
To me, "dragging it in" means a very flat approach with lots of power. Generally  this doesn't give you a very good chance to make the runway if the engine quits.
A steep slow approach, if done correctly (using power to moderate the sink rate) will let you land slow and stop short, but still allows you to reach the runway if the engine quits by pushing the nose down for more airspeed which extends the glide.

Yep, if you're in a descent, you lose the engine and it takes dramatic action and altitude to establish your best glide speed, you're dragging it in. High performance airplanes on a standard ILS glide slope are the exceptions. Everything else from Cubs to King Airs I teach to configure a stabilized "down hill approach". If the engine quits, it makes for a much less traumatic transition to the emergency landing phase. Think glider style...

Mike-
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groupw

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2016, 09:39:27 AM »
In discussing landing there seems to be on obsession with the possibility of the engine quitting. I guess there's a little more chance of it quitting when pulled to idle than at other times, but find it hard to believe the probability of it quitting in the pattern is significantly greater than at any other time. Has anybody here actually had an engine quit and fail to restart when in a landing pattern? Has anybody even heard of it happening?

Roy

TonyG

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2016, 10:11:23 AM »
In discussing landing there seems to be on obsession with the possibility of the engine quitting. I guess there's a little more chance of it quitting when pulled to idle than at other times, but find it hard to believe the probability of it quitting in the pattern is significantly greater than at any other time. Has anybody here actually had an engine quit and fail to restart when in a landing pattern? Has anybody even heard of it happening?

Roy

Yep, about 30 years ago, 17 year-old private pilot at the time.  Weird deal though.  Got checked out in an early model 172 at the FBO that I pumped gas for -- they were selling the airplane for someone.  The main sump drain used a lever in the cockpit, on the instrument panel.  After the (short) checkout, I noticed that the lever seemed to have worked its way back -- I pushed it in, not thinking about it.  Two days later, flew the airplane on a short cross country (about 60nm each way).  Topped the tanks before departure.  Nearly full on the way back.  Halfway home, had that sump lever move back again, and pushed it back in. Didn't know it at the time, but the linkage had failed, and the sump was draining.  A few minutes later, I noticed that the fuel indication was a LOT less than it should be.  Soon, one tank was showing empty -- was probably flying a little crooked and the uneven feed helped save me, by getting my attention  (but the airplane had the crappy Cessna electric gauges, they were bouncing all over the place -- until the one showed empty.)  I checked that tank by running just on it, and sure enough, it was empty.  Turned immediately to the nearest airport (Woodbridge, VA, no longer there).  You could actually see needle movement on the remaining tank -- it was headed to empty.

The engine quit during the downwind to base turn at Woodbridge.  I knew it might be coming, so was close in (almost overran the departure end during the rollout.)  Even though the engine wasn't running, there was still gas pouring out of the sump when I hopped out to look.  I figured I went through about 30 gal in something like 5-10 minutes from the time I pushed the sump lever back in (and it failed) -- although it seemed like about 5 hours.

So yeah, it can happen in the pattern (although, as I said, this was a weird deal).  Have had other events in the pattern that are more typical (like losing a cylinder): engine still running, just not making full power.

--Tony

« Last Edit: May 09, 2016, 08:31:39 PM by TonyG »
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stearmann4

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2016, 11:31:45 AM »
Agreed, there is no more likelihood of an engine failure during the approach than any other phase of flight. However, the options available and time to react to the failure are less than if it were to occur in flight with at a normal cruise altitude and airspeed. Unless you're practicing slow flight, what other phase are you going to have flaps and /or gear down and power reduced below 1,000'?

My thought: if you can stack the deck in your favor during any portion of s flight, why not do it?

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rwanttaja

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2016, 02:05:03 PM »
In discussing landing there seems to be on obsession with the possibility of the engine quitting. I guess there's a little more chance of it quitting when pulled to idle than at other times, but find it hard to believe the probability of it quitting in the pattern is significantly greater than at any other time. Has anybody here actually had an engine quit and fail to restart when in a landing pattern? Has anybody even heard of it happening?
Twice, for me...both (probably) carb-ice related. 

The first was ~25 years ago.  I was flying the original Fly Baby out of Auburn on a 15-degree day.  Prop gently came to a stop as I was rolling out.  Think this was carb ice; just too damn cold for the heater to help much during a long glide at idle.  Had to get out on the turnout and prop the engine to get it running again (started right up).

The last was in November of 2014, in my current Fly Baby.  I got distracted by traffic on a ~45-degree day, and failed to apply carb heat.  When I tried to put on power for the touch-and-go....nuttin'.   Rolled off, restarted (new bird has electrics!), and taxied back for some more circuits.

I have a standard of coming in high and slipping down to the landing; in both cases, it saved my bacon.  Otherwise I'd a' been plowing cars at Lowes.

Of course, the answer is, "Don't do stupid stuff like failing to use carb heat."  But this is *why* we use a stack-up of safe practices.  So if we fail one aspect, following the others give us a chance to live through the mistake.

Ron Wanttaja

HalfFullGlass

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2016, 10:26:07 PM »
Agreed, there is no more likelihood of an engine failure during the approach than any other phase of flight. However, the options available and time to react to the failure are less than if it were to occur in flight with at a normal cruise altitude and airspeed. Unless you're practicing slow flight, what other phase are you going to have flaps and /or gear down and power reduced below 1,000'?

My thought: if you can stack the deck in your favor during any portion of s flight, why not do it?

Mike-

To test this theory (of equal opportunity for engine failure in all phases) I did a query of the NTSB db for 1/1/2014-12/31/2014 using keywords "engine failure".  From my experience, this isn't likely to result in a complete data set for a number of reasons, but it's a good indicator of what an exhaustive effort might produce.  Of 41 'hits' 15 were SE factory built piston aircraft.  I did not include EAB, ME, or rotorwing aircraft in my assessment of landing aircraft engine hiccups.  Of the 15 SE factory built aircraft 5 aircraft experienced an engine failure on approach or final.  A quick read of the Probable Cause (or FACTUAL if PC wasn't yet available) suggests 2 'Unknown', 2 fuel starvation from fuel system 'mismanagement', 1 carb ice.  Some crashed on the runway, some crashed just short of the runway.  I ignored those aircraft "on approach" but still in cruise descent.  FWIW, another interesting feature of the query results was the frequent Cirrus in the reports...  From my read, it doesn't look like over reliance on power to conquer low altitude/low energy is a good strategy.  :)  Also, it's my conclusion from a fairly large response data set provided by pilots of SE piston factory built aircraft that we are generally very optimistic about the reliability of our 1940's and 1950's designed engines.  :(

groupw

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Re: Dragging it in... why it's a very bad idea
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2016, 12:33:58 AM »
My question has been answered. Thanks!

Roy
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