I'm seeing problems with the soft field landings. I'll save a bunch of work and just copy and paste right from the FAA's Airplane Flying Handbook. I will highlight some key point to keep in mind.
Soft-Field Approach and Landing
Landing on fields that are rough or have soft surfaces, such as snow, sand, mud, or tall grass, requires unique procedures. When landing on such surfaces, the objective is to touch down as smoothly as possible and at the slowest possible landing speed. A pilot needs to control the airplane in a manner that the wings support the weight of the airplane as long as practical to minimize stresses imposed on the landing gear by a rough surface or to prevent sinking into a soft surface.
The approach for the soft-field landing is similar to the normal approach used for operating into long, firm landing areas. The major difference between the two is that a degree of power is used throughout the level-off and touchdown for the soft-field landing. This allows the airspeed to slowly dissipate while the airplane is flown 1 to 2 feet off the surface in ground effect. When the wheels first touch the ground, the wings continue to support much of the weight of the airplane. This technique minimizes the nose-over forces that suddenly affect the airplane at the moment of touchdown.
The use of flaps during soft-field landings aids in touching down at minimum speed and is recommended whenever practical. In low-wing airplanes, the flaps may suffer damage from mud, stones, or slush thrown up by the wheels. If flaps are used, it is generally inadvisable to retract them during the after-landing roll because the need for flap retraction is less important than the need for total concentration on maintaining full control of the airplane.
The final-approach airspeed used for short-field landings is equally appropriate to soft-field landings. The use of higher approach speeds may result in excessive float in ground effect, and floating makes a smooth, controlled touchdown even more difficult. There is no reason for a steep angle of descent unless obstacles are present in the approach path.
Touchdown on a soft or rough field is made at the lowest possible airspeed with the airplane in a nose-high pitch attitude. In nose-wheel type airplanes, after the main wheels touch the surface, the pilot should hold sufficient back-elevator pressure to keep the nose-wheel off the surface. Using back-elevator pressure and engine power, the pilot can control the rate at which the weight of the airplane is transferred from the wings to the wheels.
Field conditions may warrant that the pilot maintain a flight condition in which the main wheels are just touching the surface but the weight of the airplane is still being supported by the wings until a suitable taxi surface is reached. At any time during this transition phase, before the weight of the airplane is being supported by the wheels, and before the nose-wheel is on the surface, the ability is retained to apply full power and perform a safe takeoff (obstacle clearance and field length permitting) should the pilot elect to abandon the landing. Once committed to a landing, the pilot should gently lower the nose-wheel to the surface. A slight addition of power usually aids in easing the nose-wheel down.
The use of brakes on a soft field is not needed and should be avoided as this may tend to impose a heavy load on the nose-gear due to premature or hard contact with the landing surface, causing the nose-wheel to dig in. The soft or rough surface itself provides sufficient reduction in the airplane’s forward speed. Often upon landing on a very soft field, an increase in power may be needed to keep the airplane moving and from becoming stuck in the soft surface.
Common errors in the performance of soft-field approaches and landings are:
Excessive descent rate on final approach.
I don't know how IFR fuel planning got so difficult but here's one one way.
1. Time & Fuel to destination
2. Time & Fuel for approach
3. Time & Fuel to Alternate
4. Time & Fuel for approach at Alt:
5. 45 Min FAA reserve
6. FAA Required fuel (the sum of 1-5)
7. Time and fuel for Holding (known delays)
8. Extra or Contingency fuel
9. Total fuel (Sum of 6-8)
Number 6 is the fuel required by CFR 91.167***
Number 7 is used to account for any known delays.
Number 8 is used for my personal minimums.
Number 9 is my planned take off fuel.
If you are using an EFB for flight planning, the program may hide some of this info in different places or calculate it as you think it should.
So in my 182 you may see me have something written out like this for a trip from JVL to EAU with an Alternate of LSE.
1. Time & Fuel to destination 1+40 21.7
2. Time & Fuel for approach +15 3.5
3. Time & Fuel to Alternate +26 6.0
4. Time & Fuel for approach at Alt: +15 3.5
5. 45 Min FAA reserve +45 10.5
6. FAA Required fuel (the sum of 1-5) 2+36 45.2
7. Time and fuel for Holding (known delays) 0 0
8. Extra or Contingency fuel +45 10.5
9. Total fuel (Sum of 6-8) 3+21 55.7
***Per an FAA legal interpretation fuel for the approach is required to be added.
Putting this out there for everyone. I don't do check rides in experimental aircraft and I also don't do check rides in airplanes without shoulder harness.
Several problems have been occurring across all type of check rides. Some of them I thought were put to rest years ago. The biggest thing you can do to help yourself or your student (or Learner as the FAA wants these days) is to be familiar with the applicable ACS or PTS. Here is a quick rundown....
1. Using a POH/AFM that doesn't apply to the aircraft we are flying. For example, using a 172S model POH for performance data when we are flying 172M model.
2. Using generic weight and balance data instead of the actual empty weight and CG of the aircraft we are flying. This includes finding the Actual weight and balance in the aircraft POH/AFM.
3. Relying on EFB data too much. These are wonderful tools but they have limitations and can produce inaccurate information. Remember, garbage in equals garbage out. Be able to explain where the data going in came from and what are some of the ways that you verify the data is correct.
4. If the student is old school and uses paper, that's fine but again, be able to explain how you got your answers. For example, several applicants planned a cross country using a cruising speed in MPH, measured the distance in NM and the winds aloft in KTS.
5. Aircraft systems. Simply put, applicants don't know their aircraft. Sure you will be asked questions on systems but a lack of knowledge show up during preflights as well.
6. Stall and Spins. I ask a scenario question that a lot of people miss. That scenario is based on a real accident. Another easy question I ask, What's more important during stall recovery, Adding power or lowering the nose? You wouldn't believe the number of people that get that wrong.
That's all for now. Fly Safe!
Unfortunatly, I have had a number of "No Shows" or canceling with little notice happen recently. So, If I haven't work with you or your school in the past, or you are coming from a place far, far away, I maybe asking for a 50% deposit to hold a spot on the schedule. I will apply the deposit to the checkride fee. If you "no-show" or cancel within 24 hours I will keep the deposit. I know that aircraft break and people get sick, so I will extend the deposit if you reschedule with me.
I've used several scenarios in my check rides for over a decade. Here are are a few to think about. Note, you may or may not get one of these on your checkride with me. I do like to change things around as I don't like to get board!
Private pilot: You have been asked to do a Pilot and Paw’s trip to deliver a Golden Retriever puppy to its new family in KXYZ. The puppy and crate weigh 35 lbs. A handler will be going with who weighs 160 lbs. Plan the VFR cross country based on the current weather conditions.
Instrument: You have volunteered to fly a trip for Angle Flight East taking a 55 year old man to RST so he can have some medical tests done at the Mayo Clinic. Pax weighs 160 lbs. Plan the IFR flight based on MVFR weather.
Commercial: Doctor Sweet is a private pilot who owns the same type of airplane as you. She is planning a long weekend in the KXYZ area to do some shopping and see a baseball game with her daughter. Because she has surgeries scheduled all day, she doesn’t feel she will be fit to fly so she hires you. Her daughter weighs 120 lbs and the Dr. weighs 135lbs. She wants to depart your airport 5pm. The weather is forecast to be visual flight rules (VFR) all weekend.
Multi Engine: You have been asked to fly this twin to KXYZ for a repurchase inspection. Prepare a cross country with all the performance planning you've been taught. The current owner is going with and he weighs 160 lbs. (Note: regarding the cross country, we will only be discussing the power settings, speed and fuel flow performance data you would use on a trip like this and nothing else).
Initial CFI: You are the new CFI in Rapid City, SD (RAP). A young man walks into your part 61 flight school wanting to get his private pilot ASEL Rating. He already holds a private pilot glider rating. He signs on as your student. What training requirements will he need to accomplish to take his private pilot check ride? What endorsements are you going to give him?
CFII: I am your Instrument student and today is the day to do my long IFR cross country per 61.65. Walk me through what requirements we must complete and how to plan the first leg of this IFR cross country. The weather is at VFR minimums throughout the trip.
CFI-ME: Today is my first multi engine flight lesson with you. Let's talk about how your take off briefing correlates with the take off performance of a light twin engine airplane.
I've been doing a lot of check rides in multi engine and complex airplanes lately. I've noticed a change in fundamentals of when to raise the landing gear. I thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject.
It seems that the "new" idea of raising the gear is to wait until "out of usable runway". When I ask why they do this the response has universally been "if I lose an engine or need to abort I can put it back on the runway". I like to challenge some of the ideas that pop up out there to see if they make sense, so here are a few of questions I like to ask.
1. Have you ever been tried or been trained to abort a takeoff shortly after lift off? 90% have said no.
2. If you did abort a takeoff from low altitude, how much forward distance would you use? Will you be able to land and stop on the remaining runway? Think about what you have to do here: 1, recognize a problem, 2, make the decision to abort, 3, lower the nose and reduce the power, 4, lower flaps. 5. Think about airspeed (will it be high, low or just right), 6, Think about sink rate (what will it be). 7, Flare. 8, Brake to a stop.
3. What are the pros and cons to leaving the gear down until "out of usable runway". Pros-If I do have to abort I can land on the gear and prevent damage (provided you're still on the runway). Cons- Increased drag which will reduced reduce the rate of climb 250-300 feet per minute and decrease acceleration or, if the engine quit, rapidly reduce airspeed until the nose is lowered sufficiently.
Back in the so-call "old days" we where taught to raise the gear with a positive rate of climb. Your rate of climb was better, acceleration was increased and If an engine did quit, the airspeed wouldn't bleed off as quickly. I think most would argue having more altitude gives you more options. When you're low to the ground even having an extra 200 feet of altitude will increase your landing areas.
The biggest problem I see with waiting until "out of usable runway" is that the pilot waits too long to raise the gear that there is no way that they will be able to land on the remaining runway. To me I would rather have the additional altitude and less drag hanging out there. If the engine does quit, the insurance company owns the airplane. I can focus on flying the airplane as far into the crash as I can.
Just my 2 cents and I could be wrong!
One of the latest problems I've seen with Instrument and CFII check rides has been with knowing how to apply Lost Communication procedures to real life situations. Some applicants have been quoting stuff from Google and Youtube. While there is a lot of good information to be found on the internet, some of it can be down right incorrect. For example a quick search in YouTube for lost communication procedures will produce several videos. While several of them are good and worth your time watching, others leave out valuable information and a couple offer bad advice that contradicts FAR 91.185.
Most applicants know the pneumonic AVE-F and MEA which cover 91.185 (c) (1) and (2) but there is also a 3 paragraph. 91.185(c)(3) discusses when to leave a clearance limit and shooting the instrument approach.
I've included the text of 91.185 below. I recommend developing several scenarios where you have lost communication and then work through 91.185 to get yourself safely on the ground.
§ 91.185 IFR operations: Two-way radio communications failure.(a) General. Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, each pilot who has two-way radio communications failure when operating under IFR shall comply with the rules of this section.
(b) VFR conditions. If the failure occurs in VFR conditions, or if VFR conditions are encountered after the failure, each pilot shall continue the flight under VFR and land as soon as practicable.
(c) IFR conditions. If the failure occurs in IFR conditions, or if paragraph (b) of this section cannot be complied with, each pilot shall continue the flight according to the following:
(i) By the route assigned in the last ATC clearance received;
(ii) If being radar vectored, by the direct route from the point of radio failure to the fix, route, or airway specified in the vector clearance;
(iii) In the absence of an assigned route, by the route that ATC has advised may be expected in a further clearance; or
(iv) In the absence of an assigned route or a route that ATC has advised may be expected in a further clearance, by the route filed in the flight plan.
(2) Altitude. At the highest of the following altitudes or flight levels for the route segment being flown:
(i) The altitude or flight level assigned in the last ATC clearance received;
(ii) The minimum altitude (converted, if appropriate, to minimum flight level as prescribed in § 91.121(c)) for IFR operations; or
(iii) The altitude or flight level ATC has advised may be expected in a further clearance.
(3) Leave clearance limit.
(i) When the clearance limit is a fix from which an approach begins, commence descent or descent and approach as close as possible to the expect-further-clearance time if one has been received, or if one has not been received, as close as possible to the estimated time of arrival as calculated from the filed or amended (with ATC) estimated time en route.
(ii) If the clearance limit is not a fix from which an approach begins, leave the clearance limit at the expect-further-clearance time if one has been received, or if none has been received, upon arrival over the clearance limit, and proceed to a fix from which an approach begins and commence descent or descent and approach as close as possible to the estimated time of arrival as calculated from the filed or amended (with ATC) estimated time en route.
Ive done a lot of initial CFI check rides in that last 2 months. The good news is they all did pretty well over all. Some of the weak points......
1. Aircraft systems. (AOO III, Task C)
2. Slips to a landing (AOO VII, Task G)
3. Lazy Eights (AOO IX, Task D)
4. Spin recovery Knowledge (AOO XI, Task G). Yes, I know if you have the endorsement I don't have to have you do spins but it doesn't stop me from asking about spins. The problem has been with knowing the proper spin recovery procedure and why we do it that way.
5. Systems and equipment malfunctions (AOO XIII, Task B)
Just a few items to note lately....
Preflight: Draining fuel. Several applicants have not been draining from the fuel strainer (aka gasgolater). When asked about it they claim they didn't know about it. Its on the Cessna preflight checklist under NOSE, Item number 2.
Some of the older Cessna airplanes may have a belly drain. It was an option in some of the 1978 models and also available by STC. This is the lowest point in the fuel system. If there is water or crap in the fuel system it can be found here. On the 1997 and newer Cessnas there are at least 13 fuel drains. Oh, please drain plenty of gas, not just a little bit. If the gas is clean you can dump it back into the tank. Otherwise dispose of it per your flight school or airport policy.
I have also noticed people not moving the flight controls during the walk around. Please check the freedom of movement. They should move smoothly. Also listen for any noises. I once found a frozen pulley just by the sound the cable made as it ran over it.
On the Before takeoff checklist and checking the flight controls. Please box the yoke/stick checking all four stops for smooth operation and correct operation (thumbs up, aileron up). Also check the rudder for freedom of movement. People have been doing a good job with the yoke/stick but forget the rudder.
Before takeoff briefing: The briefing is a good idea but I have been noticing that they are getting longer and longer. So Long as I don't think they are really what you would do Question, have you ever actually practiced all those things you say you would do? Im guessing not. In the event of an engine failure at 200 feet are you really going to establish best glide, shut off the fuel selector, pull the mixture, extend the flaps, declare an emergency, turn off the master and mags, crack the door open and tighten the seat belt? Have you even tried doing this?
My VFR takeoff briefing is simple. "I will rotate at XX, climb at XX (Vy). If I have a problem I will abort. In the air I will push the nose down and establish best glide and hit the softest thing in front of me." I am mostly focusing on flying the airplane. If you are doing all that other stuff, your focus will not be on flying the airplane and that's where it should be! Bob Hoover once said..."Fly the airplane as far into the crash as you can."