• How does a pilot learn to land?

We are back with a new post of ‘One Air Experiences’, our series of videos in which students and instructors tell us their impressions of the training.

After seeing what crosswind training is like or what the PBN course consists of, this time we continue learning from our instructor, Jesús Magaz, and his student, Alejandro Carcano.

Alejandro, after passing the simulator phase and having flown several times with his instructor, is almost ready for his first solo flight. But how does a pilot learn to land and when is he ready to take off and land alone?

Without a doubt, take-off and landing are the two most crucial moments in a flight. That’s why, in today’s video, we learn a little more about take-off and landing training prior to an impending first solo flight.

The process of learning to land

When a pilot lands a light aircraft, he or she must gently drop the plane onto the tarmac surface at about 100 kilometres per hour. To the unaccustomed, it sounds almost like an incredible feat, doesn’t it?

The truth is that, although it becomes simple with practice, it is quite complex. But, of course, how do you do it the first time, and how does a pilot prepare for that decisive moment?

Well, the training, as you can imagine, begins much earlier, specifically in the classroom, when the instructors drop a few “brushstrokes” while explaining the theoretical subjects.

If you want to know more about the whole process of becoming a pilot, and each of the phases involved, we recommend you read our post with everything you need to know to become an airline pilot.

Learning to land in the right simulator

Much more important than you think

At One Air, we are in favour of complementary training at all stages of training.

So, before learning to land in a certified simulator, our students spend several hours in our SIMLAB, a unique simulation centre.

Specifically, our most novice students, before their real flights, will have a standardisation on Diamond DA20 simulators, replicas of the aircraft they will later fly.

In these simulators the basic aspects of flight are taught and students can begin to gain speed in the management and control of the aircraft.

Once the basic simulator hours have been completed, it is the turn of the certified simulator, in our case, the FNPT II Alsim ALX. The function of this simulator is for students to gain fluency in procedures, handling checklists, etc., but with the safety provided by simulated flight.

The first flight of a student pilot

For all student pilots, one of the experiences they remember most fondly is their first flight because, in many cases, it is the first time they get into a light aircraft.

In this flight, in which the senses are at their peak, everything is felt with great intensity: the movement of the plane, the vibration of the controls, the ascents and descents, the small turbulence.

And all of this is accompanied by the most breathtaking views you have ever enjoyed.

Of course, they don’t have to land on their own the first time they fly, can you imagine? But they will have the opportunity to see everything they have learnt in the previous stages of training.

So how do you learn to land?

Once the students know how to ‘control’ the plane, they start with the succession of take-offs and landings, or take-offs and dives. As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, landing an aeroplane is no easy task.

In take-off and landing training, what you do is repeat the circuit over and over again. This allows the student to make up to 12 landings in a 90 minute session.

Once the student pilot is able to land with ease in a standard configuration, the instructor will begin to simulate different engine failures, and select various flap settings.

The circuit is one of the moments when the aircraft flies at the lowest altitude and, in some sections, the speed is very low; for this reason, it is essential that the student pilot learns to manage all kinds of compromising situations.

Hard take-off, safe take-off

We often tend to rate a pilot according to how softly he lands, but we can tell you that this does not have to be the case.

The landing is a very small part of the flight. Moreover, the softness of the landing can change very quickly: depending on the wind, the type of aircraft, or the thermal situation due to the heat, for example.

Did you know that…?

Some commercial aircraft are equipped with autoland, i.e. a system that lands the aircraft completely autonomously.

Well, autoland landings are characterised by being a little harder. A safe landing increases the efficiency of the brakes and reduces the possibility of aquaplaning if the runway is wet.

Of course, the autoland can only be used if the airport and the aircraft are certified for this type of operation and in very specific weather conditions.

The first solo flight of a pilot

Once the student pilot has acquired a good situational awareness, fluency in communications and skill in handling the aircraft, he/she will be offered a solo flight.

This is undoubtedly the most important flight in the training of any student pilot, because for the first time, the student pilot will be at the controls of the aircraft completely on his or her own.

During the solo flight, the student will have to perform three correct take-offs and landings, after which comes the long-awaited celebration.

The tradition varies greatly from place to place. In some places, the instructor cuts off a piece of the student’s shirt, while in others, the back of the student’s neck is shaved with the numbers of the runway on which he or she has been ‘released’.

In Spain, it is customary to throw a bucket of cold water over the newly released pilot. Have you seen the videos of our students’ releases? They are super fun! Follow us on social networks and don’t miss them.

The most important thing is the training

The learning process for any pilot is unique, and so is the moment when they get to land on their own. However, one thing is for sure: with the right instruction and training, landing an aircraft becomes much easier.

That’s why we place special emphasis on pre-simulation and standardisation in aircraft type. Believe us when we say that it really makes a difference.