More Folk Lore-The pre-landing check!

Pre -Landing Checks Downwind

Downwind checks, just what should they be and how long. Our school has a very long list which contains things the aircraft does not have such as undercarriage etc..

Roger Thane,Student, Formby — taken from a pilots forum!!

Thanks Roger we all had a laugh reading the posts! Forums love this type of question and the range of answers vary from amazing to ridiculous!

BUMPFHHC I think were the ones in question.

First I should say never call pre-landing checks downwind checks otherwise when you join crosswind or final you may miss them out.

For our money the least amount of checks you do in the circuit the better because the circuit is one of the few places that so many aircraft operate together within close proximity of each other, so you want to be eyes outside as much as possible.

The most important pre-landing check is to make sure you do not bump into anyone else!

The one check however that is vital on each downwind leg in the circuit is a check for carburettor icing and you must leave the heat on for a minimum of 15 seconds.

Our check is


Carb air full hot

Brakes off

Undercarriage down (OK we havn’t got a retractable but it keeps the pneumonic going and gives people something to argue about on forums!)

Mixture full rich 

Fuel correct tank/sufficient (minimum landing fuel = 45 mins for students)

Carb air full cold

The above check takes around 15 seconds but we do each CHECK then--LOOKOUTCHECK slowly

While doing checks keep an ear on the radio and and eye on the circuit!


Ts and Ps–When selecting full power always very quickly glance to see that we have full take off power and combine it with a quick Ts and Ps check. When we level out we aways do a quick Ts and Ps check. So that means we do not have to do this downwind its already been done.

Some schools/clubs add even more to it–you need to do what the school teaches you but when you get your licence do what needs doing and look at the manufacturers flight manual or handling notes for guidance as well as applying some non-forum common sense.


4 thoughts on “More Folk Lore-The pre-landing check!

  1. Mine is BUMFHC, I tend to do the BUMFH on entering downwind. I then call downwind. As I pass abeam the numbers I do the C. During this entire time I am trying to be aware of what traffic is around me. Can you see any issues with this method?

    • The reason we have carb heat at the front and end is that it gives the heat time to be effective-otherwise students just pull it out and put it back which will do very little if you have ice. All our airbourne checks (CFREDAC) start and finish with C for that reason.
      In fact a good question is, ‘How do you know you have carb icing’?

    • Thought I had better answer this over a year later Neil(sorry). I believe you should be flexible where you do the pre-landing check. If you find another a/c is compromising your safety after the turn you would be better off concentrating on spacing, Problem is if you only have one rigid place to do something and you become distracted at that point its Sods law you will forget it altogether. You always need a second reminder( I think) with a check. For instance on base you could say, Pre Landing checks complete, speed checked, flaps 1.

      The most important thing with carb heat is to keep it out for as long as is needed to remove the icing and also be aware that in icing conditions you may need to keep it on constantly, a point often forgotten even by instructors. It does two jobs,prevention and removal and for thorough removal it needs to be on for at least 15 seconds.

  2. I wouldn’t assign any particular point to do the check because if you get distracted at that point you may well miss the check. I am also very much against ‘learning to fly by numbers’. It is important when learning to fly to foster good judgement based on the situation you are in, not a just model situation.

    Once you get onto the downwind leg-reasess the circuit both visually and via the radio if neccesary(Dont be frightened to ask-“where is the aircraft ahead of me”?), whats going on, who is where and what are their intentions-are they going to land- touch & go etc.. Ideally a/b the upwind end of the downwind leg is the correct point to make the call, calling later can confuse ATC or other aircraft-calling at that point should be a priority-if the call is made later due to other radio calls being made by other pilots consider adding-

    “Late Downwind’

    The prelanding check should be made when time allows on the downwind leg, We also do the checks one at a time not as a continuous flow.

    LOOKOUT is the major priority at every point in the circuit. If you think about it on a simple a/c like the C172 missing the complete check out wont be the end of you world, your time is better spent planning ahead and looking out. What’s the point of giving your full attention to the checks and flying into an aircraft joining on a direct base leg.

    Once you have completed the check your next target to think about is where to turn onto base leg and where you are going to reduce power and select flap. On downwind plan base and on base plan final-planning should include other traffic and LOOKOUT. Always plan one leg ahead. On final plan the go around too-OK you probably will not need to go around-but isnt it better to have just mentally rehearsed it than have it come as a complere surpise.

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