POINT and POWER APPROACHES for early first solo?


This is a rework of an article written several years ago.
‘Elevator for Airspeed’ as far as I am concerned is dated way of teaching airspeed and glide path control. I only now teach Point & Power approaches for the following reasons.
It minimises the high roundout and the ‘paradescending’ onto the runway that many PPLs think is an acceptable way of landing the aircraft.
The safest method in the last stages is to fly the aircraft to the lowest practical height above the runway to begin the hold off. The easiest way to do this is to point it at the aiming point and keep pointing it at the aiming point until you fly level(roundout).
Students using point and pwer are always more accurate with touchdown points
Students using ‘Point & Power’ always solo earlier. I sent my son first solo at 7.5 hours at a school were the instrcutcors teaching ‘elevator for airspeed’ were struggling to get their student solo by 15 hours! Although their teaching of landings was poor anyway!
The RAF and all the professional schools teach ‘Point & Power’
Y
You may be one of those pilots who were taught attitude for airspeed and throttle for height on the approach. It was certainly the way I was taught and it was the way I taught others, I now however realise that point and power is a much better way of teaching and flying light aircraft on the approach.
As an ex airline pilot point and power was the basis of every one of my approach’s and I could not imagine how you could fly an ILS glide path accurately otherwise. A friend of mine last year, who is a FI examiner, urged me to try the P & P method when teaching my son to fly in the summer. Rather than just teach him one method I taught him both, he immediately took to P & P and in fact struggled with the old method to the extent he had trouble on base leg while using attitude for airspeed saying he just could not understand the logic of it and it wasn’t natural. I let him continue with P & P and he soloed in 7.5 hours. My son made most of the normal mistakes that students make but the one he never made, ever, was to land deep. He always put the aircraft in the right place on the runway and without doubt that was down to P & P. For this reason alone it would be the approach method of choice for me to teach. The other reason is that my old colleague FIREFLY BOB (see below) advocates it Ive known Bob for nearly 40 years, he was BA Hamble cadet of the year and BA Hamble highest marks ever achieved. That’s some going! Bob is certainly the most professional instructor Ive ever come across. Some of you old hands might know his father better, Hector Taylor the panel examiner who did more Fi renewals in the UK than any other examiner. Here is Bob’s post on P Prune over 10 years ago. Notice ‘Beagle’ who I’ve mentioned before for his arrogance being called POMPOUS! Bob reckons that 2 hours can be saved to first solo with P & P.
fireflybob
17th Oct 2001, 17:07
Do you or does your organisation teach the “Point & Power” method for flying the approach – ie point the aircraft at the aiming point with the elevator/stabilator and control the speed with the power?
Whether you do or don’t, what do you think are the pros and cons? If you have considered the point and power technique but decided not to teach it, then what are you reasons for doing so?
Thanks for any comments.
DB6
17th Oct 2001, 18:43
Yep. It’s what the RAF teach and is I believe more and more relevant the larger the aircraft. It hinges on having an aiming point (so a bit iffy into a grass field with no markings) and to a degree on achieving a set point on the approach (the 400 or 500 ft point). If you are low or high on the approach to start with then you can’t use point and power to correct except by changing the aiming point which rather negates aiming at the threshold, so you have to use power to control RoD etc. If however you are set up nicely at the 400′ point it works very well.
GT
17th Oct 2001, 19:17
I agree with DB6. I think its a good technique to use when the aircraft is on the desired approach path but I don’t think its good for correcting approach path deviations. These are better made with the more traditional method (in my opinion).
By the fact that you point at the aiming point all the time with this techinique, you’ll simply drag the aircraft in if already low and glide it in (if possible) if already high – you need to move the aiming point initially to regain the desired approach path. However, its always possible that I’m missing something.
Regrads, GT.
ShyTorque
17th Oct 2001, 23:40
GT,
(I was taught to fly fixed wing by civilian instructors using the attitude for speed, power for ROD/height. Later I went through jet BFTS and many years later to CFS and taught on an RAF UAS so I have experienced both methods).
I found the point and power method resulted in a more accurate and consistent touchdown point, which was the whole reason for teaching it. It doesn’t involve changing aiming points, at least it didn’t in my time. The other method can result in a variable touchdown point, as seen at my local airfield every weekend, resulting in some landings half way up the (very short) grass strip and some extremely late go-arounds.
It is very important to teach students to recognise the acceptable limits of high and low approaches for both methods. It was always emphasised that if they ever found themselves outside the acceptable angle “band” they must go around rather than try to salvage the approach, which can be dangerous.
Personally, I found it useful to show them a flapless landing and point out the shallower approach angle. I would then explain that anything shallower than that was outside the safe limit and how a glide landing is the high angle extreme because there is no more power to remove. If the speed is not under control (increasing) with the throttle closed, then a go around is required.
The 400ft point was a halfway round, halfway down checkpoint to give an early clue of how the (180 degree, curved) finals turn was going.
ShyT
BEagle
18th Oct 2001, 01:25
Point-and-power is much more easily assimilated by most students. But they must first achieve an initial approach within the ‘acceptable limits’ of approach angle. This means an accurate base leg to the roll out from the final turn. If, and only if, they can do this consistently you can then move to the “rollout of final turn, wings level, full flap, trim to approach speed – now adjust to aim at touchdown point and concentrate on touchdown point-speed-touchdown point-speed scan” process.
Must be easy if I can teach it!
Wee Weasley Welshman
18th Oct 2001, 01:42
BEagle hits it firmly on the head. Point and Power is best AS LONG AS a stable and accurate final approach path is intercepted.
This is what I taught airline cadets as part of the CPL/IR course with BAE. From day one you are teaching them towards a large commercial aircraft type flying.
To this end one often has to NOT teach good GA practice and procedure. Which is a shame but time is money. Which is a good reason that modern ATPL holders from 509/Integrated backgrounds need to be required to attain, hold and maintain SEP privildges(?)…
WWW
grade_3
18th Oct 2001, 05:10
Hi,
I tend to agree with most of the sentiments already exressed, but I’d just like to add that the Point & Power technique is no worse than the typical GA technique (power for RoD/flightpath, attitude for IAS) if you are exceptionally high or low as you roll out on finals.
Either way something has been selected in error along the base leg (either the wrong power setting, the wrong attitude or the pilot didn’t correct for a x-wind). The recovery is fairly straight forward – adjust the pitch attitude / power to regain the correct approach angle and then reselect the correct power and attitude required to maintain it.
This is easy in a light aircraft, but as the aircraft gets bigger and faster the pilot needs to be more accurate flying the base leg as the tolerances for an acceptable approach angle are more precise. You would kinda hope that anyone flying something bigger than a Be58/C310 would be able to fly an accurate base though……
I personally teach to stop concentrating on the IAS as the nose/cowling passes the flare cut-off point (a short distance in front of the aiming point), at which time the throttle is closed and the pitch attitude is gradually raised to the landing attitude. Until then the scan that BEagle described works very well. After the flare cut-off point you really should have your head out of the cockpit! 😎
moggie
21st Oct 2001, 00:25
The “point and power” technique is the only one that has any validity for jet aeroplanes – “power, attitude, trim” will not work effectively. This really applies across the board when hand flying.
I was taught by the RAF to make the aeroplane fly the flightpath you require by using pitch (whether this be level or final approach) and then adjust the speed with power. This worked well on Bulldogs, Jet Provosts, Jetstreams and VC10s – so one of each flavour, at least.
You will make a jet increase it’s ROD by pulling off power, but only because the IAS decays and the nose then drops as a result of the trim change. The converse goes for making it climb by applying power. However, ANY powered aeroplane can be made to increase it’s ROD by lowering the nose 1 degree, then the speed controlled by reducing power.
In my experience (over 16 years on piston, turboprop and jet aircraft) raising or lowering the nose about 1 degree from the datum setting on final approach is about right. This would adjust from a 3 degree glidepath to a 2 or 4 (depends which way you go!) and then using power to control the speed keeps that approach path constant. Any more than 1 degree either way gives a VERY big change to the ROD and risks a high sink rate at low altitudes – it would keep most jets at under 1000fpm which I believe is really the safe maximum for a stabilised approach.
The only time point and power does not work is in constant power climbs and descents – but anyone should be able to handle those.
As for the VSI: If you initially set the correct datum attitude, use power to adjust the speed up or down as required before setting the correct power setting to hold the speed steady – then the VSI really does not feature too heavily, except as a back up to what the instrument (ILS), visual picture (PAPIs, aspect) and mathematics (height for range on NDB/DME approaches) tell you. The only things that matter in the last 100 feet or so is the attitude and power control, in conjunction with the picture outside.
Well, that’s my opinion, anyway. Beats me why schools don’t teach jet techniques from the off – as I say, any powered aeroplane works that way – only props can really use power to control ROD.
moggie
21st Oct 2001, 00:31
PS- I find the above technique equally valid for visual and instrument approaches.
PPS – The matter of misjudged rollout on base turn is important – but also relatively easily overcome by using technique as above – unless so high as to require idle power, but then ANY technique will require that to be a go-=around.
BEagle
21st Oct 2001, 03:16
moggie – please confirm that you were NEVER a RAF QFI! Because I have to say that I think that you’re largely talking nonsense.
Incidentally, the oft-misused ‘Power- Attitude-Trim’ litany used by civil FIs is a misunderstanding of what they really mean. In the RAF, Power-Attitude-Trim is only used to describe what to do when changing power settings, for example in straight and level flight. First Power is set, during which the Attitude is held steady and the effect of the new power setting is Trimmed – you don’t allow the ac to fly you, you control the effect of your power change. Then as the power change takes effect and causes acceleration or deceleration to a new steady state, the attitude is Progressively Adjusted and Trimmed! to maintain straight and level balanced flight.
I’ve also heard some people talking about ‘Attitude-Power-Trim’ when levelling off at top of climb in a prop-driven aircraft. Again that’s rubbish – the correct technique is to Select, Hold and Trim the new straight and level attitude and then Progressively Adjust and Trim to maintain straight and level balanced flight as the aircraft accelerates to cruising speed.
In anything I’ve ever flown, elevator controls IAS and power controls Rate of Descent until you are aiming at a fixed reference point on the runway. Then elevator controls flightpath aim and power corrects rate of change of speed.
[ 20 October 2001: Message edited by: BEagle ]
……………………………………..
DB6
21st Oct 2001, 16:51
Interestingly, while the RAF teaches point & power for visual approaches, and I learnt during my IR training to fly the ILS etc. using point & power, I am now required to teach RAF officers to use power to control RoD and pitch to control airspeed whilst flying instrument (PAR) approaches.
moggie
21st Oct 2001, 20:08
BEagle – I still stand by my view that making the aircraft climb or descend by fiddling with the power is valid only for a prop. However, ANY powered (fixed wing)aeroplane be flown accurately by setting an aiitude to make the aeroplane go where YOU want it to, holding that attitude while you sort out the power, ensuring that you are in trim AT ALL TIMES and then resetting the attitude, trim and power to stay there when you get there.
I was taught attitude flying by my RAF QFIs in the 80s and have found this attitude equally valid in civillian training. When converting prop trained blokes to jets, those who have been taught to use power for ROC/ROD at all times struggle – where as those previously taught to do what I advocate above (because that is what their organisation prefers) have less trouble.
Ever flown a HUD equipped jet? Point it where you want it to go than make it do it at the right speed by varying the noise. Works on all known airliners, too.
How else are you going to hand-fly an aeroplane with the autothrottle engaged (SOP for hand flying on all the airlines I deal with)?
Remember, we are training guys for airlines – THEY fly airliners, not Fireflys or Warriors – and this is the technique that the airlines themselves advocate. OK so the AP is engaged most of the time – but the AP does exactly what I describe: sets an attitude to achieve the desired flight path, adjusting it if it is not right, meanwhile adjusting power (via autothrottle) to control speed.
Try it on a lightweight go around in a jet – high ROC, reduce power and watch yourself sail through the level off altitude with the IAS decreasing – I see it regularly from guys taught in the style you seem to prefer. don’t forget – I am talking about a technique that applies in all phases of flight except steady power climb or descent (as I said earlier) and is equally valid for the approach. some other posters have said they “don’t look at the ASI, just the aiming point, unless the speed decays”. So just how do they know when the speed has decayed? You can not sucessfully judge airspeed by looking out of the window, not to an accuracy of less than 20 kts, anyway. Another said the “power for ROD” technique allows him to “drag it in without changing his aiming point” – I hope I am never his passenfger when he goes low on an ILS or visual approach.
[ 21 October 2001: Message edited by: moggie ]
[ 21 October 2001: Message edited by: moggie ]
BEagle
21st Oct 2001, 20:46
Which reference does your ‘HUD-equipped jet’ have? Pitch attitude or flight path vector?
The autothrottle gain rates will be modified according to pitch attitude from a vertical gyro to maintain the selected IAS derived from the pitot-static or Air Data Unit; you ‘hand fly’ the aircraft attitude and the AT adjusts thrust level to maintain the speed you selected.
‘Point and Power’ is a technique which refers ONLY to flight relative to a fixed touchdown reference point. On an instrument approach you are correcting to either an electronic glidepath on a precision or a height/range cue on a non-precision approach. If you are above the glideslope, for example, and just pitch forward to a new attitude (‘poking at the ground’ as it’s sometimes described), your AT will indeed do the work to sort things out. If you ‘hand fly’ properly by maintaining your attitude, wriggling off some power to increase rate of descent to recover to the glideslope and then restoring the correct power, your passengers will also not have to endure unnecessary pitching on the approach.
The ‘technique’ which you are trying to describe is the only method of flying with AT engaged as you have no direct control of thrust settings, merely of demanded IAS. It is not appropriate to basic flying or full ‘hand-flying’ – but pointing the aeroplane in the required direction and letting the AT automatics sort things out is probably all the Nintendo generation will ever need. If that’s all they can cope with, then heaven help them or their passengers when all the computers decide you need to run Scandisk and stop voting! That’s why basic techniques are still taught!!
On your ‘lightweight go-around’, if you’re hand-flying without AP/AT, you reduce the thrust initially to reduce RoC as you approach the cleared altitude, adjusting the attitude slightly to maintain IAS. The concept of reducing power before levelling off is the one big new technique, I agree, which must be learned early in jet conversion. This is entirely due to the different THPa/THPr curves for jet and propeller aircraft and their differing relations to best climb and best range cruising speeds. Then you select, hold and trim the appropriate attitude for level flight, reducing thrust again as the desired IAS is achieved. Nowadays that’s becoming more and more essential when levelling at RVSM levels in order to reduce climb rate to 500-1000 fpm before 1000ft to the cleared level is achieved.
However, in one high performance jet aircraft I once flew, rather than reducing power about 1500 ft before levelling off at medium level, we used to leave the power alone, roll inverted whilst still climbing rapidly at 370 KIAS and about 20 deg nose-up, then pull through to level flight at the rquired level at about +2g before rolling erect again and then throttling back when Vc (Vs multiplied by the square root of the max g limit) – about 420 KIAS was achieved. Not particularly appropriate on spamcans or people-tubes though!
[ 21 October 2001: Message edited by: BEagle ]
fireflybob
21st Oct 2001, 22:08
I am glad to see that my original post has created some debate!
I am an advocate of the Point & Power technique for flying the approach and, despite my “handle”, I am from a civilian background having flown many light types up to the B737 and A320!
For circa 8 years of my airline career I was a TRE/IRE (Sim) Instructor. I remember well conducting one of our pilot’s first recurrent base checks in the sim. I was trying to work out why the “candidate” was making a meal out of flying the ILS. On the coffee break it suddenly dawned on me that he was using the pitch for airspeed and power for rate of descent system for flying approach. A quick debrief and suggestion that he tried it the other way round produced instant results (for the better!). He also confessed that for the past six months he had been finding it hard to fly the approach and was relieved to discover there was an easier way of doing so.
I have been doing a little research on this subject and received an email recently from an ex CFS instructor who was instrumental in getting CFS to change to Point & Power. On a routine visit to a UAS on a very windy day the students were having difficulty flying the approach and were making horrendous changes of attitude to control the speed. He consulted with his colleague and they decided to teach the students Point & Power. The result? Immediate and instant improvement. They also reckoned that teaching Point & Power reduced time to solo by one to two hours!!
BEagle
22nd Oct 2001, 00:15
Perhaps your ‘candidate’ was so far off the glideslope that what you actually taught him was to select, hold and trim an attitude which would allow him to regain the glideslope – and he merely adjusted the power to avoid accleration/deceleration in that attitude rather than consciously trying to select the IAS??
fireflybob
22nd Oct 2001, 00:54
Beagle – yes, thanks for your comments!
Stan Woolley
22nd Oct 2001, 02:40
Beagle you sound rather pompous to me I’m afraid, Moggie I’m with you.
Hiya Bob. 😉
BEagle
22nd Oct 2001, 02:54
‘Flanker’ – sounds rather like Wa… no, too cheap a shot. But thank you for your well-researched, articulate and constructive comment.
Stan Woolley
22nd Oct 2001, 03:19
Just taking sides is all,a ****** would be more pompous than I am.
moggie
22nd Oct 2001, 14:47
fireflybob and flanker, thanks for the vote of confidence. BEagle, you seem to be outvoted.
The technique we (and the major airlines I train for) teach works – so that is really all the justfication we need. For example, on go-arounds, where you dismiss it as inappropriate, the rate of climb is controlled by reducing the pitch attitude, then speed is controlled by reducing power. This gives a nice, manageable climb rate without the speed getting away from you. It is also what I used to do on VC10’s, getting the “organic autothrottle” (FE) to reduce the power on my call.
As I said, if you are hand flying with the autothrottle engaged (acting as a silicon based FE) then the same technique is the ONLY one that will work without a) a bunting level off (negative g + passengers = them flying with someone else next time) or b) a risk of level bust (biggest safety risk to passenger carrying aircraft in UK airspace).
Also, the majority of flight schools teach trainees to enter a climb by applying power as “this will make the nose go up” and the converse for descents. Well, yes it does, but only if you have props – a jet will raise it’s nose only as the speed builds (probably to something in excess of the desired climb speed). If you try it for descent, you will find the speed reduces eventually, then the nose drops and then you need a big nose down attitude to recover the speed.
From reading your posts, you seem to advocate power for ROD only on the stabilised approach, and a different technique for other eventualities. However, the technique advocate by myself, fireflybob and flanker works all the time – surely that makes it more valid?
Harrier GR3 – pitch AND flight path vector mode. Tornado F3 – flight path vector or velocity vector (which was regarded by the pilots as unuseable). So – set the flight path and adjust power, with the Specific Excess Power bars on the F3 facilitating this method.
flanker is right – you do sound pompous, escpecially trying to use technical phraseology to justify unsound technique.
(sits back to await barrage of personal abuse).
moggie
22nd Oct 2001, 14:58
BEagle – having re-read your last post, a couple of extra points.
The “un-necessary pitching” you refer to amounts to +/- 1 degree on average – the pax will not notice.
“Wriggling off the power with the attitude held” will not produce an immediate increase in ROD, just a decreas in IAS, especially on a stabilised approach in the full flap landing configuration. Pitch reduction is immediate in it’s effect on ROD and the power may then be reduced to catch the speed before it even moves. Just the way the AP does it.
If you reduce power on a go-around, without FIRST reducing the pitch attitude you will find the IAS reducing while the ROC initally remains constant. Then the reduced IAS will cause the nose to drop, reducing ROC as a secondary effect. This adds a lag and do you really want to climb with the IAS reducing? Ideally of course, the pitch and power are adjusted simultaneously – but better safe than sorry.
Blue Hauler
22nd Oct 2001, 16:24
FFB,
The ‘Point & Power’ approach technique is more applicable to turbine aircraft than piston types, particularly jet aircraft with low drag. By adjusting the attitude on such aircraft, an immediate speed change is not evident, but a change of flight path will result. If flying an ILS for instance, a change in attitude will not have much affect on IAS but will repostion the aircraft relevant to the glide-path. Conversely a reduction in power will result in an immediate increase in drag causing a noticeable speed variation. Momentum will maintain the glide-path to a certain degree. Obviously this leads to a simpler method of stabilizing the approach. Turbine engines also have a spool-up delay. Applying power to regain the glide-path is less fruitful than changing pitch.
On the other hand piston engine aircraft will respond well using the conventional technique (attitude controls airspeed – power controls rate of descent). But this does not mean that the ‘point & power’ technique will not work, provided the student is taught to fly a consistent approach angle. An added advantage will be an automatic recovery to windshear. However in teaching the technique the student should be aware that it is a variation as the technique is not without some inherent dangers.
A student flying a short-field approach who rounds-out too high will experience an immediate increase in rate of descent and reduction in airspeed. If the high sink rate is recognized (and remember at such a low altitude airspeed is not part of the scan) his/her recovery technique to regain the aiming point will be an application of back pressure leading to premature stall and heavy landing. The correct technique is of course the application of power to arrest the rate of descent!
If the technique is used to promote early solo, reverse training must be used to re-train the student in the short-field landing. This can be accomplished by flying such approaches at 1.3 Vs, stressing the need to wind off throttle friction and insisting the student use power to control ROD (and aiming point) – attitude to pin the airspeed.
I guess I prefer the conventional method in light piston trainers and the ‘power & point’ method in jet aircraft.
RVR800
22nd Oct 2001, 19:12
Too much woffle here…
Too high:
Reduce power and lower/point nose to maintain speed within limits
Too low:
Increase power and raise/point nose to maintain speed within limits
BEagle
22nd Oct 2001, 22:09
I suspect that we’re probably all arguing about different descriptions of the same thing, to a large extent. ‘Point and Power’ is an approach technique, ‘Select Hold Trim’ to another attitude and manager the power appropriately to govern the IAS is waht is really being advocated – particularly where the ac has a lot of inertia. Power/RoD and Attitude/IAS only works in a steady state – and small pitch corrections to restore towards a glideslope with a relevant AT or mandraulic thrust control setting are the techniques used in the main; you’re ‘technically’ selecting a brief new attitude to aim at your glideslope ‘target point’, holding it until you’ve NB’d it’s working and trimmed (slightly) whilst managing the thrust to stop acceleration.
My mistake was to perceive that you were advocating a ‘needle chase’ rather than a corrective flightpath selection – we are, in fact, agreeing on the same thing. Blatant pushing and pulling to achieve the glideslope in an agricultural manner is what would upset the SLF!!
Amazing how ac manage to fly without knowing why!
[ 22 October 2001: Message edited by: BEagle ]
moggie
22nd Oct 2001, 22:47
I hear the sound of rapid backtracking. BEagle – you were promoting a different technique from the rest of us . Full stop. Re-read your posts if you do not agree – each one came closer to the rest of us until we magically all agreed!
Blah!
BEagle
23rd Oct 2001, 00:14
As you wish, moggie. Don’t feel much like arguing about anything at the moment as I’ve just read that Air Cdre Bruce Latton, ex-CFS Commandant, boss at OATS and all round good guy has just passed away from cancer.
Hope that anyone at J-de-la-F who knew him will raise una copita or two to his memory.
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