By Ivan van der Schaar

The precautionary landing is done when we are lost, running out of fuel or daylight or in bad weather.

The first thing to do when deciding on the forced landing is to reduce speed and select first stage of flap. This lowers the nose for better visibility and reduces the speed to give you more time to select a proper field. Good fields are roads, grass lands or agricultural fields. All these kind of fields have got pro's and con's so please do use pilot's discretion and common sense when selecting a field.

With the field selected plan your circuit.

Try to determine where the wind is coming from.

Attempt to join overhead the field. Select a marker on the downwind leg abeam the downwind threshold approximately 100 meters out. This point is important as it is where your base turn is judged from. It also plays a vital role in the Forced landing which we will look at later…

From overhead the field route on downwind to your marker or key point. Whilst on downwind asses your situation.
How much time do you have?
Is there any civilization around etc?
Also remember it is a low level circuit. Max height 500ft if weather and terrain permits.

Upon passing the key point judge the base and final approach turn. Plan to turn final approach to the right of the landing field. This is now your inspection pass and enables you to inspect the field as it will be in clear vision to your left.

Now is an important deciding factor. If time is very limited do one inspection run? Two inspection runs are preferred. So for the purpose of this exercise we will do two runs. One higher and one lower.

On the higher pass look out for power lines and check to see if the field is going to be long enough for landing. Re-enter your low level circuit and and prepare for the low inspection. The low inspection can be flown at 50ft. But once again pilot discretion with regards to obstacles and sloping terrain.

Upon turning final approach to the right of the strip inspect the undershoot area for obstacles. Check the condition of the strip for holes uneven surfaces life stock or any hindering obstacles. After passing the strip check the overshoot area same as above and climb back up to circuit on left down wind.

With the decision taken to land in the field we now have quite a bit to do on down wind. So set the aircraft up nicely and start early on down wind.

By this time your passengers are really uneasy at what you were doing so brief them on what you are planning. Ask them to take sharp objects out of their pockets and remove their glasses. Also ensure that all harnesses are tight and review the emergency exits. Unlatch the doors. Another good thing to brief you passengers on is what to do once we have come to a stop. If the aircraft comes to a stop intact normal exit procedures will be followed. If the landing is not as planned but end up in catastrophe the use of emergency exits, escape routes away from propellors and the location of first aid kits is very important. But keep the briefing short as time is limited on down wind.

Next thing is the PAN call. Call PAN three times. This is regarded as a blind call for example: PAN, PAN, PAN. Alpha Bravo Charlie executing a precautionary landing in a field approximately 15 miles East of Prieska.

Now it is time to concentrate on the task at hand i.e. flying the aircraft. DO normal downwind checks. Once passed your key point judge the base turn accurately or as accurately as you can. If you are high fly a little further out. If you are low keep it tighter but give yourself enough space to execute a good Base and final approach turn.

On base do your base checks. On final approach do the final approach checks. Plan to land full flap and as slow as possible for a short field landing. Remember this is an engine assisted approach and landing.

Whilst practising precautionary landings overshoot on final approach. Once the climb is established do the after take-off checks. If you are faced with a real life situation continue the approach. Aim to touch down at the beginning of the field in a tail low attitude, try to keep this attitude for as long as possible. Once the aircraft has come to stop reassess your situation. Is all in tackt? Do we need to hurriedly vacate the aircraft?

Once the aircraft is secure and everyone is safe the PIC now faces a huge amount of tasks. Firstly ensure all crew and passengers are ok and accounted for. You will need help. At some stage someone is going to start missing you believe it or not. So try to contact ATC by means of cell phone or radio.

The cell phone is a handy piece of equipment. I always ensure mine is fully charged before departing on a long flight. A flat battery on a cell phone is as useless as….

To contact other aircraft or ATC by radio use the area frequency or 124.8 depending on where you are. You can also use the distress frequency, 121.5, airliners always keep a listening watch on this frequency.

After help is obtained and everybody including ATC and loved ones or the aircraft operator at home has been informed. It is time to assess the aircraft. Do we need fuel? Can it be flown out of where we landed? This information is important to relay as it can help speed up the recovery process… We can go into detail about survival on the ground after such an ordeal but that is not the aim of this written...

Well that is that for this month. Next month we will look at the forced landing. Enjoy the flying until then and keep it safe.


Ivan's Aviation Minute

Copyright © 2023 Pilot's Post PTY Ltd
The information, views and opinions by the authors contributing to Pilot’s Post are not necessarily those of the editor or other writers at Pilot’s Post.