Tail Strike on Landing

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Renesh Kumaresan, May 15, 2017.

  1. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Super Moderator Management Council Member

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    Don't be worried about tail strikes. It's far more common and concerning to hit the nosewheel first and cause a prop strike or other damage.

    Your instructor wouldn't have signed you off to do solo flights and landings if he/she didn't think you were competent.
     
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  2. 3 in the green

    3 in the green Pre-takeoff checklist

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    good lord... LOL!
     
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  3. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    @Skyrys62 started it! LOL!
     
  4. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That would be an odd angle of attack...
    And quite the vortex generator
    Omg....ban me please
     
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  5. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    The dishwasher in the kitchen at my work, would like to weigh in on this topic.

    [​IMG]

    And someone keeps dumping out the last of the coffee on their way out, "cleaning" up the place and all, and I'm kinda annoyed by that. I used to toss it in my WalMart Yeti knock-off for the drive home.
     
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  6. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Silly jokes aside... the advice about sitting in the plane while someone is pushing the tail down is probably good advice.
    I'm kind of the opposite.. I'm worried I'm not pulling back enough and I'm going to jam the nosewheel into the ground. So I end up flaring too high then dropping it from about 2 feet
     
  7. Dana

    Dana Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Its also a good way to damage the horizontal stabilizer if that's what you're pushing one.

    I've seen a lot of flight school 150s with battered tail tiedown rings, or with skid plates added to protect them.
     
  8. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    The problem with that is how many "push the tail down"... they're often pushing on things that shouldn't really be pushed on, or only pushed on on one side at a time... there's nothing about the forces involved in pushing on a tail that are like flight forces exactly, so I'm not a fan. About the closest I'd get is doing it from the tail tie down.
     
  9. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yes no stabilizer pushes for sure. The DA 40 is relatively easy to raise the nose by pushing just at the beginning of the empannage. We've done it more than once to straighten the castering nose wheel.... But no one was sitting inside either.
    As long as it's done safely for the plane I think it would be an excellent orientation technique.
     
  10. deonb

    deonb Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    You guys went off an a tangent here.
     
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  11. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Lol..What was your first sine?
     
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  12. asicer

    asicer Cleared for Takeoff

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    The plane was only a couple of months old so not a lot of people had much experience in it at the time.

    Probably bounced off the tail ring skid guard.

    I'll bet the CFI taught that it's part of a soft field landing.
     
  13. Z06_Mir

    Z06_Mir Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks, sure didn't feel like it when my student started crying in my office today but that's okay.

    I do wish that SOMEWHERE in the learning-to-teach materials there were abstract ideas like that. It has taken me several hundred hours of teaching to come up with techniques like that. Or how to take a break from the syllabus and go have fun.. or anything. But there aren't so we learn by trial and error. And I hope it helps someone out there. I know it has helped instructors I have trained and instructors I teach with.
     
  14. Rebel Lord

    Rebel Lord Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Pretty sure him being 14 he hasn't soloed, pretty sure he meant do all the work on the lands while the cfi watches
     
  15. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Super Moderator Management Council Member

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    I missed the age aspect, thanks. If your instructor is in the plane, then he/she will instruct you if the attitude needs adjustment.
     
  16. Ryanb

    Ryanb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    So basically practice slow flight..? There's virtually no other benefit to this suggestion.
     
  17. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The tail tiedown ring is there for a reason... ;)

    I've seen a number of 172 trainers over the years with the tail tie-down ring ground off from dragging on the ground.....
     
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  18. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    I most often saw that with students practicing simulated soft-field takeoffs. 150's and 172's. Stick all the way back to lighten the load on the nosewheel, but overdoing it by holding it full aft a little too long and BAM! - the tail hits. Never seen damage beyond a worn tie-down ring, but I suppose it could happen.
     
  19. Matt Brasher

    Matt Brasher Pre-Flight

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    A 177 certainly has the elevator authority to give the tail a good smack on landing, with plenty of yoke travel left.
     
  20. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow En-Route

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    Yeah, my SE Cessna experience is limited to 152/172/182.
     
  21. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Depends on year and model.

    That was certainly true of the early fixed-gear 177s, and they gained a reputation for tailstrikes from it.

    I find the RG's with the stabilator leading edge slots really, really like to land a bit on the flat side.
     
  22. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    Well, some Skyhawks require a near tail strike to land and stop. Oh wait, that's an A-4 Skyhawk, never mind, move along. :D

    [​IMG]
     
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  23. Hippike

    Hippike Filing Flight Plan

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    The 172S I train in was out for weeks when a student did a tail strike. That part where the tail skid and the tie down ring is installed cracked into pieces. The CFI, of course, was fired. I felt bad for the plane :(
     
  24. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    That seems a bit draconian.

    Instructors walk a fine line. They gave to let the student make mistakes, and only take over when safety is compromised or damage imminent. It's very easy to misjudge - it happens.

    I don't ever recall a student of mine damaging a nosewheel plane with a tail strike. But a couple of times hard, tail-first landings in one of my two Citabrias forced the tailwheel up into the bottom of the rudder, bending a u-channel up a but and requiring "field repairs".

    And I didn't fire myself!
     
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  25. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    FWIW, when I bought my Cherokee years ago, the tail hook had quite significant signs of tail drags/strikes. Heck "signs", no, not just simple signs, the thing was half gone. :) So somebody must have put a few tail strikes on her.
     
  26. SbestCFII

    SbestCFII Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Practice until you find the right sight picture for the approach and flare for the airplane you're flying. It will vary with each plane you fly. Now, a little off the subject...

    I saw a DA20 tail strike practicing a soft field take-off at KTTA in 2014. The tail struck as the plane rotated. The plane jumped up and then the tail came up off the bounce and the plane pitched down. The student then pitched back up to recover, but at the low airspeed stalled and rolled left, came down and impacted between the parallel taxiway and the tarmac, bounced back into the air, still stalled, and rolled right...the wing slid in-between the wings of two parked airplanes and then re-impacted on the tarmac. The plane was destroyed, but the pilot had only scrapes and bruises.
     
  27. Tantalum

    Tantalum Line Up and Wait

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    I used to have the same worry my first few landings in my training days.. but I quickly found that in the planes I fly (Archer, Skyhawk, sometimes Cirrus) that if your airspeeds and flare height are correct a tailstrike is almost impossible, I have the stick all the way back and it seems the mains touch only a little before the nose gear

    But that requires getting the airspeeds and flare height correct, at least for me.. so that's where I put nearly all my energy if I'm on very short final

    As a side note... I did notice that the tail tie down on the Skyhawk went from being untouched (impressive, assuming it's the same tiedown since 1978) to having an abrasion on it and a very slight back bend last time I went out to preflight.. so it's obviously possible. The bottom of the Cirrus' rubber tail tie down is also worn down.. so people have found a way to drag the tail

    What was a little more disturbing, at one of the old clubs I flew at one of the wing tips had a very suspicious set of scratches on it. They weren't severe at all, but I'm not sure what else would cause length wise scratches half way up the wing tip just below the nav lights.. possible hangar rash I suppose, but it was very suspect
     
  28. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yesterday, I had the my CFI push the tail down to the ground on the DA40 while I sat in the cockpit.
    I was amazed at how little the sight picture changed.
    The horizon while level, was I'm guessing 6-7 inches (go ahead with the jokes here :^) above the glareshield.
    After he pushed the tail to the ground, the horizon never disappeared. Maybe about 1/2-1 inch still showing. I expected to be looking at the sky.

    I know this will be different for the other planes, but I was quite surprised.
     
  29. Tantalum

    Tantalum Line Up and Wait

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    If the plane is stationary then wouldn't pushing the tail down, especially with someone in the front, cause a fairly noticeable compression of the mains and affect the sight picture? Never flown a DA40, but perhaps that would have something to do with why the sight picture changed so little?
     
  30. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The weight wouldn't change, only the angle of force on the mains.
    But honestly, I couldn't see it making much of a difference.
     
  31. Tantalum

    Tantalum Line Up and Wait

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    I feel like the weight would change a little, the CG sits before the mains, so pushing the tail down would shift some of the weight the NG was supporting to the mains, plus the pressure of the person pushing the tail down has to go somewhere too, so I bet the mains do pick up some additional weight

    ^but that's in my minds eye, and ultimately it's probably somewhere in the ball park of 50-150 lbs

    Either way, thanks for trying it out and reporting back, something I was always curious on myself to see what a "tailstrike angle" would look like from inside the plane
     
  32. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You are correct, it would transfer from the nose gear.
    Without me in the seat, it took surprisingly little force to push the tail down. So easy I couldn't imagine the mains giving way enough to make a noticeable sight picture difference.
    With my fatass in there, who knows lol.
    But I'd think the main gear would handle quite a bit more force than that before any significant deformation took place.

    Now you have me wondering how much it does compress the mains when I get in.

    I'll sound like a girl when I ask my CFI 'does this plane make me look fat'?
     
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  33. Kbedinbound

    Kbedinbound Filing Flight Plan

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    "I'll sound like a girl when I ask my CFI 'does this plane make me look fat'?"

    It's taken a while, but I've learned to never answer those questions... ;)
     
  34. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You have a tailhook on your Cherokee? How does the nosegear handle the catapult? Or are you just stuck on the carrier after you land?
     
  35. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    LOL
    I see my mistake. :) Not really sure what to call it, maybe a "tie-down thingy"? :)
     
  36. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Tie down ring. Maybe a skid if it's installed (those aren't stock, but they are really common).
     
  37. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A couple thousand hours in, I've never had a tail strike on landing. I have had a couple on takeoff! But don't worry about it. It would be really difficult to have a damage-causing tail strike on an otherwise normal landing. Maybe even completely impossible.

    Ditto those who say to have someone push the tail to the ground while you're sitting in the plane. I'm sure it's quite a bit higher than you'd expect.

    You'll also probably not be able to make the landing gear break *if* you land mains first. And don't even think about vertical speed, it's not important at that point - The VSI can take up to 15 seconds to catch up with what's going on, so it'll never be accurate during landing and you're far more likely to damage the plane if you're looking inside the cockpit at that point.

    Your instructor is telling you to hold the nose off longer in the flare *so you don't touch nose first and damage the landing gear!*

    Normally, the approach speed is about 1.3x the stall speed, which is plenty of momentum and extra energy to flare without adding power.

    Think through the physics sitting on the ground - You can't think too much while you're actually trying to land:

    1) When you flare, you're arresting the vertical speed. If you don't flare enough and contact hard on the mains, that's OK - They'll take a helluva beating! What you don't want to do is hit the nose gear hard, as it is much more fragile than the mains.
    2) If you over-do the flare, you'll "balloon" and go back up a little. DO NOT PUT THE NOSE DOWN, as if you do you'll likely hit nose-first. If you ballooned because you pulled too fast and hard, keep back pressure on the yoke/stick; the plane will slow down and start to come back down on its own. If you don't have enough energy left to keep you flying until you get all the way down, just go around. If you ballooned because your approach was too fast, just go around anyway.
    3) If you don't flare enough, you'll also hit nose first. Don't do that. If you do hit nose first, go around! If you don't, you risk a porpoise and a prop strike.
    4) Forward speed: You should have just the right amount, every time. If you get to 100 feet AGL and you're too slow OR too fast, go around.
    5) Being too fast means you'll need a lower angle of attack for the same amount of lift, and you'll likely hit nose first. Go around. Landing accidents are more likely from going too fast than going too slow.
    6) Being too slow can only happen if you're so slow that the flare stalls you. For this to happen, you'd probably need to be within 5 knots of the stall before you flared. Don't do that.
    7) If you can't sense the correct way to flare right away, don't worry about it. Focus on having a stable approach at the correct speed first. Then, level off just above the runway and pull the power out. At that point, drag is greater than thrust and you WILL slow down, which is exactly what you want to happen. As you slow down, you'll need a progressively higher angle of attack to keep lift equal to weight. So, if you can't sense the flare right, just level off just above the runway, reduce power to idle, count to two, and just start to slowly pull back. You will slow down, and the plane will settle onto the runway.
    8) Don't think you're done when you've touched down. I used to be so focused on the touchdown that as soon as the mains touched I would release all backpressure and the nose would kind of flop down. Unless the winds are really gusty, keep the same amount of backpressure after touchdown and let the nose settle onto the runway on its own. It's way nicer for both the owner of the airplane and for your future passengers. :)

    Good luck!
     
  38. WannFly

    WannFly Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    i was on the same boat as you, as i am approaching the threshhold, see hte ground rushing up and add power... CFI finally took the power control over from me and didnt give it back until i got used to the ground coming up. ask your CFI to control the power as you land, helps a lot and you dont have an option to add power no matter how desperate you are. all you can control is the airspeed with pitch
     
  39. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    I aim to have power smoothly back to idle by at least 50' or so. Higher is better. The sooner you take power out of the equation, the easier it is to focus on other stuff.

    If your instructor is amenable, a bunch of power-off approaches from abeam the numbers might help.

    It's often when "chopping" the power at some point that it can feel like the bottom is falling out and the ground rushing up.
     
  40. abqtj

    abqtj Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My instructor did just this with me today! We were discussing the flare and how I tend to land flat. He wanted to show me how much I could pull the nose up and still not strike the tail and also show me the sight picture out the windshield.

    It was a great visual demonstration.
     
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