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Hello All,

Is anyone aware of the effect that different flap settings have on the flare attitude (sight picture) during landing? I understand that the attitude on approach will be lower for greater flap extension, however I am wondering if the actual 'deck angle,' or pitch attitude that you hold in the flare is affected. I also understand that the rate of round out and pitch up in the flare changes with flaps due to lower speed and different wing shape, but should I pitch for a different flare attitude when landing with flap settings out of the norm?
I fly a light, low-wing aircraft; mainly land with 30deg flap, but occasionally with 15/40 degrees.
Thank you.

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11 Answers

  1. Mark Kolber on Sep 15, 2013

    The attitude ultimately held in the flare is the one that (in a tricycle gear) will place the mains on the ground before the nosewheel.

    Is the airplane you are flying some strange type that has a weird interconnect between the flaps and the gear?

    If not, no. Your touchdown attitude is not affected by your flaps.

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  2. Pilot405617 on Sep 15, 2013

    Hi Mark,

    You don’t think that the flare attitude might be slightly higher with a clean wing than the attitude required with full flaps? While you could ultimately pitch for the same attitude every time, I am wondering if making a slight adjustment would result in better performance… For example, if I were landing with full flaps and consciously pitched for a slightly lower attitude in the flare, would it minimize floating?

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  3. Donnie on Sep 15, 2013

    I would tell you to try your theory and report back, but I fear that you’d wind up landing on the nose gear first. (Don’t do that.)

    What is the “better performance” that you’re aiming for? Shorter landing distance? Less float? Softer landing? For each of those, I would be changing other factors in my approach … not my pitch attitude as a function of flap setting.

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  4. Mark Kolber on Sep 16, 2013


    Hopefully after Donnie’s comment you now understand the point. Once in the flare/touchdown attitude, it’s no longer about aerodynamic tweaks of pitch. It’s about not bouncing, wheelbarrowing or porpoising. It’s more about the =ground= than the air.

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  5. Pilot405617 on Sep 16, 2013

    Okay, thanks guys.

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  6. Brian on Sep 16, 2013

    If you land with the stick in your lap the nose will be lower in a clean vs dirty configuration. For the same reason the airplane stalls at a lower nose attitude in a clean configuration at altitude.

    In any case, what Mark points out remains true; land on the mains first and hold the nose off. However, you can typically get the nose to a higher attitude in a full flapped configuration than you can in a clean configuration.

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  7. Mark Kolber on Sep 17, 2013

    ..of course, that one can raise the nose higher than needed for a landing on the mains doesn’t mean one should. Pilots have been known to touch down tail first (damaging the tail or tail tie-down ring) even in tricycle gear airplanes.

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  8. Brian on Sep 17, 2013


    How many small singles, or twins for that matter, have you flown where you could not land the aircraft with the stick full aft and the stall horn sounding for fear of a tail strike?

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  9. Mark Kolber on Sep 18, 2013

    Brian, I was not disagreeing with you. I didn’t say anything about the stick position, but the nose position. If one does it correctly, full aft stick will not result in a tail strike. Done incorrectly, less than full aft stick can.

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  10. Brian on Sep 18, 2013

    I was referring to both. Properly landing with full aft stick will result in a higher nose position with flaps down than with flaps up. We agree or don’t agree on this? I’m so confused..lol

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  11. Mark Kolber on Sep 18, 2013


    Don’t know and don’t care. My goal is to put the nose in the same position as it was at lift off — nosewheel clear of the ground — and keep it there until the nose drops by itself. That usually involves getting the stick back all the way. I don’t see any practical value in measuring it for different degrees of flaps so I can’t answer that question.

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