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Another Crap Landing


pmccarthy
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After a three hour cross-country on Monday I was on mental autopilot when landing. Lost directional control in a crosswind and was heading for the grass beside the runway so put power on and went around. No problems with the second landing, I was fully alert.

 

What do you do to get the brain going after a trip, for landing? Mints? Caffeine pills? Slap yourself on the face? I could use some advice.

 

 

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hey there - mate you are not alone, i have that same issue. If I'm able, i will try to get myself to do a bit of piloting such as a steep turn or 2 or mentally rehearse a forced landing.. really anyting just to get my brain back under my control. Then some time before I call tower or the CTAF inbound call i mentally run through how I plan to approach the field, reacquaint myself wtih the speeds (and rpm's to get there) and just relax. It seems to help, when I can remember to do all that.

 

 

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I'm on high alert when i approach the cct area, let alone the the landing phase...

 

Downwind checks also are good.. tighten the belts when you do Hatches and Harnesses regardless. You are about to hit the ground (with or without style..lol)

 

Then I do a control check on downwind.. lightly check 3x axis (toes off brakes) especially the yaw. Wakes up your senses when the a/c skids and skates a bit but also affirms your control.

 

 

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You titled the Thread "Another Crap Landing" from that and your question I assume this isnot the first time this has happened. If I am correct and that is the case then you have a problem that needs to be addressed immediatly. I may not be a very experienced pilot, but I do class myself as an expert on fatigue. And especially concentration based fatigue.

 

Your description especially if it has happened more than once is almost certainly fatigue based.

 

This may sound of topic but please bear with me on this it is important. Having driven trucks for millions of klms and having done several fatigue management courses, I can place fatigue into levels. There are 5 of them. I hit level 4 at about 12 hours behind the wheel on the 3rd day of a week that includes 2 by 14 hour days preceeding. This assumes my complete 48 hr break prior to the first day. I class level 4 as Dangerous. It would NEVER PASS MY GRANDFATHER TEST. As a result I don't do 3 by 14 hour days even though the law allows me to.

 

How is this relevant. On my navs, i was hitting fatigue level 4 after about 3.5 to 4 hours. With a bit more time under my belt by the time I flew home from Orange in 2 by 5.5 hour days with regular breaks on the hour with each second break including a walk away from the plane I still hit fatigue level 4 at 5 hours. Remember fatigue level 4 in my opinion fails THE GRANDFATHER TEST.

 

Being totally aware of my own body signs from years of experience I am able to break the fatigue cycle for very short periods. This would give me the 5 to 10 mins I need to effect a good landing even at fatigue 4. But remember I have been doing this a very long time. By your description you were at least at fatigue 4.

 

Fatigue 4 is the easiest to recognise. On the road it is classically that moment when you realise you can't remember doing anything for the last 30 secs. Ie you worked automatically with no real concentration. 30 secs not 1 minute and certainly not 5 mins. Fatigue 4 according to the authorities is still safe. The equivelent of driving at 0.05 bac. It is not in my opinion. Lack of concentration for 30 secs in a truck or in a plane can kill someone.

 

Now I am not going to tell you how to break fatigue for for the time needed to land, but I will tell you how to avoid getting to it.

 

1. Regular breaks at not more than 1 hour intervals if you are getting to F4 at 3 hours.

 

2. Breaks to include total change in concentration levels. Ie do not land and check the fuel and oil then go again.

 

3. Every second break should be at least as long as a leg.

 

4. A power nap works wonders but do it right. Land get out of the plane and have a nap under a shady tree.

 

5. Micro lapses in concentration are at the top end of F3. Never go past there. Land and get a motel.

 

This is not aimed at people who do long legs regularly but at the once a month cross country flyer/driver/rider.

 

It may save your life.

 

F4 fails Geoff's own Grandfather Test. Would I drive that truck loaded like that in that mechanical condition and in my mental/physical state past my Grandkids school if my wife was there picking them up. If the answer is honestly yes then you can drive it anywhere. If the answer is no then it cannot move. It can relate to flying would I do this with my wife/grandkids in the plane?

 

 

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Experience will fix allot of the inattentive issues but not all. I pick a point in the approach where I'll "put the brain into gear" so to speak, normally passing 6000 for me. At this point I'll do a slow and thorough "flow/scan" around the aircraft and note what is left to come ie flaps/fuel/gear/pitch ect.

 

After this its all about the approach and I know that I've not forgotten anything. With this if you are tired you have limited what can be forgotten and what is left to think about but, most importantly got the brain back into gear.

 

 

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Particularly after a two or three hour cross country, or after a challenging flight (weather/nav/people throwing up etc), I make a mental effort to get fully alert before the let down for the destination field - go through it in my head, visualise what the wind's going to do etc. If I'm not sloppy on the easy things at the start, then I don't have those little things to correct and can give each stage my full attention. I'm much better now than when I just dropped in, did the circuit half asleep, then tried to focus after the roundout.

 

 

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It would be much better if you were not to get so fatigued in the first place. A couple of years ago I bought a new Lightspeed headset and was amazed that the fatigue level I felt after a long flight was almost non existent. Previously a 4-5 hour flight left me pretty wrung out. The new ANR headset makes soooo much difference. In fact I regard it as the best aviation money I have ever spent. I only wish I had done it years ago, my hearing would probably be much better as a result. I don't know what type of headset you are using at present but if it is not ANR it is definitely worth a try. Noise and vibration are prime causes of fatigue. Greg.

 

 

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After a three hour cross-country on Monday I was on mental autopilot when landing. Lost directional control in a crosswind and was heading for the grass beside the runway so put power on and went around. No problems with the second landing, I was fully alert.What do you do to get the brain going after a trip, for landing? Mints? Caffeine pills? Slap yourself on the face? I could use some advice.

Hydrate - have a drink of water before landing.

 

 

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Good ideas and quite perceptive. It had been a challenging flight, dodging around thunderstorms, and dehydration was probably a factor. When I think about it, I get dozy after two hours or so driving, so this shouldn't be a surprise. Yes, I have an ANR headset, it does help. And it wasn't the first time that I fluffed a landing after a long trip. This time I was trying to get in before the storm hit, which it did about 30 minutes after landing, and the crosswind was gusty. But nothing that I shouldn't be able to handle easily if I was properly alert. I have never tried Red Bull but maybe a drinking a can at the ten mile inbound call would be worth a try.

 

 

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I would think after a long flight to get your mind going for the landing, maybe instead of joining crosswind or downwind set yourself up and do a complete circuit or 2 to get your mind tuned up for landing, maybe an extra couple of minutes doing circuits is better than a stuffed up landing and having to go around anyway..or worse..

 

David

 

 

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It's fatigue but also other factors. Flying the plane along unless it's constantly turbulent is pretty non demanding and you just haven't lifted yourself up to a heightened level of response that the landing may require. The same thing happens at 3 am OTA with your circadian rhythm (24 hour clock). If you did a couple of figure 8 turns it would show how much your coordination may have dropped off.

 

If pilots did a sim test after a long night flight it wouldn't likely be their best. Nev

 

 

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Be careful using caffeine as a wake up without also drinking at least twice that amount of water. Or you will find once the caffeine wears off you will be a lot worse off (dehydrated and fatigued and it will hit you quicker than you may notice)

 

I'm a bit lucky inasmuch as after almost all of my long flights I am landing at a property and have the liberty to fly a few different orbits, that combined with the real possibility of big potholes and kangaroos on landing generally wakes me up plenty:yes:

 

 

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When you scare your self the adrenalin does it.. IF you fly a taildragger you are on the edge of the seat anyhow. Nev

Lol. Yeah tell me about it. Though with a high performance taildragger packing a radial engine, I can't really see what my landing is going to turn out like until after I hit the ground anyway! 004_oh_yeah.gif.82b3078adb230b2d9519fd79c5873d7f.gif

 

 

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All good fatigue information, except coffee, which as a diuretic, reduces the P stop intervals....or gives you a great deal of discomfort and distraction.

 

However, what I posted about was for more adrenaline driven flights, which I think was similar to the McCarthy experience. It doesn't hurt to do this for all flights either.

 

 

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WE probably don't drink enough water, one reason being fairly obvious. You need to Pee. You might also hit a low blood sugar figure, but I wouldn't recommend a high GI fix as might be good for an athlete who is burning of the energy..Something that digests a bit slower would be better.. An apple or boiled egg perhaps? Consideration of these things is ,...... guess what? Human Factors. (Don't be put off by that).. Nev

 

 

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They don't care about human factors any more, they are more interested in you're English comprehension of their stupid TEM model.

 

Really peeves me as human factors COULD be a really interesting subject with allot of important information. But it isn't.

 

 

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Good ideas and quite perceptive. It had been a challenging flight, dodging around thunderstorms, and dehydration was probably a factor. When I think about it, I get dozy after two hours or so driving, so this shouldn't be a surprise. Yes, I have an ANR headset, it does help. And it wasn't the first time that I fluffed a landing after a long trip. This time I was trying to get in before the storm hit, which it did about 30 minutes after landing, and the crosswind was gusty. But nothing that I shouldn't be able to handle easily if I was properly alert. I have never tried Red Bull but maybe a drinking a can at the ten mile inbound call would be worth a try.

This would be one of the harder situations, weather enroute mixed with a bit of get homeitis and then a demanding approach. You really need to make sure you are certain all the T's have been dotted so to speak. As for the red bull. I avoid caffene throughout the day (still can't wake up without one) as I find that my attention span will be Limited although more focused ( flat out busy achieving nothing so to speak), and in a demanding situation I find I'm less disciplined. Other seem to swear by it.

 

One thing I find harder then others is a break throughout the day. If I fly early morning then nothing till late arvo I struggle to stay focused.

 

 

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I went to Canberra for I think the second course, and with a few others tried to get the course more orientated to OUR situation. I didn't go there with that intention as I didn't know the exact course content. I understand it WAS altered somewhat, aferwards. What I saw of the implementation didn't impress me. Some FTF's may have done a good job in the circumstances. This should be taken seriously by the whole industry. Companies did their own thing and ONE I saw that can be nameless for now was a barely disguised attempt to "help" the company out when ever possible. It's been generally corrupted. Done properly it would be a digital programme (interactive) that you work through in your own time, that has a follow up component. so it isn't just something you just tick off. It has to be part of a safety culture. There was a lot of vehement opposition to it at the time. It's not the first course I have done and mostly the people who reckon they don't need it are the ones who do badly on the courses. (the fair dinkum Courses that take a couple of days). Nev

 

 

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some meaningful and informative comments. thanks for the read.

 

If I can chime in with my 2 cents (disclaimer: I have never done a cross country flight. only have my gfpt and so reflecting on that experience). I was doing 3 sometimes 4 sessions a week. after my first solo, I got to the point were I hit a hard wall. when I was up flying it just always felt like a mechanical process and not one of learning. this is something to keep in mind when I do go back to flying.

 

 

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This has sort of been covered by a number of the replies - but in my view its up to you to actively get yourself in the right frame of mind before you decide to go ahead with a landing. It may be worth adding a line your your pre-landing checklist of doing a self assessment - sort of a wakeup call - am I ready to land. The key area of concern I saw in the initial statement was you were on mental autopilot - I think we all get that at some stage in various activities - but with a concious effort you can for a short period pull yourself out of it without resorting to adrenalin hits !

 

 

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