March 2016 Issue

Gears, Flaps, and the Pilot's Bill of Rights 2

I found “Landing Re-Dos” (January 2016) to be an excellent review of rejected landings. However, I take issue with the suggestion that it is generally a good idea to retract the landing gear before retracting the flaps to a mid/approach setting. According to the FAA’s Airplane Flying Handbook and unless otherwise specified in the POH, it is generally recommended that, after applying maximum allowable takeoff power and adjusting pitch attitude, the flaps should be partially retracted before retracting the landing gear. This is required because, in most airplanes, full flaps produce significantly more drag than the landing gear. Also, in the event the airplane inadvertently touches down as the rejected landing is commenced, you obviously want the gear down and locked, and should not consider otherwise until a positive rate of climb is established.

Philip C. Segal
via email

We don’t disagree; it’s generally preferable to retract a portion of the extended flaps first. And the POH should be followed in any case we’re low and slow, and need to execute a maximum-performance go-around.

aircraft wing flaps switch

Two additional points, though. One, many gear-retraction systems are slower than we like; some can take 20 precious seconds to stow the gear. An airplane with electric flaps also will take some time to retract half of them, though usually not as much as the gear requires. On the other hand, manual gear systems or those with faster mechanisms don’t take long at all.

We’ve flown a lot of airplanes where getting the gear handle repositioned and the wheels started up once full power and a positive climb rate have been established saves us some time. Then we can select the proper flap position and, about the time the gear retraction cycle completes, we will have reconfigured the airplane for initial climb, except perhaps for the last notch of flaps. It’s a workload thing.

The second point is that most go-arounds don’t start on the deck, and there’s little risk of descending so low the extended wheels might touch. Thanks for allowing us to expand on that article!

PBOR2 Observations

While the article “Analyzing PBOR2” in your February 2016 issue was relatively factual, the editorial reflects a basic lack of knowledge regarding the FAA medical process and also of public health/occupational medicine. While you are “planning a larger article focused on those specifics” for a future issue, you might want to have a conversation with the American Board of Family Medicine, the American Medical Association and the American Board of Internal Medicine to see how they feel about signing off on a pilot’s fitness to fly. I think you will be interested in the response you get.

There are a lot of pilots who are going to find that getting medical clearance to fly will be harder, not easier, under this proposed law. My fear is that the process will be foisted back on AMEs without liability protections nor the ability to order tests to verify fitness without a patient/physician relationship. These are only a few of the potential problems with this proposal.

In my humble opinion, this law started off as a potential threat to public safety and now, with the changes, will become an administrative nightmare for many. Conversations with folks in FAA medical have led me to fear that from a variety of perspectives.

Finally, I am confused by the statement that the “FAA and industry has more than 10 years of experience with sport pilot certificate rules.” I don’t quite get the connection. Light sport has had more than a few medical incapacitation accidents and does not have a very good safety record. I don’t see the point the author is trying to make with this statement.

Gregory Pinnell, M.D.
Freeland, Mich.

Thanks for the insights. The data we’ve seen show the lack of a medical certificate requirement for sport pilots has not had an impact on accident rates. Which is a different issue than the accident rate for light sport aircraft.