Aviation Check List

GUMPS is not enough!

Yesterday, I read about another general aviation inadvertent gear up landing. I wonder if the pilot used a written check list for landing?

While doing flight tests or training in complex aircraft, I often see the pilot use the printed check list religiously for pre flight, starting and run up. Then off we go. After completing the required maneuvers, we return to the airport for landing and what do you know, the pilot now decides to use a “MEMORY” check list (GUMPS) for one of the most important phases of flight, the landing.
Well, in my view, a memory check list is not a check list at all. We were taught to use written check lists from the start because we know that as human beings, we can forget things, especially when we are busy like in the traffic pattern.

When I question this procedure, I am often told that their instructor has taught them to do it this way. Some tell me that it is so important that they do it three times, on down wind, base and final. I agree that this is an important phase of flight, maybe important enough to actually use a written check list.

Some say that there is too much going on in the pattern and there is no time to actually complete a written check list. That’s a good point. Many of the landing check lists I have seen include everything from soup to nuts and yes, that can be distracting at a bad time. It is these long lists in part that drive people to use a memory list in the pattern.

I suggest that you select those items on landing that can get you hurt and make a short list. That should only be about three or four items.  Take any other items left over and make a top of descent check list so you can get them out of the way before the busy time.  Now, put your short list in a spot where you can see it while you are flying, Velcro it to a window post or a blank spot on the panel. Then it is easy to review those three or four important items on down wind or wherever you do your landing check list. If you like to do GUMPS, do it as many times as you like but complete your written list before landing.  If you do, you won’t land inadvertently gear up, guaranteed.

My guess is that most every pilot who has ever landed gear up did not use a written check list. If they had, it would have told them to put the gear DOWN prior to landing. So, in my view, using a memory check list sets you up for a distraction at a bad time and puts you in the group that is most likely to land gear up.  If you use a written check list for landing, as you do for other phases of flight and as the professionals do, you have put yourself in a different group.

Some feel that a gear up landing is only injurious to the pilots pride and the airplane belly. That’s not always the case; visit this NTSB report of a gear up landing that was fatal</a>.