Pilot's tip of the week

ILS Approach: Controlling Airspeed

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Subscriber question:

"I'm a fairly new IFR pilot, and find it difficult to stay ahead of the airplane during instrument approaches. My instructor told me to slow things down, but I'm concerned about arriving traffic that may be flying faster. When should I start slowing down to set myself up for a comfortable approach?" - Rick B.

Bob Nardiello:

Airspeed control really begins about 20 miles from the airport.

Controlling_Airspeed_Updated.pngBegin to slow the airplane down well away from the airport. Why do we want to do this? Well, it will give us more time to think, it will also put us in a better position to descend when the time comes to descend.

Many pilots think their airplane will not fly below 150 knots. This isn’t true. As a result, they make life very difficult for themselves intercepting the localizer at high speed.

Get the speed down, put out ten degrees of flaps. This will assist you in any descents you have to make and give you a lot more time to think.

Use the landing gear if that is appropriate in the airplane you are in. Some airplanes have a higher landing gear operating speed than they do flap speed. So, if the landing gear will help you slow down, use it.

Don’t be afraid to slow down your airplane. Just because others on the approach may be doing 170 to 210 knots – might be jet traffic for instance – the fact that you are going to fly the airplane at 100 knots is of no consequence to anyone else. ATC will sequence you appropriately.”