Some generalities about landing swept-wing jets.
Consistently decent landings ("good" landings are subject to some differences in definition) begin with a stablized approach. Ideally this would mean that we were aligned with the runway centerline and on the 3o
glideslope at the final approach fix, which is usually five or six nautical miles out.
The realities of traffic management at busy airports means that they will often ask us to maintain "at least 180 to the marker" or similar request. Where our landing ref speed might be around 140 or so, this might mean that we would (in the real world) cross the FAF with gear down and flaps at about the second notch, maybe 15 for a 737 and 2 for an A-320. These are approximates of course. Reaching the FAF we would immediately begin extending the flaps to the final setting and in any event the last three or four miles, the last 900' to 1200' of descent would be made fully configured.
If you sat on the jumpseat for this phase you might think it was all locked down and stabilized, but the atmosphere is a turbulent place. In older, more manual airplanes, like a DC-9 the pilot flying is truly flying. He is constantly making tiny corrections to deviations you might not have even seen. Pitch and roll to follow the localizer and glideslope, peeks out the window to confirm a three degree approach to the aiming markers. Almost constant minor adjustments of power to maintain proper speed and glideslope tracking.
When we get down into the runway environment, say crossing the threshhold at fifty feet (a 3o
glideslope is a 1-in-20 descent so 50' at the first brick of the runway and you touch down 1000' down - on the markers) it is more eyeballs out the window. This is the region of skill and finesse. We typically will look well down the runway and not up close to the plane. This gives us a sense of our speed, drift, height above touchdown and attitude.
There are several events
which make up a landing. Where they occur depends on the type of aircraft. I will run through them in order.
Begin the flare. This is often just a slight increase in pitch attitude, a degree or two to slow the descent. In smaller jets it may be down around twenty feet or so wheel height, or radar altitude. In a large jet it may be a hundred or so. This slows the descent, places the plane in a proper attitude for touchdown and begins consuming the excess energy.
Thrust reduction. This may be a gentle squeezing-off of the power to a simple placing the Airbus thrust switches in the OFF position, so to speak. Down final we may have been carrying something on the order of 70% or so. We will pull it off to flight idle. On touchdown it will drop to ground idle.
Touchdown. In the absence of a crosswind, it is just a matter of letting the increased pitch attitude and the idling engines bleed off the energy until, ideally, you run out of energy just as the wheels touch down, AT the aiming markers. Firm is good on a wet runway, smoothly if your ego demands it, but it is more important that the touchdown take place ON-Speed and in the right place than that it be smooth.
Begin braking. Brake commensurate with how many feet of runway lie between your touchdown point and the taxiway you are going to exit on. Reverse thrust early. With carbon brakes, heat them up early. If you are rolling to the far end of a twelve mile runway, let it roll. Good technique here is to take a quick look to confirm ground spoiler deployment.
Lower the nose to the runway. At some point the nosewheel steering will become more important than the rudder authority. It is a good thing to have the nosewheels on the ground when this happens. When it happens is a secret.
If you are going to be flying jet airliners, I'd recommend reading "Fly the Wing" by Jim Webb (ISU Press, ISBN # 0-8138-0545-7) It is still as good as anything I've ever read on the subject. My compliments to Captain Webb! I often see it in used book stores at considerable savings.
Hope that barrage helps.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.