titanmiller
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Hardest Airliner To Land?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:30 pm

I was wondering if there is an airliner that is definitively 'hard' to land compared to others? I crew the KC-135 and have always heard pilots discussing how it is a very difficult aircraft to land properly. Do any other aircraft require a great deal of skill (beyond the normal level) to land?
 
MoltenRock
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:53 pm

While I'm not a pilot I know several. I've always heard the DC10 was a tricky beast to land. I sincerely miss the NWA DC10s they used on domestic runs.
 
CosmicCruiser
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:15 pm

Not the DC-10 but the MD-11 can be a handfull.
 
DashTrash
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:20 pm

Dash 8's are a pain in the rear to land. I don't know anyone who hasn't opened some overheads at least once.
 
2H4
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:51 pm

The 727 is often described as challenging and rewarding. The main gear are positioned behind the center of rotation, so if you increase pitch to arrest the rate of descent, you'll effectively drive the mains downward, hard into the runway.
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sf260
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:36 pm

A Concorde pilot told me it was very difficult to make a nice, smooth landing with it. You can not really flare the plane, as you do with other airliners, basically you can only fly it to the ground, and hope you do it softly...
 
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tb727
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:10 pm

Quoting 2H4 (Reply 4):
The 727 is often described as challenging and rewarding. The main gear are positioned behind the center of rotation, so if you increase pitch to arrest the rate of descent, you'll effectively drive the mains downward, hard into the runway.

The best landings of your career and your worst lol. You grease them on one day and the next day, or even the same day, kaaablamo! Depends a lot on weight and CG. A light one is just about impossible to brush on, you almost always skip it.
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:49 am

Quoting 2H4 (Reply 4):
you'll effectively drive the mains downward, hard into the runway.

I've never flown any airline size jet that a late or continuing flare will drive the mains into the ground, including the 727, DC-10 and MD-11.
 
PGNCS
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:17 am

In my experience (DC-9, MD-80/90, A-320, B-727, B-737, B-747-4, B-757, B-767, L-1011) the hardest to land consistently was without question the B-727. Friends tell me the MD-11 is worse, though I have no firsthand knowledge of it. The L-1011, B-747-4, and B-737 (classic) are the easiest to land in my opinion, and the A-320 series is great but can be a bit trickier in a gusty crosswind. I like the B-757 best overall of the Boeings, though some people really are partial to the B-767. Part of it is experience in type, but even very experienced B-727 guys get surprised with a real stunner from time to time.
 
mrskyguy
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:44 am

Quoting 2H4 (Reply 4):
The 727 is often described as challenging and rewarding. The main gear are positioned behind the center of rotation, so if you increase pitch to arrest the rate of descent, you'll effectively drive the mains downward, hard into the runway.

Bingo. Chasing greasers in a 72' will give anyone a headache. As you've perfectly and succinctly illustrated, rotating behind the center of axis on a 727 definitely drives the mains in. I always liked a good 3 degree approach with a little burp of power to replace the flare.. if done right, the old lady in 7B would keep her dentures in and might even smile before she hit the jetway.
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futureualpilot
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:59 am

I know the Saab 340 can get moody pretty easily, even when you are on speed and think you have it just right. Different prop assemblies can change the characteristics of the airplane in the flare too. A straight landing gear with not a whole lot of travel doesn't do you any favors to disguise a cruncher. From what I hear, the Q400 can be tough too, the long fuselage prevents much of a flare, and the power levers are sensitive so little changes make a big difference.
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Max Q
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:20 am

If you look at the accident / incident record it has to be the MD11.


B727 can be unforgiving.



B767 landing gear forward trail design is unforgiving if you do not remove all drift, otherwise easy to land.



B757, generally easy to land but a bit of a handful in gusty winds, better to use Flaps 25, and can be hard to land the nosewheel smoothly, tends to 'slam down'
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pilotpip
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:42 pm

I find the landings in the E-170 inconsistient. You have what you think is a nice landing, and the bottom falls out in the last couple feet. The main struts are very short and the ground spoilers are very effective. For whatever reason, the 175 is more consistient for me. I think it has to do with the higher wing loading.
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EGGD
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:53 pm

Ask any pilot and I'm sure most would say the type that they currently fly..

Personally I think the 757 is very easy to land reasonably well (on a decent day), but very rare to get the 'are we down yet?' comments from the back especially as Max Q mentioned when bringing the nose down. From what I've seen, the 737NG's don't look particularly easy to land well out of the newest breed of airliners.
 
spacecadet
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:26 pm

Quoting EGGD (Reply 13):
the 737NG's don't look particularly easy to land well out of the newest breed of airliners.

What makes the NG's harder to land than the classics? You would think airliners would improve over time??
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:10 pm

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 7):
I've never flown any airline size jet that a late or continuing flare will drive the mains into the ground, including the 727, DC-10 and MD-11.

I meant to say that a late or continuing flare will always drive the gear in the ground.
 
pilotpip
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:34 pm

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 14):

What makes the NG's harder to land than the classics? You would think airliners would improve over time??

More efficient wing. Higher wing loading, heavier aircraft, longer wheelbase. All can be contributing factors.
DMI
 
ual777
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:36 pm

The Emb-145 is pretty easy to land. The problem is that the XR will land differently than the other models, and if flying newer LR/XRs for a while, switching to an EP (especially at night) can lead to some rougher than ideal landings. This is due to the different control rigging. The 145 ER/EP/Early LR models are MUCH heavier on the controls and you cannot land them the same way as the other models.

If the plane is light and its windy, it can get to be a hand full too.
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September11
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:10 pm

a bird told me 727 requires frequent adjustments during landing
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Dreadnought
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:14 pm

Quoting MoltenRock (Reply 1):
While I'm not a pilot I know several. I've always heard the DC10 was a tricky beast to land. I sincerely miss the NWA DC10s they used on domestic runs.
Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 2):
Not the DC-10 but the MD-11 can be a handfull.

A friend of mine was a DC-10 and then MD-11 pilot for Swissair (now he flies for Emirates). He told me the DC-10 was extremely stable - trimmed properly it would almost land itself. Then he said the MD-11 by comparison was very unstable, and required constant attention and inputs. We talked about the Sioux City incident (the one where a DC-10 crash-landed after suffering a complete failure of control surfaces and flying around for nearly an hour controlled only by playing with the throttles), and he said that in his opinion, that would have been impossible to land in an MD-11.
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Jetlagged
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:41 pm

Quoting mrskyguy (Reply 9):
Bingo. Chasing greasers in a 72' will give anyone a headache. As you've perfectly and succinctly illustrated, rotating behind the center of axis on a 727 definitely drives the mains in. I always liked a good 3 degree approach with a little burp of power to replace the flare.. if done right, the old lady in 7B would keep her dentures in and might even smile before she hit the jetway.

This has to be an urban myth. Simple maths shows it's not possible to add much additional rate of descent to the main wheels by a pitch rate which would necessarily be brief. I'm not suggesting the 727 was not tricky to flare and land well repeatably, but I don't think it has anything to do with the positioning of the main gear. The mains are always aft of the CG, which is the centre of rotation, on any airliner.
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tb727
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Fri Nov 11, 2011 1:32 am

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 20):
This has to be an urban myth. Simple maths shows it's not possible to add much additional rate of descent to the main wheels by a pitch rate which would necessarily be brief. I'm not suggesting the 727 was not tricky to flare and land well repeatably, but I don't think it has anything to do with the positioning of the main gear. The mains are always aft of the CG, which is the centre of rotation, on any airliner.

lol, how much time do you have the in the 727? The 727-200 has a huge CG envelope so every landing can be very different and the mains being further back than other airliner designs plays a big part. I can't speak for other airplanes like the MD80, but I would imagine it could be similar if you get a sinker going and pull back late in the game.

I didn't look too long for a video but this one is good enough. Watch just prior to touchdown, they flared and drove them in, almost got the tail-skid too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgBJlldJDHQ&feature=related

mrskyguy's technique of a little puff of power is a really good way to have a chance at getting a smooth one(even though our company mostly discourages it)
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:09 am

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 20):
I don't think it has anything to do with the positioning of the main gear. The mains are always aft of the CG, which is the centre of rotation, on any airliner.

I agree with Jetlagged......I remember flying a month with an f/o who believed in the ease the nose over add a little power approach and I just came down a flared the jet and landed and at the end of the month he was no better off with smooth landings than me.
 
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Jetlagged
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:14 am

Quoting tb727 (Reply 21):
lol, how much time do you have the in the 727? The 727-200 has a huge CG envelope so every landing can be very different and the mains being further back than other airliner designs plays a big part. I can't speak for other airplanes like the MD80, but I would imagine it could be similar if you get a sinker going and pull back late in the game.

I didn't look too long for a video but this one is good enough. Watch just prior to touchdown, they flared and drove them in, almost got the tail-skid too.

I don't need time on the 727 to be able to calculate the kind of pitch rate necessary to "drive the mains into the tarmac" as people claim. Watching the video the crucial thing is they flare too late. No chance for the rate of descent to be slowed. You even say it yourself in the first paragraph, "pull back late in the game".

The issue is not rotating the main wheels into the ground, but how the aircraft responds to a late flare just before touchdown.

The only way you can "drive the mains in" is if you are still flaring as you touch down, surely not a good idea. If you touchdown with zero pitch rate then it simply can't happen. Even worse to be derotating before you touch, in the belief this will soften your touchdown. For it to work at all you'd have to get the timing exactly right. Too early and it would be a heavier landing, too late and you've already landed.

[Edited 2011-11-10 18:42:34]
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N243NW
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:24 am

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 14):
What makes the NG's harder to land than the classics?

The -800 and -900 are most prone to firmer landings, since most pilots don't want to try to finesse the flare too much. The stretched versions have much less tail clearance and are more prone to tailstrikes. The gear struts are also relatively stiff.
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:53 am

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 23):
Even worse to be derotating before you touch, in the belief this will soften your touchdown.

absolutely correct. You never want to unload the elevator after a bounce or in the flare.
 
MD-90
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:36 am

I think it was the late (and great) Len Morgan who wrote in Flying that the 727 (particularly the longer -200 model) was tricky to land because of the maingear being set quite far aft and having short travel compared to other airliners. Apparently they just don't provide the same amount of give to cushion pilots' egos as other airliners do.
 
windshear
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:06 am

Interesting read!
Thanks!!

Boaz.
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e38
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:01 am

Quoting "titanmiller" (thread starter), "I crew the KC-135 and have always heard pilots discussing how it is a very difficult aircraft to land properly.

Titanmiller, I'm very surprised the pilots with whom you work make this statement. The KC-135--particularly the "R" models with the CFM-56 (F-108) engines--handles beautifully! The rudder and ailerons are very effective during the final approach, the engines are responsive, and the airplane is very stable all the way down the approach--even during gusty crosswind conditions.

Keep in mind there is a difference between a "smooth" landing and a "good" landing.

The textbook landing, i.e., the way Boeing designed the KC-135 to land, is a firm touchdown--I didn't say a hard landing, but fairly firm to ensure the tires penetrate any surface boundary layer (i.e. a wet runway) and allow the brakes to become effective. The KC-135R aircraft that are flown by the active duty Air Force do not have thrust reversers on the engines. I do not know if that is true for KC-135s flown by Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard units. The KC-135E models have reverse thrust, but I'm not sure if any Guard or Reserve units still fly the "E" models.

The "textbook" landing in the KC-135 is to fly the aircraft down "on speed" on a proper 3 degree glidepath, set the appropriate landing attitude at approximately 20 to 30 feet AGL, and smoothly retard the throttles to idle and allow the aircraft to touchdown (i.e. not try to hold it off in order to get a "grease" job).

If you follow these basic procedures consistently, landing the KC-135 is a piece of cake--very easy!

Every pilot wants a smooth landing every time, but keep in mind, a "smooth" landing is not always a "good" landing depending on the circumstances.

With reference to your original question, the B-52 is a little more challenging to land well consistently.

e38
 
spencer
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:21 am

I suppose a good point to mention is not to keep the flare up for too long, thus having the ac in ground effect and floating as such, resulting in it slamming down "by itself". Sure, you can chase a good greaser but just making a firm contact having flared enough, is a decent landing IMO.
Spence
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: Hardest Airliner To Land?

Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:37 am

Quoting spencer (Reply 29):
I suppose a good point to mention is not to keep the flare up for too long, thus having the ac in ground effect and floating as such, resulting in it slamming down "by itself". Sure, you can chase a good greaser but just making a firm contact having flared enough, is a decent landing IMO.
Spence

True but keep in mind that any large jet will have a tail strike if "held off" looking for a geaser. Generally a late flare or continued flare will drive the mains in the ground. I've always found that my best landings result from stopping the sinkrate and then just keeping a little back pressure without really increasing pitch. We now have software that logs the vert. Gs and pitch at touchdown. 1.3 and 7.0 is good

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