# Why did my instructor recommend that I fly a Piper Seminole down to the runway rather than trying to flare it like a Cessna?

I have flown as a student the Piper Seminole 3 or 4 times, it was so much fun grabbing a bunch of throttle levers and pushing them all like a real throttle quadrant in a large jet aircraft, but anyway my question is this:

When landing and just nearing the end of final, when I was just about to the chevrons my flight instructors always asked me to fly the plane right down to the runway, which is different from flying 172's where I could flare right at the chevrons and try my best to get a 'greaser' and chirp the tires enabling a nice transition where I momentarily heard the faintest stall horn just before landing, enabling a quick turn off to a taxiway...why did I have to fly the twin right down before cutting throttles?

• I still remember my CFI in the Comanche I was flying in... *It's not a Cessna, its not a Cessna, its not a Cessna" as we approached the runway. Apparently what he meant was "fly it into the ground, don't stall it". Flying it to the runway isn't really about the twin (I wasn't flying a twin Comanche), all the low-wing airplanes I've flown are landed like that. – Ron Beyer Apr 3 '17 at 21:30
• Err, did you ask any of them? – Hugh Apr 4 '17 at 4:41
• Your instructor is trying to keep you alive - fly it to the ground. VMCA (v2) for the Piper Seminole is 56kias, its wise not to fly below that - including the flare. If you loose an engine and have to do a go-around in a crosswind and you have dropped your airspeed near 56kias, your chances are very poor. – jwzumwalt Jan 28 '18 at 9:29
• Because this isn't Kerbal Space Program. – Sean Aug 8 at 0:09

I'm guessing that is a landing technique that your CFI has developed for handling a Piper Seminole on landing. Don't worry; everything is fine.

Most likely this is because the PA-44, like it's single engine cousin, the PA-32 and late model Cherokee Arrows rapidly loses energy and sinks quickly once the power is pulled out. These tend to be the landing characteristics of larger, heavier aircraft. Cutting the power too early in the approach to roundout could cause this aircraft to slow and drop rapidly leaving a neophyte student with little energy left to flare to a smooth touchdown. The CFI is trying to make you cognizant of that fact; I'm sure he's endured plenty of firm landings by students with high time in C152s or C172s flying final at 65 KIAS, then chop power over the threshold markings (piano keys) to arrive at a good flare and touchdown; that technique won't work in larger twins and the best way to fly a shallow glide slope is to do so with power, then pull it out just as you begin the flare about 7-10 feet off the runway. The airplane should then settle into a nice flare 1-2 feet off the runway, quickly exhaust all of its energy and touch down on the mains just as you hear the stall warning tone.

Another factor is the aerodynamic slipstream from the propellers. As wing mounted tractor engines push air over the wings behind the propeller disks, this, in turn is generating additional lift. During a stabilized approach, this airflow become part of the lift the wing must generate in order to remain on speed at the selected rate of descent. When the pilot pulls throttles to idle as part of the roundout process, this additional lift is terminated. Combined with the high drag from the idling low pitch propellers, this causes the airplane to slow down and sink very rapidly; you will feel this in the seat of your pants if you pull the throttles out too early. If a student pilot remains ignorant of this effect and does not compensate for it, you may be in for a very hard landing or worse.

The Piper aircraft, as you have found out, are designed to put up with a lot of sloppy handling from a new pilot and still shine. The controls have all the finesse of a Mack truck and they really have to be manhandled to fly them. IMO it's an attempt by the manufacturer to 'idiot proof' the airplane and make it safe and marketable to a wide range of pilot skill.

All tricycle gear aircraft should be flown to the roundout such that once the flare is established, the airplane should run out of energy and quit flying rapidly. Strict adherence to a controlled approach speed of 1.3 Vso on final should be used (on small aircraft), but the rate at which the airplane slows and descends when the power is reduced to idle varies between airframes. Some airplanes do this faster than others; each one has it's own unique handling characteristics and you will have to become familiar with them as you progress through different aircraft.

One note on you flying: for a VFR traffic pattern, aim for the numbers or use an optical glideslope (eg VASI, PAPI, etc), if available, on final until you have become proficient with flying the PA-34. The 'chevrons' are a blastpad and frangible arrestment for stopping an overrun and are not designed to support an airplane during normal flight operations. Touchdown too early and end up on the blastpad, it is possible the aircraft could break through and cause damage to the airframe, props or landing gear. You're also likely to clip other objects like runway threshold lights with that kind of a landing.

I have an uncomfortable feeling that someone taught you at some point that "cutting throttles" and flare right at the chevrons meant ripping the throttle to idle, yanking the yoke back until it touches your belly button, and then holding those inputs until the wheels touch.

(Okay, maybe that was a slight exaggeration, but not much)

The point is that you can cut the throttle to idle in a Cessna over the threshold and still land on the thousand-foot markers if you're on glideslope. You can't do that in a Seminole, and if you try, you're going to quickly lose either speed or altitude or your instructor's respect for you as a pilot (or all three!)

Instead, try to make your throttle reduction happen at about the same rate as your flare. Ideally, your throttle should be hitting the idle stop at the same time that your yoke reaches the aft limit, and if you've really done well, both of those should happen at the same time that your main gear touches the ground.