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Training Tip: 'Keep your speed up'Training Tip: 'Keep your speed up'

The single-engine Mooney M20M was flying the base leg of the traffic pattern at an unusually high airspeed, with a large jet in trail.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

“I was asked to keep my base for Runway 17 within a mile and keep the speed up because of an MD-80 on a nine mile final,” the pilot said, noting that he reduced power and deployed the speed brakes at that point.

With flaps added and power idled, “I allowed it to make contact with the runway and heard a metallic sound. Soon after, the propeller stopped and the aircraft came to a stop on the runway.” He got on the radio and suggested that the closing MD-80 go around.

Describing the mishap in a filing with the Aviation Safety Reporting System, the pilot listed a number of factors that led to his failing to observe before landing that the landing gear had not completely extended, including night conditions and a long spell in maintenance for the aircraft before the flight. Another factor he noted was air traffic control's request to keep his speed up.

Any pilot who flies in busy terminal airspace may eventually receive instructions to “keep your speed up” during a hectic arrival. For a pilot accustomed to the nice stabilized approaches promoted in training and recommended for normal operations, this unfamiliar scenario can become a distraction, so be wary.

“I feel if I had rejected the clearance and extended downwind behind the MD-80 I would [have] had more time to notice the gear was not fully down,” the Mooney pilot noted.

The lesson another pilot learned is don’t read more into an ATC request to keep your speed up than the controller intended.

When the pilot, flying a Beechcraft Bonanza on approach to an Indiana airport, experienced a near-midair-collision after realizing that he was setting up the approach to the wrong runway, he offered this explanation for the mental error: “Approach's request to ‘keep your speed up’ led me to approach the airport with an unnecessary and inappropriate sense of urgency. This was self-imposed and approach was certainly not asking me to prioritize haste over safety.”

Remember that at the end of any approach, excess airspeed must be dissipated before you can make a safe, under-control landing.

Practice some terminal-environment flight scenarios with your instructor to gain confidence and ensure safe outcomes later, when you could face a keep-your-speed-up request with no CFI aboard.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: ATC, Flight Training, Aeronautical Decision Making
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