Are touch-and-goes a good idea during flight training?
William F. Ball has been an active flight instructor for 30 years and a designated pilot examiner (DPE) for 21 years. He conducts testing and certification activities for all FAA certificates and ratings. He has given more than 8,000 hours of flight instruction and is currently an instructor for SimCom, teaching in the Cessna Citation CE-500 and CE-525 jet programs. He says:
A question often arises about the practice of doing touch-and-goes during flight training. The proponents of this practice will say that by doing touch-and-goes, more practice can be gained in a given flight lesson. Albeit well meaning, I feel this premise is flawed. We must impress upon new students that each takeoff and landing is a unique experience with a beginning and an end. We must teach them to properly land before attempting a subsequent takeoff.
In a typical light training airplane being flown by a student there are many components that must be instilled firmly to ensure safe operation. A typical light airplane in the landing phase is configured with flaps extended, trim set to the landing airspeed and, in most light airplanes, carburetor heat applied. The airplane is in a landing attitude. To immediately transition to a takeoff configuration upon touchdown is at least counterproductive and at most inherently dangerous.
After a landing the student should taxi off the assigned runway, cross the hold line, stop and perform the after-landing checklist. This will provide him/her the opportunity to reconfigure the airplane appropriately and to ensure all controls and trims are reset.
The instructor can take advantage of this opportunity to brief the student on the approach and landing, and provide valuable insight and critique on points well executed as well as those areas that need further attention.
Safety must be the primary concern. In my opinion, touch-and-goes for a new student undergoing flight training are fraught with potential pitfalls. As an aside, neither the Practical Test Standards (PTS) nor the Airplane Flying Handbook published by the FAA addresses the issue of touch-and-goes. Let’s give the takeoff and the landing the respect they deserve and teach them as separate but equal components of this most vital aspect of learning to fly.
David Larkin is assistant chief flight instructor at Northway Aviation, a Part 141 flight school in Everett, Washington. He has been a CFI for 10 years and also holds instrument and multiengine instructor ratings. He earned the Gold Seal in 2008. Surrounded by technically advanced aircraft, he still enjoys teaching landings. He says:
Touch-and-go landings are a valuable tool in flight training, and allow students to practice the many elements of flying a good approach without incurring the time and expense of taxiing back for every repetition. Making the landing itself a touch-and-go allows many more repetitions of the approach and landing procedures per hour flown.