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Safety Review: Takeoff and Landing Checklist

With the warm weather flying season underway, now is a good time to review takeoff and landing safety protocols.

Even if you’re a veteran pilot and know your plane inside and out, don’t let complacency create dangerous conditions — go through a checklist on takeoff and landing. It’s a good idea to say it aloud, and refer to a written checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Here’s a suggested checklist for takeoff and landing. Also refer to your pilot’s operating handbook and/or aircraft flight manual, as it may differ slightly.

Before takeoff checklist

  • Altimeter — set
  • Auxiliary fuel pump — off
  • Directional gyro — set
  • Engine idle — checked
  • Flaps — as required
  • Flight controls — free and correct
  • Fuel gauges — checked
  • Instruments and radios — checked and set
  • Landing gear position lights — checked
  • Magnetos — checked
  • Parking brake — off
  • Propeller — exercise
  • Seat belts/shoulder harnesses — fastened
  • Trim – set

Final checklist

  • Action — engine instruments checked
  • Camera — transponder on
  • Doors and windows — locked
  • Lights — landing, taxi, strobes on
  • Mixture — full rich unless above 3,000 feet MSL

Before landing checklist

  • Cowl flaps — as required
  • Directional gyro — aligned with magnetic compass
  • Fuel selector — fullest tank
  • Mixture — full rich unless airport above 3,000 feet MSL
  • Seat belts/shoulder harnesses — secure

Final checklist

  • Flaps — as required
  • Landing gear — down
  • Propeller — high rpm

A note about bird strikes

Bird strikes are a serious problem that cost the U.S. civil aviation industry at least $500 million annually due to aircraft damage and more than 500,000 hours of aircraft down time, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

In addition to the financial costs and mechanical damage, bird and wildlife strikes have also caused airplane crashes, injuries and deaths to pilots and passengers, underscoring the seriousness of a growing problem.

Although Canadian geese are often the culprits due to their size and large numbers deer, coyotes and other animals wandering onto runways are also a potential danger during takeoff and landing.

Bird strikes have increased exponentially over the years due to various factors. One is that planes are faster and quieter. Also, there are a greater number of birds due to successful conservation efforts. At the same time, many species have been forced to move into suburban and urban areas due to urban sprawl.

So what can pilots, aviation professionals, airports and FBOs do about bird and wildlife strikes? We can’t control the increase in populations or aircraft traffic, but we can become aware and knowledgeable about the issue. Knowing the facts and following standard operating procedures can reduce the risk of bird and wildlife strikes. For more information, read "Bird Strikes on the Rise: What Pilots and FBOs Can Do" from The BAC Bulletin & DA News archives.

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