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Safety Review: Takeoff and Landing Checklist

Safety Review: Takeoff and Landing ChecklistWith the FAA scheduled to close around 150 air traffic control towers at small- and medium-size airports beginning on June 15, now is a good time for pilots to review a written takeoff and landing safety checklist.

Most pilots must use written checklists, while others don’t because they’re familiar with the aircraft, or feel too busy to do so. Don’t let complacency create dangerous conditions. Even if you do a mental checklist on takeoff and landing, it’s a good idea to say it aloud, and refer to a written checklist to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

At untowered airports it is important to remember to communicate with nearby pilots and be aware of the airports’ traffic pattern and procedures to avoid collisions. With the added concern for safety, make sure you’re confident in your take off and landing procedures. The following is a suggested segmented checklist for takeoff and landing, which means it is designed specifically for those times. However, your pilot’s operating handbook and/or aircraft flight manual may differ slightly, so be sure to review that for added safety.

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

Nontowered Airport Resources

In light of the imminent tower closings, please take some time to review the following AOPA Foundation safety resources for nontowered airports. Special thanks to AOPA President, Bruce Landsberg, for providing these timely safety resources.

Nontowered Airport Operations Refresher Webinar

Operations at Nontowered Airports Safety Advisor

“Say It Right” Radio Communication Course

Interactive Runway Safety Course

A Note About Bird Strikes

Bird strikes are a serious problem that costs 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, know the facts and follow standard operating procedures to reduce the risk of bird and wildlife strikes.

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