Normal Approach

Purpose: To transition from flight at altitude to a stabilized 3-5 foot hover.

Cyclic: Pitch Attitude/Airspeed; Ground Track; Rate of Closure
Collective: Rate of Descent; Angle of Approach
Pedals Trim (Above 50 ft  AGL); Heading (Below 50 ft AGL)


  • On Final approach, the aircraft should be aligned with into the wind and the point of intended touchdown, 60 KIAS and 300 feet AGL.
  • When a normal approach angle is intercepted, begin the approach by smoothly lowering the collective.  This will cause the aircraft to descend.

The pilot can determine the proper approach angle by relating the point of intended touchdown to a visual point inside that aircraft, like the trim strings.

  • Lowering the collective will cause the nose to pitch down.  This will require gentle aft cyclic to maintain a 60 KT pitch attitude.  A slight amount of right pedal may also be required to compensate for the reduced amount of power.
  • Adjust airspeed to maintain a constant rate of closure (brisk walk) throughout the approach.
  • At approximately 25-40 feet AGL, the aircraft will begin to lose ETL and enter the region of Transverse Flow Effect.  This will be felt by a shudder.  The pilot must anticipate the loss of ETL and be prepared to provide additional power to keep the aircraft from settling onto the surface.

The increase in power will also require a gentle forward cyclic to maintain  proper rate of closure.  Additionally, a slight increase in left pedal must also be applied.

  • As the aircraft settles into a 3-5 foot hover, sufficient power, cyclic control and pedal should be added in order to stabilize all movements.

Performance Standards: Private ACS Commercial PTS
Heading + 10 Degrees + 5 Degrees
Ground Track + 5 Feet + 3 Feet
Common Errors

  1. Improper use of cyclic to control closure rate and collective to control approach angle.
  2. Improper coordination of pedal corrections with power changes.
  3. Improper approach angle.
  4. Improper approach speed.
  5. Failure to arrive at the touchdown point with zero groundspeed.
Safety Considerations

  1. Positive exchange of controls
  2. Maintain awareness of surrounding environment (i.e. airport environment, aircraft, and terrain.)  Special emphasis should be placed on density altitude and gross weight.
  3. Be prepared to go-around in the event of settling with power configuration, excessively steep approach, or terminating at a hover height not safe in the event of an emergency.
  4. Be prepared for improper control inputs.  Special emphasis should be placed on the cyclic and pedal control.