Steep Approach

Purpose: To transition from flight at altitude to a stabilized 3-5 foot hover using a steeper than normal approach angle.  Demonstrates obstacle clearance.

Note: Prior to performing this maneuver, pilot(s) should become familiar with Safety Notice SN-22.

Cyclic: 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 headed into the wind and aligned with the intended point of touch down. The pilot will maintain 60 KIAS and 300 feet AGL until a normal approach angle is achieved.

When a normal approach angle is intercepted, reduce forward speed forward airspeed to 40-45 KIAS in order to intercept a steep approach angle.

The collective much be reduced a greater amount once the angle is intercepted in order to maintain the steep approach angle.  Right pedal my be needed in order to compensate for the reduction of power.

Maintain the approach angle and rate of descent no great than 300 FPM with the collective, rate of closure with the cyclic, and trim with the pedals.  Loss of ETL will occur at higher altitude during a steep approach requiring an increase of collective sooner than normal to prevent settling.

Terminate at a 3-5 foot stabilized hover.

Note: Special consideration must be made to ensure the aircraft does not gain a descent rate great than 300 fpm with airspeed less than 30 KTS!

Private ACS Commercial PTS
Heading + 10 Degrees + 5 Degrees
RPM + 2 % + 2 %
Termination Point + 10 Feet + 5 Feet
Rate of Descent No more than 300 FPM
Common Errors

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

  1. Positive exchange of controls
  2. Special emphasis should be placed on density altitude and gross wight
  3. Be prepared for improper control inputs. Special emphasis should be placed on the cyclic and pedal controls especially toward the end of the maneuver
  4. Be ready to take immediate action in the event the RPM decays or you experience rotor droop.  Pay special attention to the final 50 feet of the approach.