Eric Button

The Unofficial Way to Land a Gulfstream G280

he standard way to land a plane is to flare. This entails pulling back on the yoke (the controls) until the nose starts to rise. This arrests the descent, and if all goes as planned the main landing gear will kiss the runway softly. This is a universal strategy, used in aircraft ranging from hang gliders to the Space Shuttle.

But for the Gulfstream 280 there's a little-known technique that will enable the pilot to land smoothly with frightening consistency. The technique: moments before touchdown, the pilot pushes the control yoke forward, essentially flying the plane into the ground. To be clear, it is less of a "push" and more of a tiny application of forward pressure on the controls.

Here's how it works:

  1. The aircraft is flared normally until descent is almost fully arrested and the plane is flying roughly 10 inches above the runway.
  2. At this point, the pilot applies a small amount of forward pressure to the controls, essentially forcing the nose downward
  3. The aircraft pivots around a point in space that is somewhere near the aircraft's Center of Lift and Center of Mass. Since the main wheels are well aft of this pivot point, the wheels rise relative to the pivot point. Simultaneously, the aircraft settles onto the runway.

This landing method means that while the fuselage is moving towards the runway, the landing gear assembly is moving away from the runway. As a result, the main wheels will meet the runway with a slower vertical velocity, resulting in a reliably smooth touchdown.