Aiming Point. Place of touching down - Toma de Contacto

Translation to English

Hello everyone. Greetings. I have read in some aviation websites, that on the runways, there is: AMING POINT. PLACE OF TOUCHING DOWN, in which the wheels, the landing gear, have to land, touch the runway, just at that point, in that place, at the AIMING POINT. My doubt, my question is: Is there any sanction, is it forbidden to touch, make contact before or after the AIMING POINT? Or is it allowed and can touchdown be done anywhere on the track? Is it allowed or is it prohibited? I do know that it is NOT allowed to touchdown at the end or near the end of the track. Thank you very much and sorry for so many questions I ask, but I like to learn as much as possible. 😉👍

Translation to Spanish
Hola a todos. Saludos. He leido en algunas web’s de aviación, que en las pistas de aterrizaje, existe el : AMING POINT. LUGAR DE LA TOMA DE CONTACTO , en el cual las ruedas, el trén de aterrizaje, tiene que aterrizar, tocar la pista, justo en ese punto, en ese lugar, en el AIMING POINT. Mi duda, mi pregunta es : ¿ Existe alguna sanción, está prohibido tocar, hacer la toma de contacto antes o después del AIMING POINT ? ¿ O sí está permitido y sí se puede hacer la toma de contacto en cualquier lugar de la pista ? ¿ Esta permitido o está prohibido ? Sí sé que NO está permitido hacer la toma de contacto al final o casi al final de la pista . Muchas gracias y perdón por tantas preguntas que hago, pero me gusta aprender todo lo que sea posible. 👍😉

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I don’t think it’s “forbidden” to touch before or after the touchdown zone but it is obviously there to make sure that all aircraft landing has enough space to stop. I don’t think you have to touch on it perfectly but you don’t want to touch down halfway down the runway. If you touch a few feet after the touchdown zone you should be fine.

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The aiming point is simply where you want to aim for. In other words, It’s where touchdown is expected, but certainly not required. Landings are commonly after the touchdown zone in real life and in the sim. There is no set requirement for where you land, but obviously, if you get too far down the runway (to where you can no longer safely stop) you would want to go around.

Landings are less common before the aiming point but are still possible to conduct safely. Overall, the aiming point is just generally where to land shortly before, on, or shortly after.

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Were you describing the aiming point marking to be the designated touchdown point? Notice from from the image below that the markings for the touchdown zone are different from, and start before, the aiming point markings:

source: Airport Marking Aids and Signs (faa.gov)

So the touchdown zone markings start before the aiming point markings and extend after it:

“The touchdown zone markings identify the touchdown zone for landing operations and are coded to provide distance information in 500 feet (150m) increments. These markings consist of groups of one, two, and three rectangular bars”

Notice from your image that the touchdown markings appear to extend about half way down the runway.

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This is what it would look like in the sim:

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An image is good! So, the green rectangle is the touchdown zone.

The “Aiming point” acts as a reference to touch down in the “Touchdown zone”
Runway Markings - (easyaviationenglish.com)

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The way I have understood aiming points through my entire flight training has been that you probably did it wrong if you actually touch down on the aiming point. Now I will caveat that by saying that flying heavy airliners is very different from light training aircraft, particularly in the landing phase, but I assume some principles carry over.

The aiming point is where we aim for on approach, it is the point that shouldn’t be moving in the window, only growing larger. If you do not flare at all you will hit the aiming point, but obviously we want to flare. That is why the touchdown point is beyond the aiming point. In light aircraft it is fairly common to aim for the numbers and intend to touch down around the thousand foot markers, at least that’s how we have largely done it in my training.

This will though vary depending on runway length, condition, and other factors. For example landing your Cessna on a 10,000 foot commercial runway why not aim for the thousand foot markers and touch down beyond them. Aiming further down the runway means you will be slightly higher on approach relative to the threshold which gives you a better chance of making the runway in an engine out situation, and gives you better obstacle clearance if there are any towers or buildings you may not notice. In that case you have all the runway in the world, even with some massive float you could probably come to a complete stop, then take off again, then land again. Now if you are on a smaller runway where roll out distance is marginal then aim for the numbers and keep the flare tight. Better to slam it and keep it on the pavement than grease it only to end your day in the grass. Some instructors even want you to basically aim for the threshold on a short field landing from what I have heard. That leaves relatively little margin though.

Another factor that would change this is if you are on some sort of precision instrument approach or non precision with vertical guidance, those often set you up with the 1,000 foot markers as the aiming point.

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All great points: emphasizing why the answer depends on the particular landing situation. And you also mentioned

The following I thought was an excellent discussion of the problem with aiming points vs touchdown zones when the amount of equipment below your eye level increases, and the deck angle changes. It gives weight to the reason for having the “universal” aiming point located well out from the start of the touchdown zone.
Aim Point vs. Touchdown Point (code7700.com)
Deck Angle (1990) (code7700.com)
Two points that stood out a bit:
1)Our first flight instructors “lied” to us when saying: “If you don’t do anything, the aim point is where the airplane is going to first contact the runway.”
2)Without a good special case reason (short field; small aircraft), aiming for the edge of the runway invites bending metal. Case study: BD-700 C-GXPR (code7700.com)

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The difference is mainly in landing technique, sight picture is a secondary issue. In a jet you are going much faster and you have things like engine reaction times to consider. Floating a few seconds in a Cessna is far less time than floating the same time in an Airbus.

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FWIW:

I always aim for the 500ft markers because I know that in order to offer a smooth landing, I need 500ft to of cushion to float. I hate saying float, because that’s not the intention. But by the time I use the 500ft to ‘cushion’ my landing, my tires are touching down right on the 1000ft markers. This is the case during VFR or higher IFR conditions where I know I’ll break out above minimums.

IFR down to minimums is another story. I don’t care about how soft the landing is. So long as I hit the 1000-1500ft markers everytime, I’m a happy camper. When I’m flying, I personally hold myself to tight tolerances.

Fun fact, part of the type rating checkride involves you landing within a small area of the runway. Extreme precision when you’re flying something that flies at over 130kts over the fence.


The plain english version is this reads that there is a 750ft long box that you must touch down within. up to -250ft before to 500ft beyond

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I agree. In saying “lied” about hitting the aim spot. Not literally of course, but emphasizing secondary consideration of managing “amount” of aircraft hanging below eye level. Which factors into flare technique, as you mentioned.

I was trying to gauge how much:

is equipment dependent. So in a 747 for example, would that perhaps be adjusted, with talk of not only eye height above the wheels, but also deck angle being a factor?

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Unless I’m misinterpreting your statement I think that cockpit position and angle are things you would adjust to for in your sight picture in terms of how you line up the aiming point, but the point itself would remain the same.

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To be honest I’m still trying to digest comments of a seasoned (former?) air force pilot, and 747 pilot ( James Albright | Aviation Week Network) who is critiquing technique of other pilots with significant, though perhaps less, experience (in the prior link). He has what sounds like some very good points (and calculations to back it up).

I’m trying to understand what and how much of it to assimilate. For example he was using the following photo to criticize touchdown aiming point.

And he had an anecdote about colleages’ 747 touching down short of the runway.

So I’m still thinking about what’s what. Sorry for the confusion.

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To be fair one photo could be a misjudged approach on the part of that pilot. I think how you execute the approach from a visual reference perspective will differ by aircraft, but the actual aiming point itself will differ far less.

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True about just one photo, but he seemed to be making the claim that there is too much idealization of touching as close as possible to the threshold, and that it needs to be talked down to affect “adverse incident” rates.

At the start of the case study referenced above he states:

“This is a classic mishap where aiming for the first inch of pavement leads to bad results. Ever since one of my Air Force Boeing 747 squadron mates put eighteen wheel prints in the overrun at Andrews, the math behind aircraft deck angle has been a priority for me. What the Canada Transportation Safety Board calls “Eye-to-wheel height” really misses the point. What pilots really need to understand is how far behind their aim point the wheels will contact the runway. The geometry of the aircraft on approach fundamentally changes the point at which the wheels will touch in relation to the pilot’s aim point. The pilots were experienced in the Challenger 604, which has an abnormally flat deck angle on approach. In that airplane, they were able to successfully aim for 500 feet down the runway and land fairly close to that target. In an airplane with a higher deck angle, such as the incident’s BD-700, this is not possible.”

Exactly how the flare technique mitigates some of this is a question. And in how so, how variations in flare technique consistency might require the aim point to be adjusted for more safety margin.

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Well to be fair when I talked about aiming for the numbers or even the threshold in my post I was saying that in the context of a Piper or Cessna not a 747. We are really talking about almost entirely different things here.

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@KPIT I thank you and everyone for the great explanation you have given me to understand the doubt I had. Thank you very much and enjoy your flights. 👍😉

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@Mathurin_Garcier I highly value the information of the very good photo that you have sent me and now I have understood perfectly and I have no doubts. Thank you very much and enjoy your flights. 👍😉

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@adit You have sent me a very good explanation with the graphic drawings, with your answer and the information from the web that you have sent me. Very grateful and thank you very much and enjoy your flights. 😉👍

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@aviation_31 Very kind for your help and I no longer have doubts about the contact point. Thank you very much and enjoy your flights. 👍😉

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