This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
All planes and pilots are different, but knowing when to flare for smooth landings is a science and can be mastered with plane knowledge and practice.
Failing to use flare at the right time when landing a plane can result in a bounce that creates a hard and unfriendly landing. Proper timing is needed for smoother landings.
When to flare a plane for smooth landings will vary based on the aircraft type, size, and speed. The range for flare is between 30-50 feet for top jet airliner planes like Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s. Smaller single-engine planes like a Cessna 172 need much less flare between 5-10 feet.
This final maneuver before landing must be done precisely to ensure a smooth landing. Pilots will use a flare pattern during the landing to help them touch down on the runway smoothly and safely. In this guide, we will explain more about flare, how to use it for smooth landings, and specific data for popular planes.
All flare data for smooth landings has been gathered from various industry expert tests. Keep reading below to learn more about when to flare for soft landings for these popular aircraft types.
When To Flare For Smooth Landings (Data By Plane)
The most important factor in making a smooth landing is to have a proper flare. A flare is when you land with the nose of the plane up in the air so that it can slow down quickly and make a safe impact on the ground.
The general flare required for jet airliner planes is between 20-50 feet and 5-10 feet for smaller single-engine planes. However, every landing is different, and things like weather, speed, and landing angle all matter.
For example, the angle taken to one airport will vary compared to another. This could impact how much flare is required when landing, so it can be up to the pilot’s discretion for each landing.
When To Flare For Smooth Landings (Jet Airliners)
Large jet airliner planes and commercial aircraft require a much different approach when landing. They have significantly more weight and overall more significant construction, so pilots must understand flare for smooth landings.
We have included four of the most popular jet airliner plane models below and the distance between the bottom of the plane and the runway to begin your flare.
The Boeing 737-800 has a maximum sink rate of 10 feet per second, and the flare should begin at 45-50 feet for landing. This flare should result in a 12-degree nose-up position to create a smooth landing.
Airbus states that the ideal flare for the Airbus A320 should be initiated at 30 feet for a smooth and safe landing. If there is any tailwind, it is best to start the flare maneuver even sooner.
The Bombardier CRJ200 is similar to the Boeing aircraft, and pilots should initiate the flare maneuver at 50 feet.
The flare required for the Embraer E175 is 30 feet, including 3 to 4 degrees of nose-up altitude, to ensure a smooth landing and proper landing gear touchdown.
When To Flare For Smooth Landings (Single Engine)
Single-engine planes are much easier to fly, especially for new pilots. This makes it easier to learn how to take off and land, and because they are smaller, the flare amount for smooth landings is lower.
The table below shows the amount of flare recommended for each of these four popular single-engine planes. It can vary by a few feet based on weather, landing weight, and speed.
Diamond DA40 NG
The maximum landing weight for the Diamond DA40 NG is 2,822 pounds. If you remain at or below this limit, the required flare for landing is between 5-10 feet.
Cessna 172 Skyhawk
The reason tricycle landing gear planes don’t require a ton of flare is that they are smaller and have a more balanced landing approach. Using a slight flare like the 10 feet needed for the Cessna 172 Skyhawk is the best method for a smooth landing.
Beechcraft G36 Bonanza
The best flare for the Beechcraft G36 Bonanza is roughly 10 feet prior to landing for the smoothest touchdown.
We recommend keeping the flare for the Piper M350 between 5-10 feet before reaching the runway.
How Do Pilots Properly Time Flare For Smooth Landings?
It requires lots of training for a pilot to learn how to land a plane, and the primary reason is because of flare. When a plane approaches a landing, the pilot will gradually go into this flare motion and lose visibility in front.
As this happens, using views from each side of the plane helps the pilot settle the plane onto the ground for a smooth landing. This is extremely important for safe landings too.
If you flare too much, it can cause the plane to drop too suddenly. This would cause a violent and unbalanced landing that could be extremely dangerous at higher speeds or in a larger jet.
Playing it too safe isn't the right move either because not enough flare results in a hard and flat landing. Timing the flare feels natural when the wheels touch down.
There is no perfect answer to how it is done other than extended hours of practice. This is one reason why pilots are required to complete so many hours of training before flying.
Why Is Flare Maneuver Required During Landings?
The purpose of a flare maneuver when landing a plane is to close the gap between the landing gear and the runway for a gentle landing. It allows the pilot to slow the descent and eliminate any bounce.
When flying a smaller plane with tricycle landing gear, it is not as important because the plane approaches the runway with much more balance and control. But for larger planes, you need this flare maneuver even more for safety and smooth landings.
How Many Feet Per Minute Is Considered A Smooth Landing?
As a passenger, a smooth landing is left up to the subjective analysis of the people on the aircraft. But there is actual data that defines what a smooth landing truly is.
Boeing defines a hard landing for commercial aircraft with FAA-certified landing gear as an excessive impact and sink rate of more than 10 feet per second. For most planes, this would be too big of a drop.
The ideal range for a smooth landing is between 60-180 feet per minute. Exceeding 240 feet per minute is considered too excessive and qualifies as a hard landing.
These landing speeds assume the plane is landing under the maximum landing weight. For example, an average Boeing commercial aircraft can handle 600 feet per minute landings, but this limit drops to only 360 feet per minute if the weight exceeds the limit.
3 Ways To Improve Your Plane Landing
If you are a pilot struggling with your plane landings, there are a few tips to keep in mind to continue improving and timing your flare properly.
1. Focus On Approach Speed
The approach speed is the speed at which an aircraft is going to land. It has to be greater than or equal to the touchdown speed. When landing a plane, you need to focus on the approach speed and keep it steady at the right level for a smooth landing.
During your flare, flying too slow can result in wind shear that moves the plane off a precise path for a smooth landing. However, you can face the same issues if you fly around 15-17 miles per hour too fast.
2. Know Where To Look
Knowing where to look when landing a plane is important too. The flare will take your eyes off focus as you begin to dip the rear of the plane lower towards the runaway.
When this happens, you should stretch out your vision and look further ahead as a way to gauge how high you are. Looking too close to the plane can cause you to misjudge the distance, and you will settle on the runway with less balance.
3. Be Patient
Patience can be applied to your airplane landing and flare technique in a few ways. First, don’t fear long hours and endless practice to perfect the landing.
It is well-known among pilots the first landing will always be the ugliest. But it continues to get better as you take note of the mistakes and keep practicing for improvement.
Next, you need to be patient during your approach. A common mistake pilots make is trying to push the nose down too early to touch down on the runway. Forcing this too soon will cause you to lose your flare resulting in a hard landing.
Stay patient with your flare and decrease the descent rate while losing airspeed. This will almost always lead to a much smoother landing.