New Seneca V Owner (Downunder)

Hi Guys, I have just purchased a new (to me) Seneca v 2001 model, just flew 16 hrs with the instructor to bring her home to the East Coast (Australia)
I am having a terrible time getting the landing right, and come in too low and too flat. I am on 110 kts downwind 20'mp, 100 base 17''mp, 95 final and 85 over the fence with 17''.
Any advice welcome?


  • Hi Mark,
    I always had two barbell weights in the baggage compartment, 25 pounds each. It made landing much easier for me.

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • What flap setting? Are you adjusting trim during the approach? Are you getting the controls full back at touchdown?
    I also have weights in the back. I suggest using soft weights like lead or steel shot. They took it out of the recent POH updates but the barrier speed would be 82 kts for a gross landing weight of 3700 (for the Seneca III). What was your gross weight? Props full forward?

    If you are coming in too low/flat but speeds are good then you have too much power or not enough drag. f you notice you are on a flat approach increase power, level altitude, and maintain speed. Once you are happy with the angle, reduce power to lower than where you started, keep the airspeed and descend.

    Where are your flap points? I Also, when are you pulling power back to idle?

    I bought my Seneca III back in October and I am still learning. For most of the planes I have flown I did not have to adjust trim on approach and was happy with the modest control forces during landing. With the Seneca this results in excessive backforce required in the flare and it is better to trim it neutral on approach and then have a modest pull in the flare.

    Just above idle power until almost before touchdown is helpful. When you do pull power back it should be in the transition to ground effect and this helps make up for the lack of lift off the wings from the reduced airflow.

    Anyone else have tips?

    Eric Panning
    1981 Seneca III
    Hillsboro, OR (KHIO)

  • Hi Eric, thanks for the response. I am putting on 10 deg flaps early downwind then gear abeam the threshold as I turn base flaps 25 to capture 90 kts @17””mp then keep that setting all the way till about 400’ where i slow to 85 over the fence, then flare and that’s where it goes to crap. Maybe I will take your advice and add more weight aft. Although we were max weight coming home, with about 30 lbs in the baggage and the same on row 3. I did trim back about one turn of late final, maybe that’s not enough?

  • Hi Mark, if you were max weight then you would not need to add any weight in the back. Adding weight in the back is for training flights when you are typically closer to the forward center of gravity. If you were at max landing weight of 4500 (Seneca III) you would have crossed the fence at 90.

    What happened in the flare? Why do you think it was a bad landing?

    Eric Panning
    1981 Seneca III
    Hillsboro, OR (KHIO)

  • Hi Eric,
    I cross the fence at 85 Kts and I am landing flat, despite what feels to me like I’m pulling back pretty hard it’s still flat , I have been told to take two grabs of the trim wheel on short final to ease the control pressure a bit, so may give that a shot.

  • Mark, I think more trim would help. Without trim it feels about the same as the high force required to pull back the yoke all the way with the plane on the ground. When the forces are high it is hard to be smooth as different muscles are recruited as a function of yoke position and you can get a noticeable jerk or pause in motion.

    I would try trimming for 5 lbs positive force on short final pulling back with just two fingers to stay stabilized and then leave it there. Will grow to 20-30 lbs in the flare I think. Just remember in a go around or touch and go you might need to push to maintain required attitude until re-trimmed.

    General instructions for landing any plane are to look at the end of the runway in the flare but if you can still see the end of the runway you have not pulled back far enough. At some point you are transitioning looking out the side of the window vs over the nose.

    What helps me is to think of the flare as one continuous motion to full back and the most satisfying is having the stall horn, wheels touch and full back on the yoke happen at the same time.

    I think of the yoke as one way in the flare - no relaxing it from whatever you have pulled it too. That leaves pulling more or adjusting power as the only variables and I would add a little power if I think I have flared to high or running out of airspeed and reduce power if I am floating.

    If you are having trouble picking the flare height you might want to think of it as the flare point is a certain distance from the aiming point (maybe ~100 ft before it) and start your flare there. For the same angle approach this will give a consistent height above the field.

    We spend so few seconds in the transition from over the fence to touchdown it takes time and patience to perfect. If you are flying with an instructor and you like their landings you should consider filming theirs and yours and reviewing.

    Eric Panning
    1981 Seneca III
    Hillsboro, OR (KHIO)

  • G’day Eric, Thanks for that very detailed piece of advice. I will give that a shot.

  • Hi Eric, we all started our Seneca careers with lots of flat landings, bounced landings, etc but eventually got the hang of it. If you're coming from a Saratoga you'll find it floats a lot less, and tends to pitch forward a lot more, thanks to that second spinning propeller. Most places we travel have > 5000' of runway, so leaving in a little power and 3-4 spins of the trim wheel produces a greaser nearly every time. Good luck, and let us know how you make out. Bob.

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