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Chapter 2

Aircraft Structure

Introduction

An aircraft is a device that is used, or intended to be used, for flight, according to the current Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 1, Definitions and Abbreviations. Categories of aircraft for certification of airmen include airplane, rotorcraft, glider, lighter-than-air, powered-lift, powered parachute, and weight-shift control. 14 CFR part 1 also defines airplane as an engine-driven, fixed-wing aircraft that is supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of air against its wings. Another term, not yet codified in 14 CFR part 1, is advanced avionics aircraft, which refers to an aircraft that contains a global positioning system (GPS) navigation system with a moving map display, in conjunction with another system, such as an autopilot. This chapter provides a brief introduction to the structure of aircraft and uses an airplane for most illustrations. Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), such as weight-shift control, balloon, glider, powered parachute, and gyroplane have their own handbooks to include detailed information regarding aerodynamics and control.

Lift and Basic Aerodynamics

In order to understand the operation of the major components and subcomponents of an aircraft, it is important to understand basic aerodynamic concepts. This chapter briefly introduces aerodynamics; a more detailed explanation can be found in Chapter 4, Aerodynamics of Flight.

Four forces act upon an aircraft in relation to straight-and- level, unaccelerated flight. These forces are thrust, lift, weight, and drag. [Figure 2-1]

Lift and Basic Aerodynamics In order to understand the operation of the major components and subcomponents

Figure 2-1. The four forces.

Thrust is the forward force produced by the powerplant/ propeller. It opposes or overcomes the force of drag. As a general rule, it is said to act parallel to the longitudinal axis. This is not always the case as explained later.

Drag is a rearward, retarding force, and is caused by disruption of airflow by the wing, fuselage, and other protruding objects. Drag opposes thrust, and acts rearward parallel to the relative wind.

Weight is the combined load of the airplane itself, the crew, the fuel, and the cargo or baggage. Weight pulls the airplane downward because of the force of gravity. It opposes lift, and acts vertically downward through the airplane’s center of gravity (CG).

Lift opposes the downward force of weight, is produced by the dynamic effect of the air acting on the wing, and acts perpendicular to the flightpath through the wing’s center of lift.

An aircraft moves in three dimensions and is controlled by moving it about one or more of its axes. The longitudinal or roll axis extends through the aircraft from nose to tail, with the line passing through the CG. The lateral or pitch axis extends across the aircraft on a line through the wing tips, again passing through the CG. The vertical, or yaw, axis passes through the aircraft vertically, intersecting the CG. All control movements cause the aircraft to move around one or more of these axes, and allows for the control of the airplane in flight. [Figure 2-2]

One of the most significant components of aircraft design is CG. It is the specific point where the mass or weight of an aircraft may be said to center; that is, a point around which, if the aircraft could be suspended or balanced, the aircraft would remain relatively level. The position of the CG of an aircraft determines the stability of the aircraft in flight. As the CG moves rearward (towards the tail) the aircraft becomes more and more dynamically unstable. In aircraft with fuel tanks situated in front of the CG, it is important that the CG is set with the fuel tank empty. Otherwise, as the fuel is used, the aircraft becomes unstable. [Figure 2-3] The CG is computed during initial design and construction, and is further affected by the installation of onboard equipment, aircraft loading, and other factors.

Pitching Rolling Yawing Lateral Axis Longitudinal Axis Vertical Axis Figure 2-2. Illustrates the pitch, roll, and
Pitching
Rolling
Yawing
Lateral Axis
Longitudinal Axis
Vertical Axis
Figure 2-2. Illustrates the pitch, roll, and yaw motion of the aircraft along the lateral, longitudinal, and vertical axes, respectively.
Nose-down force Nose-up force independent of airspeed dependent upon airspeed Fixed Lift Variable
Nose-down force
Nose-up force
independent of airspeed
dependent upon airspeed
Fixed
Lift
Variable
Ver tical forces acting on an air plane in flight Insufficient elevator nose-down force CG CG
Ver tical forces acting on an air plane in flight
Insufficient elevator
nose-down force
CG
CG too far aft
Lift
If the CG is too far aft, there might not be enough elevator nosedown force at
If the CG is too far aft, there might not be enough elevator nosedown
force at the low stall airspeed to get the nose down for recovery.
CG
Insufficient elevator
CG too far forward
nose-up force
Lift

If the CG is too far forward, there will not be enough elevator nose-up force to flare the air plane for landing.

Figure 2-3. Center of gravity (CG).

Major Components

Although airplanes are designed for a variety of purposes, most of them have the same major components. [Figure 2-4] The overall characteristics are largely determined by the original design objectives. Most airplane structures include a fuselage, wings, an empennage, landing gear, and a powerplant.

Fuselage

The fuselage is the central body of an airplane and is designed to accommodate the crew, passengers, and cargo. It also provides the structural connection for the wings and tail assembly. Older types of aircraft design utilized an open truss structure constructed of wood, steel, or aluminum tubing. [Figure 2-5] The most popular types of fuselage structures used in today’s aircraft are the monocoque (French for “single shell”) and semimonocoque. These structure types

Nose-down force Nose-up force independent of airspeed dependent upon airspeed Fixed Lift Variable Ver tical forces

Figure 2-4. Airplane components.

Nose-down force Nose-up force independent of airspeed dependent upon airspeed Fixed Lift Variable Ver tical forces

Figure 2-5. Truss-type fuselage structure.

are discussed in more detail under aircraft construction later in the chapter.

Wings

The wings are airfoils attached to each side of the fuselage and are the main lifting surfaces that support the airplane in flight. There are numerous wing designs, sizes, and shapes used by the various manufacturers. Each fulfills a certain need with respect to the expected performance for the particular airplane. How the wing produces lift is explained in Chapter 4, Aerodynamics of Flight.

Wings may be attached at the top, middle, or lower portion of the fuselage. These designs are referred to as high-, mid-, and low-wing, respectively. The number of wings can also vary. Airplanes with a single set of wings are referred to as

Figure 2-6. Monoplane (left) and biplane (right). monoplanes, while those with two sets are called biplanes.

Figure 2-6. Monoplane (left) and biplane (right).

monoplanes, while those with two sets are called biplanes.

[Figure 2-6]

Many high-wing airplanes have external braces, or wing struts, which transmit the flight and landing loads through the struts to the main fuselage structure. Since the wing struts are usually attached approximately halfway out on the wing, this type of wing structure is called semi-cantilever. A few high-wing and most low-wing airplanes have a full cantilever wing designed to carry the loads without external struts.

The principal structural parts of the wing are spars, ribs, and stringers. [Figure 2-7] These are reinforced by trusses, I-beams, tubing, or other devices, including the skin. The wing ribs determine the shape and thickness of the wing

Figure 2-6. Monoplane (left) and biplane (right). monoplanes, while those with two sets are called biplanes.

(airfoil). In most modern airplanes, the fuel tanks either are an integral part of the wing’s structure, or consist of flexible containers mounted inside of the wing.

Attached to the rear or trailing edges of the wings are two types of control surfaces referred to as ailerons and flaps. Ailerons extend from about the midpoint of each wing outward toward the tip, and move in opposite directions to create aerodynamic forces that cause the airplane to roll. Flaps extend outward from the fuselage to near the midpoint of each wing. The flaps are normally flush with the wing’s surface during cruising flight. When extended, the flaps move simultaneously downward to increase the lifting force of the wing for takeoffs and landings. [Figure 2-8]

Figure 2-6. Monoplane (left) and biplane (right). monoplanes, while those with two sets are called biplanes.

Figure 2-7. Wing components.

Basic section
Basic section
Plain flap Split flap
Plain flap
Split flap
Slotted flap
Slotted flap
Fowler flap Slotted Fowler flap
Fowler flap
Slotted Fowler flap

Figure 2-8. Types of flaps.

Alternate Types of Wings

With the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) recent addition of the LSA category, various methods are employed to control flight and to produce lift. These methods are discussed in Chapter 4, Aerodynamics of Flight, which provides information on the effect controls have on lifting surfaces from traditional wings to wings that use both flexing (due to billowing) and shifting (through the change of the aircraft’s CG). Handbooks specific to each category of LSA are available for the interested pilot. LSA illustrate various lifting surfaces and control methods. For example, the wing

of the weight-shift control aircraft is highly swept, and the shifting of weight to provide controlled flight. [Figure 2-9]

Basic section Plain flap Split flap Slotted flap Fowler flap Slotted Fowler flap Figure 2-8. Types

Figure 2-9. Weight-shift control aircraft use the shifting of weight

for control.

Empennage The empennage includes the entire tail group and consists of fixed surfaces such as the vertical stabilizer and the horizontal stabilizer. The movable surfaces include the rudder, the elevator, and one or more trim tabs. [Figure 2-10]

Basic section Plain flap Split flap Slotted flap Fowler flap Slotted Fowler flap Figure 2-8. Types

Figure 2-10. Empennage components.

The rudder is attached to the back of the vertical stabilizer. During flight, it is used to move the airplane’s nose left and right. The elevator, which is attached to the back of the horizontal stabilizer, is used to move the nose of the airplane up and down during flight. Trim tabs are small, movable portions of the trailing edge of the control surface. These movable trim tabs, which are controlled from the flight deck, reduce control pressures. Trim tabs may be installed on the ailerons, the rudder, and/or the elevator.

A second type of empennage design does not require an elevator. Instead, it incorporates a one-piece horizontal stabilizer that pivots from a central hinge point. This type of

Leading edge stagnation point A B Trailing edge stagnation point
Leading edge stagnation point
A
B
Trailing edge stagnation point

Figure 3-4. Air circulation around an airfoil occurs when the front stagnation point is below the leading edge and the aft stagnation point is beyond the trailing edge.

This low-pressure area produces an upward force known as the Magnus Effect, the physical phenomenon whereby an object’s rotation affects its path through a fluid, to include air. Two early aerodynamicists, Martin Kutta and Nicolai Joukowski, eventually measured and calculated the forces for the lift equation on a rotating cylinder (the Kutta-Joukowski theorem).

To summarize the Magnus effect, an airfoil with a positive AOA develops air circulation about the upper surface of the wing. Its sharp trailing edge forces the rear stagnation point to be aft of the trailing edge, while the front stagnation point falls below the leading edge. [Figure 3-4]

Bernoulli’s Principle of Differential Pressure

A half-century after Newton formulated his laws, Daniel Bernoulli, a Swiss mathematician, explained how the pressure of a moving fluid (liquid or gas) varies with its speed of motion. Bernoulli’s Principle states that as the velocity of a moving fluid (liquid or gas) increases, the pressure within the fluid decreases. This principle explains what happens to air passing over the curved top of the airplane wing.

A practical application of Bernoulli’s Principle is the venturi tube. The venturi tube has an air inlet that narrows to a throat

(constricted point) and an outlet section that increases in diameter toward the rear. The diameter of the outlet is the

same as that of the inlet. At the throat, the airflow speeds up

and the pressure decreases; at the outlet, the airflow slows

and the pressure increases. [Figure 3-5]

Since air is recognized as a body and it is accepted that it must

follow the above laws, one can begin to see how and why an airplane wing develops lift. As the wing moves through the air, the flow of air across the curved top surface increases in velocity creating a low-pressure area.

Although Newton, Magnus, Bernoulli, and hundreds of other early scientists who studied the physical laws of the universe did not have the sophisticated laboratories available today, they provided great insight to the contemporary viewpoint of how lift is created.

Airfoil Design

An airfoil is a structure designed to obtain reaction upon its surface from the air through which it moves or that moves past such a structure. Air acts in various ways when submitted to different pressures and velocities; but this discussion is confined to the parts of an aircraft that a pilot is most concerned with in flight—namely, the airfoils designed to produce lift. By looking at a typical airfoil profile, such as the cross section of a wing, one can see several obvious characteristics of design. [Figure 3-6] Notice that there is a difference in the curvatures (called cambers) of the upper and lower surfaces of the airfoil. The camber of the upper surface is more pronounced than that of the lower surface, which is usually somewhat flat.

NOTE: The two extremities of the airfoil profile also differ in appearance. The end, which faces forward in flight, is called

4 6 4 6 4 6 4 6 4 6 4 6 VELOCITY PRESSURE S VELOCITY
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Figure 3-5. Air pressure decreases in a venturi tube.
Mean camber line Trailing edge surf ace r e p p u f o r e
Mean camber line
Trailing edge
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Chord line

Figure 3-6. Typical airfoil section.

the leading edge, and is rounded; the other end, the trailing edge, is quite narrow and tapered.

A reference line often used in discussing the airfoil is the chord line, a straight line drawn through the profile connecting the extremities of the leading and trailing edges. The distance from this chord line to the upper and lower surfaces of the wing denotes the magnitude of the upper and lower camber at any point. Another reference line, drawn from the leading edge to the trailing edge, is the mean camber line. This mean line is equidistant at all points from the upper and lower surfaces.

An airfoil is constructed in such a way that its shape takes advantage of the air’s response to certain physical laws. This develops two actions from the air mass: a positive pressure lifting action from the air mass below the wing, and a negative pressure lifting action from lowered pressure above the wing.

As the air stream strikes the relatively flat lower surface of a wing or rotor blade when inclined at a small angle to its direction of motion, the air is forced to rebound downward, causing an upward reaction in positive lift. At the same time, the air stream striking the upper curved section of the leading edge is deflected upward. An airfoil is shaped to cause an action on the air, and forces air downward, which provides an equal reaction from the air, forcing the airfoil upward. If a wing is constructed in such form that it causes a lift force greater than the weight of the aircraft, the aircraft will fly.

If all the lift required were obtained merely from the deflection of air by the lower surface of the wing, an aircraft would only need a flat wing like a kite. However, the balance of the lift needed to support the aircraft comes from the flow of air above the wing. Herein lies the key to flight.

It is neither accurate nor useful to assign specific values to the percentage of lift generated by the upper surface of an airfoil versus that generated by the lower surface. These are not constant values and vary, not only with flight conditions, but also with different wing designs.

Different airfoils have different flight characteristics. Many thousands of airfoils have been tested in wind tunnels and in actual flight, but no one airfoil has been found that satisfies

every flight requirement. The weight, speed, and purpose

of each aircraft dictate the shape of its airfoil. The most

efficient airfoil for producing the greatest lift is one that has a concave, or “scooped out” lower surface. As a fixed design, this type of airfoil sacrifices too much speed while producing lift and is not suitable for high-speed flight. Advancements in engineering have made it possible for today’s high-speed jets to take advantage of the concave airfoil’s high lift characteristics. Leading edge (Kreuger) flaps and trailing edge (Fowler) flaps, when extended from the basic wing structure, literally change the airfoil shape into the classic concave form, thereby generating much greater lift during slow flight conditions.

On the other hand, an airfoil that is perfectly streamlined and offers little wind resistance sometimes does not have enough lifting power to take the airplane off the ground. Thus, modern airplanes have airfoils that strike a medium between extremes in design. The shape varies according to the needs of the airplane for which it is designed. Figure 3-7 shows some of the more common airfoil sections.

Early airfoil Later airfoil Clark 'Y' airfoil (Subsonic) Laminar flow airfoil (Subsonic) Circular arc airfoil (Supersonic)
Early airfoil
Later airfoil
Clark 'Y' airfoil
(Subsonic)
Laminar flow airfoil
(Subsonic)
Circular arc airfoil
(Supersonic)
Double wedge airfoil
(Supersonic)

Figure 3-7. Airfoil designs.

Low Pressure Above

In a wind tunnel or in flight, an airfoil is simply a streamlined object inserted into a moving stream of air. If the airfoil profile were in the shape of a teardrop, the speed and the pressure changes of the air passing over the top and bottom would be the same on both sides. But if the teardrop shaped airfoil were cut in half lengthwise, a form resembling the basic airfoil

(wing) section would result. If the airfoil were then inclined so the airflow strikes it at an angle (angle of attack (AOA)), the air moving over the upper surface would be forced to move faster than the air moving along the bottom of the airfoil. This increased velocity reduces the pressure above the airfoil.

Applying Bernoulli’s Principle of Pressure, the increase in the speed of the air across the top of an airfoil produces a drop in pressure. This lowered pressure is a component of total lift. The pressure difference between the upper and lower surface of a wing alone does not account for the total lift force produced.

The downward backward flow from the top surface of an airfoil creates a downwash. This downwash meets the flow from the bottom of the airfoil at the trailing edge. Applying Newton’s third law, the reaction of this downward backward flow results in an upward forward force on the airfoil.

High Pressure Below

A certain amount of lift is generated by pressure conditions underneath the airfoil. Because of the manner in which air flows underneath the airfoil, a positive pressure results, particularly at higher angles of attack. But there is another aspect to this airflow that must be considered. At a point close to the leading edge, the airflow is virtually stopped (stagnation point) and then gradually increases speed. At some point near the trailing edge, it again reaches a velocity equal to that on the upper surface. In conformance with Bernoulli’s principle, where the airflow was slowed beneath the airfoil, a positive upward pressure was created i.e., as the fluid speed decreases, the pressure must increase. Since the pressure differential between the upper and lower surface of the airfoil increases, total lift increases. Both Bernoulli’s Principle and Newton’s Laws are in operation whenever lift is being generated by an airfoil.

Pressure Distribution

From experiments conducted on wind tunnel models and on full size airplanes, it has been determined that as air flows along the surface of a wing at different angles of attack, there are regions along the surface where the pressure is negative, or less than atmospheric, and regions where the pressure is positive, or greater than atmospheric. This negative pressure on the upper surface creates a relatively larger force on the wing than is caused by the positive pressure resulting from the air striking the lower wing surface. Figure 3-8 shows the pressure distribution along an airfoil at three different angles of attack. The average of the pressure variation for any given angle of attack is referred to as the center of pressure (CP). Aerodynamic force acts through this CP. At high angles of attack, the CP moves forward, while at low angles of attack the CP moves aft. In the design of wing structures, this CP

Low angle of attack CP k e l c g ° f a n o t
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High angle of attack CP Figure 3-8. Pressure distribution on an airfoil and CP changes with
High angle of attack
CP
Figure 3-8. Pressure distribution on an airfoil and CP changes
with AOA.
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travel is very important, since it affects the position of the air loads imposed on the wing structure in both low and high AOA conditions. An airplane’s aerodynamic balance and controllability are governed by changes in the CP.

Airfoil Behavior

Although specific examples can be cited in which each of the principles predict and contribute to the formation of lift, lift is a complex subject. The production of lift is much more complex than a simple differential pressure between upper and lower airfoil surfaces. In fact, many lifting airfoils do not have an upper surface longer than the bottom, as in the case of symmetrical airfoils. These are seen in high-speed aircraft having symmetrical wings, or on symmetrical rotor blades for many helicopters whose upper and lower surfaces are identical. In both examples, the relationship of the airfoil with the oncoming airstream (angle) is all that is different. A paper airplane, which is simply a flat plate, has a bottom and top exactly the same shape and length. Yet these airfoils do produce lift, and “flow turning” is partly (or fully) responsible for creating lift.

As an airfoil moves through air, the airfoil is inclined against the airflow, producing a different flow caused by the airfoil’s relationship to the oncoming air. Think of a hand being placed outside the car window at a high speed. If the hand is inclined in one direction or another, the hand will move upward or downward. This is caused by deflection, which in turn causes the air to turn about the object within the air stream. As a result of this change, the velocity about the object changes in both magnitude and direction, in turn resulting in a measurable velocity force and direction.

trailing edge of the airfoil. This downwash results in an overall reduction in lift for the affected portion of the airfoil.

Manufacturers have developed different methods to counteract this action. Winglets can be added to the tip of an airfoil to reduce this flow. The winglets act as a dam preventing the vortex from forming. Winglets can be on the top or bottom of the airfoil. Another method of countering the flow is to taper the airfoil tip, reducing the pressure differential and smoothing the airflow around the tip.

Chapter Summary

Modern general aviation aircraft have what may be considered high performance characteristics. Therefore, it is increasingly necessary that pilots appreciate and understand the principles upon which the art of flying is based. For additional information on the principles discussed in this chapter, visit the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Beginner’s Guide to Aerodynamics at http://www.grc.nasa.

gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/index.html.

A Third Dimension

To this point the discussion has centered on the flow across the upper and lower surfaces of an airfoil. While most of the lift is produced by these two dimensions, a third dimension, the tip of the airfoil also has an aerodynamic effect. The high- pressure area on the bottom of an airfoil pushes around the tip to the low-pressure area on the top. [Figure 3-9] This action creates a rotating flow called a tip vortex. The vortex flows behind the airfoil creating a downwash that extends back to the

Tip v o r t e x Figure 3-9. Tip vortex.
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Figure 3-9. Tip vortex.

Chapter 4

Aerodynamics of Flight

Forces Acting on the Aircraft

Thrust, drag, lift, and weight are forces that act upon all aircraft in flight. Understanding how these forces work and knowing how to control them with the use of power and flight controls are essential to flight. This chapter discusses the aerodynamics of flight—how design, weight, load factors, and gravity affect an aircraft during flight maneuvers.

The four forces acting on an aircraft in straight-and-level, unaccelerated flight are thrust, drag, lift, and weight. They are defined as follows:

• Thrust—the forward force produced by the powerplant/ propeller or rotor. It opposes or overcomes the force of drag. As a general rule, it acts parallel to the longitudinal axis. However, this is not always the case, as explained later.

Drag—a rearward, retarding force caused by disruption of airflow by the wing, rotor, fuselage, and other protruding objects. Drag opposes thrust, and acts rearward parallel to the relative wind.

Weight—the combined load of the aircraft itself, the crew, the fuel, and the cargo or baggage. Weight pulls the aircraft downward because of the force of gravity. It opposes lift, and acts vertically downward through the aircraft’s center of gravity (CG).

• Lift—opposes the downward force of weight, is produced by the dynamic effect of the air acting on the airfoil, and acts perpendicular to the flightpath through the center of lift.

In steady flight, the sum of these opposing forces is always zero. There can be no unbalanced forces in steady, straight flight based upon Newton’s Third Law, which states that for every action or force there is an equal, but opposite, reaction or force. This is true whether flying level or when climbing or descending.

It does not mean the four forces are equal. It means the opposing forces are equal to, and thereby cancel, the effects of each other. In Figure 4-1 the force vectors of thrust, drag, lift, and weight appear to be equal in value. The usual explanation states (without stipulating that thrust and drag do not equal weight and lift) that thrust equals drag and lift equals weight. Although basically true, this statement can be misleading. It should be understood that in straight, level, unaccelerated flight, it is true that the opposing lift/weight forces are equal. They are also greater than the opposing forces of thrust/drag that are equal only to each other. Therefore, in steady flight:

• The sum of all upward forces (not just lift) equals the sum of all downward
The sum of all upward forces (not just lift) equals the
sum of all downward forces (not just weight).
The sum of all forward forces (not just thrust) equals
the sum of all backward forces (not just drag).
Thrust
Drag
Lift
Weight

Figure 4-1. Relationship of forces acting on an airplane.

This refinement of the old “thrust equals drag; lift equals

weight” formula explains that a portion of thrust is directed upward in climbs and acts as if it were lift while a portion of weight is directed backward and acts as if it were drag.

[Figure 4-2]

Flightpath wind Relative Thrust Drag CG Component of weight opposed to lift Rearward component of weight
Flightpath wind
Relative
Thrust
Drag
CG
Component of weight
opposed to lift
Rearward component of weight

Figure 4-2. Force vectors during a stabilized climb.

In glides, a portion of the weight vector is directed forward, and, therefore, acts as thrust. In other words, any time the flightpath of the aircraft is not horizontal, lift, weight, thrust, and drag vectors must each be broken down into two components.

Discussions of the preceding concepts are frequently omitted in aeronautical texts/handbooks/manuals. The reason is not that they are inconsequential, but because the main ideas with respect to the aerodynamic forces acting upon an airplane in flight can be presented in their most essential elements without being involved in the technicalities of the aerodynamicist. In point of fact, considering only level flight, and normal climbs and glides in a steady state, it is still true that lift provided by the wing or rotor is the primary upward force, and weight is the primary downward force.

By using the aerodynamic forces of thrust, drag, lift, and weight, pilots can fly a controlled, safe flight. A more detailed discussion of these forces follows.

Thrust

For an aircraft to move, thrust must be exerted and be greater

than drag. The aircraft will continue to move and gain speed until thrust and drag are equal. In order to maintain a constant airspeed, thrust and drag must remain equal, just as lift and weight must be equal to maintain a constant altitude. If in level flight, the engine power is reduced, the thrust is lessened, and the aircraft slows down. As long as the thrust

Level high speed Level cruise speed Level low speed Flightpath Flightpath Flightpath Relative wind Relative wind
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Flightpath
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Figure 4-3. Angle of attack at various speeds.
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is less than the drag, the aircraft continues to decelerate until its airspeed is insufficient to support it in the air.

Likewise, if the engine power is increased, thrust becomes greater than drag and the airspeed increases. As long as the thrust continues to be greater than the drag, the aircraft continues to accelerate. When drag equals thrust, the aircraft flies at a constant airspeed.

Straight-and-level flight may be sustained at a wide range of speeds. The pilot coordinates angle of attack (AOA)—the acute angle between the chord line of the airfoil and the direction of the relative wind—and thrust in all speed regimes if the aircraft is to be held in level flight. Roughly, these regimes can be grouped in three categories: low-speed flight, cruising flight, and high-speed flight.

When the airspeed is low, the AOA must be relatively high if the balance between lift and weight is to be maintained. [Figure 4-3] If thrust decreases and airspeed decreases, lift becomes less than weight and the aircraft starts to descend. To maintain level flight, the pilot can increase the AOA an amount which will generate a lift force again equal to the weight of the aircraft. While the aircraft will be flying more slowly, it will still maintain level flight if the pilot has properly coordinated thrust and AOA.

Straight-and-level flight in the slow-speed regime provides some interesting conditions relative to the equilibrium of forces

because with the aircraft in a nose-high attitude, there is a vertical component of thrust that helps support it. For one thing, wing loading tends to be less than would be expected. Most pilots are aware that an airplane will stall, other conditions being equal, at a slower speed with the power on than with the power off. (Induced airflow over the wings from the propeller also contributes to this.) However, if analysis is restricted to the four forces as they are usually defined during slow-speed flight the thrust is equal to drag, and lift is equal to weight.

During straight-and-level flight when thrust is increased and the airspeed increases, the AOA must be decreased. That is, if changes have been coordinated, the aircraft will remain in level flight, but at a higher speed when the proper relationship between thrust and AOA is established.

If the AOA were not coordinated (decreased) with an increase of thrust, the aircraft would climb. But decreasing the AOA modifies the lift, keeping it equal to the weight, and the aircraft remains in level flight. Level flight at even slightly negative AOA is possible at very high speed. It is evident then, that level flight can be performed with any AOA between stalling angle and the relatively small negative angles found at high speed.

Some aircraft have the ability to change the direction of the thrust rather than changing the AOA. This is accomplished either by pivoting the engines or by vectoring the exhaust gases. [Figure 4-4]

Level high speed Level cruise speed Level low speed Flightpath Flightpath Flightpath Relative wind Relative wind
Level high speed Level cruise speed Level low speed Flightpath Flightpath Flightpath Relative wind Relative wind

Figure 4-4. Some aircraft have the ability to change the direction of thrust.

Drag

Drag is the force that resists movement of an aircraft through the air. There are two basic types: parasite drag and induced drag. The first is called parasite because it in no way functions to aid flight, while the second, induced drag, is a result of an airfoil developing lift.

Parasite Drag

Parasite drag is comprised of all the forces that work to slow an aircraft’s movement. As the term parasite implies, it is the drag that is not associated with the production of lift. This includes the displacement of the air by the aircraft, turbulence generated in the airstream, or a hindrance of air moving over the surface of the aircraft and airfoil. There are three types of parasite drag: form drag, interference drag, and skin friction.

Interference Drag

Interference drag comes from the intersection of airstreams that creates eddy currents, turbulence, or restricts smooth airflow. For example, the intersection of the wing and the fuselage at the wing root has significant interference drag. Air flowing around the fuselage collides with air flowing over the wing, merging into a current of air different from the two original currents. The most interference drag is

observed when two surfaces meet at perpendicular angles. Fairings are used to reduce this tendency. If a jet fighter carries two identical wing tanks, the overall drag is greater than the sum of the individual tanks because both of these create and generate interference drag. Fairings and distance between lifting surfaces and external components (such as radar antennas hung from wings) reduce interference drag.

[Figure 4-6]

Form Drag

Form drag is the portion of parasite drag generated by the aircraft due to its shape and airflow around it. Examples include the engine cowlings, antennas, and the aerodynamic shape of other components. When the air has to separate to move around a moving aircraft and its components, it eventually rejoins after passing the body. How quickly and smoothly it rejoins is representative of the resistance that it creates which requires additional force to overcome.

[Figure 4-5]

FLAT PLATE SPHERE SPHERE WITH A FAIRING SPHERE INSIDE A HOUSING
FLAT PLATE
SPHERE
SPHERE WITH
A FAIRING
SPHERE INSIDE
A HOUSING

Figure 4-5. Form drag.

Notice how the flat plate in Figure 4-5 causes the air to swirl around the edges until it eventually rejoins downstream. Form drag is the easiest to reduce when designing an aircraft. The solution is to streamline as many of the parts as possible.

Drag Drag is the force that resists movement of an aircraft through the air. There are

Figure 4-6. A wing root can cause interference drag.

Skin Friction Drag

Skin friction drag is the aerodynamic resistance due to the contact of moving air with the surface of an aircraft. Every surface, no matter how apparently smooth, has a rough, ragged surface when viewed under a microscope. The air

molecules, which come in direct contact with the surface of

the wing, are virtually motionless. Each layer of molecules above the surface moves slightly faster until the molecules are moving at the velocity of the air moving around the aircraft. This speed is called the free-stream velocity. The

area between the wing and the free-stream velocity level is about as wide as a playing card and is called the boundary layer. At the top of the boundary layer, the molecules increase velocity and move at the same speed as the molecules outside the boundary layer. The actual speed at which the molecules move depends upon the shape of the wing, the viscosity (stickiness) of the air through which the wing or airfoil is moving, and its compressibility (how much it can be compacted).

The airflow outside of the boundary layer reacts to the shape of the edge of the boundary layer just as it would to the physical surface of an object. The boundary layer gives any object an “effective” shape that is usually slightly different from the physical shape. The boundary layer may also separate from the body, thus creating an effective shape much different from the physical shape of the object. This change in the physical shape of the boundary layer causes a dramatic decrease in lift and an increase in drag. When this happens, the airfoil has stalled.

In order to reduce the effect of skin friction drag, aircraft designers utilize flush mount rivets and remove any irregularities which may protrude above the wing surface. In addition, a smooth and glossy finish aids in transition of air across the surface of the wing. Since dirt on an aircraft disrupts the free flow of air and increases drag, keep the surfaces of an aircraft clean and waxed.

Induced Drag

The second basic type of drag is induced drag. It is an established physical fact that no system that does work in the mechanical sense can be 100 percent efficient. This means that whatever the nature of the system, the required work is obtained at the expense of certain additional work that is dissipated or lost in the system. The more efficient the system, the smaller this loss.

behind the wing’s trailing edge. This induced downwash has nothing in common with the downwash that is necessary to produce lift. It is, in fact, the source of induced drag. The greater the size and strength of the vortices and consequent downwash component on the net airflow over the airfoil, the greater the induced drag effect becomes. This downwash over the top of the airfoil at the tip has the same effect as bending the lift vector rearward; therefore, the lift is slightly aft of perpendicular to the relative wind, creating a rearward lift component. This is induced drag.

The airflow outside of the boundary layer reacts to the shape of the edge of the

Figure 4-7. Wingtip vortex from a crop duster.

In level flight the aerodynamic properties of a wing or rotor produce a required lift, but this can be obtained only at the expense of a certain penalty. The name given to this penalty is induced drag. Induced drag is inherent whenever an airfoil is producing lift and, in fact, this type of drag is inseparable from the production of lift. Consequently, it is always present if lift is produced.

An airfoil (wing or rotor blade) produces the lift force by making use of the energy of the free airstream. Whenever an airfoil is producing lift, the pressure on the lower surface of it is greater than that on the upper surface (Bernoulli’s Principle). As a result, the air tends to flow from the high pressure area below the tip upward to the low pressure area on the upper surface. In the vicinity of the tips, there is a tendency for these pressures to equalize, resulting in a lateral flow outward from the underside to the upper surface. This lateral flow imparts a rotational velocity to the air at the tips, creating vortices, which trail behind the airfoil.

When the aircraft is viewed from the tail, these vortices circulate counterclockwise about the right tip and clockwise about the left tip. [Figure 4-7] Bearing in mind the direction of rotation of these vortices, it can be seen that they induce an upward flow of air beyond the tip, and a downwash flow

In order to create a greater negative pressure on the top of an airfoil, the airfoil can be inclined to a higher AOA. If the AOA of a symmetrical airfoil were zero, there would be no pressure differential, and consequently, no downwash component and no induced drag. In any case, as AOA increases, induced drag increases proportionally. To state this another way—the lower the airspeed the greater the AOA required to produce lift equal to the aircraft’s weight and, therefore, the greater induced drag. The amount of induced drag varies inversely with the square of the airspeed.

Conversely, parasite drag increases as the square of the airspeed. Thus, as airspeed decreases to near the stalling speed, the total drag becomes greater, due mainly to the sharp rise in induced drag. Similarly, as the airspeed reaches the terminal velocity of the aircraft, the total drag again increases rapidly, due to the sharp increase of parasite drag. As seen in Figure 4-8, at some given airspeed, total drag is at its minimum amount. In figuring the maximum endurance and range of aircraft, the power required to overcome drag is at a minimum if drag is at a minimum.

Total Drag Ind u c e d Drag Minimum Drag Airspeed F o r m D
Total Drag
Ind
u
c
e
d
Drag
Minimum
Drag
Airspeed
F
o
r
m
D
r
a
g
Total Drag

Figure 4-8. Drag versus speed.

Lift/Drag Ratio

Drag is the price paid to obtain lift. The lift to drag ratio (L/D) is the amount of lift generated by a wing or airfoil compared to its drag. A ratio of L/D indicates airfoil efficiency. Aircraft with higher L/D ratios are more efficient than those with lower L/D ratios. In unaccelerated flight with the lift and drag data steady, the proportions of the C L and coefficient of drag (C D ) can be calculated for specific AOA. [Figure 4-9]

The L/D ratio is determined by dividing the C L by the C D , which is the same as dividing the lift equation by the drag equation. All terms except coefficients cancel out. L = Lift in pounds D = Drag

C D= Ratio of drag pressure to dynamic pressure. Typically at low angles of attack, the drag coefficient is low and small changes in angle of attack create only slight changes in the drag coefficient. At high angles of attack, small changes in the angle of attack cause significant changes in drag.

L = C L . ρ . V 2 . S

2

D = C D . ρ . V 2 . S

2

The above formulas represent the coefficient of lift (C L ) and the coefficient of drag (C D ) respectively. The shape of an airfoil and other life producing devices (i.e., flaps) effect the production of lift and alter with changes in the AOA. The lift/drag ratio is used to express the relation between lift and drag and is determined by dividing the lift coefficient by the drag coefficient, C L /C D .

Notice in Figure 4-9 that the lift curve (red) reaches its maximum for this particular wing section at 20° AOA, and then rapidly decreases. 15° AOA is therefore the stalling angle. The drag curve (yellow) increases very rapidly from 14° AOA and completely overcomes the lift curve at 21° AOA. The lift/drag ratio (green) reaches its maximum at 6° AOA, meaning that at this angle, the most lift is obtained for the least amount of drag.

Where L is the lift force in pounds, C L is the lift coefficient, ρ is density expressed in slugs per cubic feet, V is velocity in feet per second, q is dynamic pressure per square feet, and S is the wing area in square feet.

Note that the maximum lift/drag ratio (L/D MAX ) occurs at one specific C L and AOA. If the aircraft is operated in steady flight at L/D MAX , the total drag is at a minimum. Any AOA lower or higher than that for L/D MAX reduces the L/D and

.2000 C L .1800 1.8 18 C L MAX .1600 1.6 16 L/ D MAX .1400
.2000
C
L
.1800
1.8
18
C
L MAX
.1600
1.6
16
L/ D MAX
.1400
1.4
14
.1200
1.2
12
C
L
.1000
1.0
10
.0800
L/ D
0.8
8
.0600
0.6
6
.0400
0.4
4
Stall
.0200
C
0.2
2
D
0
0
0
10°
12°
14°
16°
18°
20°
22°
Critical Angle of attack
Coefficient of drag (C D )
Lift/drag

Figure 4-9. Lift coefficients at various angles of attack.

2.0 1.0 1.5 Coefficient of Lift (C L ) -4 .5
2.0
1.0
1.5
Coefficient of Lift (C L )
-4
.5
20
20
Angle of Attack in Degrees 15 5 10 0
Angle of Attack in Degrees
15
5
10
0

Figure 4-2. Critical angle of attack and stall.

STALLS

A stall occurs when the smooth airflow over the airplane’s wing is disrupted, and the lift degenerates rapidly. This is caused when the wing exceeds its critical angle of attack. This can occur at any airspeed, in any attitude, with any power setting. [Figure 4-2]

The practice of stall recovery and the development of awareness of stalls are of primary importance in pilot training. The objectives in performing intentional stalls are to familiarize the pilot with the conditions that produce stalls, to assist in recognizing an approaching stall, and to develop the habit of taking prompt preventive or corrective action.

Intentional stalls should be performed at an altitude that will provide adequate height above the ground for recovery and return to normal level flight. Though it depends on the degree to which a stall has progressed, most stalls require some loss of altitude during recovery. The longer it takes to recognize the approaching stall, the more complete the stall is likely to become, and the greater the loss of altitude to be expected.

RECOGNITION OF STALLS

Pilots must recognize the flight conditions that are conducive to stalls and know how to apply the necessary corrective action. They should learn to recognize an approaching stall by sight, sound, and feel. The following cues may be useful in recognizing the approaching stall.

Vision is useful in detecting a stall condition by noting the attitude of the airplane. This sense can only be relied on when the stall is the result of an unusual attitude of the airplane. Since the airplane can also be stalled from a normal attitude, vision in this instance would be of little help in detecting the approaching stall.

Hearing is also helpful in sensing a stall condition. In the case of fixed-pitch propeller airplanes in a power-on condition, a change in sound due to loss of revolutions per minute (r.p.m.) is particularly noticeable. The lessening of the noise made by the air flowing along the airplane structure as airspeed decreases is also quite noticeable, and when the stall is almost complete, vibration and incident noises often increase greatly.

Kinesthesia, or the sensing of changes in direction or speed of motion, is probably the most important and the best indicator to the trained and experienced pilot. If this sensitivity is properly developed, it will warn of a decrease in speed or the beginning of a settling or mushing of the airplane.

Feel is an important sense in recognizing the onset of a stall. The feeling of control pressures is very important. As speed is reduced, the resistance to pressures on the controls becomes progressively less. Pressures exerted on the controls tend to become movements of the control surfaces. The

The Wing To understand aerodynamic forces, a pilot needs to understand basic terminology associated with airfoils. Figure 4-1 illustrates a typical airfoil.

The chord line is the straight line intersecting the leading and trailing edges of the airfoil, and the term chord refers to the chord line longitudinal length (length as viewed from the side).

The mean camber is a line located halfway between the upper and lower surfaces. Viewing the wing edgewise, the mean camber connects with the chord line at each end. The mean camber is important because it assists in determining aerodynamic qualities of an airfoil. The measurement of the maximum camber; inclusive of both the displacement of the mean camber line and its linear measurement from the end of the chord line, provide properties useful in evaluating airfoils.

Chord line C/4 C L R M C/4 D Relative wind V
Chord line
C/4
C
L
R
M
C/4
D
Relative wind
V

Figure 4-2. Angle of attack and relative wind.

Flightpath is the course or track along which the aircraft is flying or is intended to be flown.

Review of Basic Aerodynamics

The instrument pilot must understand the relationship and differences between several factors that affect the performance of an aircraft in flight. Also, it is crucial to understand how the aircraft reacts to various control and power changes, because the environment in which instrument pilots fly has inherent hazards not found in visual flying. The basis for this understanding is found in the four forces acting on an aircraft and Newton’s Three Laws of Motion.

Relative Wind is the direction of the airflow with respect to an airfoil.

Angle of Attack (AOA) is the acute angle measured between

the relative wind, or flightpath and the chord of the airfoil.

The Four Forces

The four basic forces [Figure 4-3] acting upon an aircraft in flight are lift, weight, thrust, and drag.

Lift

Lift is a component of the total aerodynamic force on an airfoil and acts perpendicular to the relative wind. Relative wind is the direction of the airflow with respect to an airfoil. This force acts straight up from the average (called mean) center of pressure (CP), which is called the center of lift. It should be noted that it is a point along the chord line of an airfoil through which all aerodynamic forces are considered to act. The magnitude of lift varies proportionately with speed, air density, shape and size of the airfoil, and AOA. During straight-and-level flight, lift and weight are equal.

[Figure 4-2] Mean camber line Upper camber Leading edge Mean chord line Lower camber Trailing edge
[Figure 4-2]
Mean camber line
Upper camber
Leading edge
Mean chord line
Lower camber
Trailing edge

Figure 4-1. The airfoil.

Right aileron Horizontal Vertical stabilizer stabilizer Pitch Rudder x Elevator Thrust Roll Left Drag aileron Wing
Right aileron
Horizontal
Vertical
stabilizer
stabilizer
Pitch
Rudder
x
Elevator
Thrust
Roll
Left
Drag
aileron
Wing
z
y
Lift
Yaw
Weight

Figure 4-3. The four forces and three axes of rotation.

Weight

Weight is the force exerted by an aircraft from the pull of gravity. It acts on an aircraft through its center of gravity (CG) and is straight down. This should not be confused with the center of lift, which can be significantly different from the CG. As an aircraft is descending, weight is greater than lift.

Thrust

Thrust is the forward force produced by the powerplant/ propeller or rotor. It opposes or overcomes the force of drag. As a general rule, it acts parallel to the longitudinal axis.

Drag

Drag is the net aerodynamic force parallel to the relative wind and is generally a sum of two components: induced drag and parasite drag.

Induced Drag

Induced drag is caused from the creation of lift and increases with AOA. Therefore, if the wing is not producing lift, induced drag is zero. Conversely, induced drag decreases with airspeed.

Parasite Drag

Parasite drag is all drag not caused from the production of lift. Parasite drag is created by displacement of air by the aircraft, turbulence generated by the airfoil, and the hindrance of airflow as it passes over the surface of the aircraft or components. All of these forces create drag not from the production of lift but the movement of an object through an air mass. Parasite drag increases with speed and includes skin friction drag, interference drag, and form drag.

• Skin Friction Drag

Covering the entire “wetted” surface of the aircraft is a thin layer of air called a boundary layer. The air molecules on the surface have zero velocity in relation to the surface; however, the layer just above moves over the stagnant molecules below because it is pulled along by a third layer close to the free stream of air. The velocities of the layers increase as the distance from the surface increases until free stream velocity is reached, but all are affected by the free stream. The distance (total) between the skin surface and where free stream velocity is reached is called the boundary layer. At subsonic levels the cumulative layers are about the thickness of a playing card, yet their motion sliding over one another creates a drag force. This force retards motion due to the viscosity of the air and is called skin friction drag. Because skin friction drag is related to a large surface area its affect on smaller aircraft is small versus large transport aircraft where skin friction drag may be considerable.

• Interference Drag

Interference drag is generated by the collision of airstreams creating eddy currents, turbulence, or restrictions to smooth flow. For instance, the airflow around a fuselage and around the wing meet at some point, usually near the wing’s root. These airflows interfere with each other causing a greater drag than the individual values. This is often the case when external items are placed on an aircraft. That is, the drag of each item individually, added to that of the aircraft, are less than that of the two items when allowed to interfere with one another.

• Form Drag

Form drag is the drag created because of the shape of a component or the aircraft. If one were to place a circular disk in an air stream, the pressure on both the top and bottom would be equal. However, the airflow starts to break down as the air flows around the back of the disk. This creates turbulence and hence a lower pressure results. Because the total pressure is affected by this reduced pressure, it creates a drag. Newer aircraft are generally made with consideration to this by fairing parts along the fuselage (teardrop) so that turbulence and form drag is reduced.

Total lift must overcome the total weight of the aircraft, which is comprised of the actual weight and the tail-down force used to control the aircraft’s pitch attitude. Thrust must overcome total drag in order to provide forward speed with which to produce lift. Understanding how the aircraft’s relationship between these elements and the environment provide proper interpretation of the aircraft’s instruments.

Newton’s First Law, the Law of Inertia Newton’s First Law of Motion is the Law of Inertia. It states that a body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion, at the same speed and in the same direction until affected by an outside force. The force with which a body offers resistance to change is called the force of inertia. Two outside forces are always present on an aircraft in flight: gravity and drag. The pilot uses pitch and thrust controls to counter or change these forces to maintain the desired flightpath. If a pilot reduces power while in straight- and-level flight, the aircraft will slow due to drag. However, as the aircraft slows there is a reduction of lift, which causes the aircraft to begin a descent due to gravity. [Figure 4-4]

Newton’s Second Law, the Law of Momentum

Newton’s Second Law of Motion is the Law of Momentum, which states that a body will accelerate in the same direction as the force acting upon that body, and the acceleration will be directly proportional to the net force and inversely proportional to the mass of the body. Acceleration refers either to an increase or decrease in velocity, although

deceleration is commonly used to indicate a decrease. This law governs the aircraft’s ability to change flightpath and speed, which are controlled by attitude (both pitch and bank) and thrust inputs. Speeding up, slowing down, entering climbs or descents, and turning are examples of accelerations that the pilot controls in everyday flight. [Figure 4-5]

Time 150 hp 2,000 lb Force = Acceleration Mass 300 hp 2,000 lb
Time
150 hp
2,000 lb
Force
= Acceleration
Mass
300 hp
2,000 lb

Figure 4-5. Newton’s Second Law of Motion: the Law of Momentum.

Newton’s Third Law, the Law of Reaction Newton’s Third Law of Motion is the Law of Reaction, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. As shown in Figure 4-6, the action of the jet engine’s thrust or the pull of the propeller lead to the reaction of the aircraft’s forward motion. This law is also responsible for a portion of the lift that is produced by a wing, from the downward deflection of the airflow around it. This downward force of the relative wind results in an equal but opposite (upward) lifting force created by the airflow over the wing. [Figure 4-6]

Atmosphere

The atmosphere is the envelope of air which surrounds the Earth. A given volume of dry air contains about 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, and about 1 percent other gases such as argon, carbon dioxide, and others to a lesser degree.

Outside Net force forces Path Apply down elevator Net forces Path
Outside
Net
force
forces
Path
Apply down
elevator
Net forces
Path

Figure 4-4. Newton’s First Law of Motion: the Law of Inertia.

Reaction Action Reaction Action Figure 4-6. Newton’s Third Law of Motion: the Law of Reaction.
Reaction
Action
Reaction
Action
Figure 4-6. Newton’s Third Law of Motion: the Law of Reaction.

Although seemingly light, air does have weight and a one square inch column of the atmosphere at sea level weighs approximately 14.7 pounds. About one-half of the air by weight is within the first 18,000 feet. The remainder of the air is spread over a vertical distance in excess of 1,000 miles.

Air density is a result of the relationship between temperature and pressure. Air density is inversely related to temperature and directly related to pressure. For a constant pressure to be maintained as temperature increases, density must decrease, and vice versa. For a constant temperature to be maintained as pressure increases, density must increase, and vice versa. These relationships provide a basis for understanding instrument indications and aircraft performance.

Layers of the Atmosphere

There are several layers to the atmosphere with the troposphere being closest to the Earth’s surface extending to about 60,000 feet at the equator. Following is the stratosphere, mesosphere, ionosphere, thermosphere, and finally the exosphere. The tropopause is the thin layer between the troposphere and the stratosphere. It varies in both thickness and altitude but is generally defined where the standard lapse (generally accepted at 2 °C per 1,000 feet) decreases significantly (usually down to 1 °C or less).

International Standard Atmosphere (ISA)

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) established the ICAO Standard Atmosphere as a way of creating an international standard for reference and performance computations. Instrument indications and aircraft performance specifications are derived using this standard as a reference. Because the standard atmosphere is a derived set of conditions that rarely exist in reality, pilots need to understand how deviations from the standard affect both instrument indications and aircraft performance.

In the standard atmosphere, sea level pressure is 29.92 inches of mercury ("Hg) and the temperature is 15 °C (59 °F). The standard lapse rate for pressure is approximately a 1 "Hg decrease per 1,000 feet increase in altitude. The standard

lapse rate for temperature is a 2 °C (3.6 °F) decrease per

1,000 feet increase, up to the top of the stratosphere. Since all aircraft performance is compared and evaluated in the environment of the standard atmosphere, all aircraft

performance instrumentation is calibrated for the standard

atmosphere. Because the actual operating conditions rarely,

if ever, fit the standard atmosphere, certain corrections must apply to the instrumentation and aircraft performance. For instance, at 10,000 ISA predicts that the air pressure should be 19.92 "Hg (29.92 "Hg – 10 "Hg = 19.92 "Hg) and the outside temperature at –5 °C (15 °C – 20 °C). If the temperature or the pressure is different than the International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) prediction an adjustment must be made to performance predictions and various instrument indications.

Pressure Altitude

Pressure altitude is the height above the standard datum plane (SDP). The aircraft altimeter is essentially a sensitive barometer calibrated to indicate altitude in the standard atmosphere. If the altimeter is set for 29.92 "Hg SDP, the altitude indicated is the pressure altitude-the altitude in the standard atmosphere corresponding to the sensed pressure.

The SDP is a theoretical level where the pressure of the atmosphere is 29.92 "Hg and the weight of air is 14.7 psi. As atmospheric pressure changes, the SDP may be below, at, or above sea level. Pressure altitude is important as a basis for determining aircraft performance, as well as for assigning flight levels to aircraft operating at or above 18,000 feet. The pressure altitude can be determined by either of two methods: (1) by setting the barometric scale of the altimeter to 29.92 "Hg and reading the indicated altitude, or (2) by applying a correction factor to the indicated altitude according to the reported altimeter setting.

Density Altitude

Density altitude is pressure altitude corrected for nonstandard temperature. As the density of the air increases (lower density altitude), aircraft performance increases. Conversely, as air density decreases (higher density altitude), aircraft performance decreases. A decrease in air density means a high density altitude; an increase in air density means a lower density altitude. Density altitude is used in calculating aircraft performance. Under standard atmospheric conditions, air at each level in the atmosphere has a specific density; under standard conditions, pressure altitude and density altitude identify the same level. Density altitude, then, is the vertical distance above sea level in the standard atmosphere at which a given density is to be found. It can be computed using

a Koch Chart or a flight computer with a density altitude function. [Figure 4-7]

1.8

1.6

Stall C 1.5 L-MAX
Stall
C
1.5
L-MAX

2

4

6

a Koch Chart or a flight computer with a density altitude function. [Figure 4-7] 1.8 1.6

8

10

12

14

16

11

a Koch Chart or a flight computer with a density altitude function. [Figure 4-7] 1.8 1.6
18 20 22 20
18
20
22
20

24

Altitude and Temperature Effects 1.4 TO FIND the effect of altitude temperature CONNECT the temperature and
Altitude and Temperature Effects
1.4
TO FIND the effect of altitude temperature
CONNECT the temperature and airport altitude by straight line
1.2
1.0
READ the increase in take-off distance and the decrease in rate of
climb from standard sea level values here
0.8
120
110
0.6
100
0.4
90
Percent decrease
80
18
0.2
in rate of climb
70
14
0
60
90
12
50
40
280
80
10
200
2
70
30
140
8
100
60
20
60
6
10
40
40
0
20
4
20
−10
0
0
−20
Add this percent to your
normal take off distance
2
0
−30
−40
−2
Airport pressure altitude—Thousand of feet
(read your altmeter set to 29.92 "Hg)
Lift Coefficient - C L

0

Figure 4-7. Koch chart sample.

If a chart is not available, the density altitude can be estimated by adding 120 feet for every degree Celsius above the ISA. For example, at 3,000 feet PA, the ISA prediction is 9 °C (15 °C – [lapse rate of 2 °C per 1,000 feet x 3 = 6 °C]). However, if the actual temperature is 20 °C (11 °C more than that predicted by ISA) then the difference of 11 °C is multiplied by 120 feet equaling 1,320. Adding this figure to the original 3,000 feet provides a density altitude of 4,320 feet (3,000 feet + 1,320 feet).

Lift

Lift always acts in a direction perpendicular to the relative wind and to the lateral axis of the aircraft. The fact that lift is referenced to the wing, not to the Earth’s surface, is the source of many errors in learning flight control. Lift is not always “up.” Its direction relative to the Earth’s surface changes as the pilot maneuvers the aircraft.

The magnitude of the force of lift is directly proportional to the density of the air, the area of the wings, and the airspeed. It also depends upon the type of wing and the AOA. Lift increases with an increase in AOA up to the stalling angle, at which point it decreases with any further increase in AOA. In conventional aircraft, lift is therefore controlled by varying the AOA and speed.

Angle of Attack (degrees)

Figure 4-8. Relationship of lift to AOA.

reduced, pitch must be increased. The pilot controls pitch

through the elevators, which control the AOA. When back

pressure is applied on the elevator control, the tail lowers and the nose rises, thus increasing the wing’s AOA and lift. Under most conditions the elevator is placing downward pressure on the tail. This pressure requires energy that is taken from aircraft performance (speed). Therefore, when the CG is closer to the aft portion of the aircraft the elevator downward forces are less. This results in less energy used for downward forces, in turn resulting in more energy applied to aircraft performance.

Thrust is controlled by using the throttle to establish or maintain desired airspeeds. The most precise method of controlling flightpath is to use pitch control while simultaneously using power (thrust) to control airspeed. In order to maintain a constant lift, a change in pitch requires a change in power, and vice versa.

If the pilot wants the aircraft to accelerate while maintaining altitude, thrust must be increased to overcome drag. As the aircraft speeds up, lift is increased. To prevent gaining altitude, the pitch angle must be lowered to reduce the AOA and maintain altitude. To decelerate while maintaining altitude, thrust must be decreased to less than the value of drag. As the aircraft slows down, lift is reduced. To prevent losing altitude, the pitch angle must be increased in order to increase the AOA and maintain altitude.

Drag Curves

Pitch/Power Relationship

An examination of Figure 4-8 illustrates the relationship between pitch and power while controlling flightpath and airspeed. In order to maintain a constant lift, as airspeed is

When induced drag and parasite drag are plotted on a graph, the total drag on the aircraft appears in the form of a “drag curve.” Graph A of Figure 4-9 shows a curve based on thrust versus drag, which is primarily used for jet aircraft. Graph B

A Jet Aircraft B 4,000 Parasite Total drag drag 3,000 Minimum drag or L/D MAX 2,000
A
Jet Aircraft
B
4,000
Parasite
Total drag
drag
3,000
Minimum
drag or
L/D MAX
2,000
1,000
Induced drag
0
0
100
200
300
400
500
Thrust Required
Power Required Inches H g

Airspeed Figure 4-9. Thrust and power required curves.

Propeller-Driven Aircraft 27 Parasite Total power power 25 required required 23 L/D MAX Minimum power required
Propeller-Driven Aircraft
27
Parasite
Total power
power
25
required
required
23
L/D MAX
Minimum
power
required
18
Induced drag
0
0
100
200
300
400
500

Airspeed

of Figure 4-9 is based on power versus drag, and it is used for propeller-driven aircraft. This chapter focuses on power versus drag charts for propeller-driven aircraft.

Understanding the drag curve can provide valuable insight into the various performance parameters and limitations of the aircraft. Because power must equal drag to maintain a steady airspeed, the curve can be either a drag curve or a power required curve. The power required curve represents the amount of power needed to overcome drag in order to maintain a steady speed in level flight.

The propellers used on most reciprocating engines achieve peak propeller efficiencies in the range of 80 to 88 percent. As airspeed increases, the propeller efficiency increases until it reaches its maximum. Any airspeed above this maximum point causes a reduction in propeller efficiency. An engine that produces 160 horsepower will have only about 80 percent of that power converted into available horsepower, approximately 128 horsepower. The remainder is lost energy. This is the reason the thrust and power available curves change with speed.

additional power is needed to maintain a slower airspeed. This region exists at speeds slower than the minimum drag point (L/D MAX on the thrust required curve, Figure 4-9) and is primarily due to induced drag. Figure 4-10 shows how one power setting can yield two speeds, points 1 and 2. This is because at point 1 there is high induced drag and low parasite drag, while at point 2 there is high parasite drag and low induced drag.

Region of Region of reversed normal command command 1 2 Power Required
Region of
Region of
reversed
normal
command
command
1
2
Power Required

Airspeed

Regions of Command

The drag curve also illustrates the two regions of command:

the region of normal command, and the region of reversed command. The term “region of command” refers to the relationship between speed and the power required to maintain or change that speed. “Command” refers to the input the pilot must give in terms of power or thrust to maintain a new speed once reached.

The “region of normal command” occurs where power must be added to increase speed. This region exists at speeds higher than the minimum drag point primarily as a result of parasite drag. The “region of reversed command” occurs where

Figure 4-10. Regions of command.

Control Characteristics

Most flying is conducted in the region of normal command:

for example, cruise, climb, and maneuvers. The region of reversed command may be encountered in the slow-speed phases of flight during takeoff and landing; however, for most general aviation aircraft, this region is very small and is below normal approach speeds.

Flight in the region of normal command is characterized by a relatively strong tendency of the aircraft to maintain the trim speed. Flight in the region of reversed command is

characterized by a relatively weak tendency of the aircraft to maintain the trim speed. In fact, it is likely the aircraft exhibits no inherent tendency to maintain the trim speed in this area. For this reason, the pilot must give particular attention to precise control of airspeed when operating in the slow-speed phases of the region of reversed command.

Operation in the region of reversed command does not imply that great control difficulty and dangerous conditions exist. However, it does amplify errors of basic flying technique— making proper flying technique and precise control of the aircraft very important.

Speed Stability

Normal Command

The characteristics of flight in the region of normal command are illustrated at point A on the curve in Figure 4-11. If the aircraft is established in steady, level flight at point A, lift is equal to weight, and the power available is set equal to the power required. If the airspeed is increased with no changes to the power setting, a power deficiency exists. The aircraft has a natural tendency to return to the initial speed to balance power and drag. If the airspeed is reduced with no changes to the power setting, an excess of power exists. The aircraft has a natural tendency to speed up to regain the balance between power and drag. Keeping the aircraft in proper trim enhances this natural tendency. The static longitudinal stability of the aircraft tends to return the aircraft to the original trimmed condition.

Region of reversed Region of command normal command Power A deficit Excess Power power deficit Excess
Region of
reversed
Region of
command
normal
command
Power
A
deficit
Excess
Power
power
deficit
Excess
C
power
B
Little or no excess
power or power deficit
Power Required

Airspeed Figure 4-11. Region of speed stability.

An aircraft flying in steady, level flight at point C is in equilibrium. [Figure 4-11] If the speed were increased or decreased slightly, the aircraft would tend to remain at that speed. This is because the curve is relatively flat and a slight change in speed does not produce any significant excess or deficiency in power. It has the characteristic of neutral stability (i.e., the aircraft’s tendency is to remain at the new speed).

Reversed Command

The characteristics of flight in the region of reversed command are illustrated at point B on the curve in Figure 4-10. If the aircraft is established in steady, level flight at point B, lift is equal to weight, and the power available is set equal to the power required. When the airspeed is increased greater than point B, an excess of power exists. This causes the aircraft to accelerate to an even higher speed. When the aircraft is slowed to some airspeed lower than point B, a deficiency of power exists. The natural tendency of the aircraft is to continue to slow to an even lower airspeed.

This tendency toward instability happens because the variation of excess power to either side of point B magnifies the original change in speed. Although the static longitudinal stability of the aircraft tries to maintain the original trimmed condition, this instability is more of an influence because of the increased induced drag due to the higher AOA in slow- speed flight.

Trim

The term trim refers to employing adjustable aerodynamic devices on the aircraft to adjust forces so the pilot does not have to manually hold pressure on the controls. One means is to employ trim tabs. A trim tab is a small, adjustable hinged surface, located on the trailing edge of the elevator, aileron, or rudder control surfaces. (Some aircraft use adjustable stabilizers instead of trim tabs for pitch trim.) Trimming is accomplished by deflecting the tab in the direction opposite to that in which the primary control surface must be held. The force of the airflow striking the tab causes the main

control surface to be deflected to a position that corrects the

unbalanced condition of the aircraft.

Because the trim tabs use airflow to function, trim is a function of speed. Any change in speed results in the need to re-trim the aircraft. An aircraft properly trimmed in pitch seeks to return to the original speed before the change. It is very important

for instrument pilots to keep the aircraft in constant trim. This

reduces the pilot’s workload significantly, allowing attention

to other duties without compromising aircraft control.

Slow-Speed Flight

Anytime an aircraft is flying near the stalling speed or the region of reversed command, such as in final approach for a normal landing, the initial part of a go around, or maneuvering in slow flight, it is operating in what is called slow-speed flight. If the aircraft weighs 4,000 pounds, the lift produced by the aircraft must be 4,000 pounds. When lift is less than 4,000 pounds, the aircraft is no longer able to sustain level flight, and consequently descends. During intentional descents, this is an important factor and is used in the total control of the aircraft.

However, because lift is required during low speed flight and is characterized by high AOA, flaps or other high lift devices are needed to either change the camber of the airfoil, or delay the boundary level separation. Plain and split flaps [Figure 4-12] are most commonly used to change the camber of an airfoil. It should be noted that with the application of flaps, the aircraft will stall at a lower AOA. For example, if the basic wing stalls at 18° without flaps, then with the addition of flaps to the C L-MAX position, the new AOA that the wing will stall is 15°. However, the value of lift (flaps extended to the C L-MAX position) produces more lift than lift at 18° on the basic wing.

Plain Split
Plain
Split

Figure 4-12. Plain and split flaps.

Delaying the boundary layer separation is another way to increase C L-MAX . Several methods are employed (such as suction and use of a blowing boundary layer control), but the most common device used on general aviation light aircraft is the vortex generator. Small strips of metal placed along the wing (usually in front of the control surfaces) create turbulence. The turbulence in turn mixes high energy air from outside the boundary layer with boundary layer air. The effect is similar to other boundary layer devices. [Figure 4-13]

Small Airplanes

Most small airplanes maintain a speed well in excess of 1.3 times V SO on an instrument approach. An airplane with a stall speed of 50 knots (V SO ) has a normal approach speed of 65 knots. However, this same airplane may maintain 90 knots (1.8 V SO ) while on the final segment of an instrument approach. The landing gear will most likely be extended at the beginning of the descent to the minimum descent altitude, or upon intercepting the glideslope of the instrument landing system. The pilot may also select an intermediate flap setting for this phase of the approach. The airplane at this speed has good positive speed stability, as represented by point A on Figure 4-11. Flying in this regime permits the pilot to make slight pitch changes without changing power settings, and

Uncontrolled Turbulence Controlled Vortices
Uncontrolled Turbulence
Controlled Vortices

Figure 4-13. Vortex generators.

accept minor speed changes knowing that when the pitch is returned to the initial setting, the speed returns to the original setting. This reduces the pilot’s workload.

Aircraft are usually slowed to a normal landing speed when on the final approach just prior to landing. When slowed to 65 knots, (1.3 V SO ), the airplane will be close to point C. [Figure 4-14] At this point, precise control of the pitch and power becomes more crucial for maintaining the correct speed. Pitch and power coordination is necessary because the speed stability is relatively neutral since the speed tends to remain at the new value and not return to the original setting. In addition to the need for more precise airspeed control, the pilot normally changes the aircraft’s configuration by extending landing flaps. This configuration change means the pilot must be alert to unwanted pitch changes at a low altitude.

L Vertical component of lift Resultant lift L Horizontal component of lift L Weight W
L
Vertical
component of lift
Resultant lift
L
Horizontal
component of lift
L
Weight
W

Figure 4-14. Forces in a turn.

If allowed to slow several knots, the airplane could enter the region of reversed command. At this point, the airplane could develop an unsafe sink rate and continue to lose speed unless the pilot takes a prompt corrective action. Proper pitch and power coordination is critical in this region due to speed instability and the tendency of increased divergence from the desired speed.

Large Airplanes

Pilots of larger airplanes with higher stall speeds may find the speed they maintain on the instrument approach is near 1.3 V SO , putting them near point C [Figure 4-11] the entire time the airplane is on the final approach segment. In this case, precise speed control is necessary throughout the approach. It may be necessary to temporarily select excessive, or deficient thrust in relation to the target thrust setting in order to quickly correct for airspeed deviations.

For example, a pilot is on an instrument approach at 1.3 V SO , a speed near L/D MAX , and knows that a certain power setting maintains that speed. The airplane slows several knots below the desired speed because of a slight reduction in the power setting. The pilot increases the power slightly, and the airplane begins to accelerate, but at a slow rate. Because the airplane is still in the “flat part” of the drag curve, this slight increase in power will not cause a rapid return to the desired speed. The pilot may need to increase the power higher than normally needed to maintain the new speed, allow the airplane to accelerate, then reduce the power to the setting that maintains the desired speed.

Climbs

The ability for an aircraft to climb depends upon an excess power or thrust over what it takes to maintain equilibrium.

Excess power is the available power over and above that

required to maintain horizontal flight at a given speed. Although the terms power and thrust are sometimes used interchangeably (erroneously implying they are synonymous), distinguishing between the two is important

when considering climb performance. Work is the product of a force moving through a distance and is usually independent of time. Power implies work rate or units of work per unit

of time, and as such is a function of the speed at which the

force is developed. Thrust, also a function of work, means

the force which imparts a change in the velocity of a mass.

During takeoff, the aircraft does not stall even though it may be in a climb near the stall speed. The reason is that excess power (used to produce thrust) is used during this flight regime. Therefore, it is important if an engine fails after takeoff, to compensate the loss of thrust with pitch and airspeed.

For a given weight of the aircraft, the angle of climb depends on the difference between thrust and drag, or the excess thrust. When the excess thrust is zero, the inclination of the flightpath is zero, and the aircraft is in steady, level flight. When thrust is greater than drag, the excess thrust allows a climb angle depending on the amount of excess thrust. When thrust is less than drag, the deficiency of thrust induces an angle of descent.

Acceleration in Cruise Flight

Aircraft accelerate in level flight because of an excess of power over what is required to maintain a steady speed. This is the same excess power used to climb. Upon reaching the desired altitude with pitch being lowered to maintain that altitude, the excess power now accelerates the aircraft to its cruise speed. However, reducing power too soon after level off results in a longer period of time to accelerate.

Turns

Like any moving object, an aircraft requires a sideward force to make it turn. In a normal turn, this force is supplied by banking the aircraft in order to exert lift inward, as well as upward. The force of lift is separated into two components at right angles to each other. [Figure 4-14] The upward acting lift together with the opposing weight becomes the vertical lift component. The horizontally acting lift and its opposing centrifugal force are the horizontal lift component, or centripetal force. This horizontal lift component is the sideward force that causes an aircraft to turn. The equal and opposite reaction to this sideward force is centrifugal force, which is merely an apparent force as a result of inertia.

The relationship between the aircraft’s speed and bank angle to the rate and radius of turns is important for instrument pilots to understand. The pilot can use this knowledge to properly estimate bank angles needed for certain rates of turn, or to determine how much to lead when intercepting a course.

Rate of Turn

The rate of turn, normally measured in degrees per second, is based upon a set bank angle at a set speed. If either one of these elements changes, the rate of turn changes. If the aircraft increases its speed without changing the bank angle, the rate of turn decreases. Likewise, if the speed decreases without changing the bank angle, the rate of turn increases.

Changing the bank angle without changing speed also causes the rate of turn to change. Increasing the bank angle without changing speed increases the rate of turn, while decreasing the bank angle reduces the rate of turn.

The standard rate of turn, 3° per second, is used as the main reference for bank angle. Therefore, the pilot must understand how the angle of bank varies with speed changes, such as slowing down for holding or an instrument approach. Figure 4-15 shows the turn relationship with reference to a constant bank angle or a constant airspeed, and the effects on rate of turn and radius of turn. A rule of thumb for determining the standard rate turn is to divide the airspeed by ten and add 7. An aircraft with an airspeed of 90 knots takes a bank angle of 16° to maintain a standard rate turn (90 divided by 10 plus 7 equals 16°).

turn, while decreasing the bank angle increases the radius of turn. This means that intercepting a course at a higher speed requires more distance, and therefore, requires a longer lead. If the speed is slowed considerably in preparation for holding or an approach, a shorter lead is needed than that required for cruise flight.

Coordination of Rudder and Aileron Controls Any time ailerons are used, adverse yaw is produced. Adverse yaw is caused when the ailerons are deflected as a roll motion (as in turn) is initiated. In a right turn, the right aileron is deflected upward while the left is deflected downward. Lift is increased on the left side and reduced on the right, resulting in a bank to the right. However, as a result of producing lift on the left, induced drag is also increased on the left side. The drag causes the left wing to slow down, in turn causing the nose of the aircraft to initially move (left) in the direction opposite of the turn. Correcting for this yaw with rudder, when entering and exiting turns, is necessary for precise control of the airplane when flying on instruments. The pilot can tell if the turn is coordinated by checking the ball in the turn-and- slip indicator or the turn coordinator. [Figure 4-16]

As the aircraft banks to enter a turn, a portion of the wing’s vertical lift becomes the horizontal component; therefore, without an increase in back pressure, the aircraft loses altitude during the turn. The loss of vertical lift can be offset by increasing the pitch in one-half bar width increments. Trim may be used to relieve the control pressures; however, if used, it has to be removed once the turn is complete.

Radius of Turn

The radius of turn varies with changes in either speed or bank. If the speed is increased without changing the bank angle, the radius of turn increases, and vice versa. If the speed is constant, increasing the bank angle reduces the radius of

In a slipping turn, the aircraft is not turning at the rate appropriate to the bank being used, and the aircraft falls to the inside of the turn. The aircraft is banked too much for the rate of turn, so the horizontal lift component is greater than the centrifugal force. A skidding turn results from excess of

Radius≈1,500 Radius≈3,500 Radius≈6,500 Radius≈8,000 Radius≈3,500 Radius≈2,000 Figure 4-15. Turns.
Radius≈1,500
Radius≈3,500
Radius≈6,500
Radius≈8,000
Radius≈3,500
Radius≈2,000
Figure 4-15. Turns.

Steep turns are those resulting from a degree of bank (45° or more) at which the “overbanking tendency” of an airplane overcomes stability, and the bank increases unless aileron is applied to prevent it.

Changing the direction of the wing’s lift toward one side or the other causes the airplane to be pulled in that direction. [Figure 3-6] Applying coordinated aileron and rudder to bank the airplane in the direction of the desired turn does this.

Steep turns are those resulting from a degree of bank (45° or more) at which the

Figure 3-6. Change in lift causes airplane to turn.

When an airplane is flying straight and level, the total lift is acting perpendicular to the wings and to the Earth. As the airplane is banked into a turn, the lift then becomes the resultant of two components. One, the vertical lift component, continues to act perpendicular to the Earth and opposes gravity. Second, the horizontal lift compo- nent (centripetal) acts parallel to the Earth’s surface and opposes inertia (apparent centrifugal force). These two lift components act at right angles to each other, causing the resultant total lifting force to act perpendicular to the banked wing of the airplane. It is the horizontal lift com- ponent that actually turns the airplane—not the rudder. When applying aileron to bank the airplane, the lowered aileron (on the rising wing) produces a greater drag than the raised aileron (on the lowering wing). [Figure 3-7] This increased aileron yaws the airplane toward the rising wing, or opposite to the direction of turn. To counteract this adverse yawing moment, rudder pressure must be applied simultaneously with aileron in the desired direction of turn. This action is required to produce a coordinated turn.

After the bank has been established in a medium banked turn, all pressure applied to the aileron may be relaxed. The airplane will remain at the selected bank

More lift Additional induced drag Reduced lift Rudder overcomes adverse yaw to coordinate the turn
More lift
Additional
induced drag
Reduced lift
Rudder overcomes
adverse yaw to
coordinate the turn

Figure 3-7. Forces during a turn.

with no further tendency to yaw since there is no longer a deflection of the ailerons. As a result, pres-

sure may also be relaxed on the rudder pedals, and the

rudder allowed to streamline itself with the direction

of the slipstream. Rudder pressure maintained after the

turn is established will cause the airplane to skid to the

outside of the turn. If a definite effort is made to center

the rudder rather than let it streamline itself to the turn,

it is probable that some opposite rudder pressure will

be exerted inadvertently. This will force the airplane to yaw opposite its turning path, causing the airplane to

slip to the inside of the turn. The ball in the turn-and-

slip indicator will be displaced off-center whenever

the airplane is skidding or slipping sideways. [Figure

3-8] In proper coordinated flight, there is no skidding or slipping. An essential basic airmanship skill is the ability of the pilot to sense or “feel” any uncoordinated condition (slip or skid) without referring to instrument reference. During this stage of training, the flight instructor should stress the development of this ability and insist on its use to attain perfect coordination in all subsequent training.

In all constant altitude, constant airspeed turns, it is necessary to increase the angle of attack of the wing when rolling into the turn by applying up elevator. This is required because part of the vertical lift has been diverted to horizontal lift. Thus, the total lift must be increased to compensate for this loss.

To stop the turn, the wings are returned to level flight by the coordinated use of the ailerons and rudder applied in the opposite direction. To understand the relationship between airspeed, bank, and radius of turn, it should be noted that the rate of turn at any given true airspeed depends on the horizontal lift com- ponent. The horizontal lift component varies in pro- portion to the amount of bank. Therefore, the rate of turn at a given true airspeed increases as the angle of bank is increased. On the other hand, when a turn is made at a higher true airspeed at a given bank angle, the inertia is greater and the horizontal lift component required for the turn is greater, causing the turning rate

SKID COORDINATED SLIP TURN Ball to outside Ball centered Ball to inside of turn of turn
SKID
COORDINATED
SLIP
TURN
Ball to outside
Ball centered
Ball to inside
of turn
of turn
Pilot feels
sideways force
to outside of turn
Pilot feels
Pilot feels
sideways force
force straight
to inside of turn
down into seat

Figure 3-8. Indications of a slip and skid.

to become slower. [Figure 3-9 on next page] Therefore, at a given angle of bank, a higher true airspeed will make the radius of turn larger because the airplane will be turning at a slower rate.

When changing from a shallow bank to a medium bank, the airspeed of the wing on the outside of the turn increases in relation to the inside wing as the radius of turn decreases. The additional lift developed because of this increase in speed of the wing balances the inherent lateral stability of the airplane. At any given airspeed, aileron pressure is not required to maintain the bank. If the bank is allowed to increase from a medium to a steep bank, the radius of turn decreases further. The lift of the outside wing causes the bank to steepen and opposite aileron is necessary to keep the bank constant.

As the radius of the turn becomes smaller, a significant difference develops between the speed of the inside wing and the speed of the outside wing. The wing on the outside of the turn travels a longer circuit than the inside wing, yet both complete their respective circuits in the same length of time. Therefore, the outside wing travels faster than the inside wing, and as a result, it develops more lift. This creates an overbanking tendency that must be controlled by the use of the ailerons. [Figure 3-10] Because the outboard wing is developing more lift, it also has more induced drag. This causes a slight slip during steep turns that must be corrected by use of the rudder.

Sometimes during early training in steep turns, the nose may be allowed to get excessively low resulting in a significant loss in altitude. To recover, the pilot should first reduce the angle of bank with coordinated use of the rudder and aileron, then raise the nose of the airplane to level flight with the elevator. If recovery from an excessively nose-low steep bank condition is

attempted by use of the elevator only, it will cause a steepening of the bank and could result in overstress- ing the airplane. Normally, small corrections for pitch during steep turns are accomplished with the elevator, and the bank is held constant with the ailerons.

To establish the desired angle of bank, the pilot should use outside visual reference points, as well as the bank indicator on the attitude indicator.

OVERBANKING TENDENCY

Outer wing travels greater distance

Higher Speed

More Lift

Inner wing travels shorter distance

Lower speed

Less lift

Figure 3-10. Overbanking tendency during a steep turn.

The best outside reference for establishing the degree of bank is the angle formed by the raised wing of low-wing airplanes (the lowered wing of high-wing airplanes) and the horizon, or the angle made by the top of the engine cowling and the horizon. [Figure 3-11 on page 3-11] Since on most light airplanes the engine cowling is fairly flat, its horizontal angle to the horizon will give some indication of the approximate degree of bank. Also, information obtained from the attitude indicator will show the angle of the wing in relation to the horizon. Information from the turn coordinator, however, will not.

CONSTANT AIRSPEED 10° Angle of Bank When airspeed is held constant, a 20° Angle of Bank
CONSTANT AIRSPEED
10° Angle of Bank
When airspeed is
held constant, a
20° Angle of Bank
larger angle of bank
will result in a
smaller turn radius
and a greater turn
rate.
30° Angle of Bank
CONSTANT ANGLE OF BANK
100 kts
When angle of bank
90 kts
is held constant, a
slower airspeed will
result in a smaller
turn radius and
greater turn rate.
80 kts

Figure 3-9. Angle of bank and airspeed regulate rate and radius of turn.

because the pilot controls the aircraft by shifting the CG. For more information on weight-shift control aircraft, see the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Weight-Shift Control Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-5. In the case of powered parachutes, aircraft control is accomplished by altering the airfoil via steering lines.

A powered parachute wing is a parachute that has a cambered upper surface and a flatter under surface. The two surfaces are separated by ribs that act as cells, which open to the airflow at the leading edge and have internal ports to allow lateral airflow. The principle at work holds that the cell pressure is greater than the outside pressure, thereby forming a wing that maintains its airfoil shape in flight. The pilot and passenger sit in tandem in front of the engine which is located at the rear of a vehicle. The airframe is attached to the parachute via two attachment points and lines. Control is accomplished by both power and the changing of the airfoil via the control lines. [Figure 4-17]

because the pilot controls the aircraft by shifting the CG. For more information on weight-shift control

Figure 4-17. A powered parachute.

Moment and Moment Arm

A study of physics shows that a body that is free to rotate will always turn about its CG. In aerodynamic terms, the mathematical measure of an aircraft’s tendency to rotate about its CG is called a “moment.” A moment is said to be equal to the product of the force applied and the distance at which the force is applied. (A moment arm is the distance from a datum [reference point or line] to the applied force.) For aircraft weight and balance computations, “moments” are expressed in terms of the distance of the arm times the aircraft’s weight, or simply, inch-pounds.

Aircraft designers locate the fore and aft position of the aircraft’s CG as nearly as possible to the 20 percent point of the mean aerodynamic chord (MAC). If the thrust line is designed to pass horizontally through the CG, it will not cause the aircraft to pitch when power is changed, and there will be no difference in moment due to thrust for a power-on

or power-off condition of flight. Although designers have some control over the location of the drag forces, they are not always able to make the resultant drag forces pass through the CG of the aircraft. However, the one item over which they have the greatest control is the size and location of the tail. The objective is to make the moments (due to thrust, drag, and lift) as small as possible and, by proper location of the tail, to provide the means of balancing an aircraft longitudinally for any condition of flight.

The pilot has no direct control over the location of forces acting on the aircraft in flight, except for controlling the center of lift by changing the AOA. Such a change, however, immediately involves changes in other forces. Therefore, the pilot cannot independently change the location of one force without changing the effect of others. For example, a change in airspeed involves a change in lift, as well as a change in drag and a change in the up or down force on the tail. As forces such as turbulence and gusts act to displace the aircraft, the pilot reacts by providing opposing control forces to counteract this displacement.

Some aircraft are subject to changes in the location of the CG with variations of load. Trimming devices are used to counteract the forces set up by fuel burnoff, and loading or off-loading of passengers or cargo. Elevator trim tabs and adjustable horizontal stabilizers comprise the most common devices provided to the pilot for trimming for load variations. Over the wide ranges of balance during flight in large aircraft, the force which the pilot has to exert on the controls would become excessive and fatiguing if means of trimming were not provided.

Aircraft Design Characteristics

Each aircraft handles somewhat differently because each resists or responds to control pressures in its own way. For example, a training aircraft is quick to respond to control applications, while a transport aircraft feels heavy on the controls and responds to control pressures more slowly. These features can be designed into an aircraft to facilitate the particular purpose of the aircraft by considering certain stability and maneuvering requirements. The following discussion summarizes the more important aspects of an aircraft’s stability, maneuverability and controllability qualities; how they are analyzed; and their relationship to various flight conditions.

Stability

Stability is the inherent quality of an aircraft to correct for conditions that may disturb its equilibrium, and to return to or to continue on the original flightpath. It is primarily an aircraft design characteristic. The flightpaths and attitudes an aircraft flies are limited by the aerodynamic characteristics of

the aircraft, its propulsion system, and its structural strength. These limitations indicate the maximum performance and maneuverability of the aircraft. If the aircraft is to provide maximum utility, it must be safely controllable to the full extent of these limits without exceeding the pilot’s strength or requiring exceptional flying ability. If an aircraft is to fly straight and steady along any arbitrary flightpath, the forces acting on it must be in static equilibrium. The reaction of any body when its equilibrium is disturbed is referred to as stability. The two types of stability are static and dynamic.

Static Stability

Static stability refers to the initial tendency, or direction of movement, back to equilibrium. In aviation, it refers to the aircraft’s initial response when disturbed from a given AOA, slip, or bank.

Positive static stability—the initial tendency of the aircraft to return to the original state of equilibrium after being disturbed [Figure 4-18]

Neutral static stability—the initial tendency of the aircraft to remain in a new condition after its equilibrium has been disturbed [Figure 4-18]

Negative static stability—the initial tendency of the aircraft to continue away from the original state of equilibrium after being disturbed [Figure 4-18]

Dynamic Stability

Static stability has been defined as the initial tendency to return to equilibrium that the aircraft displays after being disturbed from its trimmed condition. Occasionally, the initial tendency is different or opposite from the overall tendency, so a distinction must be made between the two.

Dynamic stability refers to the aircraft response over time when disturbed from a given AOA, slip, or bank. This type of stability also has three subtypes: [Figure 4-19]

Positive dynamic stability—over time, the motion of the displaced object decreases in amplitude and, because it is positive, the object displaced returns toward the equilibrium state.

Neutral dynamic stability—once displaced, the displaced object neither decreases nor increases in amplitude. A worn automobile shock absorber exhibits this tendency.

• Negative dynamic stability—over time, the motion of the displaced object increases and becomes more divergent.

Stability in an aircraft affects two areas significantly:

Maneuverability—the quality of an aircraft that permits it to be maneuvered easily and to withstand the stresses imposed by maneuvers. It is governed by the aircraft’s weight, inertia, size and location of flight controls, structural strength, and powerplant. It too is an aircraft design characteristic.

Controllability—the capability of an aircraft to respond to the pilot’s control, especially with regard to flightpath and attitude. It is the quality of the aircraft’s response to the pilot’s control application when maneuvering the aircraft, regardless of its stability characteristics.

Positive static stability Neutral static stability Negative static stability Applied Applied Applied Force Force Force Figure
Positive static stability
Neutral static stability
Negative static stability
Applied
Applied
Applied
Force
Force
Force
Figure 4-18. Types of static stability.
CG
CG
CG
CG
Damped oscillation Undamped oscillation Divergent oscillation Positive static (positive dynamic) Time Positive Static Positive static (negative
Damped oscillation
Undamped oscillation
Divergent oscillation
Positive static
(positive dynamic)
Time
Positive Static
Positive static
(negative dynamic)
(neutral dynamic)
Displacement

Figure 4-19. Damped versus undamped stability.

Longitudinal Stability (Pitching)

In designing an aircraft, a great deal of effort is spent in developing the desired degree of stability around all three axes. But longitudinal stability about the lateral axis is considered to be the most affected by certain variables in various flight conditions.

Longitudinal stability is the quality that makes an aircraft stable about its lateral axis. It involves the pitching motion as the aircraft’s nose moves up and down in flight. A longitudinally unstable aircraft has a tendency to dive or climb progressively into a very steep dive or climb, or even a stall. Thus, an aircraft with longitudinal instability becomes difficult and sometimes dangerous to fly.

Static longitudinal stability or instability in an aircraft, is dependent upon three factors:

  • 1. Location of the wing with respect to the CG

  • 2. Location of the horizontal tail surfaces with respect to the CG

  • 3. Area or size of the tail surfaces

In analyzing stability, it should be recalled that a body free to rotate always turns about its CG.

To obtain static longitudinal stability, the relation of the wing and tail moments must be such that, if the moments are initially balanced and the aircraft is suddenly nose up, the wing moments and tail moments change so that the sum of their forces provides an unbalanced but restoring moment which, in turn, brings the nose down again. Similarly, if the aircraft is nose down, the resulting change in moments brings the nose back up.

The CL in most asymmetrical airfoils has a tendency to change its fore and aft positions with a change in the AOA. The CL tends to move forward with an increase in AOA and to move aft with a decrease in AOA. This means that when the AOA of an airfoil is increased, the CL, by moving forward, tends to lift the leading edge of the wing still more. This tendency gives the wing an inherent quality of instability. (NOTE: CL is also known as the center of pressure (CP).)

CL CL Figure 4-20 shows an aircraft in straight-and-level flight. The line CG-CL-T represents the aircraft’s
CL
CL
Figure 4-20 shows an aircraft in straight-and-level flight. The
line CG-CL-T represents the aircraft’s longitudinal axis from
the CG to a point T on the horizontal stabilizer.
CG
CG

Figure 4-20. Longitudinal stability.

Most aircraft are designed so that the wing’s CL is to the rear of the CG. This makes the aircraft “nose heavy” and requires that there be a slight downward force on the horizontal stabilizer in order to balance the aircraft and keep the nose from continually pitching downward. Compensation for this nose heaviness is provided by setting the horizontal stabilizer at a slight negative AOA. The downward force thus produced holds the tail down, counterbalancing the “heavy” nose. It

is as if the line CG-CL-T were a lever with an upward force at CL and two downward forces balancing each other, one a strong force at the CG point and the other, a much lesser force, at point T (downward air pressure on the stabilizer). To better visualize this physics principle: If an iron bar were suspended at point CL, with a heavy weight hanging on it at the CG, it would take downward pressure at point T to keep the “lever” in balance.

Even though the horizontal stabilizer may be level when the aircraft is in level flight, there is a downwash of air from the wings. This downwash strikes the top of the stabilizer and produces a downward pressure, which at a certain speed is just enough to balance the “lever.” The faster the aircraft is flying, the greater this downwash and the greater the downward force on the horizontal stabilizer (except T-tails). [Figure 4-21] In aircraft with fixed-position horizontal stabilizers, the aircraft manufacturer sets the stabilizer at an angle that provides the best stability (or balance) during flight at the design cruising speed and power setting.

CG Balanced tail load Cruise speed CG Lesser downward tail load Low speed CG Greater downward
CG
Balanced tail load
Cruise speed
CG
Lesser downward tail load
Low speed
CG
Greater downward tail load
High speed

Figure 4-21. Effect of speed on downwash.

If the aircraft’s speed decreases, the speed of the airflow over the wing is decreased. As a result of this decreased flow of air over the wing, the downwash is reduced, causing a lesser downward force on the horizontal stabilizer. In turn, the characteristic nose heaviness is accentuated, causing the aircraft’s nose to pitch down more. [Figure 4-22] This places the aircraft in a nose-low attitude, lessening the wing’s AOA and drag and allowing the airspeed to increase. As the aircraft continues in the nose-low attitude and its speed increases,

Thrust CG Normal downwash CG Thrust Reduced downwash Lift Lift Weight Weight
Thrust
CG
Normal downwash
CG
Thrust
Reduced downwash
Lift
Lift
Weight
Weight

Figure 4-22. Reduced power allows pitch down.

the downward force on the horizontal stabilizer is once again increased. Consequently, the tail is again pushed downward and the nose rises into a climbing attitude.

As this climb continues, the airspeed again decreases, causing

the downward force on the tail to decrease until the nose

lowers once more. Because the aircraft is dynamically stable,

the nose does not lower as far this time as it did before. The

aircraft acquires enough speed in this more gradual dive to

start it into another climb, but the climb is not as steep as

the preceding one.

After several of these diminishing oscillations, in which

the nose alternately rises and lowers, the aircraft finally

settles down to a speed at which the downward force on the

tail exactly counteracts the tendency of the aircraft to dive. When this condition is attained, the aircraft is once again in

balanced flight and continues in stabilized flight as long as

this attitude and airspeed are not changed.

A similar effect is noted upon closing the throttle. The

downwash of the wings is reduced and the force at T in

Figure 4-20 is not enough to hold the horizontal stabilizer down. It seems as if the force at T on the lever were allowing the force of gravity to pull the nose down. This is a desirable characteristic because the aircraft is inherently trying to regain airspeed and reestablish the proper balance.

Power or thrust can also have a destabilizing effect in that an increase of power may tend to make the nose rise. The aircraft designer can offset this by establishing a “high thrust line” wherein the line of thrust passes above the CG. [Figures 4-23 and 4-24] In this case, as power or thrust is increased a moment is produced to counteract the down

CG Thrust Below center of gravity Thrust CG Through center of gravity Thrust CG Above center
CG
Thrust
Below center of gravity
Thrust
CG
Through center of gravity
Thrust
CG
Above center of gravity

Figure 4-23. Thrust line affects longitudinal stability.

Thrust CG Cruise power Thrust CG Idle power Thrust CG Full power Lift Lift Lift
Thrust
CG
Cruise power
Thrust
CG
Idle power
Thrust
CG
Full power
Lift
Lift
Lift

Figure 4-24. Power changes affect longitudinal stability.

load on the tail. On the other hand, a very “low thrust line” would tend to add to the nose-up effect of the horizontal tail surface.

Conclusion: with CG forward of the CL and with an

aerodynamic tail-down force, the aircraft usually tries to

return to a safe flying attitude.

The following is a simple demonstration of longitudinal

stability. Trim the aircraft for “hands off” control in level

flight. Then, momentarily give the controls a slight push to

nose the aircraft down. If, within a brief period, the nose rises to the original position and then stops, the aircraft is statically

stable. Ordinarily, the nose passes the original position (that

of level flight) and a series of slow pitching oscillations

follows. If the oscillations gradually cease, the aircraft has

positive stability; if they continue unevenly, the aircraft has neutral stability; if they increase, the aircraft is unstable.

Lateral Stability (Rolling)

Stability about the aircraft’s longitudinal axis, which extends

from the nose of the aircraft to its tail, is called lateral

stability. This helps to stabilize the lateral or “rolling effect”

when one wing gets lower than the wing on the opposite side

of the aircraft. There are four main design factors that make

an aircraft laterally stable: dihedral, sweepback, keel effect, and weight distribution.

Dihedral

The most common procedure for producing lateral stability

is to build the wings with an angle of one to three degrees

above perpendicular to the longitudinal axis. The wings on

either side of the aircraft join the fuselage to form a slight V or

angle called “dihedral.” The amount of dihedral is measured by the angle made by each wing above a line parallel to the

lateral axis.

Dihedral involves a balance of lift created by the wings’ AOA

on each side of the aircraft’s longitudinal axis. If a momentary

gust of wind forces one wing to rise and the other to lower, the

aircraft banks. When the aircraft is banked without turning,

the tendency to sideslip or slide downward toward the lowered

wing occurs. [Figure 4-25] Since the wings have dihedral, the air strikes the lower wing at a much greater AOA than the

higher wing. The increased AOA on the lower wing creates

more lift than the higher wing. Increased lift causes the lower

wing to begin to rise upward. As the wings approach the

level position, the AOA on both wings once again are equal,

causing the rolling tendency to subside. The effect of dihedral

is to produce a rolling tendency to return the aircraft to a

laterally balanced flight condition when a sideslip occurs.

The restoring force may move the low wing up too far, so that the opposite wing now goes down. If so, the process is repeated, decreasing with each lateral oscillation until a balance for wings-level flight is finally reached.

Normal angle of attack
Normal angle of attack
Dihedral lateral stability Greater angle of attack Lesser angle of attack Figure 4-25. Dihedral for lateral
Dihedral lateral stability
Greater angle
of attack
Lesser angle
of attack
Figure 4-25. Dihedral for lateral stability.

Conversely, excessive dihedral has an adverse effect on lateral maneuvering qualities. The aircraft may be so stable laterally that it resists an intentional rolling motion. For this reason, aircraft that require fast roll or banking characteristics usually have less dihedral than those designed for less maneuverability.

Sweepback

Sweepback is an addition to the dihedral that increases the lift created when a wing drops from the level position. A sweptback wing is one in which the leading edge slopes backward. When a disturbance causes an aircraft with sweepback to slip or drop a wing, the low wing presents its leading edge at an angle that is perpendicular to the relative airflow. As a result, the low wing acquires more lift, rises, and the aircraft is restored to its original flight attitude.

Sweepback also contributes to directional stability. When turbulence or rudder application causes the aircraft to yaw to one side, the right wing presents a longer leading edge perpendicular to the relative airflow. The airspeed of the right wing increases and it acquires more drag than the left wing. The additional drag on the right wing pulls it back, turning the aircraft back to its original path.

Keel Effect and Weight Distribution

An aircraft always has the tendency to turn the longitudinal axis of the aircraft into the relative wind. This “weather vane” tendency is similar to the keel of a ship and exerts a steadying influence on the aircraft laterally about the longitudinal axis. When the aircraft is disturbed and one wing dips, the fuselage weight acts like a pendulum returning the airplane to its original attitude.

Laterally stable aircraft are constructed so that the greater portion of the keel area is above and behind the CG. [Figure 4-26] Thus, when the aircraft slips to one side, the

combination of the aircraft’s weight and the pressure of the

airflow against the upper portion of the keel area (both acting

about the CG) tends to roll the aircraft back to wings-level

flight. CG CG centerline CG
flight.
CG
CG centerline
CG

Figure 4-26. Keel area for lateral stability.

Vertical Stability (Yawing)

Stability about the aircraft’s vertical axis (the sideways moment) is called yawing or directional stability. Yawing or directional stability is the most easily achieved stability in aircraft design. The area of the vertical fin and the sides of the fuselage aft of the CG are the prime contributors which make the aircraft act like the well known weather vane or arrow, pointing its nose into the relative wind.

In examining a weather vane, it can be seen that if exactly the same amount of surface were exposed to the wind in front of the pivot point as behind it, the forces fore and aft would be in balance and little or no directional movement would result. Consequently, it is necessary to have a greater surface aft of the pivot point than forward of it.

Similarly, the aircraft designer must ensure positive directional stability by making the side surface greater aft than ahead of the CG. [Figure 4-27] To provide additional positive stability to that provided by the fuselage, a vertical fin is added. The fin acts similar to the feather on an arrow in maintaining straight flight. Like the weather vane and the arrow, the farther aft this fin is placed and the larger its size, the greater the aircraft’s directional stability.

If an aircraft is flying in a straight line, and a sideward gust of air gives the aircraft a slight rotation about its vertical axis (i.e., the right), the motion is retarded and stopped by the fin because while the aircraft is rotating to the right, the air is striking the left side of the fin at an angle. This causes pressure on the left side of the fin, which resists the turning motion and slows down the aircraft’s yaw. In doing so, it

CG Area forward Area after center of gravity (CG) of CG CG R e l a
CG
Area
forward
Area after center of gravity (CG)
of CG
CG
R
e
l
a
ti
d
v
e
win
Figure 4-27. Fuselage and fin for vertical stability.
w
y
a
a
y
w

acts somewhat like the weather vane by turning the aircraft into the relative wind. The initial change in direction of the aircraft’s flightpath is generally slightly behind its change of heading. Therefore, after a slight yawing of the aircraft to the right, there is a brief moment when the aircraft is still moving along its original path, but its longitudinal axis is pointed slightly to the right.

Because of structural reasons, aircraft designers sometimes

cannot attach the wings to the fuselage at the exact desired

point. If they had to mount the wings too far forward, and at

right angles to the fuselage, the center of pressure would not

be far enough to the rear to result in the desired amount of longitudinal stability. By building sweepback into the wings, however, the designers can move the center of pressure toward the rear. The amount of sweepback and the position

of the wings then place the center of pressure in the correct location.

The contribution of the wing to static directional stability is

usually small. The swept wing provides a stable contribution

depending on the amount of sweepback, but the contribution

is relatively small when compared with other components.

Free Directional Oscillations (Dutch Roll)

Dutch roll is a coupled lateral/directional oscillation that is usually dynamically stable but is unsafe in an aircraft because of the oscillatory nature. The damping of the oscillatory mode

may be weak or strong depending on the properties of the particular aircraft.

If the aircraft has a right wing pushed down, the positive sideslip angle corrects the wing laterally before the nose is realigned with the relative wind. As the wing corrects the position, a lateral directional oscillation can occur resulting in the nose of the aircraft making a figure eight on the horizon as a result of two oscillations (roll and yaw), which, although of about the same magnitude, are out of phase with each other.

The aircraft is then momentarily skidding sideways, and during that moment (since it is assumed that although the yawing motion has stopped, the excess pressure on the left side of the fin still persists) there is necessarily a tendency for the aircraft to be turned partially back to the left. That is, there is a momentary restoring tendency caused by the fin.

This restoring tendency is relatively slow in developing and ceases when the aircraft stops skidding. When it ceases, the aircraft is flying in a direction slightly different from the original direction. In other words, it will not return of its own accord to the original heading; the pilot must reestablish the initial heading.

A minor improvement of directional stability may be obtained through sweepback. Sweepback is incorporated in the design of the wing primarily to delay the onset of compressibility during high-speed flight. In lighter and slower aircraft, sweepback aids in locating the center of pressure in the correct relationship with the CG. A longitudinally stable aircraft is built with the center of pressure aft of the CG.

In most modern aircraft, except high-speed swept wing designs, these free directional oscillations usually die out automatically in very few cycles unless the air continues to be gusty or turbulent. Those aircraft with continuing Dutch roll tendencies are usually equipped with gyro-stabilized yaw dampers. Manufacturers try to reach a midpoint between too much and too little directional stability. Because it is more desirable for the aircraft to have “spiral instability” than Dutch roll tendencies, most aircraft are designed with that characteristic.

Spiral Instability

Spiral instability exists when the static directional stability of the aircraft is very strong as compared to the effect of its dihedral in maintaining lateral equilibrium. When the lateral equilibrium of the aircraft is disturbed by a gust of air and a sideslip is introduced, the strong directional stability tends to yaw the nose into the resultant relative wind while the comparatively weak dihedral lags in restoring the lateral balance. Due to this yaw, the wing on the outside of the

turning moment travels forward faster than the inside wing and, as a consequence, its lift becomes greater. This produces an overbanking tendency which, if not corrected by the pilot, results in the bank angle becoming steeper and steeper. At the same time, the strong directional stability that yaws the aircraft into the relative wind is actually forcing the nose to a lower pitch attitude. A slow downward spiral begins which, if not counteracted by the pilot, gradually increases into a steep spiral dive. Usually the rate of divergence in the spiral motion is so gradual the pilot can control the tendency without any difficulty.

All aircraft are affected to some degree by this characteristic, although they may be inherently stable in all other normal parameters. This tendency explains why an aircraft cannot be flown “hands off” indefinitely.

Much research has gone into the development of control devices (wing leveler) to correct or eliminate this instability. The pilot must be careful in application of recovery controls during advanced stages of this spiral condition or excessive loads may be imposed on the structure. Improper recovery from spiral instability leading to inflight structural failures has probably contributed to more fatalities in general aviation aircraft than any other factor. Since the airspeed in the spiral condition builds up rapidly, the application of back elevator force to reduce this speed and to pull the nose up only “tightens the turn,” increasing the load factor. The results of the prolonged uncontrolled spiral are inflight structural failure or crashing into the ground, or both. The most common recorded causes for pilots who get into this situation are:

loss of horizon reference, inability to control the aircraft by reference to instruments, or a combination of both.

Aerodynamic Forces in Flight Maneuvers

Forces in Turns If an aircraft were viewed in straight-and-level flight from the front [Figure 4-28], and if the forces acting on the aircraft

could be seen, lift and weight would be apparent: two forces. If the aircraft were in a bank it would be apparent that lift did not act directly opposite to the weight, rather it now acts in the direction of the bank. A basic truth about turns: when the aircraft banks, lift acts inward toward the center of the turn, as well as upward.

Newton’s First Law of Motion, the Law of Inertia, states that an object at rest or moving in a straight line remains at rest or continues to move in a straight line until acted on by some other force. An aircraft, like any moving object, requires a sideward force to make it turn. In a normal turn, this force is supplied by banking the aircraft so that lift is exerted inward, as well as upward. The force of lift during a turn is separated into two components at right angles to each other. One component, which acts vertically and opposite to the weight (gravity), is called the “vertical component of lift.” The other, which acts horizontally toward the center of the turn, is called the “horizontal component of lift,” or centripetal force. The horizontal component of lift is the force that pulls the aircraft from a straight flightpath to make it turn. Centrifugal force is the “equal and opposite reaction” of the aircraft to the change in direction and acts equal and opposite to the horizontal component of lift. This explains why, in a correctly executed turn, the force that turns the aircraft is not supplied by the rudder. The rudder is used to correct any deviation between the straight track of the nose and tail of the aircraft. A good turn is one in which the nose and tail of the aircraft track along the same path. If no rudder is used in a turn, the nose of the aircraft yaws to the outside of the turn. The rudder is used to bring the nose back in line with the relative wind.

An aircraft is not steered like a boat or an automobile. In order for an aircraft to turn, it must be banked. If it is not banked, there is no force available to cause it to deviate from a straight flightpath. Conversely, when an aircraft is banked, it turns, provided it is not slipping to the inside of the turn.

Ver tical component Weight Resultant load Total lift Resultant load Total lift Ver tical component Weight
Ver tical
component
Weight
Resultant load
Total lift
Resultant load
Total lift
Ver tical
component
Weight
Level flight
Medium banked turn
Steeply banked turn
Centrifugal
Horizontal
force
Centrifugal
component
Lift
Weight
force
Horizontal
component

Figure 4-28. Forces during normal coordinated turn.

Good directional control is based on the fact that the aircraft attempts to turn whenever it is banked. Pilots should keep this fact in mind when attempting to hold the aircraft in straight-and-level flight.

Merely banking the aircraft into a turn produces no change in the total amount of lift developed. Since the lift during the bank is divided into vertical and horizontal components, the amount of lift opposing gravity and supporting the aircraft’s weight is reduced. Consequently, the aircraft loses altitude unless additional lift is created. This is done by increasing the AOA until the vertical component of lift is again equal to the weight. Since the vertical component of lift decreases as the bank angle increases, the AOA must be progressively increased to produce sufficient vertical lift to support the aircraft’s weight. An important fact for pilots to remember when making constant altitude turns is that the vertical component of lift must be equal to the weight to maintain altitude.

At a given airspeed, the rate at which an aircraft turns depends upon the magnitude of the horizontal component of lift. It is found that the horizontal component of lift is proportional to the angle of bank—that is, it increases or decreases respectively as the angle of bank increases or decreases. As the angle of bank is increased, the horizontal component of lift increases, thereby increasing the ROT. Consequently, at any given airspeed, the ROT can be controlled by adjusting the angle of bank.

To provide a vertical component of lift sufficient to hold altitude in a level turn, an increase in the AOA is required. Since the drag of the airfoil is directly proportional to its AOA, induced drag increases as the lift is increased. This, in turn, causes a loss of airspeed in proportion to the angle of bank. A small angle of bank results in a small reduction in airspeed while a large angle of bank results in a large reduction in airspeed. Additional thrust (power) must be

applied to prevent a reduction in airspeed in level turns. The required amount of additional thrust is proportional to the angle of bank.

To compensate for added lift, which would result if the airspeed were increased during a turn, the AOA must be decreased, or the angle of bank increased, if a constant altitude is to be maintained. If the angle of bank is held constant and the AOA decreased, the ROT decreases. In order to maintain a constant-ROT as the airspeed is increased, the AOA must remain constant and the angle of bank increased.

An increase in airspeed results in an increase of the turn radius, and centrifugal force is directly proportional to the radius of the turn. In a correctly executed turn, the horizontal component of lift must be exactly equal and opposite to the centrifugal force. As the airspeed is increased in a constant- rate level turn, the radius of the turn increases. This increase in the radius of turn causes an increase in the centrifugal force, which must be balanced by an increase in the horizontal component of lift, which can only be increased by increasing the angle of bank.

In a slipping turn, the aircraft is not turning at the rate appropriate to the bank being used, since the aircraft is yawed toward the outside of the turning flightpath. The aircraft is banked too much for the ROT, so the horizontal lift component is greater than the centrifugal force. [Figure 4-29] Equilibrium between the horizontal lift component and centrifugal force is reestablished by either decreasing the bank, increasing the ROT, or a combination of the two changes.

A skidding turn results from an excess of centrifugal force over the horizontal lift component, pulling the aircraft toward the outside of the turn. The ROT is too great for the angle of bank. Correction of a skidding turn thus involves a

Ver tical lift Lift Weight Load Lift Load Ver tical lift Weight Normal turn Slipping turn
Ver tical lift
Lift
Weight
Load
Lift
Load
Ver tical lift
Weight
Normal turn
Slipping turn
Skidding turn
Load
Lift
Centrifugal
Centrifugal force
Centrifugal
force
force
Horizontal
Horizontal
Horizontal
lift
lift
lift
Ver tical lift
Weight
Centrifugal
Centrifugal
Centrifugal force
force equals
force less than
greater than
horizontal lift
horizontal lift
horizontal lift

Figure 4-29. Normal, slipping, and skidding turns.

Atmospheric Pressure

Although there are various kinds of pressure, pilots are mainly concerned with atmospheric pressure. It is one of the basic factors in weather changes, helps to lift an aircraft, and actuates some of the important flight instruments. These instruments are the altimeter, airspeed indicator, vertical speed indicator, and manifold pressure gauge.

Air is very light, but it has mass and is affected by the attraction of gravity. Therefore, like any other substance, it has weight, and because of its weight, it has force. Since it is a fluid substance, this force is exerted equally in all directions, and its effect on bodies within the air is called pressure. Under standard conditions at sea level, the average pressure exerted by the weight of the atmosphere is approximately 14.70 pounds per square inch (psi) of surface, or 1,013.2 millibars (mb). Its thickness is limited; therefore, the higher the altitude, the less air there is above. For this reason, the weight of the atmosphere at 18,000 feet is one-half what it is at sea level.

The pressure of the atmosphere varies with time and location. Due to the changing atmospheric pressure, a standard

reference was developed. The standard atmosphere at sea level is a surface temperature of 59 °F or 15 °C and a surface pressure of 29.92 inches of mercury ("Hg), or 1,013.2 mb.

[Figure 3-1] Inches of Millibars Standard Standard Mercur y Sea Level Sea Level Pressure 30 1016
[Figure 3-1]
Inches of
Millibars
Standard
Standard
Mercur y
Sea Level
Sea Level
Pressure
30
1016
Pressure
29.92
1013
Hg
25
847
mb
20
677
15
508
10
339
5
170
A t m o s p h e r i c
P r e s s u r e
0
0

Figure 3-1. Standard sea level pressure.

A standard temperature lapse rate is one in which the temperature decreases at the rate of approximately 3.5 °F or 2 °C per thousand feet up to 36,000 feet which is approximately -65 °F or -55 °C. Above this point, the

temperature is considered constant up to 80,000 feet. A standard pressure lapse rate is one in which pressure decreases at a rate of approximately 1 "Hg per 1,000 feet of altitude gain to 10,000 feet. [Figure 3-2] The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has established this as a worldwide standard, and it is often referred to as International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) or ICAO Standard Atmosphere. Any temperature or pressure that differs from the standard lapse rates is considered nonstandard temperature and pressure.

Standard Atmosphere Temperature Altitude (ft) Pressure (Hg) (°C) (°F) 0 29.92 15.0 59.0 1,000 28.86 13.0
Standard Atmosphere
Temperature
Altitude (ft)
Pressure (Hg)
(°C)
(°F)
0
29.92
15.0
59.0
1,000
28.86
13.0
55.4
2,000
27.82
11.0
51.9
3,000
26.82
9.1
48.3
4,000
25.84
7.1
44.7
5,000
24.89
5.1
41.2
6,000
23.98
3.1
37.6
7,000
23.09
1.1
34.0
8,000
22.22
-0.9
30.5
9,000
21.38
-2.8
26.9
10,000
20.57
-4.8
23.3
11,000
19.79
-6.8
19.8
12,000
19.02
-8.8
16.2
13,000
18.29
-10.8
12.6
14,000
17.57
-12.7
9.1
15,000
16.88
-14.7
5.5
16,000
16.21
-16.7
1.9
17,000
15.56
-18.7
-1.6
18,000
14.94
-20.7
-5.2
19,000
14.33
-22.6
-8.8
20,000
13.74
-24.6
-12.3

Figure 3-2. Properties of standard atmosphere.

Since aircraft performance is compared and evaluated with

respect to the standard atmosphere, all aircraft instruments

are calibrated for the standard atmosphere. In order to account

properly for the nonstandard atmosphere, certain related terms must be defined.

Pressure Altitude

Pressure altitude is the height above a standard datum plane

(SDP), which is a theoretical level where the weight of the atmosphere is 29.92 "Hg (1,013.2 mb) as measured by a barometer. An altimeter is essentially a sensitive barometer calibrated to indicate altitude in the standard atmosphere. If the altimeter is set for 29.92 "Hg SDP, the altitude indicated is the pressure altitude. As atmospheric pressure changes, the SDP may be below, at, or above sea level. Pressure altitude is important as a basis for determining airplane performance, as well as for assigning flight levels to airplanes operating at or above 18,000 feet.

The pressure altitude can be determined by either of two methods:

  • 1. Setting the barometric scale of the altimeter to 29.92 and reading the indicated altitude.

  • 2. Applying a correction factor to the indicated altitude according to the reported altimeter setting.

Density Altitude

SDP is a theoretical pressure altitude, but aircraft operate in a nonstandard atmosphere and the term density altitude is used for correlating aerodynamic performance in the nonstandard atmosphere. Density altitude is the vertical distance above sea level in the standard atmosphere at which a given density is to be found. The density of air has significant effects on the aircraft’s performance because as air becomes less dense, it reduces:

Power because the engine takes in less air.

Thrust because a propeller is less efficient in thin air.

Lift because the thin air exerts less force on the airfoils.

Density altitude is pressure altitude corrected for nonstandard temperature. As the density of the air increases (lower density altitude), aircraft performance increases and conversely as air density decreases (higher density altitude), aircraft

performance decreases. A decrease in air density means a high density altitude; an increase in air density means a

lower density altitude. Density altitude is used in calculating aircraft performance, because under standard atmospheric conditions, air at each level in the atmosphere not only has a specific density, its pressure altitude and density altitude identify the same level.

The computation of density altitude involves consideration of pressure (pressure altitude) and temperature. Since aircraft performance data at any level is based upon air density under standard day conditions, such performance data apply to air density levels that may not be identical with altimeter indications. Under conditions higher or lower than standard, these levels cannot be determined directly from the altimeter.

Density altitude is determined by first finding pressure altitude, and then correcting this altitude for nonstandard temperature variations. Since density varies directly with pressure, and inversely with temperature, a given pressure altitude may exist for a wide range of temperature by allowing the density to vary. However, a known density occurs for any one temperature and pressure altitude. The density of the air has a pronounced effect on aircraft and engine performance.

Regardless of the actual altitude at which the aircraft is operating, it will perform as though it were operating at an

altitude equal to the existing density altitude.

Air density is affected by changes in altitude, temperature,

and humidity. High density altitude refers to thin air while low density altitude refers to dense air. The conditions that result in a high density altitude are high elevations, low atmospheric pressures, high temperatures, high humidity, or some combination of these factors. Lower elevations, high atmospheric pressure, low temperatures, and low humidity are more indicative of low density altitude.

Effect of Pressure on Density

Since air is a gas, it can be compressed or expanded. When air is compressed, a greater amount of air can occupy a given volume. Conversely, when pressure on a given volume of air is decreased, the air expands and occupies a greater space. At a lower pressure, the original column of air contains a smaller mass of air. The density is decreased because density is directly proportional to pressure. If the pressure is doubled, the density is doubled; if the pressure is lowered, the density is lowered. This statement is true only at a constant temperature.

Effect of Temperature on Density

Increasing the temperature of a substance decreases its density. Conversely, decreasing the temperature increases the density. Thus, the density of air varies inversely with temperature. This statement is true only at a constant pressure.

In the atmosphere, both temperature and pressure decrease with altitude, and have conflicting effects upon density. However, the fairly rapid drop in pressure as altitude is increased usually has the dominating effect. Hence, pilots can expect the density to decrease with altitude.

Effect of Humidity (Moisture) on Density

The preceding paragraphs refer to air that is perfectly dry. In reality, it is never completely dry. The small amount of water vapor suspended in the atmosphere may be almost negligible under certain conditions, but in other conditions humidity may become an important factor in the performance of an aircraft. Water vapor is lighter than air; consequently, moist air is lighter than dry air. Therefore, as the water content of the air increases, the air becomes less dense, increasing density altitude and decreasing performance. It is lightest or least dense when, in a given set of conditions, it contains the maximum amount of water vapor.

Humidity, also called relative humidity, refers to the amount of water vapor contained in the atmosphere, and is expressed

Chapter 5

Flight Instruments

Introduction

Aircraft became a practical means of transportation when accurate flight instruments freed the pilot from the necessity of maintaining visual contact with the ground. Flight instruments are crucial to conducting safe flight operations and it is important that the pilot have a basic understanding of their operation. The basic flight instruments required for operation under visual flight rules (VFR) are airspeed indicator (ASI), altimeter, and magnetic direction indicator. In addition to these, operation under instrument flight rules (IFR) requires a gyroscopic rate-of-turn indicator, slip-skid indicator, sensitive altimeter adjustable for barometric pressure, clock displaying hours, minutes, and seconds with a sweep-second pointer or digital presentation, gyroscopic pitch-and-bank indicator (artificial horizon), and gyroscopic direction indicator (directional gyro or equivalent).

Aircraft that are flown in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) are equipped with instruments that provide attitude and direction reference, as well as navigation instruments that allow precision flight from takeoff to landing with limited or no outside visual reference.

The instruments discussed in this chapter are those required by Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91, and are organized into three groups: pitot-static instruments, compass systems, and gyroscopic instruments. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how to preflight these systems for IFR flight. This chapter addresses additional avionics systems such as Electronic Flight Information Systems (EFIS), Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS), Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), Head Up Display (HUD), etc., that are increasingly being incorporated into general aviation aircraft.

Pitot/Static Systems

Pitot pressure, or impact air pressure, is sensed through an open-end tube pointed directly into the relative wind flowing around the aircraft. The pitot tube connects to the ASI or an air data computer depending on your aircraft's configuration.

Static Pressure

Static pressure is also used by the ASI as well as the other pitot static instruments for determining altitude and vertical speed. Static pressure may be sensed at one or more locations on an aircraft. Some may be flush mounted on the fuselage or

integrated into the electrically heated pitot tube. [Figure 5-1] These ports are in locations proven by flight tests to be in undisturbed air, and they may be paired, one on either side of the aircraft. This dual location prevents lateral movement of the aircraft from giving erroneous static pressure indications. The areas around the static ports may be heated with electric heater elements to prevent ice forming over the port and blocking the entry of the static air.

Three basic pressure-operated instruments are found in aircraft instrument panels flown under IFR. These are the ASI, sensitive altimeter, and vertical speed indicator (VSI). All three instruments receive static air pressure for operation

with only the ASI receiving both pitot and static pressure.

[Figure 5-2]

Blockage of the Pitot-Static System

Errors in the ASI and VSI almost always indicate a blockage of the pitot tube, the static port(s), or both. Moisture (including ice), dirt, or even insects can cause a blockage in both systems. During preflight, it is very important to make sure the pitot tube cover is removed and that static port openings are checked for blockage and damage.

Blocked Pitot System

If the pitot tube drain hole becomes obstructed, the pitot system can become partially or completely blocked. When dynamic pressure cannot enter the pitot tube opening, the ASI no longer operates. If the drain hole is open, static pressure equalizes on both sides of the diaphram in the ASI and the

30.0 29.9 Drain hole Pitot pressure chamber Baffle plate Static hole Ram air Pitot tube 29.8
30.0
29.9
Drain hole
Pitot pressure chamber
Baffle plate
Static hole
Ram air
Pitot tube
29.8
Drain hole
Static hole
Static port
Heater (100 watts)
Heater (35 watts)
Static chamber
Pitot heater switch
Alternate static source
Figure 5-1. A typical electrically heated pitot-static head.
30.0 29.9 29.8 Figure 5-2. A typical pitot-static system.
30.0
29.9
29.8
Figure 5-2. A typical pitot-static system.

indicated airspeed slowly drops to zero. If the pitot tube ram pressure hole and drain hole become obstructed, the ASI operates like an altimeter as the aircraft climbs and descends. Refer to the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25A) for more in depth information on blocked pitot systems along with different scenarios and how they effect the ASI.

When the alternate static source pressure is used, the

following instrument indications are observed:

  • 1. The altimeter indicates a slightly higher altitude than actual.

  • 2. The ASI indicates an airspeed greater than the actual airspeed.

  • 3. The VSI shows a momentary climb and then stabilizes if the altitude is held constant.

For more information on static system blockages and how to

best react to such situations, refer to the Pilot’s Handbook of

Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25A).

Effects of Flight Conditions

The static ports are located in a position where the air at their surface is as undisturbed as possible. But under some

flight conditions, particularly at a high angle of attack with

the landing gear and flaps down, the air around the static

port may be disturbed to the extent that it can cause an error in the indication of the altimeter and ASI. Because of the importance of accuracy in these instruments, part of the certification tests for an aircraft is a check of position error in the static system.

The Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH)/Aircraft Flight Manual (AFM) contains any corrections that must be applied

to the airspeed for the various configurations of flaps and

landing gear.

Blocked Static System

When a static system becomes blocked but the pitot tube remains clear the ASI continues to operate but is inaccurate. When the aircraft is operated above the altitude where the static ports became blocked the airspeed indicates lower than the actual airspeed because the trapped static pressure is higher than normal for that altitude. The opposite holds true for operations at lower altitudes; a faster than actual airspeed is displayed due to the relatively low static pressure trapped in the system.

A blockage of the static system can also affect the altimeter and VSI. Trapped static pressure causes the altimeter to freeze at the altitude where the blockage occurred. In the case of the VSI, a blocked static system produces a continuous zero indication.

An alternate static source is provided in some aircraft to provide static pressure should the primary static source become blocked. The alternate static source is normally found inside of the flight deck. Due to the venturi effect of the air flowing around the fuselage, the air pressure inside the flight deck is lower than the exterior pressure.

Pitot/Static Instruments

Sensitive Altimeter

A sensitive altimeter is an aneroid barometer that measures the absolute pressure of the ambient air and displays it in terms of feet or meters above a selected pressure level.

Principle of Operation

The sensitive element in a sensitive altimeter is a stack of evacuated, corrugated bronze aneroid capsules. [Figure 5-3] The air pressure acting on these aneroids tries to compress them against their natural springiness, which tries to expand them. The result is that their thickness changes as the air pressure changes. Stacking several aneroids increases the dimension change as the pressure varies over the usable

range of the instrument.

Below 10,000 feet, a striped segment is visible. Above this altitude, a mask begins to cover it, and above 15,000 feet, all of the stripes are covered. [Figure 5-4]

Another configuration of the altimeter is the drum-type. [Figure 5-5] These instruments have only one pointer that

1,000 ft. pointer 100 ft. pointer Aneroid 10,000 ft. pointer Altimeter setting window Altitude indication scale
1,000 ft. pointer
100 ft. pointer
Aneroid
10,000 ft. pointer
Altimeter setting window
Altitude indication scale
Static port
Barometric scale adjustment knob
Crosshatch flag
A crosshatched area appears on some
altimeters when displaying an altitude
below 10,000 feet MSL.

Figure 5-3. Sensitive altimeter components.

FEET 0 9 I 8 2 30.0 ALT CALIBRATED I00 TO 20,000 FEET 7 3 29.9
FEET
0
9
I
8
2
30.0
ALT
CALIBRATED
I00
TO
20,000 FEET
7
3
29.9
6
4
5
29.8
Figure 5-4. Three-pointer altimeter.
0
9
I
0 6, 5 0 0
8
2
ALT
M B
I N H G
7
3
2
9 9 2
6
4
5

Figure 5-5. Drum-type altimeter.

makes one revolution for every 1,000 feet. Each number represents 100 feet and each mark represents 20 feet. A drum,

marked in thousands of feet, is geared to the mechanism that

drives the pointer. To read this type of altimeter, first look at

the drum to get the thousands of feet, and then at the pointer

to get the feet and hundreds of feet.

A sensitive altimeter is one with an adjustable barometric scale

allowing the pilot to set the reference pressure from which the

altitude is measured. This scale is visible in a small window called the Kollsman window. A knob on the instrument adjusts

the scale. The range of the scale is from 28.00 to 31.00 inches of mercury ("Hg), or 948 to 1,050 millibars.

Rotating the knob changes both the barometric scale and the altimeter pointers in such a way that a change in the barometric scale of 1 "Hg changes the pointer indication by 1,000 feet. This is the standard pressure lapse rate below 5,000 feet. When the barometric scale is adjusted to 29.92 "Hg or 1,013.2

millibars, the pointers indicate the pressure altitude. The pilot

displays indicate altitude by adjusting the barometric scale

to the local altimeter setting. The altimeter then indicates the

height above the existing sea level pressure.

Altimeter Errors

A sensitive altimeter is designed to indicate standard changes

from standard conditions, but most flying involves errors caused by nonstandard conditions and the pilot must be able

to modify the indications to correct for these errors. There are two types of errors: mechanical and inherent.

Mechanical Altimeter Errors

A preflight check to determine the condition of an altimeter consists of setting the barometric scale to the local altimeter

setting. The altimeter should indicate the surveyed elevation of the airport. If the indication is off by more than 75 feet from the surveyed elevation, the instrument should be referred to a certificated instrument repair station for recalibration. Differences between ambient temperature and/or pressure causes an erroneous indication on the altimeter.

Inherent Altimeter Error

When the aircraft is flying in air that is warmer than standard, the air is less dense and the pressure levels are farther apart. When the aircraft is flying at an indicated altitude of 5,000 feet, the pressure level for that altitude is higher than it would be in air at standard temperature, and the aircraft is higher than it would be if the air were cooler. If the air is colder than standard, it is denser and the pressure levels are closer together. When the aircraft is flying at an indicated altitude of 5,000 feet, its true altitude is lower than it would be if the air were warmer. [Figure 5-6]

Cold Weather Altimeter Errors

A correctly calibrated pressure altimeter indicates true altitude above mean sea level (MSL) when operating within the International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) parameters of pressure and temperature. Nonstandard pressure conditions are corrected by applying the correct local area altimeter setting.

Temperature errors from ISA result in true altitude being higher than indicated altitude whenever the temperature is warmer than ISA and true altitude being lower than indicated altitude whenever the temperature is colder than ISA. True altitude variance under conditions of colder than ISA temperatures poses the risk of inadequate obstacle clearance.

Under extremely cold conditions, pilots may need to add an appropriate temperature correction determined from the chart in Figure 5-7 to charted IFR altitudes to ensure terrain and obstacle clearance with the following restrictions:

Altitudes specifically assigned by Air Traffic Control (ATC), such as “maintain 5,000 feet” shall not be corrected. Assigned altitudes may be rejected if the pilot decides that low temperatures pose a risk of inadequate terrain or obstacle clearance.

• If temperature corrections are applied to charted IFR altitudes (such as procedure turn altitudes, final approach fix crossing altitudes, etc.), the pilot must advise ATC of the applied correction.

ICAO Cold Temperature Error Table

The cold temperature induced altimeter error may be significant when considering obstacle clearances when temperatures are well below standard. Pilots may wish to increase their minimum terrain clearance altitudes with a corresponding increase in ceiling from the normal minimum when flying in extreme cold temperature conditions. Higher altitudes may need to be selected when flying at low terrain clearances. Most flight management systems (FMS) with air data computers implement a capability to compensate for cold temperature errors. Pilots flying with these systems should ensure they are aware of the conditions under which the system automatically compensates. If compensation is applied by the FMS or manually, ATC must be informed that the aircraft is not flying the assigned altitude. Otherwise, vertical separation from other aircraft may be reduced creating a potentially hazardous situation. The table in Figure 5-7, derived from International Civil Aviation Organization

5,000 foot pressure level 4,000 foot pressure level 3,000 foot pressure level 2,000 foot pressure level
5,000 foot pressure level
4,000 foot pressure level
3,000 foot pressure level
2,000 foot pressure level
1,000 foot pressure level
Sea level
30°C
15°C
0°C
Figure 5-6. The loss of altitude experienced when flying into an area where the air is colder (more dense) than standard.
 

Height Above Airpor t in Feet

 
 

200

300

400

500

600

700

800

900

1,000

1,500

2,000

3,000

4,000

5,000

Repor ted Temp ° C

+10

  • 10 20 20 20 20

10

10

10

20

30

40

60

80

90

0

  • 20 50 50

20

30

30 40 40

60

90

120 170 230 280

-10

  • 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 150 200 290 390 490

-20

  • 30 50 60 70 90 100 120 130 140 210 280 420 570 710

-30

  • 40 60 80 100 120 130 150 170 190 280 380 570 760 950

-40

  • 50 80 100 120 150 170 190 220 240 360 480 720 970 1,210

 

-50

  • 60 90 120 150 180 210 240 270 300 450 590 890 1,190 1,500

Figure 5-7. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) cold temperature error table.

(ICAO) standard formulas, shows how much error can exist when the temperature is extremely cold. To use the table, find the reported temperature in the left column, and then read across the top row to the height above the airport/reporting station. Subtract the airport elevation from the altitude of the final approach fix (FAF). The intersection of the column and row is the amount of possible error.

altitude of 1,800 feet minus the airport elevation of 500 feet equals 1,300 feet. The altitude difference of 1,300 feet falls between the correction chart elevations of 1,000 feet and 1,500 feet. At the station temperature of –50 °C, the correction falls between 300 feet and 450 feet. Dividing the difference in compensation values by the difference in altitude above the airport gives the error value per foot.

Example: The reported temperature is –10 degrees Celsius (°C) and the FAF is 500 feet above the airport elevation. The reported current altimeter setting may place the aircraft as much as 50 feet below the altitude indicated by the altimeter.

When using the cold temperature error table, the altitude error is proportional to both the height above the reporting station elevation and the temperature at the reporting station. For IFR approach procedures, the reporting station elevation is assumed to be airport elevation. It is important to understand that corrections are based upon the temperature at the reporting station, not the temperature observed at the aircraft’s current altitude and height above the reporting station and not the charted IFR altitude.

To see how corrections are applied, note the following example:

Airport Elevation Airport Temperature

496 feet

–50 °C

In this case, 150 feet divided by 500 feet = 0.33 feet for each additional foot of altitude above 1,000 feet. This provides a correction of 300 feet for the first 1,000 feet and an additional value of 0.33 times 300 feet, or 99 feet, which is rounded to

100

feet. 300 feet + 100 feet = total temperature correction

of 400 feet. For the given conditions, correcting the charted value of 1,800 feet above MSL (equal to a height above the reporting station of 1,300 feet) requires the addition of 400 feet. Thus, when flying at an indicated altitude of 2,200 feet, the aircraft is actually flying a true altitude of 1,800 feet.

Minimum Procedure Turn Altitude

 

1,800 feet charted

=

2,200 feet corrected

Minimum FAF Crossing Altitude

1,200 feet charted Straight-in MDA

=

1,500 feet corrected

800

feet charted

= 900 feet corrected

Circling MDA 1,000 feet charted

= 1,200 feet corrected

A charted IFR approach to the airport provides the following data:

Minimum Procedure Turn Altitude

1,800 feet

Minimum FAF Crossing Altitude

1,200 feet

Straight-in Minimum Descent Altitude

800 feet

Circling Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA)

1,000 feet

The Minimum Procedure Turn Altitude of 1,800 feet is used as an example to demonstrate determination of the appropriate temperature correction. Typically, altitude values are rounded up to the nearest 100-foot level. The charted procedure turn

Nonstandard Pressure on an Altimeter

Maintaining a current altimeter setting is critical because the atmosphere pressure is not constant. That is, in one location the pressure might be higher than the pressure just a short distance away. Take an aircraft whose altimeter setting is set to 29.92" of local pressure. As the aircraft moves to an area of lower pressure (Point A to B in Figure 5-8) and the pilot fails to readjust the altimeter setting (essentially calibrating it to local pressure), then as the pressure decreases, the true altitude is lower. Adjusting the altimeter settings compensates for this. When the altimeter shows an indicated altitude of 5,000 feet, the true altitude at Point A (the height above

mean sea level) is only 3,500 feet at Point B. The fact that the altitude indication
mean sea level) is only 3,500 feet at Point B. The fact that
the altitude indication is not always true lends itself to the
memory aid, “When flying from hot to cold or from a high
to a low, look out below.” [Figure 5-8]
24.90 "Hg 5,000 feet
25.84 "Hg 4,000 feet
26.82 "Hg 3,000 feet
27.82 "Hg 2,000 feet
28.86 "Hg 1,000 feet
29.92 "Hg
28.5
28.4
30.0
29.9
29.8
28.3
28.2

Figure 5-8. Effects of nonstandard pressure on an altimeter of an aircraft flown into air of lower than standard pressure (air is less dense).

Altimeter Enhancements (Encoding)

It is not sufficient in the airspace system for only the pilot to have an indication of the aircraft’s altitude; the air traffic controller on the ground must also know the altitude of the aircraft. To provide this information, the aircraft is typically equipped with an encoding altimeter.

When the ATC transponder is set to Mode C, the encoding altimeter supplies the transponder with a series of pulses identifying the flight level (in increments of 100 feet) at which the aircraft is flying. This series of pulses is transmitted to the ground radar where they appear on the controller’s scope as an alphanumeric display around the return for the aircraft. The transponder allows the ground controller to identify the aircraft and determine the pressure altitude at which it is flying.

A computer inside the encoding altimeter measures the pressure referenced from 29.92 "Hg and delivers this data to the transponder. When the pilot adjusts the barometric scale to the local altimeter setting, the data sent to the transponder is not affected. This is to ensure that all Mode C aircraft are transmitting data referenced to a common pressure level. ATC equipment adjusts the displayed altitudes to compensate for local pressure differences allowing display of targets at correct

altitudes. 14 CFR part 91 requires the altitude transmitted by the transponder to be within 125 feet of the altitude indicated on the instrument used to maintain flight altitude.

Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM)

Below 31,000 feet, a 1,000 foot separation is the minimum

required between usable flight levels. Flight levels (FLs) generally start at 18,000 feet where the local pressure is 29.92 "Hg or greater. All aircraft 18,000 feet and above use

a standard altimeter setting of 29.92 "Hg, and the altitudes

are in reference to a standard hence termed FL. Between FL

180 and FL 290, the minimum altitude separation is 1,000

feet between aircraft. However, for flight above FL 290

(primarily due to aircraft equipage and reporting capability;

potential error) ATC applied the requirement of 2,000 feet of

separation. FL 290, an altitude appropriate for an eastbound

aircraft, would be followed by FL 310 for a westbound

aircraft, and so on to FL 410, or seven FLs available for flight.

With 1,000-foot separation, or a reduction of the vertical

separation between FL 290 and FL 410, an additional six

FLs become available. This results in normal flight level and

direction management being maintained from FL 180 through

FL 410. Hence the name is Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM). Because it is applied domestically, it is called United States Domestic Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (DRVSM).

However, there is a cost to participate in the DRVSM program which relates to both aircraft equipage and pilot training. For example, altimetry error must be reduced significantly and operators using RVSM must receive authorization from the appropriate civil aviation authority. RVSM aircraft must meet required altitude-keeping performance standards. Additionally, operators must operate in accordance with RVSM policies/ procedures applicable to the airspace where they are flying.

The aircraft must be equipped with at least one automatic altitude control—

Within a tolerance band of ±65 feet about an acquired altitude when the aircraft is operated in straight-and- level flight.

• Within a tolerance band of ±130 feet under no turbulent, conditions for aircraft for which application for type certification occurred on or before April 9, 1997 that are equipped with an automatic altitude control system with flight management/performance system inputs.

That aircraft must be equipped with an altitude alert system that signals an alert when the altitude displayed to the flight crew deviates from the selected altitude by more than (in most cases) 200 feet. For each condition in the full RVSM flight

envelope, the largest combined absolute value for residual static source error plus the avionics error may not exceed 200 feet. Aircraft with TCAS must have compatibility with RVSM Operations. Figure 5-9 illustrates the increase in aircraft permitted between FL 180 and FL 410. Most noteworthy, however, is the economization that aircraft can take advantage of by the higher FLs being available to more aircraft.

FL Without RVSM With RVSM 410 400 390 380 370 360 350 340 330 320 310
FL
Without RVSM
With RVSM
410
400
390
380
370
360
350
340
330
320
310
300
290
7 Usable Flight Levels
13 Usable Flight Levels

Figure 5-9. Increase in aircraft permitted between FL 180 and FL 410.

Vertical Speed Indicator (VSI)

The VSI in Figure 5-10 is also called a vertical velocity indicator (VVI), and was formerly known as a rate-of-climb indicator. It is a rate-of-pressure change instrument that gives an indication of any deviation from a constant pressure level.

Inside the instrument case is an aneroid very much like the one in an ASI. Both the inside of this aneroid and the inside of the instrument case are vented to the static system, but the case is vented through a calibrated orifice that causes the pressure inside the case to change more slowly than the pressure inside the aneroid. As the aircraft ascends, the static pressure becomes lower. The pressure inside the case compresses the aneroid, moving the pointer upward, showing a climb and indicating the rate of ascent in number of feet per minute (fpm).

When the aircraft levels off, the pressure no longer changes. The pressure inside the case becomes equal to that inside

envelope, the largest combined absolute value for residual static source error plus the avionics error may

Figure 5-10. Rate of climb or descent in thousands of feet per minute.

the aneroid, and the pointer returns to its horizontal, or

zero, position. When the aircraft descends, the static

pressure increases. The aneroid expands, moving the pointer

downward, indicating a descent.

The pointer indication in a VSI lags a few seconds behind the

actual change in pressure. However, it is more sensitive than

an altimeter and is useful in alerting the pilot of an upward or

downward trend, thereby helping maintain a constant altitude.

Some of the more complex VSIs, called instantaneous vertical

speed indicators (IVSI), have two accelerometer-actuated air

pumps that sense an upward or downward pitch of the aircraft and instantaneously create a pressure differential. By the time the pressure caused by the pitch acceleration dissipates, the altitude pressure change is effective.

Dynamic Pressure Type Instruments

Airspeed Indicator (ASI)

An ASI is a differential pressure gauge that measures the dynamic pressure of the air through which the aircraft is flying. Dynamic pressure is the difference in the ambient static air pressure and the total, or ram, pressure caused by the motion of the aircraft through the air. These two pressures are taken from the pitot-static system.

The mechanism of the ASI in Figure 5-11 consists of a thin, corrugated phosphor bronze aneroid, or diaphragm, that receives its pressure from the pitot tube. The instrument case is sealed and connected to the static ports. As the pitot pressure increases or the static pressure decreases, the diaphragm expands. This dimensional change is measured by a rocking shaft and a set of gears that drives a pointer across the instrument dial. Most ASIs are calibrated in knots, or nautical miles per hour; some instruments show statute miles per hour, and some instruments show both.

Sector Long lever 200 Pitot connection 100 50 150 Ram air Pitot tube Static air line
Sector
Long lever
200
Pitot connection
100
50
150
Ram air
Pitot tube
Static air line
Handstaff pinion
Diaphragm
Figure 5-11. Mechanism of an ASI.

Types of Airspeed

Just as there are several types of altitude, there are multiple types of airspeed: indicated airspeed (IAS), calibrated airspeed (CAS), equivalent airspeed (EAS), and true airspeed (TAS).

Some aircraft are equipped with true ASIs that have a temperature-compensated aneroid bellows inside the instrument case. This bellows modifies the movement of the rocking shaft inside the instrument case so the pointer shows the actual TAS.

Indicated Airspeed (IAS)

IAS is shown on the dial of the instrument, uncorrected for

instrument or system errors.

Calibrated Airspeed (CAS)

CAS is the speed at which the aircraft is moving through the air, which is found by correcting IAS for instrument and position errors. The POH/AFM has a chart or graph to correct IAS for these errors and provide the correct CAS for the various flap and landing gear configurations.

Equivalent Airspeed (EAS)

EAS is CAS corrected for compression of the air inside the pitot tube. EAS is the same as CAS in standard atmosphere at sea level. As the airspeed and pressure altitude increase, the CAS becomes higher than it should be, and a correction for compression must be subtracted from the CAS.

True Airspeed (TAS)

TAS is CAS corrected for nonstandard pressure and temperature. TAS and CAS are the same in standard atmosphere at sea level. Under nonstandard conditions, TAS is found by applying a correction for pressure altitude and temperature to the CAS.

The TAS indicator provides both true and IAS. These instruments have the conventional airspeed mechanism, with an added subdial visible through cutouts in the regular

dial. A knob on the instrument allows the pilot to rotate the subdial and align an indication of the outside air temperature with the pressure altitude being flown. This alignment causes the instrument pointer to indicate the TAS on the subdial.

150 140 6 130 [Figure 5-12] + 0 - 30 30 I80 40 TEMP 4 60
150
140
6
130
[Figure 5-12]
+ 0 - 30
30
I80
40
TEMP
4
60
40
AIRSPEED
I60
I40
60
80
TRUE SPEED
80
I20
KNOTS
I40
100
I00
I20
MPH
2
120

Figure 5-12. A true ASI allows the pilot to correct IAS for nonstandard temperature and pressure.

Mach Number

As an aircraft approaches the speed of sound, the air flowing over certain areas of its surface speeds up until it reaches the speed of sound, and shock waves form. The IAS at which these conditions occur changes with temperature. Therefore, in this case, airspeed is not entirely adequate to warn the pilot of the impending problems. Mach number is more useful. Mach number is the ratio of the TAS of the aircraft to the speed of sound in the same atmospheric conditions. An aircraft flying at the speed of sound is flying at Mach 1.0. Some older mechanical Machmeters not driven from an air data computer use an altitude aneroid inside the instrument that converts pitot-static pressure into Mach number. These systems assume that the temperature at any altitude is standard; therefore, the indicated Mach number is inaccurate whenever the temperature deviates from standard. These systems are called indicated Machmeters. Modern electronic Machmeters use information from an air data computer system to correct for temperature errors. These systems display true Mach number.

Most high-speed aircraft are limited to a maximum Mach number at which they can fly. This is shown on a Machmeter as a decimal fraction. [Figure 5-13] For example, if the Machmeter indicates .83 and the aircraft is flying at 30,000 feet where the speed of sound under standard conditions is 589.5 knots, the airspeed is 489.3 knots. The speed of sound varies with the air temperature. If the aircraft were flying at Mach .83 at 10,000 feet where the air is much warmer, its airspeed would be 530 knots.

Mach Number As an aircraft approaches the speed of sound, the air flowing over certain areas

Figure 5-13. A Machmeter shows the ratio of the speed of sound to the TAS the aircraft is flying.

240 40 220 60 KNOTS 200 80 I80 I00 I60 I20 I40 Figure 5-14. A maximum
240
40
220
60
KNOTS
200
80
I80
I00
I60
I20
I40
Figure 5-14. A maximum allowable ASI has a movable pointer that
indicates the never-exceed speed, which changes with altitude to
avoid the onset of transonic shock waves.

or striped. The maximum airspeed pointer is actuated by an aneroid, or altimeter mechanism, that moves it to a lower value as air density decreases. By keeping the airspeed pointer at a lower value than the maximum pointer, the pilot avoids the onset of transonic shock waves.

Airspeed Color Codes

The dial of an ASI is color coded to alert the pilot, at a glance, of the significance of the speed at which the aircraft is flying. These colors and their associated airspeeds are shown in Figure 5-15.

Magnetism

The Earth is a huge magnet, spinning in space, surrounded

by a magnetic field made up of invisible lines of flux. These lines leave the surface at the magnetic North Pole and reenter

at the magnetic South Pole.

Lines of magnetic flux have two important characteristics:

any magnet that is free to rotate aligns with them, and an

electrical current is induced into any conductor that cuts

across them. Most direction indicators installed in aircraft make use of one of these two characteristics.

The Basic Aviation Magnetic Compass

One of the oldest and simplest instruments for indicating direction is the magnetic compass. It is also one of the basic instruments required by 14 CFR part 91 for both VFR and IFR flight.

Maximum Allowable Airspeed

Some aircraft that fly at high subsonic speeds are equipped with maximum allowable ASIs like the one in Figure 5-14. This instrument looks much like a standard ASI, calibrated in knots, but has an additional pointer colored red, checkered,

Magnetic Compass Overview

A magnet is a piece of material, usually a metal containing iron, which attracts and holds lines of magnetic flux. Regardless of size, every magnet has two poles: a north pole and a south pole. When one magnet is placed in the

80
80
80 Red radial line 240 40 60 220 KNOTS 200 80 I80 I00 I60 I20 I40
80 Red radial line 240 40 60 220 KNOTS 200 80 I80 I00 I60 I20 I40
Red radial line 240 40 60 220 KNOTS 200 80 I80 I00 I60 I20 I40 Blue
Red radial line
240
40
60
220 KNOTS
200 80
I80
I00
I60
I20
I40
Blue radial line
Green arc
White arc
I00 0
I00
0
I00 0
I00 0
I20
I20

Airspeed for best single-engine rate-of-climb

at gross weight and Sea Level

at gross weight and Sea Level

I60
I60
I60
I60
200
200
200 Yellow arc

Yellow arc

Figure 5-15. Color codes for an ASI.

field of another, the unlike poles attract each other and like poles repel.

An aircraft magnetic compass, such as the one in Figure 5-16, has two small magnets attached to a metal float sealed inside a bowl of clear compass fluid similar to kerosene. A graduated scale, called a card, is wrapped around the float and viewed through a glass window with a lubber line across it. The card is marked with letters representing the cardinal directions, north, east, south, and west, and a number for each 30° between these letters. The final “0” is omitted from these directions; for example, 3 = 30°, 6 = 60°, and 33 = 330°. There are long and short graduation marks between the letters and numbers, with each long mark representing 10° and each short mark representing 5°.

N-S E-W Figure 5-16. A magnetic compass. The vertical line is called the lubber line.
N-S
E-W
Figure 5-16. A magnetic compass. The vertical line is called the
lubber line.

Magnetic Compass Construction

The float and card assembly has a hardened steel pivot in its center that rides inside a special, spring-loaded, hard-glass jewel cup. The buoyancy of the float takes most of the weight off the pivot, and the fluid damps the oscillation of the float and card. This jewel-and-pivot type mounting allows the float freedom to rotate and tilt up to approximately 18° angle of bank. At steeper bank angles, the compass indications are erratic and unpredictable.

The compass housing is entirely full of compass fluid. To prevent damage or leakage when the fluid expands and contracts with temperature changes, the rear of the compass case is sealed with a flexible diaphragm, or with a metal bellows in some compasses.

Magnetic Compass Theory of Operations

The magnets align with the Earth’s magnetic field and the

pilot reads the direction on the scale opposite the lubber line. Note that in Figure 5-16, the pilot sees the compass card from its backside. When the pilot is flying north as the compass

shows, east is to the pilot’s right, but on the card “33”, which represents 330° (west of north), is to the right of north. The reason for this apparent backward graduation is that the card remains stationary, and the compass housing and the pilot

turn around it, always viewing the card from its backside.

Magnetic fields caused by aircraft electronics and wiring can effect the accuracy of the magnetic compass. This induced error is called compass deviation. Compensator assemblies mounted on the compass allow aviation

maintenance technicians (AMTs) to calibrate the compass by creating magnetic fields inside of the compass housing. The compensator assembly has two shafts whose ends have screwdriver slots accessible from the front of the compass. Each shaft rotates one or two small compensating magnets. The end of one shaft is marked E-W, and its magnets affect the compass when the aircraft is pointed east or west. The other shaft is marked N-S and its magnets affect the compass when the aircraft is pointed north or south.

Magnetic Compass Errors

The magnetic compass is the simplest instrument in the panel, but it is subject to a number of errors that must be considered.

Variation

The Earth rotates about its geographic axis; maps and charts are drawn using meridians of longitude that pass through the geographic poles. Directions measured from the geographic poles are called true directions. The north magnetic pole to which the magnetic compass points is not collocated with the geographic north pole, but is some 1,300 miles away; directions measured from the magnetic poles are called magnetic directions. In aerial navigation, the difference between true and magnetic directions is called variation. This same angular difference in surveying and land navigation is called declination.

Figure 5-17 shows the isogonic lines that identify the number of degrees of variation in their area. The line that passes near Chicago is called the agonic line. Anywhere along this line

the two poles are aligned, and there is no variation. East of this line, the magnetic pole is to the west of the geographic pole and a correction must be applied to a compass indication to get a true direction.

Flying in the Washington, D.C. area, for example, the variation is 10° west. If the pilot wants to fly a true course of south (180°), the variation must be added to this resulting in a magnetic course to fly of 190°. Flying in the Los Angeles, CA area, the variation is 14° east. To fly a true course of 180° there, the pilot would have to subtract the variation and fly a magnetic course of 166°. The variation error does not change with the heading of the aircraft; it is the same anywhere along the isogonic line.

Deviation

The magnets in a compass align with any magnetic field. Local magnetic fields in an aircraft caused by electrical current flowing in the structure, in nearby wiring or any magnetized part of the structure, conflict with the Earth’s magnetic field and cause a compass error called deviation.

Deviation, unlike variation, is different on each heading, but it is not affected by the geographic location. Variation error cannot be reduced or changed, but deviation error can be minimized when a pilot or AMT performs the maintenance task known as “swinging the compass.”

Some airports have a compass rose, which is a series of lines marked out on a taxiway or ramp at some location where there

130 10 110 -10 180˚W 165 W 150 W 135 W 120 W 105 W 90
130
10
110
-10
180˚W
165
W
150 W
135 W
120 W
105 W
90 W
75 W
60 W
45 W
30 W
15 W
-10
0
15 E
30 E
45 E
60 E
75 E
90 E
105 E
120 E
135 E
150 E
165 E
180˚W
-40
70˚N
70˚N
0
-20
60
N
60
N
-20
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-30
90
45
N
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-10
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S
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S
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-90
Main field declination (D)
30
Contour inter val:
2 degree s
45
S
45
S
40
red contours positive (east)
50
blue negative (west)
60
pink (agonic) zero line.
70
60
N
60
N
Mercator Projection.
80
Position of dip poles
0
70˚N
70˚N
180˚W
165 W
150 W
135 W
120 W
105 W
90 W
75 W
60 W
45 W
30 W
15 W
0
15
E
30 E
45 E
60 E
75 E
90 E
105 E
120 E
135 E
150 E
165 E
180˚W
-30
30
40
50
0
-100
20
-20
20
-60
-70
-80
-110
-10
-120
10
-130
10
-20
-30
-40
-50
-10

Figure 5-17. Isogonic lines are lines of equal variation.

is no magnetic interference. Lines, oriented to magnetic north, are painted every 30°, as shown in
is no magnetic interference. Lines, oriented to magnetic north,
are painted every 30°, as shown in Figure 5-18.
N
330
030
True north
060
300
E
W
120
240
150
210
S

Figure 5-18. Utilization of a compass rose aids compensation for deviation errors.

The pilot or AMT aligns the aircraft on each magnetic heading and adjusts the compensating magnets to minimize the difference between the compass indication and the actual magnetic heading of the aircraft. Any error that cannot be removed is recorded on a compass correction card, like the one in Figure 5-19, and placed in a cardholder near the compass. If the pilot wants to fly a magnetic heading of 120° and the aircraft is operating with the radios on, the pilot should fly a compass heading of 123°.

Step 2: Determine the Compass Course Magnetic Course (190°, from step 1) ± Deviation (–2°, from correction card) = Compass Course (188°)

NOTE: Intermediate magnetic courses between those listed on the compass card need to be interpreted. Therefore, to

steer a true course of 180°, the pilot would follow a compass course of 188°.

To find true course when the compass course is known, remove

the variation and deviation corrections previously applied:

Compass Course ± Deviation = Magnetic Course ± Variation = True Course

Northerly Turning Errors

The center of gravity of the float assembly is located lower than the pivotal point. As the airplane turns, the force that results from the magnetic dip causes the float assembly to swing in the same direction that the float turns. The result is a false northerly turn indication. Because of this lead of the compass card, or float assembly, a northerly turn should be stopped prior to arrival at the desired heading. This compass error is amplified with the proximity to either pole. One rule of thumb to correct for this leading error is to stop the turn 15° plus half of the latitude (i.e., if the airplane is being operated in a position around the 40° of latitude, the turn should be stopped 15° + 20° = 35° prior to the desired heading). [Figure 5-20A]

Figure 5-19. A compass correction card shows the deviation correction for any heading.
Figure 5-19. A compass correction card shows the deviation
correction for any heading.

The corrections for variation and deviation must be applied in the correct sequence as shown below starting from the true course desired.

Step 1: Determine the Magnetic Course True Course (180°) ± Variation (+10°) = Magnetic Course (190°)

The Magnetic Course (190°) is steered if there is no deviation error to be applied. The compass card must now be considered for the compass course of 190°.

Southerly Turning Errors

When turning in a southerly direction, the forces are such that

the compass float assembly lags rather than leads. The result

is a false southerly turn indication. The compass card, or float

assembly, should be allowed to pass the desired heading prior

to stopping the turn. As with the northerly error, this error is

amplified with the proximity to either pole. To correct this lagging error, the aircraft should be allowed to pass the desired heading prior to stopping the turn. The same rule of 15° plus half of the latitude applies here (i.e., if the airplane is being operated in a position around the 30° of latitude, the turn should be stopped 15° + 15° + 30° after passing the desired heading). [Figure 5-20B]

Acceleration Error

The magnetic dip and the forces of inertia cause magnetic compass errors when accelerating and decelerating on Easterly and westerly headings. Because of the pendulous-type mounting, the aft end of the compass card is tilted upward when accelerating, and downward when decelerating during

3 N 33 A R C D Left turn No error Right turn A c t
3
N
33
A
R
C
D
Left turn
No error
Right turn
A
c
t
e
f
f
e
DIP
DIP
p
DIP
i
3
D
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N
33
3
30
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33
C
A
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R
D
D
i
p
e
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f
e
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21 S A R C D 15 e c t f f e p i B
21
S
A
R
C
D
15
e
c
t
f
f
e
p
i
B
D
Left turn
No error
Right turn
21
DIP
DIP
DIP
S
12
15
21
Figure 5-20. Northerly turning error.
S
15
12
C
A
R
D
i
D
p
12
e
f
f
e
c
t

changes of airspeed. When accelerating on either an easterly or westerly heading , the error appears as a turn indication toward north. When decelerating on either of these headings, the compass indicates a turn toward south. The word "ANDS" (Acceleration-North/Deceleration-South) may help you to remember the acceleration error. [Figure 5-21]

Oscillation Error

Oscillation is a combination of all of the other errors, and it results in the compass card swinging back and forth around the heading being flown. When setting the gyroscopic heading indicator to agree with the magnetic compass, use the average indication between the swings.

6 E 3 NORTH 21 h t u o N GS NAV OBS 15 S View
6
E
3
NORTH
21
h
t
u
o
N
GS
NAV
OBS
15
S
View is from the pilot’s
perspective, and the
movable card is reset
after each turn
Figure 5-21. The effects of acceleration error.
33
S
30
21
W
24

The Vertical Card Magnetic Compass The floating magnet type of compass not only has all the errors just described, but also lends itself to confused reading. It is easy to begin a turn in the wrong direction because its card appears backward. East is on what the pilot would expect to be the west side. The vertical card magnetic compass eliminates some of the errors and confusion. The dial of this compass is graduated with letters representing the cardinal directions, numbers every 30°, and marks every 5°. The dial is rotated by a set of gears from the shaft-mounted magnet, and the nose of the symbolic airplane on the instrument glass represents the lubber line for reading the heading of the aircraft from the dial. Eddy currents induced into an aluminum-damping cup damp oscillation of the magnet. [Figure 5-22]

3 N 6 33 Figure 5-22. Vertical card magnetic compass. E 30 12 W 15 24
3
N
6
33
Figure 5-22. Vertical card magnetic compass.
E
30
12
W
15
24
S
21

The Flux Gate Compass System

As mentioned earlier, the lines of flux in the Earth’s magnetic field have two basic characteristics: a magnet aligns with these lines, and an electrical current is induced, or generated, in any wire crossed by them.

The flux gate compass that drives slaved gyros uses the characteristic of current induction. The flux valve is a small, segmented ring, like the one in Figure 5-23, made of soft iron that readily accepts lines of magnetic flux. An electrical coil is wound around each of the three legs to accept the current induced in this ring by the Earth’s magnetic field. A coil wound around the iron spacer in the center of the frame has 400-Hz alternating current (A.C.) flowing through it. During the times when this current reaches its peak, twice during each cycle, there is so much magnetism produced by this coil that the frame cannot accept the lines of flux from the Earth’s field.

But as the current reverses between the peaks, it demagnetizes the frame so it can accept the flux from the Earth’s field. As this flux cuts across the windings in the three coils, it causes current to flow in them. These three coils are connected in

The Vertical Card Magnetic Compass The floating magnet type of compass not only has all the

Figure 5-23. The soft iron frame of the flux valve accepts the flux from

the Earth’s magnetic field each time the current in the center coil

reverses. This flux causes current to flow in the three pickup coils.

such a way that the current flowing in them changes as the

heading of the aircraft changes. [Figure 5-24]
heading of the aircraft changes. [Figure 5-24]

Figure 5-24. The current in each of the three pickup coils changes with the heading of the aircraft.

The three coils are connected to three similar but smaller coils in a synchro inside the instrument case. The synchro rotates the dial of a radio magnetic indicator (RMI) or a horizontal situation indicator (HSI).

Remote Indicating Compass

Remote indicating compasses were developed to compensate for the errors and limitations of the older type of heading indicators. The two panel-mounted components of a typical

system are the pictorial navigation indicator and the slaving control and compensator unit. [Figure 5-25] The
system are the pictorial navigation indicator and the slaving
control and compensator unit. [Figure 5-25] The pictorial
navigation indicator is commonly referred to as an HSI.
Pictorial navigation indicator (HSI)
2I
I5
24
Slaving control compensator unit
Slaving meter
I2
30
6
33
3

Figure 5-25. The pictorial navigation indicator is commonly referred to as an HSI.

The slaving control and compensator unit has a pushbutton that provides a means of selecting either the “slaved gyro” or “free gyro” mode. This unit also has a slaving meter and two manual heading-drive buttons. The slaving meter indicates the difference between the displayed heading and the magnetic heading. A right deflection indicates a clockwise error of the compass card; a left deflection indicates a counterclockwise error. Whenever the aircraft is in a turn and the card rotates, the slaving meter shows a full deflection to one side or the other. When the system is in “free gyro” mode, the compass card may be adjusted by depressing the appropriate heading-drive button.

A separate unit, the magnetic slaving transmitter is mounted remotely; usually in a wingtip to eliminate the possibility of magnetic interference. It contains the flux valve, which is the direction-sensing device of the system. A concentration of lines of magnetic force, after being amplified, becomes a signal relayed to the heading indicator unit, which is also remotely mounted. This signal operates a torque motor in the heading indicator unit that processes the gyro unit until it is aligned with the transmitter signal. The magnetic slaving transmitter is connected electrically to the HSI.

There are a number of designs of the remote indicating compass; therefore, only the basic features of the system are covered here. Instrument pilots must become familiar with the characteristics of the equipment in their aircraft.

As instrument panels become more crowded and the pilot’s

available scan time is reduced by a heavier flight deck workload, instrument manufacturers have worked toward

combining instruments. One good example of this is the

RMI in Figure 5-26. The compass card is driven by signals

from the flux valve, and the two pointers are driven by an

automatic direction finder (ADF) and a very high frequency

2I 24 omnidirectional range (VOR). S W I5 30 I2 33 E N 6 3
2I
24
omnidirectional range (VOR).
S
W
I5
30
I2
33
E
N
6
3

Figure 5-26. Driven by signals from a flux valve, the compass card in this RMI indicates the heading of the aircraft opposite the upper

center index mark. The green pointer is driven by the ADF. The

yellow pointer is driven by the VOR receiver.

Gyroscopic Systems

Flight without reference to a visible horizon can be safely accomplished by the use of gyroscopic instrument systems and the two characteristics of gyroscopes, which are rigidity and precession. These systems include attitude, heading, and rate instruments, along with their power sources. These instruments include a gyroscope (or gyro) that is a small wheel with its weight concentrated around its periphery. When this wheel is spun at high speed, it becomes rigid and resists tilting or turning in any direction other than around its spin axis.

Attitude and heading instruments operate on the principle of rigidity. For these instruments, the gyro remains rigid in its case and the aircraft rotates about it. Rate indicators, such as turn indicators and turn coordinators, operate on the principle of precession. In this case, the gyro precesses (or rolls over) proportionate to the rate the aircraft rotates about one or more of its axes.

Power Sources

Aircraft and instrument manufacturers have designed redundancy in the flight instruments so that any single failure does not deprive the pilot of the ability to safely conclude the flight. Gyroscopic instruments are crucial for instrument flight; therefore, they are powered by separate electrical or pneumatic sources.

Pneumatic Systems

Pneumatic gyros are driven by a jet of air impinging on buckets cut into the periphery of the wheel. On many aircraft this stream of air is obtained by evacuating the instrument case with a vacuum source and allowing filtered air to flow into the case through a nozzle to spin the wheel.

Venturi Tube Systems

Aircraft that do not have a pneumatic pump to evacuate the instrument case can use venturi tubes mounted on the outside

of the aircraft, similar to the system shown in Figure 5-27. Air flowing through the venturi tube speeds up in the narrowest part and, according to Bernoulli’s principle, the pressure drops. This location is connected to the instrument case by a piece of tubing. The two attitude instruments operate on approximately 4 "Hg of suction; the turn-and-slip indicator needs only 2 "Hg, so a pressure-reducing needle valve is used to decrease the suction. Air flows into the instruments through filters built into the instrument cases. In this system, ice can clog the venturi tube and stop the instruments when

they are most needed.

L R 2 MIN TURN DC ELEC - -
L
R
2
MIN
TURN
DC
ELEC
-
-

Figure 5-27. A venturi tube system that provides necessary vacuum to operate key instruments.

Vacuum Pump Systems

Wet-Type Vacuum Pump

Steel-vane air pumps have been used for many years to evacuate the instrument cases. The vanes in these pumps are lubricated by a small amount of engine oil metered into the pump and discharged with the air. In some aircraft the discharge air is used to inflate rubber deicer boots on the wing and empennage leading edges. To keep the oil from deteriorating the rubber boots, it must be removed with an oil separator like the one in Figure 5-28.

The vacuum pump moves a greater volume of air than is needed to supply the instruments with the suction needed, so a suction-relief valve is installed in the inlet side of the pump. This spring-loaded valve draws in just enough air to maintain the required low pressure inside the instruments, as is shown on the suction gauge in the instrument panel. Filtered air enters the instrument cases from a central air filter. As long as aircraft fly at relatively low altitudes, enough air is drawn into the instrument cases to spin the gyros at a sufficiently high speed.

Dry Air Vacuum Pump

As flight altitudes increase, the air is less dense and more air must be forced through the instruments. Air pumps that do not mix oil with the discharge air are used in high flying aircraft. Steel vanes sliding in a steel housing need to be lubricated, but vanes made of a special formulation of carbon sliding inside carbon housing provide their own lubrication in a microscopic amount as they wear.

Pressure Indicating Systems

Figure 5-29 is a diagram of the instrument pneumatic system

of a twin-engine general aviation airplane. Two dry air

pumps are used with filters in their inlets to filter out any contaminants that could damage the fragile carbon vanes in

the pump. The discharge air from the pump flows through

a regulator, where excess air is bled off to maintain the

pressure in the system at the desired level. The regulated air

then flows through inline filters to remove any contamination

that could have been picked up from the pump, and from there into a manifold check valve. If either engine should

become inoperative or either pump should fail, the check

valve isolates the inoperative system and the instruments are

driven by air from the operating system. After the air passes

through the instruments and drives the gyros, it is exhausted

from the case. The gyro pressure gauge measures the pressure

drop across the instruments.

Electrical Systems

Many general aviation aircraft that use pneumatic attitude indicators use electric rate indicators and/or the reverse. Some

Figure 5-28. Single-engine instrument vacuum system using a steel-vane, wet-type vacuum pump. Figure 5-29. Twin-engine instrument

Figure 5-28. Single-engine instrument vacuum system using a steel-vane, wet-type vacuum pump.

Figure 5-28. Single-engine instrument vacuum system using a steel-vane, wet-type vacuum pump. Figure 5-29. Twin-engine instrument

Figure 5-29. Twin-engine instrument pressure system using a carbon-vane, dry-type air pump.

instruments identify their power source on their dial, but it is extremely important that pilots consult the POH/AFM to determine the power source of all instruments to know what action to take in the event of an instrument failure. Direct current (D.C.) electrical instruments are available in 14- or 28-volt models, depending upon the electrical system in the aircraft. A.C. is used to operate some attitude gyros and autopilots. Aircraft with only D.C. electrical systems can use A.C. instruments via installation of a solid-state D.C. to A.C. inverter, which changes 14 or 28 volts D.C. into three-phase 115-volt, 400-Hz A.C.

Gyroscopic Instruments

Attitude Indicators

The first attitude instrument (AI) was originally referred to as an artificial horizon, later as a gyro horizon; now it is more properly called an attitude indicator. Its operating mechanism is a small brass wheel with a vertical spin axis, spun at a high speed by either a stream of air impinging on buckets cut into its periphery, or by an electric motor. The gyro is mounted in a double gimbal, which allows the aircraft to pitch and roll about the gyro as it remains fixed in space.

A horizon disk is attached to the gimbals so it remains in

the same plane as the gyro, and the aircraft pitches and rolls about it. On early instruments, this was just a bar that represented the horizon, but now it is a disc with a line representing the horizon and both pitch marks and bank-angle lines. The top half of the instrument dial and horizon disc is blue, representing the sky; and the bottom half is brown, representing the ground. A bank index at the top of the instrument shows the angle of bank marked on the banking scale with lines that represent 10°, 20°, 30°, 45°, and 60°.

[Figure 5-30]

10° 20° 30° 45° 60° 2 0 I 0 I0 I0 20 20
10°
20°
30°
45°
60°
2
0
I
0
I0
I0
20
20

Figure 5-30. The dial of this attitude indicator has reference lines to show pitch and roll.

A small symbolic aircraft is mounted in the instrument case so it appears to be flying relative to the horizon. A knob at the bottom center of the instrument case raises or lowers the aircraft to compensate for pitch trim changes as the airspeed changes. The width of the wings of the symbolic aircraft and the dot in the center of the wings represent a pitch change of approximately 2°.

For an AI to function properly, the gyro must remain vertically upright while the aircraft rolls and pitches around it. The bearings in these instruments have a minimum of friction; however, even this small amount places a restraint on the gyro producing precession and causing the gyro to tilt. To minimize this tilting, an erection mechanism inside the instrument case applies a force any time the gyro tilts from its vertical position. This force acts in such a way to return the spinning wheel to its upright position.

The older artificial horizons were limited in the amount of pitch or roll they could tolerate, normally about 60° in pitch and 100° in roll. After either of these limits was exceeded, the gyro housing contacted the gimbals, applying such a precessing force that the gyro tumbled. Because of this limitation, these instruments had a caging mechanism that locked the gyro in its vertical position during any maneuvers that exceeded the instrument limits. Newer instruments do not have these restrictive tumble limits; therefore, they do not have a caging mechanism.

When an aircraft engine is first started and pneumatic or electric power is supplied to the instruments, the gyro is not erect. A self-erecting mechanism inside the instrument actuated by the force of gravity applies a precessing force, causing the gyro to rise to its vertical position. This erection can take as long as 5 minutes, but is normally done within 2 to 3 minutes.

Attitude indicators are free from most errors, but depending

upon the speed with which the erection system functions, there may be a slight nose-up indication during a rapid

acceleration and a nose-down indication during a rapid

deceleration. There is also a possibility of a small bank angle and pitch error after a 180° turn. These inherent errors are

small and correct themselves within a minute or so after returning to straight-and-level flight.

Heading Indicators

A magnetic compass is a dependable instrument used as a backup instrument. Although very reliable, it has so many inherent errors that it has been supplemented with gyroscopic

heading indicators.

The gyro in a heading indicator is mounted in a double gimbal, as in an attitude indicator, but its spin axis is horizontal permitting sensing of rotation about the vertical axis of the

aircraft. Gyro heading indicators, with the exception of slaved gyro indicators, are not north seeking, therefore they must be manually set to the appropriate heading by referring to a magnetic compass. Rigidity causes them to maintain this heading indication, without the oscillation and other errors inherent in a magnetic compass.

the instrument glass, which serves as the lubber line. A knob in the front of the instrument may be pushed in and turned

to rotate the gyro and dial. The knob is spring loaded so it

disengages from the gimbals as soon as it is released. This

instrument should be checked about every 15 minutes to see if it agrees with the magnetic compass.

Older directional gyros use a drum-like card marked in the same way as the magnetic compass card. The gyro and the card remain rigid inside the case with the pilot viewing the card from the back. This creates the possibility the pilot might start a turn in the wrong direction similar to using a magnetic compass. A knob on the front of the instrument, below the dial, can be pushed in to engage the gimbals. This locks the gimbals allowing the pilot to rotate the gyro and card until the number opposite the lubber line agrees with the magnetic compass. When the knob is pulled out, the gyro remains rigid and the aircraft is free to turn around the card.

Directional gyros are almost all air-driven by evacuating the case and allowing filtered air to flow into the case and out through a nozzle, blowing against buckets cut in the periphery of the wheel. The Earth constantly rotates at 15° per hour while the gyro is maintaining a position relative to space, thus causing an apparent drift in the displayed heading of 15° per hour. When using these instruments, it is standard practice to compare the heading indicated on the directional gyro with the magnetic compass at least every 15 minutes and to reset the heading as necessary to agree with the magnetic compass.

Heading indicators like the one in Figure 5-31 work on the same principle as the older horizontal card indicators, except that the gyro drives a vertical dial that looks much like the dial of a vertical card magnetic compass. The heading of the aircraft is shown against the nose of the symbolic aircraft on

33 30 3 6 Figure 5-31. The heading indicator is not north seeking, but must be
33
30
3
6
Figure 5-31. The heading indicator is not north seeking, but must
be set periodically (about every 15 minutes) to agree with the
magnetic compass.
24
2I
I2
I5

Turn Indicators Attitude and heading indicators function on the principle of rigidity, but rate instruments such as the turn-and- slip indicator operate on precession. Precession is the characteristic of a gyroscope that causes an applied force to produce a movement, not at the point of application, but at a point 90° from the point of application in the direction of rotation. [Figure 5-32]

Plane of Rotation Plane of Precession Plane of Force FORCE
Plane of Rotation
Plane of Precession
Plane of Force
FORCE

Figure 5-32. Precession causes a force applied to a spinning wheel to be felt 90° from the point of application in the direction of rotation.

Turn-and-Slip Indicator

The first gyroscopic aircraft instrument was the turn indicator

in the needle and ball, or turn-and-bank indicator, which has more recently been called a turn-and-slip indicator.

[Figure 5-33]

The inclinometer in the instrument is a black glass ball sealed inside a curved glass tube that is partially filled with a liquid for damping. This ball measures the relative strength of the

force of gravity and the force of inertia caused by a turn.

When the aircraft is flying straight-and-level, there is no

inertia acting on the ball, and it remains in the center of the

tube between two wires. In a turn made with a bank angle that is too steep, the force of gravity is greater than the inertia and the ball rolls down to the inside of the turn. If the turn is

L R 2 MIN TURN DC ELEC Figure 5-33. Turn-and-slip indicator.
L
R
2
MIN
TURN
DC
ELEC
Figure 5-33. Turn-and-slip indicator.

made with too shallow a bank angle, the inertia is greater than gravity and the ball rolls upward to the outside of the turn.

The inclinometer does not indicate the amount of bank, nor does it indicate slip; it only indicates the relationship between the angle of bank and the rate of yaw.

The turn indicator is a small gyro spun either by air or by an electric motor. The gyro is mounted in a single gimbal with its spin axis parallel to the lateral axis of the aircraft and the axis of the gimbal parallel with the longitudinal axis. [Figure 5-34] When the aircraft yaws, or rotates about its vertical axis, it produces a force in the horizontal plane that, due to precession, causes the gyro and its gimbal to rotate about the gimbal’s axis. It is restrained in this rotation plane by a calibration spring; it rolls over just enough to cause the pointer to deflect until it aligns with one of the doghouse-shaped marks on the dial, when the aircraft is making a standard rate turn.

The dial of these instruments is marked “2 MIN TURN.” Some turn-and-slip indicators used in faster aircraft are marked “4 MIN TURN.” In either instrument, a standard rate turn is being made whenever the needle aligns with a doghouse. A standard rate turn is 3° per second. In a 2 minute instrument, if the needle is one needle width either side of the center alignment mark, the turn is 3° per second and the turn takes 2 minutes to execute a 360° turn. In a 4 minute instrument, the same turn takes two widths deflection of the needle to achieve 3° per second.

Turn Coordinator

The major limitation of the older turn-and-slip indicator is that it senses rotation only about the vertical axis of the aircraft. It tells nothing of the rotation around the longitudinal axis, which in normal flight occurs before the aircraft begins to turn.

Horizontal gyro Gimbal rotation Gyro rotation Standard rate turn index Inclinometer Gimbal Gimbal rotation Gyro rotation
Horizontal gyro
Gimbal rotation
Gyro rotation
Standard rate
turn index
Inclinometer
Gimbal
Gimbal rotation
Gyro rotation
Standard rate
turn index
Canted gyro

Figure 5-34. The rate gyro in both turn-and-slip indicator and turn coordinator.

A turn coordinator operates on precession, the same as the turn indicator, but its gimbals frame is angled upward about 30° from the longitudinal axis of the aircraft. [Figure 5-34] This allows it to sense both roll and yaw. Therefore during a turn, the indicator first shows the rate of banking and once stabilized, the turn rate. Some turn coordinator gyros are dual-powered and can be driven by either air or electricity.

Rather than using a needle as an indicator, the gimbal moves a dial that is the rear view of a symbolic aircraft. The bezel of the instrument is marked to show wings-level flight and bank angles for a standard rate turn. [Figure 5-35]

The inclinometer, similar to the one in a turn-and-slip indicator, is called a coordination ball, which shows the relationship between the bank angle and the rate of yaw. The turn is coordinated when the ball is in the center, between the marks. The aircraft is skidding when the ball rolls toward the outside of the turn and is slipping when it moves toward the

D.C. ELEC. TURN COORDINATOR L R 2 MIN. NO PITCH INFORMATION Figure 5-35. A turn coordinator
D.C.
ELEC.
TURN COORDINATOR
L
R
2
MIN.
NO PITCH
INFORMATION
Figure 5-35. A turn coordinator senses rotation about both roll
and yaw axes.

inside of the turn. A turn coordinator does not sense pitch. This is indicated on some instruments by placing the words “NO PITCH INFORMATION” on the dial.

Flight Support Systems

Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS)

As aircraft displays have transitioned to new technology, the sensors that feed them have also undergone significant change. Traditional gyroscopic flight instruments have been replaced by Attitude and Heading Reference Systems (AHRS) improving reliability and thereby reducing cost and maintenance.

The function of an AHRS is the same as gyroscopic systems;

that is, to determine which way is level and which way is north. By knowing the initial heading the AHRS can determine

both the attitude and magnetic heading of the aircraft.

The genesis of this system was initiated by the development

of the ring-LASAR gyroscope developed by Kearfott located