Execute High Load Maneuvers in the Right Manner

Flight test day is just round the corner. As it comes closer, your instructor will spend more time in ground preparation. You will be grilled on different elements of maneuvers and tasks that you will perform during practice sessions. And than, you are tossed a curve ball by the CFI.

Ground-reference maneuvers and steeps turns are on the agenda. You come prepared to discuss skills, risk management and knowledge associated with maneuvers that are listen in the Private Pilot – Airplane Airman Certification Standards.

When you perform the steep turn, you bank the aircraft in a 45 degree angle. You are checked by your CFI continuously for the right maneuvering speed.

Depending on weight, a 1978 Cessna 172N needs to be within 80 to 97 knots indicated airspeed.

You check the numbers for today’s maneuver and insure that you will not cross the limit during this maneuver.

When we are executing a steep turn, what is the minimum speed that need to be maintained?

The question lets us think about two risks associated with steep turns.

First – how much excessive structural load we are imposing on the aircraft when we make ‘abrupt or full’ control inputs above the maneuvering speed?

Second – How to prevent crossing the critical angle of attack (AOA) of the wings by allowing airspeed to go too low while executing high-load-factor maneuvers?

The question sure will make you think.

With increase in bank angle, there is an increase in airspeed at which AOA becomes critical. So, it is important to be aware of risk of associated stall.

As has been mentioned on page 6-3 of Airplane Flying Handbook, “a ground-reference maneuver should not exceed a bank angle of 45 degrees or an airspeed greater than maneuvering speed”.

The handbook also states, during pre-flight planning, a student pilot should check the POH / AFM for the predicted stall speed at 50 degrees or for the steepest bank angle along with the margin of error in this maneuver.

The textbook explains this point by giving some numbers. In case an aircraft stall at 50 knots in level flight. The same aircraft in 45 degrees bank turn will stall at 60 knots and at 70 knots when it is turning at 60 degrees bank angle, in level attitude.

Student pilots should keep a constant vigil on bank angle and airspeed, not just to pass the flight test, but because, the handbook also states that “the load factor increases at a terrific rate after a bank has reached 45 or 50 degrees.


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