Airplane Maneuvers: Maintaining Positive Control on the Aircraft
The success of a pilot in maneuvering an airplane depends on his/her capability to establish firm control along the three reference axes: Longitudinal Axis, Lateral Axis and the Normal Axis. Primary control over the longitudinal axis is established via the elevators of an airplane while control over lateral and normal axes is maintained through ailerons and rudders respectively.
Initiating Climb in an Airplane
During a straight and level flight, an airplane is in equilibrium since all the four major forces (lift, weight, thrust and drag) acting on the aircraft balance each other. However, in a steady-state climb one must pay heed to the airplane’s altered pitch and airspeed. Power also plays a major role in a steady-state climb.
The sequence in which one adjusts the pitch, power and the speed of an aircraft affects the transition from a straight and level flight to a steady-state climb. To start a climb:
- Add/increase power.
- Raise the attitude of the airplane slowly to a climb-attitude.
- Wait for the speed of the airplane to adjust according to the newly acquired attitude.
- Trim the elevators to maintain the desired climb speed.
How to Level-off Your Airplane after a Climb
A level-off procedure requires a step by step method, which firmly adheres to a specific sequence. Abrupt actions, over-corrections or an alteration in the sequence of actions will affect the level-off procedure. To level your airplane after a climb:
- Lower the attitude of the airplane slowly to a cruise flight attitude.
- Decrease power to maintain altitude of the aircraft.
- Trim accordingly at the desired cruise speed.
Turning the Airplane: Roll-in
An airplane turns owing to the produced horizontal component of lift when the wings are in a bank. This horizontal component of lift reduces the value of vertical lift produced during straight and level flight, thus contributing to the loss of altitude during turns. A professional would want to turn the aircraft as smoothly as possible without any significant loss of height and/or speed. Such a turn is referred to as a level turn and here’s how you do it:
- Use the ailerons to initiate a turn.
- Hold a constant bank angle via the ailerons.
- Use the elevators to increase the angle of attack, which in-turn would compensate the loss of vertical lift.
- Use the rudders accordingly to coordinate the rolling airplane.
Initiating Descent in an Airplane
Descending an airplane is more of an art than a technical maneuver. Slight speed variations; whether in positive or in negative, will steepen the glide angle. To retain firm control over the aircraft while initiating a descent, adhere to the following postulates strictly:
- Reduce the power to initiate descent and loose altitude.
- Lower the nose of the aircraft to a descent attitude.
- Trim the elevators at the desired speed of descent.
Make sure to keep the wings level while the airplane is on a straight descent. If the aircraft is in a descending turn; keep the turn coordinated with the help of rudders.
Aeroplane General Knowledge & Aerodynamics, Aviation Theory Center