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Rate of Turn

by Flight Learnings

in Aerodynamics

The rate of turn (ROT) is the number of degrees (expressed in degrees per second) of heading change that an aircraft makes. The ROT can be determined by taking the constant of 1,091, multiplying it by the tangent of any bank angle and dividing that product by a given airspeed in knots as illustrated in Figure 4-48. If the airspeed is increased and the ROT desired is to be constant, the angle of bank must be increased, otherwise, the ROT decreases. Likewise, if the airspeed is held constant, an aircraft’s ROT increases if the bank angle is increased. The formula in Figures 4-48 through 4-50 depicts the relationship between bank angle and airspeed as they affect the ROT.

NOTE: All airspeed discussed in this section is true airspeed (TAS).

Figure 4-48. Rate of turn for a given airspeed (knots, TAS) and bank angle.

Figure 4-48. Rate of turn for a given airspeed (knots, TAS) and bank angle.

Figure 4-49. Rate of turn when increasing speed.

Figure 4-49. Rate of turn when increasing speed.

Figure 4-50. To achieve the same rate of turn of an aircraft traveling at 120 knots, an increase of bank angle is required.

Figure 4-50. To achieve the same rate of turn of an aircraft traveling at 120 knots, an increase of bank angle is required.

Airspeed significantly effects an aircraft’s ROT. If airspeed is increased, the ROT is reduced if using the same angle of bank used at the lower speed. Therefore, if airspeed is increased as illustrated in Figure 4-49, it can be inferred that the angle of bank must be increased in order to achieve the same ROT achieved in Figure 4-50.

What does this mean on a practicable side? If a given airspeed and bank angle produces a specific ROT, additional conclusions can be made. Knowing the ROT is a given number of degrees of change per second, the number of seconds it takes to travel 360° (a circle) can be determined by simple division. For example, if moving at 120 knots with a 30° bank angle, the ROT is 5.25° per second and it takes 68.6 seconds (360° divided by 5.25 = 68.6 seconds) to make a complete circle. Likewise, if flying at 240 knots TAS and using a 30° angle of bank, the ROT is only about 2.63° per second and it takes about 137 seconds to complete a 360° circle. Looking at the formula, any increase in airspeed is directly proportional to the time the aircraft takes to travel an arc.

So why is this important to understand? Once the ROT is understood, a pilot can determine the distance required to make that particular turn which is explained in radius of turn.

51UFncHi9pL._SX390_BO1,204,203,200_Learn more about airplane aerodynamics with the Illustrated Guide to Aerodynamics. This unique introductory guide, which sold more than 20,000 copies in its first edition, proves that the principles of flight can be easy to understand, even fascinating, to pilots and technicians who want to know how and why an aircraft behaves as it does.

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