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Secondary Flight Controls (Part Five) – Balance Tabs and Antiservo Tabs

in Flight Controls

Balance Tabs

The control forces may be excessively high in some aircraft, and, in order to decrease them, the manufacturer may use balance tabs. They look like trim tabs and are hinged in approximately the same places as trim tabs. The essential difference between the two is that the balancing tab is coupled to the control surface rod so that when the primary control surface is moved in any direction, the tab automatically moves in the opposite direction. The airflow striking the tab counterbalances some of the air pressure against the primary control surface, and enables the pilot to move more easily and hold the control surface in position.


If the linkage between the balance tab and the fixed surface is adjustable from the flight deck, the tab acts as a combination trim and balance tab that can be adjusted to any desired deflection.

Antiservo Tabs

Antiservo tabs work in the same manner as balance tabs except, instead of moving in the opposite direction, they move in the same direction as the trailing edge of the stabilator. In addition to decreasing the sensitivity of the stabilator, an antiservo tab also functions as a trim device to relieve control pressure and maintain the stabilator in the desired position. The fixed end of the linkage is on the opposite side of the surface from the horn on the tab; when the trailing edge of the stabilator moves up, the linkage forces the trailing edge of the tab up. When the stabilator moves down, the tab also moves down. Conversely, trim tabs on elevators move opposite of the control surface. [Figure 5-21]

Figure 5-21. An antiservo tab attempts to streamline the control surface and is used to make the stabilator less sensitive by opposing the force exerted by the pilot.

Figure 5-21. An antiservo tab attempts to streamline the control surface and is used to make the stabilator less sensitive by opposing the force exerted by the pilot.

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