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The Four-Step Process Used to Change Attitude

by Flight Learnings

in Attitude Instrument Flying - Electronic Flight Display

In order to change the attitude of the aircraft, the pilot must make the proper changes to the pitch, bank, or power settings of the aircraft. Four steps (establish, trim, cross-check, and adjust) have been developed in order to aid in the process.


Any time the attitude of the aircraft requires changing, the pilot must adjust the pitch and/or bank in conjunction with power to establish the desired performance. The changes in pitch and bank require the pilot to reference the attitude indicator in order to make precise changes. Power changes should be verified on the tachometer, manifold pressure gauge, etc. To ease the workload, the pilot should become familiar with the approximate pitch and power changes necessary to establish a specified attitude.


Another important step in attitude instrument flying is trimming the aircraft. Trim is utilized to eliminate the need to apply force to the control yoke in order to maintain the desired attitude. When the aircraft is trimmed appropriately, the pilot is able to relax pressure on the control yoke and momentarily divert attention to another task at hand without deviating from the desired attitude. Trimming the aircraft is very important, and poor trim is one of the most common errors instructors note in instrument students.


Once the initial attitude changes have been made, the pilot should verify the performance of the aircraft. Cross-checking the control and performance instruments requires the pilot to visually scan the instruments, as well as interpret the indications. All the instruments must be utilized collectively in order to develop a full understanding of the aircraft attitude. During the cross-check, the pilot needs to determine the magnitude of any deviations and determine how much of a change is required. All changes are then made based on the control instrument indications.


The final step in the process is adjusting for any deviations that have been noted during the cross-check. Adjustments should be made in small increments. The attitude indicator and the power instruments are graduated in small increments to allow for precise changes to be made. The pitch should be made in reference to bar widths on the miniature airplane. The bank angle can be changed in reference to the roll scale and the power can be adjusted in reference to the tachometer, manifold pressure gauge, etc.

By utilizing these four steps, pilots can better manage the attitude of their aircraft. One common error associated with this process is making a larger than necessary change when a deviation is noted. Pilots need to become familiar with the aircraft and learn how great a change in attitude is needed to produce the desired performance.

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