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Bank Control (Part Three) Turn Coordinator

in Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers - Analog Instrumentation

The miniature aircraft of the turn coordinator gives an indirect indication of the bank attitude of the airplane. When the miniature aircraft is level, the airplane is in straight flight. When the miniature airplane is aligned with one of the alignment marks and the aircraft is rolling to the left or right the indication represents the roll rate, with the alignment marks indicating a roll of 3 degrees per second in the direction of the miniature aircraft. This can be seen in level flight when a bank is introduced either to the left or the right.

The turn coordinator’s indicator will indicate the rolling motion although there is no turn being made. Conversely, a pedal input to the right or left causes the aircraft to turn momentarily about its vertical axis (with no rolling motion) with an indication of turn on the turn coordinator. After the turn becomes stabilized and the aircraft is no longer rolling, the turn coordinator displays the rate of turn with the alignment marks equaling a turn of 3 degrees per second. The turn coordinator is able to display both roll and turn parameters because its electrically-powered gyroscope is canted at an angle. As a result, the turn-and-slip indicator provides both roll and turn indications. Autopilots in general aviation today use this instrument in determining both roll and turn information. After the completion of a turn, return to straight flight is accomplished by coordinated aileron and rudder pressure to level the miniature aircraft. Include the miniature aircraft in the cross-check and correct for even the smallest deviations from the desired position. When this instrument is used to maintain straight flight, control pressures must be applied very lightly and smoothly.

The ball of the turn coordinator is actually a separate instrument, conveniently located under the miniature aircraft because the two instruments are used together. The ball instrument indicates the quality of the turn. If the ball is off-center, the airplane is slipping or skidding. That is, if the coordinator’s miniature airplane is tilted left and the ball is displaced to the right, the aircraft is in a skid. [Figure 7-18] If however, the miniature airplane is tilted to the right with the ball off-center to the right, the aircraft is in a slip. [Figure 7-19] If the wings are level and the airplane is properly trimmed, the ball remains in the center, and the airplane is in straight flight. If the ball is not centered, the airplane is improperly trimmed.

Figure 7-18. Skid Indication

Figure 7-18. Skid Indication


Figure 7-19. Slip indication.

Figure 7-19. Slip indication.

To maintain straight-and-level flight with proper trim, note the direction of ball displacement. If the ball is to the left of center and the left wing is low, apply left rudder pressure to center the ball and correct the slip. At the same time, apply right aileron pressure as necessary to level the wings, cross-checking the heading indicator and attitude indicator while centering the ball. If the wings are level and the ball is displaced from the center, the airplane is skidding. Note the direction of ball displacement and use the same corrective technique as for an indicated slip. Center the ball (left ball/left rudder, right ball/right rudder), use aileron as necessary for bank control and retrim.

To trim the airplane using only the turn coordinator, use aileron pressure to level the miniature aircraft and rudder pressure to center the ball. Hold these indications with control pressures, gradually releasing them while applying rudder trim sufficient to relieve all rudder pressure. Apply aileron trim, if available, to relieve aileron pressure. With a full instrument panel, maintain a wings-level attitude by reference to all available instruments while trimming the airplane.


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