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Power Control (Part Two) Power Settings

by Flight Learnings

in Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers - Analog Instrumentation

Power control and airspeed changes are much easier when approximate power settings necessary to maintain various airspeeds in straight-and-level flight are known in advance. However, to change airspeed by any appreciable amount, the common procedure is to underpower or overpower on initial power changes to accelerate the rate of airspeed change. (For small speed changes, or in airplanes that decelerate or accelerate rapidly, overpowering or underpowering is not necessary.)

Consider the example of an airplane that requires 23 inches of mercury (“Hg) of manifold pressure to maintain a normal cruising airspeed of 120 knots, and 18 “Hg of manifold pressure to maintain an airspeed of 100 knots. The reduction in airspeed from 120 knots to 100 knots while maintaining straight-and-level flight is discussed below and illustrated in Figures 7-22, 7-23, and 7-24.

Figure 7-22. Straight-and-level flight (normal cruising speed).

Figure 7-22. Straight-and-level flight (normal cruising speed).


Figure 7-23. Straight-and-level flight (airspeed decreasing).

Figure 7-23. Straight-and-level flight (airspeed decreasing).


Figure 7-24. Straight-and-level flight (reduced airspeed stabilized).

Figure 7-24. Straight-and-level flight (reduced airspeed stabilized).

Instrument indications, prior to the power reduction, are shown in Figure 7-22. The basic attitude is established and maintained on the attitude indicator. The specific pitch, bank, and power control requirements are detected on these primary instruments:

  • Altimeter—Primary Pitch
  • Heading Indicator—Primary Bank
  • Airspeed Indicator—Primary Power

Supporting pitch-and-bank instruments are shown in Figure 7-23. Note that the supporting power instrument is the manifold pressure gauge (or tachometer if the propeller is fixed pitch). However, when a smooth power reduction to approximately 15 “Hg (underpower) is made, the manifold pressure gauge becomes the primary power instrument. [Figure 7-23] With practice, power setting can be changed with only a brief glance at the power instrument, by sensing the movement of the throttle, the change in sound, and the changes in the feel of control pressures.

As thrust decreases, increase the speed of the cross-check and be ready to apply left rudder, back-elevator, and aileron control pressure the instant the pitch-and-bank instruments show a deviation from altitude and heading. As proficiency is obtained, a pilot learns to cross-check, interpret, and control the changes with no deviation of heading and altitude. Assuming smooth air and ideal control technique as airspeed decreases, a proportionate increase in airplane pitch attitude is required to maintain altitude. Similarly, effective torque control means counteracting yaw with rudder pressure.

As the power is reduced, the altimeter is primary for pitch, the heading indicator is primary for bank, and the manifold pressure gauge is momentarily primary for power (at 15 “Hg in this example). Control pressures should be trimmed off as the airplane decelerates. As the airspeed approaches the desired airspeed of 100 knots, the manifold pressure is adjusted to approximately 18 “Hg and becomes the supporting power instrument. The ASI again becomes primary for power. [Figure 7-24]

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