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Straight Descents (Part One) Entry

in Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers - Analog Instrumentation


A descent can be made at a variety of airspeeds and attitudes by reducing power, adding drag, and lowering the nose to a predetermined attitude. The airspeed eventually stabilizes at a constant value. Meanwhile, the only flight instrument providing a positive attitude reference is the attitude indicator. Without the attitude indicator (such as during a partial panel descent), the ASI, altimeter, and VSI show varying rates of change until the airplane decelerates to a constant airspeed at a constant attitude. During the transition, changes in control pressure and trim, as well as cross-check and interpretation, must be accurate to maintain positive control.


The following method for entering descents is effective with or without an attitude indicator. First, reduce airspeed to a selected descent airspeed while maintaining straightand-level flight, then make a further reduction in power (to a predetermined setting). As the power is adjusted, simultaneously lower the nose to maintain constant airspeed, and trim off control pressures.

During a constant airspeed descent, any deviation from the desired airspeed calls for a pitch adjustment. For a constant rate descent, the entry is the same, but the VSI is primary for pitch control (after it stabilizes near the desired rate), and the ASI is primary for power control. Pitch and power must be closely coordinated when corrections are made, as they are in climbs. [Figure 7-30]

Figure 7-30. Constant airspeed descent, airspeed high—reduce power.

Figure 7-30. Constant airspeed descent, airspeed high—reduce power.


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