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Common Errors in Straight Climbs and Descents

in Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers - Analog Instrumentation

Common errors result from the following faults:

  1. Overcontrolling pitch on climb entry. Until the pitch attitudes related to specific power settings used in climbs and descents are known, larger than necessary pitch adjustments are made. One of the most difficult habits to acquire during instrument training is to restrain the impulse to disturb a flight attitude until the result is known. Overcome the inclination to make a large control movement for a pitch change, and learn to apply small control pressures smoothly, cross-checking rapidly for the results of the change, and continuing with the pressures as instruments show the desired results. Small pitch changes can be easily controlled, stopped, and corrected; large changes are more difficult to control.
  2. Failure to vary the rate of cross-check during speed, power, or attitude changes or climb or descent entries.
  3. Failure to maintain a new pitch attitude. For example, raising the nose to the correct climb attitude, and as the airspeed decreases, either overcontrol and further increase the pitch attitude or allow the nose to lower. As control pressures change with airspeed changes, cross-check must be increased and pressures readjusted.
  4. Failure to trim off pressures. Unless the airplane is trimmed, there is difficulty in determining whether control pressure changes are induced by aerodynamic changes or by the pilot’s own movements.
  5. Failure to learn and use proper power settings.
  6. Failure to cross-check both airspeed and vertical speed before making pitch or power adjustments.
  7. Improper pitch and power coordination on slow-speed level offs due to slow cross-check of airspeed and altimeter indications.
  8. Failure to cross-check the VSI against the other pitch control instruments, resulting in chasing the vertical speed.
  9. Failure to note the rate of climb or descent to determine the lead for level offs, resulting in overshooting or undershooting the desired altitude.
  10. Ballooning (allowing the nose to pitch up) on level offs from descents, resulting from failure to maintain descending attitude with forward-elevator pressure as power is increased to the level flight cruise setting.
  11. Failure to recognize the approaching straight-and-level flight indications as level off is completed. Maintain an accelerated cross-check until positively established in straight-and-level flight.


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