Pilot and student pilot community. Share your pilot lessons or aviation stories.

Turns (Part Seven) Common Errors in Turns

by Flight Learnings

in Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers - Analog Instrumentation


Pitch errors result from the following faults:

1. Preoccupation with bank control during turn entry and recovery. If 5 seconds are required to roll into a turn, check the pitch instruments as bank pressures are initiated. If bank control pressure and rate of bank change are consistent, a sense of the time required for an attitude change is developed. During the interval, check pitch, power, and trim—as well as bank—controlling the total attitude instead of one factor at a time.

2. Failure to understand or remember the need for changing the pitch attitude as the vertical lift component changes, resulting in consistent loss of altitude during entries.

3. Changing the pitch attitude before it is necessary. This fault is very likely if a cross-check is slow and rate of entry too rapid. The error occurs during the turn entry due to a mechanical and premature application of back-elevator control pressure.

4. Overcontrolling the pitch changes. This fault commonly occurs with the previous error.

5. Failure to properly adjust the pitch attitude as the vertical lift component increases during the roll-out, resulting in consistent gain in altitude on recovery to headings.

6. Failure to trim during turn entry and following turn recovery (if turn is prolonged).

7. Failure to maintain straight-and-level cross-check after roll-out. This error commonly follows a perfectly executed turn.

8. Erratic rates of bank change on entry and recovery, resulting from failure to cross-check the pitch instruments with a consistent technique appropriate to the changes in lift.


Bank and heading errors result from the following faults:

1. Overcontrolling, resulting in overbanking upon turn entry, overshooting and undershooting headings, as well as aggravated pitch, airspeed, and trim errors.

2. Fixation on a single bank instrument. On a 90° change of heading, for example, leave the heading indicator out of the cross-check for approximately 20 seconds after establishing a standard rate turn, since at 3° per second the turn will not approach the lead point until that time has elapsed. Make the cross-check selective, checking only what needs to be checked at the appropriate time.

3. Failure to check for precession of the horizon bar following recovery from a turn. If the heading indicator shows a change in heading when the attitude indicator shows level flight, the airplane is turning. If the ball is centered, the attitude gyro has precessed; if the ball is not centered, the airplane may be in a slipping or skidding turn. Center the ball with rudder pressure, check the attitude indicator and heading indicator, stop the heading change if it continues, and retrim.

4. Failure to use the proper degree of bank for the amount of heading change desired. Rolling into a 20° bank for a heading change of 10° will normally overshoot the heading. Use the bank attitude appropriate to the amount of heading change desired.

5. Failure to remember the heading to which the aircraft is being turned. This fault is likely when rushing the maneuver.

6. Turning in the wrong direction, due to misreading or misinterpreting the heading indicator, or to confusion regarding the location of points on the compass. Turn in the shortest direction to reach a given heading, unless there is a specific reason to turn the long way around. Study the compass rose and visualize at least the positions of the eight major points around the azimuth. A number of methods can be used to make quick computations for heading changes. For example, to turn from a heading of 305° to a heading of 110°, would a pilot turn right or left for the shortest way around? Subtracting 200 from 305 and adding 20, gives 125° as the reciprocal of 305°; therefore, execute the turn to the right. Likewise, to figure the reciprocal of a heading less than 180°, add 200 and subtract 20. Computations are done more quickly using multiples of 100s and 10s than by adding or subtracting 180° from the actual heading; therefore, the method suggested above may save time and confusion.

7. Failure to check the ball of the turn coordinator when interpreting the instrument for bank information. If the roll rate is reduced to zero, the miniature aircraft of the turn coordinator indicates only direction and rate of turn. Unless the ball is centered, do not assume the turn is resulting from a banked attitude.


Power and airspeed errors result from the following faults:

1. Failure to cross-check the ASI as pitch changes are made.

2. Erratic use of power control. This may be due to improper throttle friction control, inaccurate throttle settings, chasing the airspeed readings, abrupt or overcontrolled pitch-and-bank changes, or failure to recheck the airspeed to note the effect of a power adjustment.

3. Poor coordination of throttle control with pitch-and-bank changes associated with slow cross-check or failure to understand the aerodynamic factors related to turns.


Trim errors result from the following faults:

1. Failure to recognize the need for a trim change due to slow cross-check and interpretation. For example, a turn entry at a rate too rapid for a cross-check leads to confusion in cross-check and interpretation with resulting tension on the controls.

2. Failure to understand the relationship between trim and attitude/power changes.

3. Chasing the vertical speed needle. Overcontrolling leads to tension and prevents sensing the pressures to be trimmed off.

4. Failure to trim following power changes.

Errors During Compass Turns

In addition to the faults discussed above, the following errors connected with compass turns should be noted:

1. Faulty understanding or computation of lead and lag.

2. Fixation on the compass during the roll-out. Until the airplane is in straight-and-level unaccelerated flight, it is unnecessary to read the indicated heading. Accordingly, after the roll-out, cross-check for straight-and-level flight before checking the accuracy of the turn.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: