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Common Errors in Straight Climbs and Descents

in Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers - Electronic Flight Display

Climbing and descending errors usually result from but are not limited to the following errors:

1. Overcontrolling pitch on beginning the climb. Aircraft familiarization is the key to achieving precise attitude instrument flying. Until the pilot becomes familiar with the pitch attitudes associated with specific airspeeds, the pilot must make corrections to the initial pitch settings. Changes do not produce instantaneous and stabilized results; patience must be maintained while the new speeds and vertical speed rates stabilize. Avoid the temptations to make a change and then rush into making another change until the first one is validated. Small changes produce more expeditious results and allow for a more stabilized flightpath. Large changes to pitch and power are more difficult to control and can further complicate the recovery process.

2. Failure to increase the rate of instrument cross-check. Any time a pitch or power change is made, an increase in the rate a pilot cross-checks the instrument is required. A slow cross-check can lead to deviations in other flight attitudes.

3. Failure to maintain new pitch attitudes. Once a pitch change is made to correct for a deviation, that pitch attitude must be maintained until the change is validated. Utilize trim to assist in maintaining the new pitch attitude. If the pitch is allowed to change, it is impossible to validate whether the initial pitch change was sufficient to correct the deviation. The continuous changing of the pitch attitude delays the recovery process.

4. Failure to utilize effective trim techniques. If control pressures have to be held by the pilot, validation of the initial correction is impossible if the pitch is allowed to vary. Pilots have the tendency to either apply or relax additional control pressures when manually holding pitch attitudes. Trim allows the pilot to fly without holding pressure on the control yoke.

5. Failure to learn and utilize proper power settings. Any time a pilot is not familiar with an aircraft’s specific pitch and power settings, or does not utilize them, a change in flightpaths takes longer. Learn pitch and power settings in order to expedite changing the flightpath.

6. Failure to cross-check both airspeed and vertical speed prior to making adjustments to pitch and or power. It is possible that a change in one may correct a deviation in the other.

7. Uncoordinated use of pitch and power during level offs. During level offs, both pitch and power settings need to be made in unison in order to achieve the desired results. If pitch is increased before adding power, additional drag is generated thereby reducing airspeed below the desired value.

8. Failure to utilize supporting pitch instruments leads to chasing the VSI. Always utilize the attitude indicator as the control instrument on which to change the pitch.

9. Failure to determine a proper lead time for level off from a climb or descent. Waiting too long can lead to overshooting the altitude.

10. Ballooning—Failure to maintain forward control pressure during level off as power is increased. Additional lift is generated causing the nose of the aircraft to pitch up.


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