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Straight Climbs and Descents – Entry – Leveling Off

in Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers - Electronic Flight Display

Leveling off from a climb requires a reduction in the pitch prior to reaching the desired altitude. If no change in pitch is made until reaching the desired altitude, the momentum of the aircraft causes the aircraft to continue past the desired altitude throughout the transition to a level pitch attitude. The amount of lead to be applied depends on the vertical speed rate. A higher vertical speed requires a larger lead for level off. A good rule of thumb to utilize is to lead the level off by 10 percent of the vertical speed rate (1,000 fpm ÷ 10 = 100 feet lead).

To level off at the desired altitude, refer to the attitude display and apply smooth forward elevator pressure toward the desired level pitch attitude while monitoring the VSI and altimeter tapes. The rates should start to slow and airspeed should begin to increase. Maintain the climb power setting until the airspeed approaches the desired cruise airspeed. Continue to monitor the altimeter to maintain the desired altitude as the airspeed increases. Prior to reaching the cruise airspeed, the power must be reduced to avoid overshooting the desired speed. The amount of lead time that is required depends on the speed at which the aircraft accelerates. Utilization of the airspeed trend indicator can assist by showing how quickly the aircraft will arrive at the desired speed.

To level off at climbing airspeed, lower the nose to the appropriate pitch attitude for level flight with a simultaneous reduction in power to a setting that maintains the desired speed. With a coordinated reduction in pitch and power, there should be no change in the airspeed.


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