Practice of airspeed changes in straight-and-level flight provides an excellent means of developing increased proficiency in all three basic instrument skills and brings out some common errors to be expected during training in straight-and-level flight. Having learned to control the airplane in a clean configuration (minimum drag conditions), increase proficiency in cross-check and control by practicing speed changes while extending or retracting the flaps and landing gear. While practicing, be sure to comply with the airspeed limitations specified in the POH/AFM for gear and flap operation.
Sudden and exaggerated attitude changes may be necessary in order to maintain straight-and-level flight as the landing gear is extended and the flaps are lowered in some airplanes. The nose tends to pitch down with gear extension, and when flaps are lowered, lift increases momentarily (at partial flap settings) followed by a marked increase in drag as the flaps near maximum extension.
Control technique varies according to the lift and drag characteristics of each airplane. Accordingly, knowledge of the power settings and trim changes associated with different combinations of airspeed, gear, and flap configurations reduces instrument cross-check and interpretation problems. [Figure 7-60]
For example, assume that in straight-and-level flight instruments indicate 120 knots with power at 23 “Hg manifold pressure/2,300 revolutions per minute (rpm), gear and flaps up. After reduction in airspeed, with gear and flaps fully extended, straight-and-level flight at the same altitude requires 25 “Hg manifold pressure/2,500 rpm. Maximum gear extension speed is 115 knots; maximum flap extension speed is 105 knots. Airspeed reduction to 95 knots, gear and flaps down, can be made in the following manner:
- Maintain rpm at 2,500, since a high power setting is used in full drag configuration.
- Reduce manifold pressure to 10 “Hg. As the airspeed decreases, increase cross-check speed.
- Make trim adjustments for an increased angle of attack and decrease in torque.
- Lower the gear at 115 knots. The nose may tend to pitch down and the rate of deceleration increases. Increase pitch attitude to maintain constant altitude and trim off some of the back-elevator pressures. If full flaps are lowered at 105 knots, cross-check, interpretation, and control must be very rapid. A simpler technique is to stabilize attitude with gear down before lowering the flaps.
- Since 18 “Hg manifold pressure holds level flight at 100 knots with the gear down, increase power smoothly to that setting as the ASI shows approximately 105 knots, and retrim. The attitude indicator now shows approximately two-and-a-half bar width nose-high in straight-and-level flight.
- Actuate the flap control and simultaneously increase power to the predetermined setting (25 “Hg) for the desired airspeed, and trim off the pressures necessary to hold constant altitude and heading. The attitude indicator now shows a bar width nose-low in straight-and-level flight at 95 knots.