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Straight and Level Flight – Trim Technique

by Flight Learnings

in Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers - Electronic Flight Display

Trim control is one of the most important flight habits to cultivate. Trimming refers to relieving any control pressures that need to be applied by the pilot to the control surfaces to maintain a desired flight attitude. The desired result is for the pilot to be able to take his or her hands off the control surfaces and have the aircraft remain in the current attitude. Once the aircraft is trimmed for hands-off flight, the pilot is able to devote more time to monitoring the flight instruments and other aircraft systems.

In order to trim the aircraft, apply pressure to the control surface that needs trimming and roll the trim wheel in the direction pressure is being held. Relax the pressure that is being applied to the control surface and monitor the primary instrument for that attitude. If the desired performance is achieved, fly hands off. If additional trimming is required, redo the trimming steps.

An aircraft is trimmed for a specific airspeed, not pitch attitude or altitude. Any time an aircraft changes airspeed, there is a need to re-trim. For example, an aircraft is flying at 100 knots straight-and-level. An increase of 50 rpm causes the airspeed to increase. As the airspeed increases, additional lift is generated and the aircraft climbs. Once the additional thrust has stabilized at some higher altitude, the airspeed will again stabilize at 100 knots.

This demonstrates how trim is associated with airspeed and not altitude. If the initial altitude is to be maintained, forward pressure would need to be applied to the control wheel while the trim wheel needs to be rolled forward to eliminate any control pressures. Rolling forward on the trim wheel is equal to increasing for a trimmed airspeed. Any time the airspeed is changed, re-trimming is required. Trimming can be accomplished during any transitional period; however, prior to final trimming, the airspeed must be held constant. If the airspeed is allowed to change, the trim is not adjusted properly and the altitude varies until the airspeed for which the aircraft is trimmed is achieved.

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