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Sun, Feb 12, 2006

ANN's Daily Aero-Tips (02.12.06): Standard Rate Turns

Aero-Tips!

A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of "there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.

Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner, master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us -- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we might never have considered before, or something that didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for the practical test.

It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow them to soar magnificently through it.

Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips. Remember... when it comes to being good pilots, we're all in this together.

Aero-Tips 02.12.06

Most Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) procedures are built around what’s called a "Standard Rate Turn." Standard Rate (SR) is also an easy turn for pilots wanting to give passengers a smooth ride. SR is three degrees of turn per second, which requires two minutes to complete a full circle (Note: some old-timers refer to Standard Rate as a "two minute turn.")

Since this is a rate of turn, SR is a function of bank angle and True Air Speed (TAS). You can approximate the bank angle (in degrees) required for SR as 15% of the TAS (in knots). If your TAS is 90 knots (a common IFR approach and holding speed) it’ll take about a 14 degree bank to result in SR (90 ÷ 10 = 9 + half of 9 = about 14). At 120 knots TAS SR requires about 18 degrees bank (120 ÷ 10 = 12 + 6 = 18); at 180 KTAS standard rate requires about 27 degrees of bank.

You don’t have to do the math every time -- your airplane will have two main SR bank angles, one at cruise speed, the other at approach (which is also close to climb speed).

Why is this important, especially when turn coordinators and turn-and-bank indicators have a marker that shows a standard-rate turn? Fixation on this secondary instrument, especially when rolling into a turn, may result in an altitude excursion if the pilot is distracted from pitch control. I teach watching the attitude indicator when rolling into a SR turn, establishing the required bank angle while simultaneously maintaining pitch for altitude control. Only after establishing bank do I cross-check the turn indicator, and fine-tune bank as necessary.

This knowledge is extremely helpful in partial-panel flight also. Knowing that SR turns require a very slight bank reminds pilots to avoid big control movements if primary attitude guidance fails.

(ABOVE: Turn Coordinator with "Standard Rate" Markings)

Aero-tip of the day: Know the bank angle required to obtain a Standard Rate turn, for precision and the ability to better control a "partial panel" airplane.

FMI: Aero-Tips

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