All posts tagged 'takeoff'

Understanding Nosewheel Steering

In most small aircraft, steering on the ground is controlled by brakes and rudder pedals. This is through a mechanical linkage pulley system that's pretty old school, also referred to as a free-castering system.

However, as planes get heavier and faster the need for a different system came into place. The Learjet 60 is a perfect example of an aircraft with this. Thus nosewheel steering became the solution. Nosewheel steering facilitates better directional control on the ground for takeoff and landing and sharper maneuvering at slower speeds such as taxiing to park. 

A Design of a Nosewheel Steering

Nosewheel Steering depicted by FlightMechanic.com

There are various designs for nosewheel steering but this is the basic depiction of how it is designed. Most are hydraulically powered and have mechanical, electrical, or hydraulic connections that transmit the pilot input to a steering control unit. The range that these inputs can control the movement of the nosewheel are important, as you don't have full range to move the nosewheel 90 degrees in either direction at just any speed. Most systems only operate up to about 90 knots, and the faster the aircraft is increasing speed towards those knots the less movement the wheel will move. 

Hardly any aircraft manuals depict or discuss this range in detail but this is the best photo I could find that helps illustrate this. Just remember that the faster the aircraft reaches, the more the system goes from nosewheel steering back to your usual rudder pedal system. 

Another important component to know about in this is shimmy dampers. There are torque links attached to the stationary upper cylinder of a nose wheel strut that work to control rapid oscillations, otherwise known as nosewheel shimmy. You'll feel these oscillations sometimes when you're taxiing too fast and/or have too much pressure centered on the front wheel. Simply slow down or try pulling the yoke back then gently back forward and 9/10 times this will stop unless it is a mechanical issue that needs to be addressed. 

There's a lot of components that are a part of the nosewheel steering system. These however seem to be the most common issues pilots have when transitioning to using one and trying to keep their operations smooth and comfortable for passengers. To understand the system better on YOUR aircraft however make sure to always read your flight manual in depth and talk to your mechanics when you can. Usually they're happy to share knowledge and teach you how to not break things as much ;)

Questions or comments? Add them below. 

Dealing with Frustration in the Cockpit

We've all been there:

In the cockpit, workload gets kind of high or we don't complete a task to our own personal standards, frustration starts setting in...next thing you know you realize you (or the person you're flying with) has become frustrated. Let's talk about the different signs this is occurring and how to combat it to not only have a safe but enjoyable flight. 

Pictured above is a Citation II

I want to make this an important topic because frustration is a real thing when flying, and it's not considered a hazardous attitude by the FAA yet most definitely exists. 

Whether I'm acting as an SIC for the corporate work I do or instructing in a C172, I see the same signs setting in every time. First, the grip on the controls starts getting tighter. The throttle(s) are held tighter and the controls are gripped more strongly.

Next, the scan of the cockpit and outside the windshield (if VFR) slows. The gaze starts to become fixated on certain things, and sometimes things that don't really matter. And of course, the mindset becomes fixated too. You're not thinking as logically and clearly like you usually do, it's almost as if you're in a haze and your ability to fly is decreasing.

Being in this state of mind may not necessarily kill you, but it will put you behind the plane every time. You might now forget to get ATIS and load the arrival in for your descent, enter the traffic pattern incorrectly, or forget to bring your gear up after takeoff...there's a lot of things that can happen that will slip out of your grip. 

The best way to combat this? Recognize it as soon as it's happening and correct it.

Just like all 5 hazardous attitudes have an antitdote, I've came up for one on this too. First off, admit that you're frustrated to yourself.  Look down and notice your tightened grip then look inside the rest of the cockpit and make sure everything looks as it should. Are your engine instruments indicating normal? What's your altitude? Why are you at that altitude? Did you mean to be at that altitude?

Ask yourself these kinds of questions! I call it intentional flying: everything you're currently doing you are doing it with a purpose and not letting the aircraft fly itself. This previous frustration is now going to lead to you getting flustered when you realize you're doing something wrong and now must correct it. BUT DON'T LET YOURSELF GET FLUSTERED EITHER. Fix the problem. Make yourself take a step back and take in everything, breathe, relax that death grip on the controls, and diagnose what is going on and how best to handle it. 

The second you panic, get mad, give up, or act without thinking is the second that now you might be in REAL trouble. So don't let yourself get that far! So again...remember to RELAX and then just fly how you were taught to. 

Thanks for reading. Any questions or comments? Leave them below!

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