Attitude Instrument Flying Using the Primary and Supporting Method (Part Two)

Bank Control

Bank control is controlling the angle made by the wing and the horizon. After interpreting the bank attitude from the appropriate instruments, exert the necessary pressures to move the ailerons and roll the aircraft about the longitudinal axis. As illustrated in Figure 6-11, these instruments include:

  • Attitude indicator
  • Heading indicator
  • Magnetic compass
  • Turn coordinator/turn-and-slip indicator
Figure 6-11. Bank instruments.

Figure 6-11. Bank instruments.

Attitude Indicator

As previously discussed, the attitude indicator is the only instrument that portrays both instantly and directly the actual flight attitude and is the basic attitude reference.


Heading Indicator

The heading indicator supplies the pertinent bank and heading information and is considered a primary instrument for bank.

Magnetic Compass

The magnetic compass provides heading information and is considered a bank instrument when used with the heading indicator. Care should be exercised when using the magnetic compass as it is affected by acceleration, deceleration in flight caused by turbulence, climbing, descending, power changes, and airspeed adjustments. Additionally, the magnetic compass indication will lead and lag in its reading depending upon the direction of turn. As a result, acceptance of its indication should be considered with other instruments that indicate turn information. These include the already mentioned attitude and heading indicators, as well as the turn-and-slip indicator and turn coordinator.

Turn Coordinator/Turn-and-Slip Indicator

Both of these instruments provide turn information. [Figure 6-12] The turn coordinator provides both bank rate and then turn rate once stabilized. The turn-and-slip indicator provides only turn rate.

Figure 6-12. Turn coordinator and turn-and-slip indicator.

Figure 6-12. Turn coordinator and turn-and-slip indicator.


Power Control

A power change to adjust airspeed may cause movement around some or all of the aircraft axes. The amount and direction of movement depends on how much or how rapidly the power is changed, whether single-engine or multiengine airplane or helicopter. The effect on pitch attitude and airspeed caused by power changes during level flight is illustrated in Figures 6-13 and 6-14. During or immediately after adjusting the power control(s), the power instruments should be cross-checked to see if the power adjustment is as desired. Whether or not the need for a power adjustment is indicated by another instrument(s), adjustment is made by cross-checking the power instruments. Aircraft are powered by a variety of powerplants, each powerplant having certain instruments that indicate the amount of power being applied to operate the aircraft. During instrument flight, these instruments must be used to make the required power adjustments.

Figure 6-13. An increase in power—increasing airspeed accordingly in level flight.

Figure 6-13. An increase in power—increasing airspeed accordingly in level flight.

Figure 6-14. Pitch control and power adjustment required to bring aircraft to level flight.

Figure 6-14. Pitch control and power adjustment required to bring aircraft to level flight.

As illustrated in Figure 6-15, power indicator instruments include:

  • Airspeed indicator
  • Engine instruments
Figure 6-15. Power instruments.

Figure 6-15. Power instruments.

Airspeed Indicator

The airspeed indicator provides an indication of power best observed initially in level flight where the aircraft is in balance and trim. If in level flight the airspeed is increasing, it can generally be assumed that the power has increased, necessitating the need to adjust power or re-trim the aircraft.

Engine Instruments

Engine instruments, such as the manifold pressure (MP) indicator, provide an indication of aircraft performance for a given setting under stable conditions. If the power conditions are changed, as reflected in the respective engine instrument readings, there is an affect upon the aircraft performance, either an increase or decrease of airspeed. When the propeller rotational speed (revolutions per minute (RPM) as viewed on a tachometer) is increased or decreased on fixed-pitch propellers, the performance of the aircraft reflects a gain or loss of airspeed as well.


Trim Control

Proper trim technique is essential for smooth and accurate instrument flying and utilizes instrumentation illustrated in Figure 6-16. The aircraft should be properly trimmed while executing a maneuver. The degree of flying skill, which ultimately develops, depends largely upon how well the aviator learns to keep the aircraft trimmed.

Figure 6-16. Trim instruments.

Figure 6-16. Trim instruments.

Airplane Trim

An airplane is correctly trimmed when it is maintaining a desired attitude with all control pressures neutralized. By relieving all control pressures, it is much easier to maintain the aircraft at a certain attitude. This allows more time to devote to the navigation instruments and additional flight deck duties.

An aircraft is placed in trim by:

  • Applying control pressure(s) to establish a desired attitude. Then, the trim is adjusted so that the aircraft maintains that attitude when flight controls are released. The aircraft is trimmed for coordinated flight by centering the ball of the turn-and-slip indicator.
  • Moving the rudder trim in the direction where the ball is displaced from center. Aileron trim may then be adjusted to maintain a wings-level attitude.
  • Using balanced power or thrust when possible to aid in maintaining coordinated flight. Changes in attitude, power, or configuration may require trim adjustments. Use of trim alone to establish a change in aircraft attitude usually results in erratic aircraft control. Smooth and precise attitude changes are best attained by a combination of control pressures and subsequent trim adjustments. The trim controls are aids to smooth aircraft control.

Helicopter Trim

A helicopter is placed in trim by continually cross-checking the instruments and performing the following:

  • Using the cyclic-centering button. If the helicopter is so equipped, this relieves all possible cyclic pressures.
  • Using the pedal adjustment to center the ball of the turn indicator. Pedal trim is required during all power changes and is used to relieve all control pressures held after a desired attitude has been attained.

An improperly trimmed helicopter requires constant control pressures, produces tension, distracts attention from crosschecking, and contributes to abrupt and erratic attitude control. The pressures felt on the controls should be only those applied while controlling the helicopter.

Adjust the pitch attitude, as airspeed changes, to maintain desired attitude for the maneuver being executed. The bank must be adjusted to maintain a desired rate of turn, and the pedals must be used to maintain coordinated flight. Trim must be adjusted as control pressures indicate a change is needed.


Example of Primary and Support Instruments

Straight-and-level flight at a constant airspeed means that an exact altitude is to be maintained with zero bank (constant heading). The primary pitch, bank, and power instruments used to maintain this flight condition are:

  • Altimeter—supplies the most pertinent altitude information and is primary for pitch.
  • Heading Indicator—supplies the most pertinent bank or heading information and is primary for bank.
  • Airspeed Indicator—supplies the most pertinent information concerning performance in level flight in terms of power output and is primary for power.

Although the attitude indicator is the basic attitude reference, the concept of primary and supporting instruments does not devalue any particular flight instrument, when available, in establishing and maintaining pitch-and-bank attitudes. It is the only instrument that instantly and directly portrays the actual flight attitude. It should always be used, when available, in establishing and maintaining pitch-and-bank attitudes.