Chapter 15-Transition to Jet Powered Airplanes

Table of Contents
Jet Engine Basics
Operating the Jet Engine
Jet Engine Ignition
Continuous Ignition
Fuel Heaters
Setting Power
Thrust to Thrust Lever Relationship
Variation of Thrust with RPM
Slow Acceleration of the Jet Engine
Jet Engine Efficiency
Absence of Propeller Effect
Absence of Propeller Slipstream
Absence of Propeller Drag
Speed Margins
Recovery from Overspeed Conditions
Mach Buffet Boundaries
Low Speed Flight
Drag Devices
Thrust Reversers
Pilot Sensations in Jet Flying
Jet Airplane Takeoff and Climb
Pre-Takeoff Procedures
Takeoff Roll
Rotation and Lift-Off
Initial Climb
Jet Airplane Approach and Landing
Landing Requirements
Landing Speeds
Significant Differences
The Stabilized Approach
Approach Speed
Glidepath Control
The Flare
Touchdown and Rollout


Thus far, only the Mach buffet that results from excessive speed has been addressed. The transitioning pilot, however, should be aware that Mach buffet is a function of the speed of the airflow over the wingù not necessarily the airspeed of the airplane. Anytime that too great a lift demand is made on the wing, whether from too fast an airspeed or from too high an angle of attack near the MMO, the ôhigh speed buffetö will occur. However, there are also occasions when the buffet can be experienced at much slower speeds known as ôlow speed Mach buffet.ö

The most likely situations that could cause the low speed buffet would be when an airplane is flown at too slow a speed for its weight and altitude causing a high angle of attack. This very high angle of attack would have the same effect of increasing airflow over the upper surface of the wing to the point that all of the same effects of the shock waves and buffet would occur as in the high speed buffet situation.

The angle of attack of the wing has the greatest effect on inducing the Mach buffet at either the high or low speed boundaries for the airplane. The conditions that increase the angle of attack, hence the speed of the airflow over the wing and chances of Mach buffet are:

  • ò High altitudesùThe higher the airplane flies, the thinner the air and the greater the angle of attack required to produce the lift needed to
  • maintain level flight.
  • òHeavy weightsùThe heavier the airplane, the greater the lift required of the wing, and all other things being equal, the greater the angle of
  • attack.
  • ò ôGö loadingùAn increase in the ôGö loading of the wing results in the same situation as increasing the weight of the airplane.
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It makes no difference whether the increase in ôGö forces is caused by a turn, rough control usage, or turbulence. The effect of increasing the wingÆs angle of attack is the same.

An airplaneÆs indicated airspeed decreases in relation to true airspeed as altitude increases. As the indicated airspeed decreases with altitude, it progressively merges with the low speed buffet boundary where pre- stall buffet occurs for the airplane at a load factor of 1.0 G. The point where the high speed Mach indicated airspeed and low speed buffet boundary indicated airspeed merge is the airplaneÆs absolute or aerodynamic ceiling. Once an airplane has reached its aerodynamic ceiling, which is higher than the altitude stipulated in the FAA-approved Airplane Flight Manual, the airplane can neither be made to go faster without activating the design stick puller at Mach limit nor can it be made to go slower without activating the stick shaker or stick pusher. This critical area of the airplaneÆs flight envelope is known as ôcoffin corner.ö Mach buffet occurs as a result of supersonic airflow on the wing. Stall buffet occurs at angles of attack that produce airflow disturbances (burbling) over the upper surface of the wing which decreases lift. As density altitude increases, the angle of attack that is required to produce an airflow disturbance over the top of the wing is reduced until the density altitude is reached where Mach buffet and stall buffet converge (coffin corner).

When this phenomenon is encountered, serious consequences may result causing loss of airplane control.

Increasing either gross weight or load factor (G factor) will increase the low speed buffet and decrease Mach buffet speeds. A typical jet airplane flying at 51,000 feet altitude at 1.0 G may encounter Mach buffet slightly above the airplaneÆs MMO (.82 Mach) and low speed buffet at .60 Mach. However, only 1.4 G (an increase of only 0.4 G) may bring on buffet at the optimum speed of .73 Mach and any change in airspeed, bank angle, or gust loading may reduce this straightand- level flight 1.4 G protection to no protection at all. Consequently, a maximum cruising flight altitude must be selected which will allow sufficient buffet margin for necessary maneuvering and for gust conditions likely to be encountered. Therefore, it is important for pilots to be familiar with the use of charts showing cruise maneuver and buffet limits. [Figure 15-11]

Figure 15-11. Mach buffet boundary chart.

Figure 15-11. Mach buffet boundary chart.

The transitioning pilot must bear in mind that the maneuverability of the jet airplane is particularly critical, especially at the high altitudes. Some jet airplanes have a very narrow span between the high and low speed buffets. One airspeed that the pilot should have firmly fixed in memory is the manufacturerÆs recommended gust penetration speed for the particular make and model airplane. This speed is normally the speed that would give the greatest margin between the high and low speed buffets, and may be considerably higher

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than design maneuvering speed (VA). This means that, unlike piston airplanes, there are times when a jet airplane should be flown in excess of VA during encounters with turbulence. Pilots operating airplanes at high speeds must be adequately trained to operate them safely. This training cannot be complete until pilots are thoroughly educated in the critical aspects of the aerodynamic factors pertinent to Mach flight at high altitudes.

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