Chapter 9—Performance Maneuvers

Table of Contents
Performance Maneuvers
    Steep Turns
    Steep Spiral
    Lazy Eight


The objective of this maneuver is to develop the pilot’s coordination, orientation, planning, and accuracy of control during maximum performance flight.

A chandelle is a maximum performance climbing turn beginning from approximately straight-and-level flight, and ending at the completion of a precise 180° of turn in a wings-level, nose-high attitude at the minimum controllable airspeed. [Figure 9-3] The maneuver demands that the maximum flight performance of the airplane be obtained; the airplane should gain the most altitude possible for a given degree of bank and power setting without stalling.

Chandelle Figure 9-3. Chandelle.

Since numerous atmospheric variables beyond control of the pilot will affect the specific amount of altitude gained, the quality of the performance of the maneuver is not judged solely on the altitude gain, but by the pilot’s overall proficiency as it pertains to climb performance for the power/bank combination used, and to the elements of piloting skill demonstrated.

Prior to starting a chandelle, the flaps and gear (if retractable) should be in the UP position, power set to cruise condition, and the airspace behind and above clear of other air traffic. The maneuver should be entered from straight-and-level flight (or a shallow dive) and at a speed no greater than the maximum entry speed recommended by the manufacturer—in most cases not above the airplane’s design maneuvering speed (VA).

After the appropriate airspeed and power setting have been established, the chandelle is started by smoothly entering a coordinated turn with an angle of bank appropriate for the airplane being flown. Normally, this angle of bank should not exceed approximately 30°. After the appropriate bank is established, a climbing turn should be started by smoothly applying back-elevator pressure to increase the pitch attitude at a constant rate and to attain the highest pitch attitude as 90° of turn is completed. As the climb is initiated in airplanes with fixed-pitch propellers, full throttle may be applied, but is applied gradually so that the maximum allowable r.p.m. is not exceeded. In airplanes with constant-speed propellers, power may be left at the normal cruise setting.

Once the bank has been established, the angle of bank should remain constant until 90° of turn is completed. Although the degree of bank is fixed during this climbing turn, it may appear to increase and, in fact, actually will tend to increase if allowed to do so as the maneuver continues.

When the turn has progressed 90° from the original heading, the pilot should begin rolling out of the bank at a constant rate while maintaining a constant-pitch attitude. Since the angle of bank will be decreasing during the rollout, the vertical component of lift will increase slightly. For this reason, it may be necessary to release a slight amount of back-elevator pressure in order to keep the nose of the airplane from rising higher.

As the wings are being leveled at the completion of 180° of turn, the pitch attitude should be noted by checking the outside references and the attitude indicator. This pitch attitude should be held momentarily while the airplane is at the minimum controllable airspeed. Then the pitch attitude may be gently reduced to return to straight-and-level cruise flight.

Since the airspeed is constantly decreasing throughout the maneuver, the effects of engine torque become more and more prominent. Therefore, right-rudder pressure is gradually increased to control yaw and maintain a constant rate of turn and to keep the airplane in coordinated flight. The pilot should maintain coordinated flight by the feel of pressures being applied on the controls and by the ball instrument of the turn-and-slip indicator. If coordinated flight is being maintained, the ball will remain in the center of the race.

To roll out of a left chandelle, the left aileron must be lowered to raise the left wing. This creates more drag than the aileron on the right wing, resulting in a tendency for the airplane to yaw to the left. With the low airspeed at this point, torque effect tries to make the airplane yaw to the left even more. Thus, there are two forces pulling the airplane’s nose to the left— aileron drag and torque. To maintain coordinated flight, considerable right-rudder pressure is required during the rollout to overcome the effects of aileron drag and torque.

In a chandelle to the right, when control pressure is applied to begin the rollout, the aileron on the right wing is lowered. This creates more drag on that wing and tends to make the airplane yaw to the right. At the same time, the effect of torque at the lower airspeed is causing the airplane’s nose to yaw to the left. Thus, aileron drag pulling the nose to the right and torque pulling to the left, tend to neutralize each other. If
excessive left-rudder pressure is applied, the rollout will be uncoordinated.

The rollout to the left can usually be accomplished with very little left rudder, since the effects of aileron drag and torque tend to neutralize each other. Releasing some right rudder, which has been applied to correct for torque, will normally give the same effect as applying left-rudder pressure. When the wings become level and the ailerons are neutralized, the aileron drag disappears. Because of the low airspeed and high power, the effects of torque become the more prominent force and must continue to be controlled with rudder pressure.

A rollout to the left is accomplished mainly by applying aileron pressure. During the rollout, right-rudder pressure should be gradually released, and left rudder applied only as necessary to maintain coordination. Even when the wings are level and aileron pressure is released, right-rudder pressure must be held to counteract torque and hold the nose straight.

Common errors in the performance of chandelles are:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area.
  • Too shallow an initial bank, resulting in a stall.
  • Too steep an initial bank, resulting in failure to gain maximum performance.
  • Allowing the actual bank to increase after establishing initial bank angle.
  • Failure to start the recovery at the 90° point in the turn.
  • Allowing the pitch attitude to increase as the bank is rolled out during the second 90° of turn.
  • Removing all of the bank before the 180° point is reached.
  • Nose low on recovery, resulting in too much airspeed.
  • Control roughness.
  • Poor coordination (slipping or skidding).
  • Stalling at any point during the maneuver.
  • Execution of a steep turn instead of a climbing maneuver.
  • Failure to scan for other aircraft.
  • Attempting to perform the maneuver by instrument reference rather than visual reference.

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Copyright 2012
PED Publication