In-Flight Turn Mechanics

Aircraft turn mechanics and bank angle classifications

Air aircraft makes turns by tilting its wings to change direction both horizontally and vertically.

The turns and steepness of the turns can be classified as “bank angles” with the most common turn angle to be a medium bank with an angle of 30 degrees.

there are three primary “bank angles” which represent varying degrees of “bank”

  • Shallow Bank Angle (around 20 degrees or less)

The aileron and rudder pressure will need to held into the turn to keep the aircraft from rolling out of the turn.

  • Medium Bank Angle (around 20 degrees to 45 degrees)

At this bank, the aircraft will usually maintain a constant bank with little aileron or rudder pressure.

  • Steep Bank Angle (greater than around 45 degrees)

At a steep bank, opposite aileron and rudder pressure will be needed to prevent the aircraft from continuing to roll into a sleeper angle.

Making Level Turns

In order to make a “level altitude turn”, all three flight controls will need to be used together to coordinate the turn. Just as described before, simultaneously move the control panel into the turn direction while applying rudder pressure in the same direction as well as adding back pressure to the control wheel as the bank increases. This will counteract the adverse yaw as well as to compensate for a loss of vertical lift which will result in an increased angle of attack and a small loss of airspeed.

Making Shallow Banked Turns

Very light control wheel pressure is needed to make and maintain a shallow bank turn and the aircraft will try to revert back to level with the bank angle decreasing if not enough control wheel pressure is applied.

Making Medium Banked Turns

For a medium banked, level altitude turn, continuing to hold control wheel pressure will continue to increase the bank angle. Once the desired bank angle is reached, the ailerons and rudder should be neutralized as to not further increase the bank angle. Once you are established in a medium bank,  the aircraft will continue in a medium bank provided the ailerons and rudder are in the neutral position.

Back pressure will need to be applied to prevent the loss of altitude due to a loss of vertical lift.

Making Steep Banked Turns

Overbanking is a tendency during steep banked turns because the outside wing flies a bigger arc and travels a greater distance than the inside wing. Also, the outside wing has more airspeed which produces more lift.

Since the outside wing is moving faster than the inside wing, the bank angle will continue to increase even if the rudder controls and aileron controls are neutralized. In order to prevent this “overbanking” opposite aileron and rudder pressure needs to be applied.

Tips for Rolling out of a Turn

You want to start rolling out of a turn when you are about half of the bank angle away from the desired heading, so if you are making a 30 degree banked turn, you will want to start rolling out of the turn about 15 degrees before the desired heading.

Once you have reached the desired heading, you will need to level the aircraft off by applying opposite rudder and aileron pressures to return the aircraft back to level position. Additionally, as you start rolling out of a turn, you will want to gradually decrease the extra back pressure that was applied to the control wheel as the bank angle decreases so that the aircraft doest not continue to increase in altitude. Once the aircraft is back level, the controls will need to be neutralized.