Maneuvering Speed

How maneuvering speed applies to an aircraft is a concept that most people have no clue about. I will try to understand this concept by using the information below.

One again, the “load factor” is the total weight that the wings have to support divided by the aircraft’s gross weight. Depending on the aircraft certification category, there is a maximum load factor “G” limit. G being one unit of gravity.

Normal Category – FAA certifies aircraft stressed for 3.8 Positive Gs and 1.52┬áNegative Gs.

Utility Category – FAA Certifies aircraft stressed for 4.4 Positive Gs and 1.76 Negative Gs.

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk may be certified in both the normal as well as utility categories depending on the model and operating weight. The Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) will provide for specific guidance for loading allowables in each category.

If loading the Cessna 172 Skyhawk to meet the normal category, the airframe has shown to be able to withstand a load factor of 3.8 tunes it’s gross weight without structural damage.

If loading the Cessna 172 to meet the Utility category limits, the load factor can be increased above the 3.8 Gs to 4.4 Gs without damage.

Stress on the airframe can be caused by too much weight resulting ion a high load factor as well as high airspeed or turbulence.

A way to reduce the load factor in turbulence is to lower the speed of the aircraft to maneuvering speed which is appreciated as VA. Flying at maneuvering speed will help to reduce any potential aircraft damage caused by increased load factors during turbulence.

Maneuvering Speed is defined as the maximum speed you can apply full deflection of any one control which will not cause any structural damage to the aircraft.

Maneuvering Speed is based on the single deflection of a single control.

Maneuvering Speed (VA) can be found in the POH Operating Limitations and can allow the airplane to stall before it exceeds its structural design limits. This should be used when flying in turbulence or performing maneuvers that could add an increased load factor.

Full Control Deflection – causes the airplane to exceed its critical angle of attack and stall before exceeding the load factor limits.

Structural damage can be caused by the deflection of more than one control surface at a time or repeated control deflections, even at or below maneuvering speed.

VA (maneuvering speed) vs. Weight

the maneuvering speed is determined by the aircraft weight and is directly proportional to the weight meaning that the heavier the weight, the higher the VA and the lower the weight, the lower the VA.

More weight at higher speeds = greater VA