Directional Control

Every year the FAA has loss of directional control during takeoff and landing as one of the 3 leading accident producers. Because of slow airspeeds few of these are fatal but do result in personal injury and substantial damage to the aircraft.

These types of accidents are generally an accumulation of 2 or more contributing factors occurring simultaneously. Listed are a few measures that may assist in maintaining directional control:

  • Confirm tire and struts are properly inflated. Confirm tire PSI in the POH. Be sure to squawk any nose wheel shimmy.
  • Inspect tire for cuts, flat spots from improper braking and for excessive wear. If you experience a blowout shut down the throttle and continue normal steering procedures. Don’t stop completely until you have cleared the runway. Once stopped you may not be able to get the plane rolling with safe taxi power.
  • Always be aware of wake turbulence. If you feel it is necessary request an additional 30 to 45 seconds from ATC for wake turbulence to pass, especially on a calm day.
  • Every takeoff and landing try to stay on the centerline, any distance off cuts down on reaction time if a second factor for loss of control comes into play. i.e. tire blowout
  • Anticipate effects of “P” factor, especially during take off.
  • Avoid misuse of aileron drag, also referred to as adverse yaw. This means when you turn the wheel in one direction during rollout the airplane turns in the opposite. This would be a contributing factor if you were starting a drift to the right of center, instinctively turn to the left (such as in a car) and the airplane drifts even farther to the right. This is due to the right aileron lowering and catching more wind. Always correct with rudder and nosewheel steering.
  • Maintain crosswind skills, this is usually the first skill to erode without practice.
  • Keep mentally focused and avoid distractions, such as conversations with passengers, talking on the radio or setting nav-aids.

Reference: Plane & Pilot March 2003 Ron Fowler

These safety tips are provided by the WCFC Safety Committee. They are intended to stimulate thought and discussion about flight safety and do not necessarily represent club policy nor are they intended to replace instruction from a qualified instructor.

Directional Control