Deep Stall

By lex, on May 31st, 2011

On the weekend gig, I introduce the guest pilots to the notion of aerodynamic stall. Some of them get a gleam of fear in their eyes when they hear the word “stall”, because they invariably think it is ineluctably linked with “spin, crash and die.” Which can be true, but isn’t necessarily so: Learning how to stall and recover an airplane is one of the first things the novice aviator is taught, and it is re-learned in every aircraft transition.

When I brief my civvie passengers on weekend dogfight hops – that’s not a Michael Vick dance variation, by the way – I try to explain to them the relationship between stick position and angle-of-attack: “If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull stick aft, the houses get smaller. If you keep pulling aft on the stick, the houses start getting bigger again.”

Note to Air France: I’m available for consultative work.

Point.enquete.af447.27mai2011.En

I get that the weather was rough. I understand that the compound emergency and loss of normal displays was confusing. I suspect that in their peril, the pilots were left to wonder whether some strange software gremlin had suddenly rendered their aircraft un-flyable.

But – and this is not to beat a dead horse – I really don’t understand how no one among three very experienced and highly trained airline transport pilots ever figured out that it was worth a try to lower the nose and reduce the angle of attack. Maybe get some airflow over the wings.

Stall warnings coupled with wing rock are classic indications of deep stall, and if what you’re doing isn’t working it’s time to consider something else.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Flying, Lex, Neptunus Lex

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