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Instrument Flying Handbook
Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers Using an Electronic Flight Display
Straight Climbs and Descents

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Instrument Flying


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Human Factors
Chapter 2. Aerodynamic Factors
Chapter 3. Flight Instruments
Chapter 4. Section I
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 4. Section II
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 5. Section I
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 5. Section II
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 6. Helicopter
Attitude Instrument Flying

Chapter 7. Navigation Systems
Chapter 8. The National
Airspace System

Chapter 9. The Air Traffic
Control System

Chapter 10. IFR Flight
Chapter 11. Emergency

Leveling Off
When leveling off from a descent with the intention of
returning to cruise airspeed, first start by increasing the
power to cruise prior to increasing the pitch back toward
the level flight attitude. A technique used to determine
how soon to start the level off is to lead the level off by an
altitude corresponding to 10 percent of the rate of descent.
For example, if the aircraft is descending at 1,000 fpm, start
the Level off 100 feet above the level off altitude. If the pitch
attitude change is started late, there is a tendency to overshoot
the desired altitude unless the pitch change is made with
a rapid movement. Avoid snaking any rapid changes that
could lead to control issue or spatial disorientation. Once
in level pitch attitude, allow the aircraft to accelerate to the
desired speed. Monitor the performance on the airspeed and
altitude tapes. Make adjustments to the power in order to
correct any deviations in the airspeed. Verify that the aircraft
is maintaining level flight by cross-checking the altimeter
tape. If deviations are noticed, make an appropriate smooth
pitch change in order to arrive back at desired altitude. Any
change in pitch requires a smooth coordinated change to the
power setting. Monitor the airspeed in order to maintain the
desired cruise airspeed.

To level off at a constant airspeed, the pilot must again
determine when to start to increase the pitch attitude toward
the level attitude. if pitch is the only item that is changing,
airspeed varies due to the increase in drag as the aircraft's
pitch increases. A smooth coordinated increase in power will
need to be made to a predetermined value in order to maintain
speed. Trim the aircraft to relieve any control pressure that
may have to be applied.

Common Errors in Straight Climbs and Descents
Climbing and descending errors usually result from but are
not limited to the following error's:

1. Over controlling pitch on beginning the climb.
Aircraft familiarization is the key to achieving precise
attitude instrument flying. Until the pilot becomes
familiar with the pitch attitudes associated with
specific airspeeds, the pilot must make corrections
to the initial pitch settings. Changes do not produce
instantaneous and stabilized results; patience must be
maintained while the new speeds and vertical speed

rates stabilize. Avoid the temptations to make a change
and then rush into making another change until the
first one is validated. Small changes will produce more
expeditious results and allow for a more stabilized
flight path. Large changes to pitch and power are
more difficult to control and can further complicate
the recovery process.

2. Failure to increase the rate of instrument cross-check.
Any time a pitch or power change is made, an increase
in the rate a pilot cross-checks the instrument is
required. A slow cross-check can lead to deviations
in other Flight attitudes.

3. Failure to maintain new pitch attitudes. Once a
pitch change is made to correct for a deviation, that
pitch attitude must he maintained until the change
is validated. Utilize trim to assist in maintaining the
new pitch attitude. lithe pitch is allowed to change,
it is impossible to validate whether the initial pitch
change was sufficient to correct the deviation. The
continuous changing of the pitch attitude delays the
recovery process.

4. Failure to utilize effective trim techniques. If control
pressures have to be held by the pilot, validation of
the initial correction will be impossible if the pitch
is allowed to vary. Pilots have the tendency to either
apply or relax additional control pressures when
manually holding pitch attitudes. Trim allows the
pilot to fly without holding pressure on the control

5. Failure to learn and utilize proper power settings. Any
time a pilot is not familiar with an aircraft's specific
pitch and power settings, or does not utilize them, a
change in flight paths will take longer. Learn pitch
and power settings in order to expedite changing the
flight path.

6. Failure to cross-check both airspeed and vertical speed
prior to making adjustments to pitch and or power. It is
possible that a change in one may correct a deviation
in the other.