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Teaching how to use the rudder

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Teaching how to use the rudder

Old 18th Oct 2016, 18:55
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Teaching how to use the rudder

We have a long thread going in the Accidents forum about a crash I'm researching.


It's become clear that in an excessive right bank the crew would have used left rudder to counter the bank. A couple pilots have told me it was a lead-pipe cinch, and running a simulator says they must have done so.

Can anyone enlighten me on how students are trained to use the rudder, especially when they lose aileron control?

In the cited incident, they were in a right bank that was initially intentional, but then went out of hand when they could not return the ailerons to neutral. Pilots have told me that no one trains for such an event.

I'd appreciate hearing from instructors on the question.

Craig Hagstrom
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Old 18th Oct 2016, 20:04
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Can anyone enlighten me on how students are trained to use the rudder, especially when they lose aileron control?
It has been way too long since I last taught in a training aircraft, so some of the lesson numbers and orders may have changed. But here is what I gathered from my old instructing books:


1. Lesson 1 or 1A is called "Effects of Controls." During this lesson the student is asked to first bank the aircraft with the ailerons to see that the aircraft initially rolls, with a secondary effect of yaw as the nose drops. The student is then asked to return the aircraft to level flight and use the rudder to yaw the aircraft. Shortly thereafter the aircraft will begin to roll and it is pointed out the secondary effect of the rudder is a roll. The student is then taught to use coordinated inputs to a) counter the secondary effects of the specific surface, and b) improved pilot/passenger comfort.

2. Lesson 4 or 5 - The student is introduced to skids and slips at "high" altitude (3,500 to 5,000' AGL). This requires the student to enter a banked turn and push on the rudder entering a skid and then a slip. There are a couple of reasons for this: having the student experience a slip or skid under controlled conditions, learning how to exit a slip or skid, and how to correctly interpret the inclinometer (balance ball) properly among other things. The end of this lesson normally has the student pilot conducting a number of sideslips from the "high" altitude prior to performing the maneuver closer to the ground. Furthermore, the student is normally introduced to their first crosswind take-off and/or landing during Lesson 4, often just the wing down technique.

3. Lesson 6 - During circuit training the student is asked to fly the initial approach high in order to perform a "low level" sideslip for altitude loss. This is often combined with having the student demonstrate a crosswind landing using the crab method to wing down technique.

4. Lesson 8 - The student is required to demonstrate three spins from "high" altitude (5,000' AGL minimum) using the rudder for entry and, obviously, exit. This is when Steep Turns are introduced, further refining coordination skills.

5. Lesson 15 to 20 - For us pilots trained in the mountains, this is normally where Max Rate Turns are taught - a Steep Turn on steroids.


CPL lessons in quotation marks because, at the time, there was no specific script - just hours set aside for additional instruction.

1. "Lesson 1" - Normally by 150 hours the prospective CPL holder had not touched the rudder for about 100 hours (becoming lazy), so this first lesson had the student flying to and from the practice area maneuvering only with rudder. In extreme cases the first lesson required the pilot to fly a number of "lines" through the practice area getting their coordination skills back.

2. "Lesson 3" - Spin training per the PPL syllabus with emphasis on "exit technique" - roll out to a specific heading at a specific altitude.

That's it! Most of the CPL training at the time was focused on navigation and "cleaning up" bad habits gained since the PPL.

Airline Training

On all aircraft I have flown and taught with a pitch and roll disconnect system:

1. One exercise on regaining control following an elevator, roll spoiler or aileron jam.

2. I've had exactly one (1) LOFT session (Line Orientated Flight Training) where both the ailerons and roll spoilers were jammed and we had to return to the airport with rudder and elevator only. Relatively easy as it was Day VMC with light winds.

3. I've had one "what do you want to try" session where one pilot had control of the ailerons and the other had control of the elevator. Great CRM exercise, but in this case there was at least one form of roll control and the rudder still worked.

Hopefully this at least gets the conversation started, even if some of the lessons are now considered out of date or archaic.
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