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Standard Rate Turn

Asked by: 1520 views General Aviation

Why is 3 degrees per second accepted as the norm for a standard rate turn? In other words, why did the FAA decide 3 degrees per second is "standard"? Just curious about the logic. Thanks for the feedback.

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3 Answers



  1. Jeff on Jan 22, 2016

    I suspect it\\\’s because a standard rate turn allows you to complete a 360 in two minutes, and a 180 in one minute. By having easy to calculate time references, doing things like holds become easier. Also for aircraft going less than 180 kts, it keeps the bank angle less than 25 deg. Note that faster airplanes typically don\\\’t use the standard rate turn. Above 180 kts aircraft typically just bank at 25 deg.

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  2. John D Collins on Jan 22, 2016

    I don’t know the answer to the question, but doubt the FAA is the outfit who defined 3 degrees per second rate of turn as standard rate. The indicator was invented by Sperry in the 1920’s, 30 years before there was an FAA. A 3 degree turn will turn the aircraft around (180 degrees) in one minute, and a complete 360 degree turn in 2 minutes. 90 degree turns are 30 seconds. Being able to predict the time for a turn is a very useful characteristic.

    At the same time, since the bank angle for a constant rate turn is related to the airspeed, one would want a bank angle that can be used over a range of airspeeds. The angle of bank is related to the airspeed and rate of turn, At 120 kts, the bank angle is at 18 degrees and at 250 Kts, the bank angle is nearly 35 degrees. The latter borders on a steep turn and most airplanes will start to have an over banking tendency at that large of a bank angle. Most attitude based autopilots will limit the bank angle to 25 degrees.

    At higher speeds a lower rate of turn, usually half standard rate is used because of excessive bank angles and g loading. For example. a standard rate turn would not be used because at 600 Kts as the g loading would be roughly 2 g’s and the bank angle would be close to 60 degrees.

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  3. Dan Chitty on Jan 24, 2016

    Thank you for the feedback Jeff and John. Much appreciated.

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