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Test pilot – loss of control

Asked by: 4218 views General Aviation

One of the club planes had "major work done" including repainting (removing) the rutter and putting it back on again. Obviously only a licensed pilot or higher can do the test flight.  What happens if the "tester" goes up and realizes something is wrong like no rutter control?  How would one go about landing without a rutter? Or what happens if the aeilerons don't work all of the sudden?  As a student pilot myself my CFI and I practice all sort of emergency procedures but haven't discussed this - I'd ask him but I don't see him until Monday again and I'm likely to forget.  So the basic question is what would a pilot do if the aielrons or the rutter quit responding to controls?

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2 Answers

  1. Matthew Hammer on Jan 06, 2011

    There’s a reason behind why we perform a preflight check and runup before taking off. 😉 There is *no* excuse for taking off with failed or improperly rigged controls.
    That said, you can land an airplane without aileron or elevator control. I’ve done it, albeit not in an actual emergency. It involves using careful rudder, elevator and power control. Rudder is used to turn, trim is used to set your airspeed (about 55kts in a C152) and power is used to control your sink-rate. It’s an interesting exercise, but I wouldn’t recommend trying it without an instructor. 

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  2. Steve Pomroy on Jan 07, 2011

    Hi Kate.
    A good pre-flight inspection, a good runup and pre-takeoff check, and operating within the certified operating envelope are the the key methods we use to avoid having to deal with a control failure.
    Having said all of this, if you are faced with a failed primary control, using the secondary effects of the other controls can get you back on the ground safely.  Elevator can be replaced with careful use of trim and power.  Aileron can be replaced with rudder (the secondary effect of yaw is roll in the same direction).  Rudder you can live without (it’s not ideal, but you can do it).  As part of your emergency procedures training, your instructor should practice primary control failures with you.  I don’t recommend that you try it for the first time without an instructor sitting next to you.
    Landing with a failed control can be done, but it limits your options and your ability to correct errors — possibly to the point if a landing becoming a “crash landing”.  So, if you can avoid landing in a crosswind or gusty wind, that will make a successful landing far more likely.  In other words, landing at the nearest airport is not always the best option.  Going somewhere with more favorable winds may be worth the effort.  It’s also advisable that you go somewhere where they have crash/fire services “just in case”.

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