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Steep Spirals

Introduction:

  • Steep Spirals simulate an emergency situation where an aircraft is required to descend as rapidly as possible to a forced landing
  • Additionally, steep spirals improve pilot technique for power off turns, wind drift control, planning, orientation, and division of attention

WARNING:
All procedures here are GENERALIZED for learning.
Fly the maneuver in accordance with the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH)
and/or current Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)


C-172S Procedure:

  1. Perform clearing turns
  2. Determine the wind direction
  3. Select a reference point that is near an area where an emergency landing can be made
  4. Enter on downwind
    • Fly almost directly over the reference point
  5. Approaching the reference point:
    • Enrichen the mixture
    • Reduce throttle to idle
  6. Roll-in to have bank established abeam the reference point
    • Not to exceed 60°
    • Maintain a constant radius
  7. Adjust pitch to maintain an 80 KIAS descent
  8. Adjust bank angle to maintain a constant radius around the reference point
    • Clear the engine on the upwind legs every turn
  9. Conduct a series of at least three 360° turns
  10. Turning upwind, clear the engine every 360°
    • Operating the engine at idle speed for prolonged periods may result in excessive engine cooling or spark plug fouling
    • Check engine operation during the glide by "clearing" the engine on every upwind (to minimize any variation in ground-speed and turn radius)
  11. Complete the maneuver on entry heading and set cruise power
    • Recover above 1500' AGL unless combining the maneuver with an Emergency Approach and Landing
  12. Complete the cruise checklist

Steep Spirals
Figure 1: Steep Spirals
Steep Spirals
Figure 1: Steep Spirals

Common Errors:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area
  • Excessive pitch change during entry or recovery
  • Attempts to start recovery prematurely
  • Failure to stop the turn on a precise heading
  • Excessive rudder during recovery, resulting in skidding
  • Inadequate power management and airspeed control
  • Attempting to perform the maneuver by instrument reference rather than visual reference
  • Poor coordination, resulting in skidding and/or slipping
  • Inadequate wind drift correct
  • Failure to coordinate the controls, so that no increase/decrease in speed results when straight glide is resumed
  • Failure to scan for other traffic
  • Failure to maintain orientation

Airman Certification Standards:

References: