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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

Steep Spiral Procedure:

WARNING:
All procedures are GENERALIZED.
Always fly per Pilot Operating Handbook procedures,
observing any relevant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)


  1. Select an altitude where recovery will occur no lower than 1,500' AGL and a descent will be no more than 2,000'
  2. Brief all passengers
    • Let passengers know what you are doing, to buckle up and secure all objects and how to avoid pressurization build up
    • Tell them to let you know if they have any problems
  3. Determine wind direction
  4. Perform clearing turns
  5. Select a reference point in an area where an emergency landing can be made if necessary
  6. Generally, enter on downwind
    • Fly almost directly over the reference point
  7. Approaching the reference point:
    • Enrichen the mixture
  8. Abeam the reference point:
    • Reduce the throttle to idle
    • Roll into a steep bank (not to exceed 60°)
    • Maintain a constant radius
    • Adjust pitch to maintain best glide speed
  9. As the wind direction changes in the spiral, adjust bank angle to maintain a constant radius around the reference point
    • Clear the engine on the upwind legs every turn
  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. Conduct a series of at least three 360° turns
  12. Complete the maneuver on entry heading and set cruise power
    • Trim as necessary
    • Recover above 1500' AGL unless combining the maneuver with an Emergency Approach and Landing
  13. Complete the cruise Flow/Checklist
Steep Spirals
Steep Spirals
Steep Spirals
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:

Conclusion:

  • 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 groundspeed and turn radius
  • This maneuver may be combined with simulated emergency approach and landing
  • Consider practicing maneuvers on a flight simulator to introduce yourself to maneuvers or knock off rust
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References: