Is It a Good Idea Using Trim To Help With Back Pressure During Landing?
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Trim tabs are small surfaces connected to the trailing edge of a larger control surface on a boat or aircraft, used to control the trim of the controls, i.e. to counteract hydro- or aerodynamic forces and stabilise the boat or aircraft in a particular desired attitude without the need for the operator to constantly apply a control force. This is done by adjusting the angle of the tab relative to the larger surface.
Changing the setting of a trim tab adjusts the neutral or resting position of a control surface (such as an elevator or rudder). As the desired position of a control surface changes (corresponding mainly to different speeds), an adjustable trim tab will allow the operator to reduce the manual force required to maintain that position—to zero, if used correctly. Thus the trim tab acts as a servo tab.
Because the center of pressure of the trim tab is farther away from the axis of rotation of the control surface than the center of pressure of the control surface, the moment generated by the tab can match the moment generated by the control surface. The position of the control surface on its axis will change until the torques from the control surface and the trim surface balance each other.
A core explanation of what Trim Tab is all about is necessary. Trim is the control that adjusts the trim tab. effectively it’s a way to fine tune/change the control surface to elevate control forces.
It holds airspeed. If you trim for speed and let go of the yoke, your plane will keep flying at that speed, regardless of power setting. If you trim and change your power, your plane will pitch up or down to maintain your trimmed speed.
Trim for climb speed, let go, and you’ll maintain climb speed.
For the cruise, let go, and it’ll maintain cruise speed.
Trim for final approach speed, let go, and you’ll maintain the final approach speed.
The list goes on. Trim holds airspeed.
That’s how trim works in a perfect world. In reality, you might have to continue making small power, pitch, and trim adjustments to maintain altitude and speed.
As you make turns in the traffic pattern, you’ll need to either add back pressure or nose-up trim to prevent your airplane from trending nose-low. If you’re doing landing practice, you might find yourself almost constantly trimming for all the different pitch attitudes and speeds of a traffic pattern.
If you haven’t done them before, ask your instructor to demonstrate elevator trim stalls. They’re stalls caused by adding full power when flying with substantial nose-up trim, without proper forward pressure on the controls to prevent a high pitch attitude as full power is added.
Imagine flying a perfectly trimmed, hands-off approach to the runway. Elevator trim stalls are supposed to replicate what would happen during a go-around with this kind of trim setting and not enough forward pressure on the yoke. Because of the risk for an elevator trim stall, some pilots don’t recommend trimming at all on final approach.
But does this make sense?
Just because the nose will pitch up during a go-around, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use trim on final approach. It just means you need to apply forward control pressure and begin rolling trim forward on go-arounds as soon as practical.
After all, having a little bit of nose-up trim on final approach is a great way to make sure you’re able to round out and flare smoothly.
Using Trim = Smoother Landings
There’s no “perfect way” to trim an airplane. But using trim is an excellent way to reduce your workload in the cockpit, and make your flights more comfortable.
Practice trimming during every phase of flight, so you can fly with fingertip pressure. Just remember that if you’re trimmed for your threshold crossing speed, you’ll need to add extra forward control pressure during a go-around.
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