Why need steep 60 degree turns ?

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Why in basic flight training do you have to do 60 degree steep
turns ?
Is it to get used to the feelings and G forces ?
You would never really do steep turns in noraml flying

Is it to be prepared in case of emergency and need to
avoid another plane or object ?

-- jim kenn, February 10, 2010


For the FAA Private you would be doing 45 degrees of bank, not 60. It is true that going beyond 45 degrees of bank with passengers on board would probably not lead them to want to fly with you again. The FAA says what you have to do. They never say why they put the task in there. I think it is because steep turns are challenging and force the pilot to develop skill at holding a precise attitude. A person who can't do a steep turn does not really have very good control of a particular aircraft. If a pilot can do a steep turn, it means that he or she can hold a precise attitude, make appropriately small power adjustments, scan instruments briefly as necessary, etc. When you transition to a new airplane, even a jet airliner, one of the first maneuvers that they try to get you to do is a steep turn. Even experienced pilots often make a mess of the first few.

-- Philip Greenspun, February 10, 2010

To Jim's followup question below...

I think the steepest turns that are required by an FAA checkride are for Commercial Airplane and are 50 degrees (+/- 5, so up to 55 degrees). For an airliner type rating you'd be tested to the ATP PTS, which requires 45 degrees +/- 5. So if you got training for a Boeing 747 you'd do steep turns in a simulator at 45 degrees of bank. You'd be hearing a "bank angle" annunciator complaining the whole time too, I think, because you're beyond 30 degrees of bank.

I have two jet type ratings, one for the 50-seat CRJ and one for the Cessna Mustang, so I did steep turns in both aircraft, but in simulators (in the airliner you don't get to fly the real airplane unless there are paying passengers on board and they would definitely not appreciate steep turn practice!).

-- Philip Greenspun, February 10, 2010

Woww even in big planes like jets airliners - they will go all way to 60 degrees ? I wish I could see that

Phil - I think read you are checked on on some bigger stuff ? Did you do steep turns in them? Where were you doing it ? Thanks

ps... isnt there in some book or FAA thing a good explanation for all this stuff like steep turns or some why answers ?

-- jim kenn, February 10, 2010

60 degrees is the most they can prescribe for normal category planes because over 60 degrees is considered aerobatics.

This helps you learn about overbanking tendencies, and how to compensate for that.

You may need to use 60 degrees when given an urgent, expedite clearance.

In some conflict resolution situations, you use whatever it takes to avoid a mid-air collision.

Also, distraction, disorientation, and wake turbulence can lead you into an unusual attitude. 60 degrees is the least of that and you really need to be able to recover the craft before it abruptly is forced to change velocity.

As for Commuter and Transport category planes, they typically meet or exceed the load limits (in g forces) of normal category planes.

The 60 degree limit is because past that, unless you have a huge rudder and a big engine, you're probably going to enter into some sort of dive. Failure to recover from a dive fairly promptly can lead to airspeeds which hit the ground or sheds the wings before you can pull out of the dive. Pulling too hard either stalls or it breaks the plane.

-- Josh Davis, March 21, 2010

I was watching "Air Warriors" and heard a pilot say that when they bombed Hanoi in the Viet Nam war, they made 60 degree turns to get out of there as they had SAM's coming at them!

-- Jeanne Legernes, August 19, 2018