Airspeed for downwind

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by injb, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. injb

    injb Pre-Flight

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    At what speed to you fly the downwind leg in a 172?

    I just had a solo evaluation flight. I'm on instructor #3 (no drama, they just keep leaving :) ). He was horrified at me flying the downwind leg of the pattern at 100 kias. I was sure that instructor #2 recommended this. I remembered him saying that if you go too slowly you'll have other traffic catching up. I could have taken it up wrong though, so I had a look at some older videos, and found one where instructor #1 definitely told me to shoot for 95.

    Anyway, instructor #3 says if I do 100 on downwind in the checkride I'll fail. He says 80 is what I should be going for. This kind of threw me off because I had to get used to trimming differently (up on downwind, then down later). Whereas the way I was shown before, I just trimmed down a little on downwind and then I didn't have to touch it again. No big deal, I trust instructor #3 completely and I've gotten used to it now, but I just wondered what speed other people fly downwind at in a similar aircraft?
     
  2. Cooter

    Cooter Pattern Altitude

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    It all depends on how hard the winds are pushing ya.
     
  3. Ryanb

    Ryanb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Whatever 2300 RPM will give you. Typically, it’s trimmed out at 90KIAS.
     
  4. Cooter

    Cooter Pattern Altitude

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    I actually disagree with this. Why is 2300RPM a target?

    To the OP, does the Operators Manual specify?
     
  5. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route

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    Just be smooth. Do what your instructor says. You are getting it.
     
  6. Ryanb

    Ryanb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    It’s not, it’s just what I use. 2200-2300 works well in the pattern. Either that or it’s trimmed for 90kts, whichever I feel is better.
     
  7. injb

    injb Pre-Flight

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    20flt3.jpg
     
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  8. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    You are not going to fail a checkride for going 100kts on downwind.

    Most of our little planes can fly the pattern downwind @ 90, Base @ 80, Final @ 70 but if you failed a checkride for being 10 over on a specific leg, I would be surprised.
     
  9. injb

    injb Pre-Flight

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    Where I fly the temperature varies quite a bit, and performance along with it. Today, 2300rpm probably would have been well over 100. I had the power down around 1900 and we were still getting 85-90...
     
  10. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    First of all, there is no set speed. Kinda a subjective thing anyway. Some will fly in the white arc, some will fly almost at cruise. Neither is wrong.

    If I'm remaining in the pattern for T&Gs I'll probably just stay in the white arc so I'll be ready for flaps.

    If a student, then an instructor will most likely have you fly at certain speeds at certain points in the pattern as you're learning. But you won't "fail" as your CFI told you. He/she is fulla manure.
     
  11. WannFly

    WannFly Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    90 kias , when I used to fly 172. Same now in the low wing wonder.

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
     
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  12. Stingray Don

    Stingray Don Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    I shoot for 90 kias on downwind which puts me very close to my target airspeed on final.
     
  13. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    80 kts and all the instructors teach it that way. I don't know if it's just the way it's done here or if it's because they know we're in the pattern with a bunch of Warriors and 152s. If you're doing 100 in the pattern here, you're climbing up someone's rear. You'll be doing a lot of extended downwinds.
     
  14. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Why wouldn't they just reduce power so they fit in the flow? Doesn't mean anyone has to fly DW at 80 kts, other than the flight school if that's their deal.
     
  15. CGChief

    CGChief Pre-Flight

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    I was told close to the white arc. Then you can slow and put in your 10 degrees of flaps prior to turning base.
     
  16. Ryanb

    Ryanb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Then just do what works best for you. There’s really no one size fits all. You can fly at 110kias and pull the power back to 1500rpm and raise the nose for a few seconds and you’ll be down in the white arc. Just do what you have to do to get the airplane where it needs to be. The 172 is pretty dirt simple to fly.
     
  17. Stewartb

    Stewartb En-Route

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    Decelerate to 90 mph, add flaps and maintain 85 mph on downwind, 20* and slow to 75 mph on base, 30* and 65 mph long final, 40* and slowing thru 60 mph over the threshold. Touchdown at 55 mph if timing is on. That's how I flew my XP and those same numbers work for my 180.
     
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  18. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Full throttle until abram the numbers. Then chop and drop.

    Not sure what speed that nets. Probably like 130 or 140 knots.
     
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  19. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    90 if I’m teaching. If im flying by myself or with pax it’s max forward speed until 2 out:)
     
  20. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    I hate reading these stories of instructors who teach paint by numbers like they’re hard rules, instead of just flying the stupid airplane.

    Yes, we all need somewhere to start from, but a student you’re picking up from someone else? Watch and see what they do.

    100 knots downwind *if you can manage the deceleration in your base turn AND you’re never flirting with flap speed limits* is fine by me, as is 80 if you’re more comfortable there. Hell fly the whole thing at 60 with flaps if you want to waste time in the pattern. Might make for an interesting setup to show you that you don’t have the reserve energy to make the runway if the engine quits... right... here... doing that, but I wouldn’t be saying “it must be X”.

    I’ve wallowed around in the 182 waiting on someone flying that slow ahead of me, many times. (Usually a student who forgot to retract the takeoff flaps and is puttering along. Haha.)

    These numbers are RULES OF THUMB not RULES. That’s the important point.

    I’d rather see that you have mastery of making the aircraft go whatever speed fits the best with other traffic and flow and then manage speed down to the gnat’s ass on final, accurately.

    Yes. I’d give a NEW student some rules of thumb or ASK a probing questions if I saw a more Advanced student that couldn’t hit an airspeed to save their butt.

    “So I notice you fly downwind fairly fast and then don’t seem to be able to slow the aircraft while turning base and then you had to go around because that aircraft in front of us was flying slower. Any reason you didn’t slow up a bit?”

    Or ...

    “Fly this one at 80. Good. Now fly the next one at 100.”

    Sheesh. Hard paint by numbers for non-noobs? No. You pick your speed. I’m there to see that you stick to it or give a good reason in your about-to-be-PIC brain why you’re flying it. And give you “profiles” to hit to mix it up a little as you progress. And scenarios to make you overshoot or undershoot on speed such that you should be pushing the throttle up and going around — to see if your decision making is sound.

    Granted, the above is “too much” for a brand new student to think about. Give them hard numbers to start with. But later? I’m letting you pick and you have to live with what you picked. I’m just there to raise an eyebrow when you turn base at 110 and well inside the usual base turn point. Ha.

    “So you think you’re going to make that?” ;)
     
  21. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Abram the numbers? Is Nick getting religious on us? or is that Abraham and Abrams is a tank? this is challenging...
     
  22. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    If no one is in the pattern, whatever speed you feel like; It's not like a 172 is hard to slow down. I generally try to fit in with the rest of the traffic. Something just below the flap speed seems OK to me; I have roared down final at 100 knots, chopped, dropped, slipped, and flapped late, racing weather, etc.

    I think CFIs sometimes establish a formula they've found works for most students, most of the time, at most airports. I think the expectation is you'll learn about varying things later, but in the beginning, they give you some targets, sort of a baseline that will work if you follow it, and will get you down safe.

    I had a CFI in the right seat of a CAP fight once (not instructional), and I was doing a short field landing - freaked him out of his mind to see that configuration and airspeed; until then, I thought the "bar" for a CFI was pretty high, but this guy was scared spit-less seeing 60 knots on the clock. I think CFI's for primary instruction are, in general, good sticks, but not/not all of them, for sure. . .
     
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  23. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    There is a bright line between procedure and technique. Procedure is what the manufacturer recommends, while technique changes from one instructor to another. Don't get hung up on one instructor's technique. My rule is "good landings are slow landings," so I try to avoid carrying too much airspeed.

    As an instructor, I would think that 100 knots is unacceptable...80 is a nice round number.

    Bob
     
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  24. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    I agree on the technique vs procedure part, and that good landings are slow landings, but if you can smoothly transition from 100 knots on downwind to an appropriate landing speed without a lot of throttle jockeying, I don't see a problem with it.

    As @Sundancer said, we teach basic profiles (techniques) that work for most everyone. Unfortunately, instead of the expectation that you'll learn to vary things later, those profiles seem to become procedures for far too many pilots (and instructors). If a pilot drifts into a profile that doesn't work, I take them back to the basic profile to make sure he understands what the goal is, and often that will explain why his profile failed. But if it works, and you can make appropriate adjustments where necessary for traffic, etc., I have no problem with a downwind at cruise+5 knots.

    Having said all that, it sounds like the OP's flit school could use some standardization instruction for their instructors so they're all teaching the same basic profile.
     
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  25. injb

    injb Pre-Flight

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    With the turn over they have in this place, they're doing well if they learn each other's names lol. Instructor #3 is actually the 4th instructor assigned to me, but I didn't count one of them because he left before I got a chance to fly with him. And the guy I call instructor #3 is also leaving the roster but he's remaining available for me by appointment. But I'll likely have to fly with someone else at least some of the time! Oh well at least I'll learn a lot of different perspectives on things :)
     
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  26. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Different instructors have different ideas on this. When I learned to fly (in a 172), I was taught to fly the downwind at 70 - 80 knots.
     
  27. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think CFIs should start with certain speeds at certain points in the pattern with students, and later on demonstrate or have them fly at faster speeds to expose them to it to show it's a personal technique. Same with long, straight-in finals, students should be exposed to them so that they can be prepared to use it if required or they desire to do it.
     
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  28. CGChief

    CGChief Pre-Flight

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    As a follow up to my earlier post. What my instructor has also told me is that the RPM and speed are starting place and at the end of the day it is up to the PIC. She has also told me several times to fly the plane as it wants to be flown.
     
  29. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    The Airplane Flying Handbook which we all know is not a regulation mention airspeed in the pattern in two places in Chapter 7.

    "When operating in the traffic pattern at an airport without an operating control tower, the pilot should maintain an airspeed of no more than 200 knots (230 miles per hour (mph)) as required by Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91. In any case, the pilot should adjust the airspeed, when necessary, so that it is compatible with the airspeed of the other airplanes in the pattern."

    "Before joining the downwind leg, adjust your course or speed to blend into the traffic. Adjust power on the downwind leg, or sooner, to fit into the flow of traffic. Avoid flying too fast or too slow. Speeds recommended by the airplane manufacturer should be used. They will generally fall between 70 to 80 knots for fixed-gear singles, and 80 to 90 knots for high-performance retractable."

    Seems to reflect what a few other have posted. I'd go with it.
     
  30. dmspilot

    dmspilot Pattern Altitude

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    Is this a serious answer or a joke?
     
  31. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I always like to keep it below 250 knots on the downwind but maybe sometimes it could cause a problem...
     
  32. dmspilot

    dmspilot Pattern Altitude

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    Airspeed or groundspeed?
     
  33. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I think 9,8,7 usually works.

    90 at midfield downwind, 80 on base, 70 on final.
     
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  34. injb

    injb Pre-Flight

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    Lol why do I get the feeling a Monty Python meme is coming soon...?
     
  35. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes
     
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  36. write-stuff

    write-stuff En-Route

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    I'd pick a lower RPM, but as cooter said, pick a power setting, use it every time, and accept the airspeed it provides.
     
  37. dmspilot

    dmspilot Pattern Altitude

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    No you don't.
     
  38. mulligan

    mulligan Cleared for Takeoff

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    [​IMG]

    And then there are those awesome days like today when you get keep your speed up and keep your base tight. 150 on short final then chop and drop. Don’t get to do that often at the home base but the kids loved it.
     
  39. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    As a data point, how Cirrus would like a standardized pattern to be flown in various models:

    [​IMG]
     
  40. timwinters

    timwinters Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    My experience is in straight tails but...

    I trimmed my 172 for 70 abeam the numbers.

    I trim my 182 for 80 abeam the numbers.

    Miles per hour!

    I also fly a power-off approach from abeam the numbers.

    I was taught by a crusty old army aviator.
     
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