T-tails pros / cons

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by SixPapaCharlie, Oct 4, 2015.

  1. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    Discuss.

    I like the way they look but not sure how they affect the handling.
    Also seems like they would be a weak point structurally.
     
  2. Unit74

    Unit74 En-Route

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    When I sell my Archer, I'm buying a lance. From my reading, they take a longer take off roll and higher speed on approach. But, they handle turbulence much better and are very smooth fliers.

    Look at the commercial fleet......notice anything?
     
  3. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    All of the Boeings except the 717 have conventional tails. Many of the regional jets have T tails.
     
  4. BillTIZ

    BillTIZ En-Route

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    Big difference between the Archer and a Lance, like gross weight that is driving up the distance and speed required.

    Better to compare two different Cherokee 6 and Lance, Saratoga.
    Yes the T tail requires a bit more speed for elevator authority to rotate on takeoff. There is no prop wash over the elevator. Not so noticeable on landing as power is reduced, but still a consideration.
     
  5. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You have to plan for a longer takeoff roll.a little sensitive on low speed approachs and landings.
     
  6. Terry L in KY

    Terry L in KY Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I don't own one, in fact, never flown one. One drawback from my novice perspective is the ability to really see things in pre-flight. I spend a lot of time on the tail feathers on my plane (Cherokee 140). Also did on the 172's I rented before that. There's a lot going on back there......little "flappy things" coming off during flight is probably a bad thing.....
     
  7. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    It depends on the airplane. For example, the T-tail Arrows have a small tendency to blanket the airflow to the tail in certain angles of attack. Others make/models don't.
     
  8. eman1200

    eman1200 Final Approach

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    I was nervous transitioning to the t-tail lance when getting my HP but honestly it was no big deal at all. my instructor recommended a few extra knots on takeoff and landing from what my calculations were, which was fine with me lol. everyone talks down about the t-tails, and although I don't have a lot of experience overall, I had no problem with it at all.

    one thing I noticed was on preflight. normally I really get into the tail and look at every nut, bolt, rivet, piano hinge and control connection I can see. with the high t-tail of the lance it makes that a bit more difficult. basically the best visual inspection I can do and I'll also hop on the wing and move the yoke back and forth so I can see on top of the elevators, basically looking for bird sht and whatnot.

    I kinda like the lance. a bit more fuel burn than I would like but it's a good travel machine.
     
  9. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    My thoughts on 159 hours in rented T-tail Turbo Arrows ...

    Takeoff: The airplane has none of that "ready to fly" feeling as you accelerate. The stabilator, which is 13% smaller in span and area than that of a Warrior/Archer/low-tail Arrow, is up out of the energized propwash, so it seems ineffective. Rotate at 75 knots. Raising the nosewheel also lowers the tail (duh!), lowering the stabilator into the energized propwash, making pitch control suddenly more effective and sensitive. The uninitiated pilot can overcontrol a bit at this point, but one soon gets used to it.

    Cruise: The T-Arrow IV seemed smooth in cruise, and pitch trim changes with power and/or flap setting seemed minimal, as the ads promised. All Cherokees hunt a little bit in pitch in cruise, and the T-tail seemed no different. But in turbulence, there was a lot more tail-wag in yaw, worse than my K35 Bonanza.

    Landing: Approach and flare were normal. But once the mains touched that little stabilator didn't have enough authority to hold the nose up, and the nosewheel would plop down immediately.

    Look at the stabilator of a T-tail Arrow. There are slots in the leading edge, vertical fences near the inboard ends, and leading edge fillets. All those aerodynamic gimmicks suggest that Piper engineers had a heckuva time getting the T-tail to fly right.

    These were rented airplanes, so I never had the pleasure of washing one. The T-tail would obviously be an issue there.

    The Turbo Arrow IV was not my favorite, but its turbocharged performance and relatively low rental rate made it a good deal.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
  10. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    Pretty much mirrors my experience with T-Tailed Pipers. Given the option, I preferred the conventional tail.

    My Sky Arrow has a T-Tail, and I recall over-rotating it on my first takeoff. I've adjusted to that now. The effect is probably minimized due to the high-mounted pusher configuration. Only drawback I see is it takes more of a roll on a soft field to lift the nosewheel clear of the ground
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
  11. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    One nice feature on my Sky Arrow is that the position of the CG means that if you lower the tail to the ground it stays there:

    [​IMG]

    At 6'1" I can get a good view of all the attachment points, hinges and linkages. Even a shorter person could get an adequate view of things back there.
     
  12. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Meh, I've flown both and fly both daily, T tail for work, my plane is a conventional tail, not much flight wise, no notable difference.

    Ground ops wise, T tails sucks for ground deicing, but can be better for hangar clearance and also for jump ops.
     
  13. oldShar

    oldShar Cleared for Takeoff

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    IIRC Piper had a serious problem with tail stalls and an inability to recover from normal wings stalls when they first came out. Putting in the slots kept the airflow attached and solved the problem (at least for the most part)
     
  14. eman1200

    eman1200 Final Approach

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    I think the OP was asking about 'real' planes.





    Hahahaha, I'm just kidding with ya fastEddie! Just kiddin.....
     
  15. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    You're implying it's a toy...

    ...as if that's a bad thing??? ;)
     
  16. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    I guess they don't look all that bad.....:D
     

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    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
  17. timwinters

    timwinters Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I guess I'm just really not a fan of t-tails on any front. Don't like the way they look. Not a fan of the handling either (but granted, I have very few hours in one, less than 20).

    I'm especially not a fan of the looks. So much so that I've been lobbying for a PoA logo change for years. (Personally I think the current one is fugly!)

    A neighbor has a DA40 that they want me to fly for them...so standby for a revised opinion. Maybe. But likely not.
     
  18. timwinters

    timwinters Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    [​IMG]

    No t-tail

    :thumbsup:
     
  19. Walboy

    Walboy Line Up and Wait

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    My old A&P, IA hated working on T-tails even to the point where he let a long time customer walk when the customer bought a T-tail Lance. He said the aggravation and inconvenience wasn't worth it to him. He always referred potential customers with a T-tail to his competition.
     
  20. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    "3 props!? 2 props are way better than 3 props! A plane has 2 wings, not 3!!!"
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
  21. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You forgot the 727. Essentially it's the tail mounted (side) engines that require the tail to be moved up. There's a few other examples out there: Fokker 27's, Bac 1-11's etc.. from non Boeing manufacturers as well.
     
  22. oregonboy109

    oregonboy109 Line Up and Wait

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    Very nice! Much better than the current logo :yes:
     
  23. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    Yes they do. Some, anyway. :rolleyes2:

    Cessna 187 prototype:

    [​IMG]

    Beech T36T prototype:

    [​IMG]
     
  24. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 Pattern Altitude

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    The biggest thing I noticed was that soft field landings were a LOT harder (read almost impossible to keep the nose up) in the T-tail Arrow I flew on my CFI checkride vs. the low tail Arrow. Apart from that it was fine. I would be keeping that in mind if I ever had an emergency in the plane.
     
  25. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My experience with the Arrow IV is much less but yes I have the same take on it as well.

    But I have time in a DA40, which is also a T-tail, and it has none of the negatives I've experienced in the TA IV. But I suppose that's an apples an oranges comparison.
     
  26. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This.

    The T-tail Lances have the same issue. Get below 95 kts on final (especially with just one or two people up front) and the wing will start to blank out the tail and things get squirrely.

    On the flip side, I've got over a hundred hours in the Duchess with a T-tail and never noticed any issues with handling at slow speeds.


    On the plus side, the T-tail does make a nice photo bird. You can remove the door of the PA32 and have a nice unobstructed view for air-air photo shoots.
     
  27. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not sure that's a T tail thing, you can hold the nose wheel off for ever in the PC12
     
  28. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Correct. It's a Piper T-tail thing.

    You can hold the nose off very nicely in a Duchess as well.
     
  29. Arbiter419

    Arbiter419 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I'll go ahead and confirm the same for Diamonds.
     
  30. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    Are they weaker?

    I remember as a younger person flying RC and I always liked they way they looked but they were really flimsy and the linkages were more complex.

    Obviously MD-80s aren't shedding their tails in flight but. I wonder if full scale requires additional considerations on those tails.
     
  31. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don't think you'd want to go doing any aerobatics in one.

    For normal flight regimes, I don't think they are a problem.
     
  32. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    You just compared RC airplane design and quality to FAA certified airplane design and quality.

    I'm a little surprised even your creative mind made that stretch, are you running a fever? Get a flu shot? See a doctor soon.
     
  33. eman1200

    eman1200 Final Approach

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    Hhmmm, I seem to recall coming in at 80-85kts on short final but it's been a while, lemme go back and check my #s.
     
  34. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    Sort of.
    RC t-tail as compared to RC "normal" tail have significant differences in structure and strength.

    Wondering if the same was true when comparing "Real" t-tail to "real "normal" tail.

    Not necessarily comparing the model to "real". Just extrapolating.

    Am I talking my way out of this one :)
     
  35. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'd imagine that all depends on how it's built.

    I've seen RC airplanes that pound for pound (if it could be scaled up) would kick a F16s butt.


    Or this stuff
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=svRIi_cgtJE

    I'd wager any full scale airplane would be ripped to pieces from this "take off" :D
     
  36. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Dunno. Is the compressive load from the stabilator that much more than the bending load of the rudder. I have no idea how those loads are calculated much less how they are combined in order to estimate total stress.

    There may be one or two aeronautical engineers laying around here somewhere that have at least a small clue on the calculations. Or maybe they just look at how the last one was built, build a new one and go fly it to see if it breaks? Ya never know with engineers...
     
  37. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    There are several things to consider in a T-tail design. The bending loads are the same.....but when placed at the top of the tail the vertical structure must be capable of transmitting those loads and could require additional material (stiffening).

    Another factor is the placement of the lifting surface relative to the main wing....and can it be "blanketed" at any attitude?....and the angle of incidence and stall angle of the tail vs main wing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
  38. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    That's what I said. Why bother repeating when you had nothing to add?
     
  39. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    Another consideration is that at high AOA, a T-tail is in some pretty strong vortices, resulting in buffeting and fatigue. It requires additional structure or repetitive parts inspection/replacement (see: Tomahawk) to address the issue.

    T-tails are great for keeping a jet's exhaust from impinging on the elevator(s), but otherwise, there are few benefits.
     
  40. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    :yeahthat:

    Or more precisely, a thing of airplanes not originally designed for a T-tail, but had one slapped on as an afterthought for no reason other than the Marketing Department thought it looked cool.

     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015