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Induced Flow vs Angle of Attack…Common Theory Among Terms

Posted 3 years 0 days ago ago by Admin

It is common to have practical test applicants confuse aerodynamic terminology, especially during their FAA exam. Knowing that the applicant is under pressure to perform is part of the pilot certification process, and every FAA Inspector or Examiner is aware of this fact. However, some terms and theories are so firmly rooted within aerodynamic process that an immediate lack of understanding or recall on the subject is concerning.

One such aerodynamic process is the relationship between Induced Flow (IF) and Angle of Attack (AoA). In helicopter aerodynamics, this relationship and the potential adverse effect of helicopter performance occurs repeatedly. As instructors, we have a tendency to silo this discussion into singular topics and fail to teach the common thread between all of the aerodynamic topics where the IF/AoA relationship exists.

An example of IF/AoA relating to specific aerodynamic terms may include Hover In-Ground-Effect, Hover Out-of-Ground Effect, Settling with Power, and Loss of Tail Rotor Effectiveness. Each of these terms are mutually exclusive. Although they differ in purpose and intent, their causal factor remains consistent with the IF/AoA relationship.

Since all these aerodynamic topics have a common root cause, an applicant’s inability to explain or describe one topic yet easily and accurately another is confusing. If the basis of each topic is nearly identical, then the only answer is that the applicant is not aware of the root cause similarities. How do we remedy this?

When you have subject matter that shares root cause, teach the root cause first. Make sure they have a keen understanding of the nature of the subject matter. Once the student understands the subject, apply this knowledge to all relevant topics touched by this root cause information. The outcome will immediately aid and support accurate understanding and memory recall.  

About Randy: 
Randy Rowles has been a FAA pilot examiner for 20 years for all helicopter certificates and ratings. He holds a FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate, NAFI Master Flight Instructor designation, and was the 2013 recipient of the HAI Flight Instructor of the Year Award. Rowles is the owner/president of Helicopter Institute.

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