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Not understanding AoA indicators...

Old 11-13-2014, 10:51 AM
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Default Not understanding AoA indicators...

Not understanding why, lately, many seem to feel it is so important to have AOA indicators in light aircraft. This almost seems like a workaround or some type of attempt at a solution for lack of basic flying skills? If loss of control is an issue, couldn't that reflect more on training or just a dumb, unknowledgeable or risk taking pilot?
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Old 11-13-2014, 11:02 AM
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I can't figure out why big airplanes don't have one! It was a valuable and informative instrument in the Learjet that gave you instant insight as to the amount of energy available in the wing regardless of airspeed or pitch attitude.
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Old 11-13-2014, 11:10 AM
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Speaking off the top, AoA indicators are simply the best thing to have among attitude measuring instruments. They are better than stall horns in terms of telling the pilot where the aircraft is in it's range of flight attitudes. They make the pilot who knows how to use them more aware of the energy state of the aircraft as attack angles change. Military aircraft have had them for years as well as civilian jets, because those aircraft operate at specific AoAs for best economy and maneuverability, among other things and the pilot needs precise info on AoA to do that. AoA data is used for many advanced flight management computers and is more often available in jets than in piston aircraft. The trend lately has been towards light-jet style avionics in piston aircraft, such as the Garmin suites we have now running digital AHRS units with digital autopilots, TAWS, and complex flight computers. Those systems need AoA inputs to function properly. Another factor in the adoption of AoA for GA lately is simply the lower cost of off the shelf AoA units plus FAA willingness to approve them.

I think it's a good thing for GA because stall spin accidents as well as overall student awareness is tied to seeing how things work. AoA gauges really show what is going on when you approach a stall, do a spin, or change configuration on approach to name a few common uses.
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Old 11-13-2014, 11:11 AM
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There is no reason to NOT have AoA data...
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Old 11-13-2014, 11:19 AM
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I agree with the responses, and thanks. It just seems for GA pilots it is being overly hyped as some big safety solution for the putt putt's.
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Old 11-13-2014, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by BoilerUP View Post
There is no reason to NOT have AoA data...
Not as technology marches on and costs go down for the gear to display AoA data now. But in the past they were seen as out of the range of basic piston aircraft because of the fairly expensive hardware required, and the lack of viable approval basis. Why add thousands to the cost of a Skyhawk or Seminole when nothing it does really requires accurate AoA data.

Originally Posted by Yoda2 View Post
I agree with the responses, and thanks. It just seems for GA pilots it is being overly hyped as some big safety solution for the putt putt's.
Just a safety aid. I actually worry that light aircraft have become overly complex with glass cockpits, and the data seems to suggest that too much electronic stuff in front of them makes the average pilot less safe. I used to teach in glass panel planes and I could never solo anyone in less than about 25 hours which was almost all spent getting them to run the avionics to a basic level. I could solo someone in a steam gauge airplane in about ten hours, really even less if they were a good stick.
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Old 11-13-2014, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Cubdriver View Post
Not as technology marches on and costs go down for the gear to display AoA data now. But in the past they were seen as out of the range of basic piston aircraft because of the fairly expensive hardware required, and the lack of viable approval basis.
It could be a bad thing for the GA pvt pilot. Too many already have their eyes inside looking at too many instruments while on final approach--thanks to the FAA and Jeppessen integrated method of teaching instruments at lesson 4 of the PPL! For navy pilots doing precision approaches to a postage stamp, it's critical. For a vfr 172, not so much.
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Old 11-13-2014, 12:04 PM
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Good points all. Maybe I'm just too old school in my approach to dealing with basic loss of control. My solution to training is to cover up the entire panel, at certain times, with a small blanket, T shirt, Etc. Then you can teach someone to fly.
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Old 11-13-2014, 12:29 PM
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I can't think of one good reason NOT to have AoA.
You can nearly do EVERYTHING with it!
Even if you still loss control as you propose - using AoA for the max benefit in recovery is a benefit.
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Old 11-13-2014, 12:30 PM
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Adding AoA indication to GA aircraft would be an unnecessary cost, and would further be pointless unless pilots are trained to use it.

By "trained" I don't mean somebody showing them how it works...I mean it's use would have to be extensively incorporated into primary training from the very outset. Otherwise it would be just another costly dust collector.

Unlike say a fighter, there are no normal phases of flight in which the AoA data would be interesting for GA aircraft...comply with the AFM speeds and attitudes and you'll never get near the AoA limit except maybe in the flare. Since it would not be interesting or useful, most pilots would tune it out...and it would be silly to expect them to suddenly revert to referencing the thing in a crisis.

It could be useful for aircraft certified for sustained FIKI. That's the only time I ever look at it.
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