Associated Retired Aviation Professionals


Tee D. Ponder - 23 May 2002

Boeing on Rudder Inputs


There is a very disconcerting movement afoot to quietly change the rules of flying after nearly 100 years. If successful, it will make life so much easier for certain entities -- entities like the NTSB, FAA and Aircraft Manufacturers of large aircraft. Actually it isn't just to make life easier since billions of dollars are involved.

The FAA now says there is no need to ground the Airbus and says also that no link has been found between material in the tail fin and the N.Y. crash.

Perhaps not, but there is one indisputable link --- the tail went for a swim in Jamaica Bay and the aircraft crashed and burned in a nearby neighborhood with the loss of all aboard and five lives on the ground.

A substantial number of American Airline pilots who fly these things have called for their grounding, but the government isn't listening.


Boeing, at the request of the FAA, has issued a statement redefining pilot procedures that have successfully been in effect for nearly a hundred years. Isn't that incredible?

Get this; From Boeing:

"The bulletin stresses that rudder input 'as a means to maneuver in roll' -- often taught as part of military or general aviation pilot training-- 'typically does not apply' to large transport aircraftoperations. 'The rudder in a large transport airplane is typically used for trim, engine failure, and crosswind takeoff and landing. Only under an extreme condition, such as loss of a flap, midair collision, or where an airplane has pitched to a very high pitch attitude and a pushover or thrust change has already been unsuccessful,should careful rudder input in the direction of the desired roll be considered,' Boeing said. A rudder input is never the preferred initial response for events such as a wake vortex encounter, windshear encounter, or to reduce bank angle preceding an imminent stall recovery' "

Well now, THAT certainly takes care of the Airbus crash -- obvious to Boeing now, the pilots used their rudder below design maneuvering speed and caused the tail to decide to leave the aircraft for a swim. That's time to break out the Champagne in France because design maneuvering speed no longer applies to transport aircraft!

To continue:

"Boeing also cautioned that "sequential full or nearly full authorityrudder reversals may not be within the structural design limits of the airplane, even if the airspeed is below the design maneuvering speed," noting that no Boeing procedures "require this type of pilot input." Besides over-stressing a vertical fin, rudder reversals can put"excessive structural loads" on other parts of an airplane,such as engine struts.


Now we have not only negated forever the FAA definition of "Design Maneuvering Speed" but we also have absolved all those crashes and upsets on Boeing 737s that Boeing earlier reluctantly admitted was indeed a design problem. No more.


Here is another example of a rule change:

The bastard helicoper-yes-no-airplane V22 Osprey program has been in deep trouble with a number of soldier-killing crashes. So, now the rules are being changed by the Navy so that ... "No longer does the craft have to be able to land without power when it's in helicopter mode."

What? Do you realize that means the Osprey is now safe to crash! "Say you lost an engine, Marine 234? Okay, cleared to crash in your present location!"


Every pilot in America -- from the student pilot to the Airline Transport Pilot -- should be offended by these blatant attempts to change the nature of flying. Don't you just love the phrase, " ... military or general aviation pilot training -- 'typically does not apply' to large transport aircraft operations?"

Excuse me, but It has typically applied for decades. But now all is different? Ever hear of the tail section of a DC3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 falling off in midflight?

Is the basic Flight Instructor now doing his student a disservice by using Dutch Rolls to teach his coordination of controls?

Has anyone ever ripped the tail section off a Cessna while instructing now control coordination? No, because the Cessna is designed and constructed to perform in a normal matter. Why suddenly are Transport Aircraft to be immune?

As a pilot, please make your views known now:

  • Email your congressman:
  • Write the NTSB: NTSB Headquarters, 490 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20594
  • Write the FAA; Federal Aviation Administration, Aviation Safety Hotline, ASY-300, 800 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20591

It IS important.

T. D. Ponder
Airline Transport Pilot
Birmingham, Ala.

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