A steep turn is a maneuver in which an aircraft turns at a steep bank angle while maintaining altitude and airspeed. For a Canadian PPL student the turn is usually at 45 degrees bank. It is an important skill for pilots to learn in order to safely and confidently fly an aircraft.
Here are the steps to perform a steep turn:
- First, the pilot should select a clear area of sky with no other aircraft or obstructions in the vicinity. (H.A.S.E.L. Check)
- The pilot should then establish the aircraft at the appropriate airspeed and altitude for the maneuver. Typically, this means entering the maneuver at a speed of approximately 90-100 knots (Never over 106KIAS) and an altitude of at least 2,500 feet indicated altitude (these are my flight schools requirements).
- Next, the pilot should smoothly roll the aircraft into a bank of approximately 45 degrees while maintaining the desired airspeed and altitude. The pilot should then apply coordinated rudder to prevent the aircraft from slipping or skidding. This exercise helps you develop the site picture outside the cockpit for these turns. The left-hand turn site picture is very different from the right-hand site picture.
- As the aircraft continues through the turn, the pilot should adjust power slightly as necessary to maintain the desired altitude and airspeed (100 or 200 rpm at the most. As my flight instructor always reminds me, just enough power to hear the note of the engine change).
- Finally, when the turn is complete, the pilot should smoothly roll out of the turn and return to straight-and-level flight (At my school, the instructor either tells me to steep turn to a compass direction in degrees or letter (N, S, E, W)).
We learn how to perform steep turns in Private Pilot License training for several reasons. First, it helps to develop our understanding of how the aircraft responds to control inputs and how to maintain control during a turn. Second, it is an important skill for pilots to have in order to fly safely and confidently in a variety of situations, such as avoiding obstacles or navigating in bad weather.
Steep turns also prepare you for the next maneuver in your training, “Spiral Dives”.
Finally, steep turns are often included as part of the practical test for a Private Pilot License, so mastering this maneuver is essential for passing the test and obtaining a license.