PILOT EVALUATION OF SAILPLANE HANDLING QUALITIES
Keywords:Aerodynamics, Design, Safety
AbstractSeven test pilots flew six sailplanes in a round-robin evaluation of sailplane handling qualities. An evaluation was made of the qualitative handling qualities over the sailplane operational envelope using the Cooper-Harper Rating Scale and pilot comments as the evaluation instrunent. The sailplanes were chosen to represent the range of handling and performance characteristics of high performance sailplanes in current use. The evaluation sailplanes were found generally deficient in the area of cockpit layout. The pilots indicated general dissatisfaction with high pitch sensitivity especially when coupled with inertially-induced stick forces. While all sailplanes were judged satisfactory for centering thermals and in the ease of speed control in circling flight, pilot opinions diverged on the maneuvering response, pull-out characteristics from a dive, and phugoid damping. Lateral-directional control problens were noted mainly during takeoff and landing for most sailplanes with the landing wheel ahead of center of gravity. Pilot opinion of inflight lateral-directional stability and control was generally satisfactory. Five of the evaluation sailplanes exhibited a very narrow airspeed band in which perceptible stall warning buffet occurred. However, this characteristic was considered not objectionable when stall recovery was easy. The pilots objected to the characteristics of a wide airspeed band of stall warning followed by a stall with yawing and rolling tendency and substantial loss of altitude during the stall. Glide path control for the evaluation sailplanes was found to be generally objectionable.
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