Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weight and Balance Control

There are many factors that lead to efficient and safe operation of aircraft. Among these vital factors is proper weight and balance control. The weight and balance system commonly employed among aircraft consists of three equally important elements: the weighing of the aircraft, the maintaining of the weight and balance records, and the proper loading of the aircraft. An inaccuracy in any one of these elements nullifies the purpose of the whole system. The final loading calculations will be meaningless if either the aircraft has been improperly weighed or the records contain an error.

Improper loading cuts down the efficiency of an aircraft from the standpoint of altitude, maneuverability, rate of climb, and speed. It may even be the cause of failure to complete the flight, or for that matter, failure to start the flight. Because of abnormal stresses placed upon the structure of an improperly loaded aircraft, or because of changed flying characteristics of the aircraft, loss of life and destruction of valuable equipment may result. The responsibility for proper weight and balance control begins with the engineers and designers, and extends to the aircraft mechanics that maintain the aircraft and the pilots who operate them.

Modern aircraft are engineered utilizing state-of-the-art technology and materials to achieve maximum reliability and performance for the intended category. As much care and expertise must be exercised in operating and maintaining these efficient aircraft as was taken in their design and manufacturing.

The designers of an aircraft have set the maximum weight, based on the amount of lift the wings or rotors can provide under the operation conditions for which the aircraft is designed. The structural strength of the aircraft also limits the maximum weight the aircraft can safely carry. The ideal location of the center of gravity (CG) was very carefully determined by the designers, and the maximum deviation allowed from this specific location has been calculated.

The manufacturer provides the aircraft operator with the empty weight of the aircraft and the location of its emptyweight center of gravity (EWCG) at the time the certified aircraft leaves the factory. Amateur-built aircraft must have this information determined and available at the time of certification.

The airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic or repairman who maintains the aircraft keeps the weight and balance records current, recording any changes that have been made because of repairs or alterations. The pilot in command of the aircraft has the responsibility on every flight to know the maximum allowable weight of the aircraft and its CG limits. This allows the pilot to determine on the preflight inspection that the aircraft is loaded in such a way that the CG is within the allowable limits.

No comments:

Post a Comment