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Rate of climb and safety #5187141 08/14/19 04:23 PM
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Cujet Offline OP
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Watching this video got me thinking about the abysmal climb rate of many piston powered aircraft. My own plane included.

I posted the following in the video's comment section:

"Underpowered. Period, end of story. Airborne for 10 seconds and can't continue a basic climb with a 5 degree pitch attitude. Yes, I understand energy management and his pitch up (and stall) at the end to avoid tree tops. But it's high time we stop accepting aircraft that climb at 400 FPM. It's easy to say he needed more room because he did. But once airborne, any aircraft should have enough power to climb at a very positive rate, not mush around at the tree tops. I suggest a 1500 FPM climb rate is the light aircraft level of power required for minimum safety. We don't need straight up climb capacity, but we do need sufficient power to climb with authority under ALL conditions, including in sinking air masses, turbulence, higher elevations and temperatures. Aviation is chock a block full of climb accidents."

I've been annoyed at the performance of my 2800 pound, 200 HP plane (Cessna 177RG) for some time. It's hot n humid in Florida/Georgia where I normally fly. Once at 100 pounds under max gross, I had to request the long runway at DAB. (prior to the Powerflow exhaust and K+N airfilter, which do help) . I've since learned to keep it light and fly alone. Any way you slice it, 14 pounds per HP is on the anemic side. Book numbers show ROC at 800 FPM at max gross. Hahahaha Liars...

In any case, my thoughts are a work in progress, but I've come to believe there should be a more robust climb standard for all single engine aircraft. An airplane that can make 1500 FPM at STP (sea level, 59 deg F, 29.92 in hg) is one that can perform well enough to have a very positive initial rate of climb from the time the wheels lift off.

Climb is excess thrust, and even small increases in HP markedly improve climb rates.


People who count on their fingers should maintain a discreet silence.
Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: Cujet] #5187145 08/14/19 04:29 PM
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billt460 Offline
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Isn't that the same plane a MLB pitcher died in a year or so ago?

Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: Cujet] #5187164 08/14/19 04:59 PM
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Linctex Offline
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Originally Posted by Cujet
...... it's high time we stop accepting aircraft that climb at 400 FPM.


Hahahaha! LOL crackmeup
30 years ago in HOT HOT Texas air at 800' MSL and a 2200' runway with my big 6'3' self and my 6' flight instructor in a tired 152,
we felt pretty proud of ourselves if we could pull 200-250 FPM out of that thing. I think even when solo I felt pretty happy with 600-700 FPM on a hot day.


Originally Posted by Cujet
...... I suggest a 1500 FPM climb rate is the light aircraft level of power required for minimum safety..


LOL crackmeup LOL crackmeup LOL crackmeup LOL crackmeup

Pipe dreams.... Yeah, when I am solo in a Mooney M20S, I can pull that off.

Well - - - a 150 HP Cessna 150/152 can do 1500 FPM, as well as a 180 HP 170/172/175. (plus all the Super Cubs & Citabrias/Scouts, etc etc. etc. etc.)

The price of admission for 1500 FPM is pretty high - - not many planes have that kind of power-to-weight ratio, and the ones that do are more expensive than most average people can afford.


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Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: billt460] #5187166 08/14/19 05:02 PM
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Inspecktor Offline
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Takeoff run started with a lot of lake behind him, and a short run and tall trees ahead. My first flight instructor, an old timer, told me more than once the three most useless things to a pilot are runway behind you, altitude above you, and air in the fuel tanks.


2001 Ranger 3.0 175,000 mi
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1986 GL1200A 73,500 mi
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Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: Cujet] #5187199 08/14/19 05:54 PM
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Garak Offline
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Interesting points, Cujet. In this part of the world, it's so easy to take things like this for granted, how much less risky the climbs can be. When you're terrain is flat as a pancake with no trees and a good portion of the year is cold with high air density, it's easy. We have had problems in northern Saskatchewan with bush planes in the hot summer clipping trees. Of course, those guys never overload, either, right? wink


Plain, simple Garak.

2008 Infiniti G37 - Shell ROTELLA T6 Multi-Vehicle 5w-30, Wix 57356
1984 F-150 4.9L - Quaker State GB 10w-30, Wix 51515
Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: Cujet] #5187203 08/14/19 06:01 PM
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Win Offline
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More horsepower would be useful, sure, but I suspect better judgment would have been a completely satisfactory solution.

I think 1500 FPM would be fun, but is unrealistic for affordable light aircraft, and unnecessary. It gets hot around here, lots of 3000 foot runways - the normal 800 ish FPM performance is fine.

edit: it's not mushy summer climb performance that gets people around here, it's that stuff on the charts they call rapidly rising terrain. It's an equal opportunity killer.

Last edited by Win; 08/14/19 06:04 PM.

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Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: Cujet] #5187262 08/14/19 07:00 PM
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mk378 Offline
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Rating it as a two-seater is optimistic. Empty weight 1080 lb, max weight 1510 lb means there is a budget of 430 lb for people, fuel, and luggage. With the tank half full (10 gal = 60 lb) and no luggage that allows only 185 lb per person. Most American men are heavier than that.

Very poor planning to not set out to use the whole lake and not take off into the wind. Then it appears the choppy water (and likely over weight) made it difficult to gain ground speed. For most of the takeoff run he's headed straight toward the tallest tree on shore. Is that just a failure to see things? No plane is very able to turn and climb at the same time.

One of the comments was that it looked like he was going to taxi down to the far side of the lake then turn around to actually take off coming back toward the camera.

Last edited by mk378; 08/14/19 07:02 PM.
Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: mk378] #5187272 08/14/19 07:14 PM
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Cujet Offline OP
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Originally Posted by mk378
No plane is very able to turn and climb at the same time.


I believe a plane with sufficient excess thrust can do both with ease. And, you've just made my point perfectly. Because sometimes you do have to turn during initial climb. Interestingly, during the TFR's at PBI, planes must avoid Mar a Lago and some airliners perform impressive immediate turns.

Last edited by Cujet; 08/14/19 07:20 PM.

People who count on their fingers should maintain a discreet silence.
Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: Cujet] #5187286 08/14/19 07:33 PM
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mk378 Offline
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The requirement to keep level flight even with one engine failed means that any commercial jet will have considerable excess power. A two engine plane so rated means nearly 100% excess is available to climb and/or turn while both engines are working.

So yes I should have said no general purpose (not intended for stunt flying or dogfighting) single-engine small plane instead.

Last edited by mk378; 08/14/19 07:39 PM.
Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: Cujet] #5187314 08/14/19 07:56 PM
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Yeah the plane is under-powered. But the pilot appears to be under-brained. That was poor planning on his part. By the time liftoff happened he had to turn hence even less lift.

Last edited by philipp10; 08/14/19 08:00 PM.
Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: Cujet] #5187340 08/14/19 08:28 PM
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Win Offline
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I wonder if the pilot was a light sport pilot. Maybe that entry level ticket was not such a good idea.


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Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: Win] #5187694 08/15/19 09:20 AM
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JLTD Offline
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Originally Posted by Inspecktor
Takeoff run started with a lot of lake behind him, and a short run and tall trees ahead. My first flight instructor, an old timer, told me more than once the three most useless things to a pilot are runway behind you, altitude above you, and air in the fuel tanks.



Originally Posted by Win
More horsepower would be useful, sure, but I suspect better judgment would have been a completely satisfactory solution.


Completely agree with these statements… The pilot's judgment is in question here. They chose to not take off into the wind, not to use all the available space for takeoff, and, when they saw they were not going to clear the trees they completely discarded the option of circling the lake to gain speed and altitude. Climb ability or no, that airplane is small enough to maneuver in a race track pattern around the lake until they had enough altitude to clear obstacles.


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Re: Rate of climb and safety [Re: Cujet] #5187780 08/15/19 10:45 AM
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Win Offline
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Camera angles and distances can be deceptive, and I guess he had the better view from the cockpit, but watching it a few times, it looks like if he had just held that course he was on at 39-40 seconds ish, he / she could have made it out of there intact.

Is it normal procedure to use flaps on takeoff from the water in something like that? If that cut the takeoff run, I would hate to see what it was like without flaps. It looks like the flaps were still extended when the carcass was floating in the water, so he was dragging those around the whole time.


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