Aircraft attitude

Aircraft attitude

Aircraft attitude is used to mean two closely related aspects of the situation of an aircraft in flight.


In the simplest use it is the orientation of an aircraft with respect to the horizon. This is a function of two angles: pitch and roll. The pitch angle specifies the orientation of the aircraft's longitudinal axis, that is, whether the nose is pointing upwards, is level to the horizon, or is pointing downwards. The roll angle specifies whether the aircraft is banked left or right, or whether its wings are parallel to the horizon. The pilot adjusts the controls (the stick or the yoke) to adjust the aircraft attitude in order to keep the aircraft on course or turn or change altitude.

Aircraft attitude is used to describe the more complex relation of an aircraft to its surroundings, particularly airflow and gravity. This takes into account the settings of other flight control surfaces such as the rudder, engine power, flaps or slats and also airflow. Thus an aircraft can be described as being in a "climb" attitude or a "spin" attitude, which implies more than simply "nose up" or "nose down".


List of possible attitudes

* straight and level (cruise)
* climbing
* descending
* takeoff
* land


* coordinated banked turn
* climbing coordinated banked turn
* descending coordinated banked turn
* slipping turn
* skidding turn

Unusual attitudes

* stall
* spin
* dive
* inverted flight

ee also

* airplane compass turns
* attitude control (spacecraft)
* flight dynamics
* Weathervane effect

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