Pilot's tip of the week

Minimum Controllable Airspeed

Featuring

Subscriber question:

"What does the term Minimum Controllable Airspeed (MCA) mean, and what conditions will cause an airplane to stall from this airspeed?"
- James M.

Bob:

minimum_controllable_airspeed.jpg

“The Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A) states that the term flight at minimum controllable airspeed means a speed at which any further (1) increase in angle of attack or (2) load factor, or (3) reduction in power will cause an immediate stall. So, to avoid an immediate stall, we the pilot must avoid the three things that will cause the stall. And we, the pilot, control all three!

Key to this discussion is recognizing those occasions when we are at or near MCA so that we can avoid any further increase in angle of attack or load factor, or reduction in power. Where do most of these situations occur? Dangerously close to the ground is the answer! The traffic pattern is the most obvious situation, but any low altitude maneuvering can be a set up for stall.

Practicing MCA and being comfortable flying the airplane in this condition will keep us aware of when we need to avoid any further increase in angle of attack or load factor, or reduction in power.”

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