How many of us remember when
taking off in the Northwest 747-400 in FS 5.0 fighting the dynamics of this
aircraft, and worse, when trying to land… Right when you think you are going
to have a perfect landing, one or three things suddenly happens, you float over
the runway, bounce like an astronaut missing the window of opportunity to
re-enter earth’s atmosphere, or you crash. Well that was because most of us VA
pilots did not know squat about aircraft Performance, weight and balance…Not
to mention Center of Gravity...
We all thought that we could take
off and land with all that fuel on board, could not understand why the approach
speed was hard to maintain with the nose pointed skywards and the tail 10 feet
off the ground 5 miles from the airport, and when you finally touched down, it
was in somebody’s back yard, or if you were lucky enough to reach the runway,
you discovered that you needed more speed and longer landing roll, only now you
are out of runway, and STILL end up in somebody’s back yard… Then Flight
Simming became as real as it gets FS 98 we started to get interested, FS 2000 we
became awe struck with the very little difference from that of the real world,
FS 2002 reality began to set in our brains, That “hey maybe I can do this for
real”, and there was born the “Let's Be a Pilot Club.” By the time FS 2004
arrived most of us had taken our introductory flight, started real world pilot
training, some have become licensed private pilots and purchased their own
airplanes. But not with out a Price.
Determining the Loaded
Weight and Center of Gravity
To be safe or not to be, what is the answer? While
it is not a system of an aircraft, weight and balance is so important and so all
encompassing with regards to safety and efficiency of flight, that an overview
of the basics should come next.
Modern general aviation aircraft are designed and built so
they can lift the maximum weight and carry it the greatest distance at the
highest practical speed. So; the answer, therefore is, these highly efficient
aircraft must be operated “by the numbers.”
It is the responsibility of the pilot-in-command to determine on the
preflight inspection that the aircraft is loaded in such a way that its total
weight and CG(Center of Gravity) are within the allowable limits.
Too much weight can cause these types of problems:
When the FAA certifies an airplane, the pertinent weight
and balance data is furnished in the Type Certificate Data Sheets (TCDS) and in
the Pilot’s Operating Handbook or The Airplane Flight Manual (POH/AFM).
Typical weight and balance data is shown in figure 1
The AMT (Aviation Maintenance Technician) who maintains and
inspect the aircraft to determine that the most recent and correct data is
included in the aircraft records.
So then, an important part of preflight planning is determining that the airplane is loaded so that its weight and CG location are within the allowable limits. Lets examine three popular ways of determining the weight and balance status, that use two different sets of data: the computational method and the electronic flight computer method using weights and arms, and the loading graph method using weights and moment indexes.
Figure 1 weight and balance data needed to
determine proper loading
Datum. An imaginary vertical line chosen by the aircraft manufacturer from which all arms used for weight and balance computation is measured.
Reference datum. An imaginary vertical reference
plane chosen by the aircraft manufacturer from which all measurements are made
to determine the arm of an object in a weight and balance computation.
Arm. The horizontal distance, in inches from the
reference datum, to the center of gravity (CG) of an item. A (+) arm is behind
the datum and a negative (-) arm is ahead of the datum.
Moment. The product of the weight of an item in pounds multiplied by its arm in inches. Moment is stated in pound inches (lb-in.).
The Computational Method Use the data from the POH/AFM as shown in figure 1 to make a worksheet like the one in figure 3. This worksheet provides space for all pertinent data and has the airplane empty weight and EWCG, and the arms for the baggage areas, seats and fuel.
A typical flight will have you load the airplane in
Front seat passenger…………………………………… 180 lbs
Rear seat passengers………………………………….. 175 lbs
Fuel 88 gallons………………………………………….. 528 lbs (6.0 lbs/gal)
Baggage A………………………………………………. 100 lbs
Baggage B………………………………………………. 50 lbs
Weight x Arm = Moment
Moment/weight = CG
Find the moment of each item by multiplying its weight
by its arm. Enter these values in the worksheet, figure 4. Aviation gasoline has
a nominal weight of 6.0 pounds per gallon.
Add all the weights and the moments, then divide the
total moment by the total weight to find the CG location in inches from the
Refer to the envelope in figure 1. Draw a horizontal
line to the right from the weight of 3,027 pounds and a line vertically upward
from 43.54 inches. These lines cross within the envelope confirming that the
loaded weight and CG location are within the allowable limits.
Electronic Flight Computer Method:
An electronic flight computer such as the CX-2 Pathfinder can find the loaded weight and CG location with a few keystrokes by simply following instructions for operating the unit.
Loading Graph Method:
Because of its speed and simplicity, many manufacturers have included a loading graph and CG moment envelope in the POH (Pilot Operating Handbook) to assists in determining the loaded weight and loaded CG.
Moments found by multiplying the weight of each component by its arm result in large numbers that are awkward to handle and can become a source of mathematical error.
eliminate these large numbers, moment indexes are used. The moment is divided by
a reduction factor such as 100 or 1000 to get the moment index. The loading
graph provides the moment index for each component so you can avoid mathematical
calculations. The CG envelope uses
moment indexes rather than arms and moments.
on board advanced methods are in place and used to configure and calculate these
“by the numbers” method, making life a lot
easier for Command Pilots.
1. Who determines the safe
loading of an aircraft?
Pilot in command.
Aviation Maintenance Technician,
2.The most recent data included in aircraft records is the responsibility
Pilot in command
3.An airplane is certificated by the FAA.
4.The CG outside of the allowable limits can cause increased longitudinal
5.Too much weight can cause the aircraft to require longer landing rolls
because of the lower
6.Empty weight center of gravity (EWCG) is between the Datum and the
front seat passenger
whose weight is 120 lbs. Look
at figure 2.
7.The total weight of an aircraft is 3,527 lbs, the total moment is
should you attempt to fly this plane, look at figures 1. thru 4. and
determine from figure 1. if
this aircraft is properly loaded
8.What is the total CG in question 7 above?
None of the above
9.With just a few key strokes you are using the Loading Graft method to
figure properly loading
of an aircraft.
method of properly loading an aircraft is being used if you are dividing by a
The Loading Graft Method
The Electronic Method
For Bonus go here for a unique journey from space to
It is important to remember during cold weather to avoid
airspeed and other indicator problems, make sure your pitot heater is on.
Multi players who wish to have private sessions together
without flying the Zone or VATSIM and IVAO. One player can host and provide IP
address to other player (s) to join and then become player or observer.
Hot keys to use:
As an observer you can switch, ride along with any of
the other players, press Ctrl+Shift+T to cycle through whom you want to ride
To switch to observer mode when you started as a pilot,
press Ctrl+ Shift+O.
When riding as an observer, Ctrl+D will lock your
cockpit view in the aircraft you are observing.
If you start as an observer you cannot switch and become
player, you’re just there for the ride.
Observing flights is a great tool for learning and
teaching, for the rookie, both watching and having an observer onboard can
really help. Having a more experienced pilot in your aircraft talking/typing you
through a tricky maneuver or flight can also be extremely valuable.
NOT TO BE USED IN REAL WORLD FLIGHT. NO PARTS OF THIS ARTICLE MAY BE REPRINTED WITHOUT THE WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR.
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