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Do Airplanes Handle Differently? (same Type)  
User currently offlineMastropiero From Spain, joined Dec 2005, 125 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 5 months 3 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 5284 times:

I was wondering if, as pilots, you´ve come across aircrafts within your company´s fleet that handle differently than others (I am talking, obviously, about same type), perhaps due to the engines/airframe having more cycles or any other time/wear related issues?

I would assume aircrafts of the same type will handle very similarly, if not identically. I just wonder wether time and usage have the same effect they have on other machines and, if so, if you guys can "feel" this differences.

Thank you very much!

[Edited 2011-04-04 13:27:30]

43 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineDashTrash From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1528 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (3 years 5 months 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 5223 times:

Short answer, Absolutely!

User currently offlinenitepilot79 From Turkey, joined May 2008, 269 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 5 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 5201 times:

I love airplanes, and I also love guitars. I think IMHO that maybe airplanes, as well as instruments, have individuality no matter how uniform their production might seem.


En Buyuk Turkiye, Baska Buyuk Yok!
User currently offlineFly2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (3 years 5 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 5159 times:

Very much so. No two planes are alike.

If you ask almost any major airline pilot, and more so MX personnel, I bet they'll have a couple of planes they hate to fly/service, or some planes that have some weird quirks. There were several like those at my former airline. There was always a few that were always the hangar queens, or the ones that never flew straight no matter how many times they got re-rigged. Like with some cars, some planes really do have a temperamental personality so to speak.

[Edited 2011-04-04 17:02:40]

User currently offlinedw747400 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 1260 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (3 years 5 months 3 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 5117 times:

Ask any dispatcher and mechanic, and they can tell you what aircraft at their company causes the most trouble. One specific aircraft (a 767) earned a horrible reputation with a major, but was offered for sale at the right price and management bought it over the objections of staff that had worked with it in the past... needless to say, it was an expensive mistake!

Not transport category aircraft, but the best example I can think of is a pair of 172's I instruct in.

Same year, or a few frames apart on the line. Both have the exact same STC providing them with a gross weight of 2,550 pounds and 180 horsepower. They even have the same paint. Both have been maintained and rigged by the same mechanic for several years. The only difference is that one has a mid-range S-Tec autopilot, the other does not.

One of the aircraft cruises at 110 to 112 knots at typical power settings, the other 120 to 125 knots. The faster plane also climbs 20% faster and has so much more glide performance than any other 172 I've flown--to the point that (for low time and student pilots) it requires as much difference training on engine outs as it would to transition to another airframe like a 152 or 182.

Personally, though, my favorite 172 is an old 1967 model that trues 137 knots at 70% power. Fastest one I know of!



CFI--Certfied Freakin Idiot
User currently offlineThirtyEcho From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1651 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (3 years 5 months 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 5093 times:

Quoting dw747400 (Reply 4):
Personally, though, my favorite 172 is an old 1967 model that trues 137 knots at 70% power. Fastest one I know of!

Sounds like you found the single C172 from that era that isn't out of rig. Seriously, are you sure that isn't a C175? The 175 flew way above book if you flew it by the POH numbers. Most pilots from that time flew the 175 like it was a 172 and got lousy airspeeds and short TBOs as a result. I have 600 hours in one from that time and it was a heck of a good machine.

I don't remember when the flap limitation to 30 degrees happened but that 1967 bird may have the full 40 degree flap travel. Properly trained, you will learn to love that but you need to have an experienced instructor show you how to use them and the attendant warnings about them.


User currently offlineFly2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (3 years 5 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 5035 times:

Quoting dw747400 (Reply 4):

Personally, though, my favorite 172 is an old 1967 model that trues 137 knots at 70% power.

Hmmm, you sure its last pitot/static inspection wasn't when it rolled out of the factory?  


User currently offlinenotaxonrotax From Ecuador, joined Mar 2011, 409 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (3 years 5 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 4982 times:
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Quoting dw747400 (Reply 4):

Same year, or a few frames apart on the line. Both have the exact same STC providing them with a gross weight of 2,550 pounds and 180 horsepower. They even have the same paint. Both have been maintained and rigged by the same mechanic for several years. The only difference is that one has a mid-range S-Tec autopilot, the other does not.

One of the aircraft cruises at 110 to 112 knots at typical power settings, the other 120 to 125 knots.

That is amazing, I can´t grasp that!!
What would cause that?
Would a change of engine turn this tide around……..or perhaps swapping the wings between the 2 would do the trick?
I´d be curious what causes such a large difference between identical aircraft!!!??

At our club we have a few "sisters"; planes that were close enough on the production line, but they have been kitted out different by the several owners over the years……….and still perform very similar--> speed wise I mean. (they´re all faster than me!!)
This is confirmed by the club mechanic that flies them all, at times.

1 is a little faster because of only 1 wing support each side instead of 2 both sides--> a slightly newer model!

But no mysterious differences like dw747400 reported!

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User currently offlineThirtyEcho From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1651 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (3 years 5 months 3 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 4937 times:

I'm somewhat amazed at the pitot-static problems being reported here in Cessna 172s. Does it really cruise at 145KIAS? No, you didn't get to FL210 or land at 15KIAS. Try getting the dead wasp out of the tube and the itsy-bitsy spider out of the static port..

User currently offlinewilco737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 9037 posts, RR: 75
Reply 9, posted (3 years 5 months 3 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 4902 times:
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Well, on the 744s I flew so far they were very similar. Only minor differences in handling. I would never be able to tell just by the handling of the airplane which registration it is.

wilco737
  



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6039 posts, RR: 14
Reply 10, posted (3 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 4853 times:

Quoting dw747400 (Reply 4):
One of the aircraft cruises at 110 to 112 knots at typical power settings, the other 120 to 125 knots. The faster plane also climbs 20% faster and has so much more glide performance than any other 172 I've flown--to the point that (for low time and student pilots) it requires as much difference training on engine outs as it would to transition to another airframe like a 152 or 182.

So, instead of 9:1, it's 10:1?   

Still, I can understand what you mean, having flown 152s an 172s in the past; although, suffice to say, even with a low performance training glider, that 172 is still a rock.   



Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
User currently offlineMrSkyGuy From United States of America, joined Aug 2008, 1214 posts, RR: 3
Reply 11, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 4588 times:

John Nance spoke of a 727 in the fleet that simply "few funny" and never trimmed out quite right. Many pilots reported that while she flew, she just didn't feel comfortable to anyone. I believe it was Ship 408, which through some mistake in communication between management and the line, was painted by Calder and therefore got more public attention than any other bright Braniff jet. Lipstick on a pig, if you will.

I'm pretty sure that's the plane, because Nance spoke of considerable fuselage wrinkling just aft and below of the wing box from one (or many) very hard landings (something not exclusive to this aircraft, but apparently more noticeable on ship 408 than other BNF 727s).. take a look for yourself:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Johan Ljungdahl




"The strength of the turbulence is directly proportional to the temperature of your coffee." -- Gunter's 2nd Law of Air
User currently offlinedkswim From United States of America, joined Sep 2010, 30 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 4502 times:

In my reading about U-2s pilots would report slightly different handling from plane to plane. Slightly different stall speeds and other handling differences. Some were notorious hanger queens. One story was of on landing one wing would stall out 5-10th knots faster then other side, after repented attempts to rig the plane it was decided to pull wings off and measure them found a little difference on wing to the other of no more then thickness of sheet metal. Chalked difference up to that and subtle differences of one off airplanes.

User currently offlineMastropiero From Spain, joined Dec 2005, 125 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 4464 times:

Thank you all for your replies. I did assume that, as every mass-produced machine, airplanes would be slightly different from eachother, much like cars are. However, considering the much higher standards of quality applied to aircrafts production, I was reluctant to use that comparison.

User currently offlineZkpilot From New Zealand, joined Mar 2006, 4833 posts, RR: 9
Reply 14, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 4294 times:

Quoting notaxonrotax (Reply 7):
Quoting dw747400 (Reply 4):

Same year, or a few frames apart on the line. Both have the exact same STC providing them with a gross weight of 2,550 pounds and 180 horsepower. They even have the same paint. Both have been maintained and rigged by the same mechanic for several years. The only difference is that one has a mid-range S-Tec autopilot, the other does not.

One of the aircraft cruises at 110 to 112 knots at typical power settings, the other 120 to 125 knots.

That is amazing, I can´t grasp that!!
What would cause that?
Would a change of engine turn this tide around……..or perhaps swapping the wings between the 2 would do the trick?
I´d be curious what causes such a large difference between identical aircraft!!!??

Main thing that would cause that would be the prop... one probably has a coursepitch and the other fine.



56 types. 38 countries. 24 airlines.
User currently offlinedw747400 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 1260 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 4250 times:

Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 14):
Main thing that would cause that would be the prop... one probably has a coursepitch and the other fine.

You would think so, but in general he course should be better in cruise and the fine better in climb... in this case, the same airplane wins in both.

Quoting ThirtyEcho (Reply 5):
Sounds like you found the single C172 from that era that isn't out of rig. Seriously, are you sure that isn't a C175?

Well, I did leave out the fact it's a USAF T-41C, so it does have 210hp up front  ... still, I've flown several of them and they rarely make it above 115 KTAS (most have climb props though, this one has a cruise pitched prop--still, it is a heck of a difference).

Quoting ThirtyEcho (Reply 8):
I'm somewhat amazed at the pitot-static problems being reported here in Cessna 172s. Does it really cruise at 145KIAS? No, you didn't get to FL210 or land at 15KIAS. Try getting the dead wasp out of the tube and the itsy-bitsy spider out of the static port..
Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 6):

Hmmm, you sure its last pitot/static inspection wasn't when it rolled out of the factory?

Hah! Quite sure it is current. In addition to the logs, we've verified the the speed with GPS in multiple directions to try and account for wind. Not perfect, of course, but I'm quite confident that number is within 5 knots or so of what she is actually doing. And she can do it heavy too--we've hit 135KTAS at a few pounds under gross (2500). Commuting from Baltimore to NYC she knocks almost 20 minutes off the round trip travel time compared to her sisters.

To make things more fun, IAS is in MPH, so passengers enjoy seeing that dial just a hair under 150!



CFI--Certfied Freakin Idiot
User currently offlineShyFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 4161 times:

Quoting Mastropiero (Reply 13):
However, considering the much higher standards of quality applied to aircrafts production, I was reluctant to use that comparison.

Right off the factory assembly line, there will likely be very little, if any, detectible difference between two aircraft. One they are out "in the field," each of those aircraft will be exposed to different flying styles, usage rates, maintenance encounters, etc even if they are in the same fleet. That is, barring any sort of "incident" occurring at the factory that would give a specific aircraft a "personality trait."

In my case, I flew 4 different Cessna 172s belonging to a local FBO. Two of them R models, the others SPs. With the R models, "16U" was my favorite. Despite a pilot side door that was difficult to latch at times, it always flew like a dream. "062," on the other hand always required more nose down trim. Always.

Now with the SPs, "2SP" was my choice. It was the only one of the four that I could fly with my fingertips. I rarely had to touch the trim and when I did, I only needed to make tiny adjustments. Never had a bounced landing in that one. "3SP," while it had a nicer (leather) interior and an autopilot, wasn't one I looked forward to flying. I was convinced it was the only aircraft on the planet that didn't want to fly. It required more back-pressure on the yoke to get it airborne. Handled like a truck in the air too.


User currently offlinecbphoto From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1555 posts, RR: 5
Reply 17, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 4021 times:

What can even be more interesting is when a plane goes into maintenance (heavy check) and comes out handling completely different then before it went in. I have flown a 1900 that flew great and was a real joy to fly, until one month it went in for a heavy check. That aircraft never quite came out the same and handled completely different then from before. So in short, absolutely, and their are many different variables that can contribute to the way an aircraft can handle and fly.


ETOPS: Engines Turning or Passengers Swimming
User currently offlinefsnuffer From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 252 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 3882 times:

I see a lot of posts about Boeing aircraft, how about Airbus FBW aircraft? I would assume the software would "null" out any differences and make them all seem the same to fly.

User currently offlineMagcheck From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 33 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3789 times:

Hey dw747400, I realize from your posts that I know you from a certain *distinguished* flying club in Maryland, and you're right about our T-41's being different! My personal fav is -93, so stay the heck out of it! hahaa

Back on subject, I would suspect that differences in overall rigging and feel would be much more detectable on smaller aircraft, especially because hydraulics/FBW systems would dampen a lot of the "feel" you get when you're dealing with bellcranks and pulleys and cables. I've selected certain light aircraft to fly based solely on my perception (real or imagined) that they're "nicer" or "feel better" than others, even if they're essentially the same aircraft.

I notice that our 172's and even 152's seem to fly a lot smoother than the T-41's-- in my early days I was chasing the T-41's all over the sky during steep turns and other maneuvers, while the other aircraft would "lock in" and stabilize very nicely. I still swear I can fly them better than I ever could the T-41's.


User currently offlineSpeedbird741 From Portugal, joined Aug 2008, 654 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 3706 times:

Quoting fsnuffer (Reply 18):
I would assume the software would "null" out any differences and make them all seem the same to fly.

Oh, the magical wonders of Fly By Wire.

Speedbird741



Boa noite Faro, Air Portugal 257 climbing flight level 340
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6388 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 3635 times:

I swear, one of the flight school's 172s had it out for me, someone must have tweaked the rudder trim tab, as it would wander off course in a heartbeat if you weren't watching the turn and bank like a hawk, especially when tracking the localizer down at decision height...   P.S. Squawking the bird for its squirrely directional control tendencies did no good, and resulted in snarky comments from maintenance  


Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineAircellist From Canada, joined Oct 2004, 1719 posts, RR: 8
Reply 22, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 3527 times:

...That planes comparison reminds me of that day when I tried 22 cello bows for a student... So much difference! Yet, those were all supposedly "the same": same price, same makers, same specs, etc...

User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6388 posts, RR: 3
Reply 23, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3478 times:

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 10):
Still, I can understand what you mean, having flown 152s an 172s in the past; although, suffice to say, even with a low performance training glider, that 172 is still a rock.

Not as much as a PA28  The 172 is a sailplane compared to the Cherokee...  



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineMastropiero From Spain, joined Dec 2005, 125 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 3456 times:

Quoting Aircellist (Reply 22):
...That planes comparison reminds me of that day when I tried 22 cello bows for a student... So much difference!

I thought about bringing up this comparison too, being a professional violinist myself. 22 bows? My hat is off to you, that takes some patience!!! I remember once I spent a whole morning trying to decide between only two of them.....

Sorry for going off-topic!  


25 Zkpilot : Yes that was the part that troubled me... I'm thinking that the course pitch aircraft perhaps has a slightly better performing engine and maybe sligh
26 jetstar : One of many reasons that 2 identical airplanes can handle differently in flight is in the rigging of the flight controls. You can take airplanes that
27 daviation : A bit off-topic, but I own a Steinway 6-foot grand piano. Before my purchase, I tried several of these pianos in the studio, the exact same size and m
28 Aircellist : Hey, Mastropiero, Daviation, this must be a first! An A.net thread hijacked by musicians! Yay! Maybe we should create the A.net's Musician's Guild, op
29 tdscanuck : It's not really Airbus v. Boeing, it's FBW vs. non...the glory of closed-loop control laws is that they reject disturbances. There are other (good) r
30 PolymerPlane : IIRC the 737 classic that went down as Adam Air Flight 574, had a slow right roll that was contributing to the crash.
31 Aircellist : Thanks, Tom, again. I'm somehow glad that there may still be a difference between those machines. And I did not at all mean an A vs B question. You ar
32 tdscanuck : Yep. If the aircraft had a smaller roll, it wouldn't have gone divergent as quickly and they might have caught it before they lost control. No excuse
33 Aircellist : Instructive again, Tom. I get the difference between open-loop and closed-loop, for control response. As fot the plane you can't tell much more about.
34 tdscanuck : I don't really know, but it's probably such a small variance that it's in the noise of the data (i.e. the delta fuel flow is smaller than the varianc
35 Post contains images Mastropiero : Tom, Jetstar (and everyone else), thank you so much for your very instructive replies! Unfortunately, I don´t.... Would you mind explaining it (a lit
36 tdscanuck : "Open-loop control" is where you don't have any feedback. The accuracy of the thing is implicit in the rigging. Suppose you pull the column back some
37 Mastropiero : Tom, thank you for that, although I still have questions. Mainly one: what kind of feedback are we talking about? As in, the higher the pitch you want
38 pilotpip : On my FBW aircraft (170/175) there are differences within our fleet. There are a couple aircraft I don't like flying as they require trim adjustments
39 Got2fly : I find very few differences between our A319 fleet in terms of handling etc and even between the A319 and A320's...in fact it's quite easy to forget w
40 tdscanuck : I'm talking about feedback within the control system itself (i.e. does the airplane know where the surface actually is and it is using that informati
41 Post contains images Mastropiero : Wow! That is a 10/10 reply if I´ve ever seen one. Thank you so much, Tom, now I understand.
42 Aircellist : Thanks again, Tom. I had understood that the closed-loop meant that the FBW is programmed so that all the aircraft in the family do respond the same w
43 tdscanuck : To have the same response across different aircraft pretty much requires closed loop control, but similarity doesn't define closed-loop control. Done
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