What Is Yaw?

When discussing the rotation of a moving yacht or aircraft around a vertical axis, one is referring to yaw. A yaw rotation is a motion around the vertical axis of a fixed body that alters the direction of the vehicle, adjusting its heading to the left or right of its current path of movement. The yaw speed or yaw acceleration of a car, airplane, rocket, or other fixed body is the angular acceleration of this rotation or the rate of transformation of the heading angle when the airplane is flying. Its measure is commonly presented in degrees per second or radians per second.

The measurement of yaw velocity is found by calculating the ground velocity at two geometrically diverged points on the body, or it can be synthesized from accelerometers. In simplistic terms, it is the primary calculation of how drivers visually perceive a car turning.

Yaw measurements are essential for electronically stabilized flight. The yaw rate follows the lateral acceleration of the aircraft while it is turning at an unchanging speed around a constant radius, and the commonly used formula is tangential speed*yaw velocity = lateral acceleration = tangential speed^2/radius of turn (using relevant units). In a more general maneuver where the radius is changing and the speed is varying, the above relationship is no longer retained. Now that you have a general understanding of yaw measurements, we must outline the working principle of yaw dampers.

Yaw dampers make a flight more comfortable for an aircraft’s passengers and pilots. You can imagine a yaw damper as an automated pair of feet acting on the rudder pedals. The yaw damper is a servo that drives the rudder in reaction to inputs from a gyroscope or accelerometer that monitors the yaw rate. Pilots flying aircraft furnished with yaw dampers can often enter and exit turns with their feet flat on the floor, all while the slid/skid ball stays centered.

A series of accelerometers or rate detectors (gyros) in the tail frequently communicate yaw movements with the rudder servo system to ensure adequate damping details are provided. The rudder is finely adjusted in either direction to retain precise, coordinated flight. Simply put, when the yaw damper is on, you will keep your feet off of the rudder pedals. Meanwhile, the yaw servo engine does all the tasks, keeping you in a coordinated flight. In some new piston planes equipped with autopilots, like the Cirrus SR22, the yaw damper switches on automatically at 200 feet above the base during climb and is liberated at 200 feet above the base before landing.

The system functions whether or not the autopilot is engaged. However, you can free the yaw damper at any time by pressing down on the autopilot disconnect switch. While the yaw damper can be engaged individually by the autopilot, in most aircraft, the yaw damper is restricted from being engaged during launch or landing. In strong crosswind conditions, you may find yourself fighting the yaw damper as you try to make revisions. If it is not liberated automatically, many pilots may incorrectly land with the yaw damper on. Generally speaking, it is not going to cause a mishap by itself, as you will usually detect the mistake by the feeling of the rudder pedals before you touch the floor.

In multi-engine aircraft, if one engine fails, the yaw damper might try to automatically correct for a sudden yawing motion. This can make it hard to quickly recognize which engine has failed.


So, now it is clear how important these yaw dampers are in an aircraft. Accelerating RFQs is a leading distributor for aircraft parts, presenting over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items. Whether you require aircraft propellers, engine parts, or pilot training devices and aids, we are there for you. Feel free to get in touch anytime when you need us


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