Speed brakes why the fuss? And are they really worth it?

If you have not flown with speedbrakes it is very easy to scoff at someone with them on their airplane. I have posted pictures of my speed brakes on my turbo arrow many times, and I would say 10 out of 9 people give me endless flack about them.

Why and arrow would ever need speedbrakes.
What a waste of money.
Just pull the throttle back, it will come out of the air.

Let me clarify that speedbrakes are a tool and in a turbocharged piston driven airplane they are an important tool as well.

Precision flight has this to say about their brake system.

  • Double your aircraft’s normal rate of descent without reducing power or using landing gear.
  • Maintain engine power and aircraft maneuvering speed without build-up in speed.
  • Reduce engine shock cooling.
  • Smooth turbulence and quickly slow to turbulent air penetration speeds.
  • Deployable at or near Vne for an instantaneous reduction in speed.

Descent without reduction of power, or as you know if you fly a turbo. Limited reduction in power to keep the engine warm and avoid both shock cooling and rapid heating.

Flying along and you get into turbulence and want to maintain power bug slow to Va.

Often getting held up on an approach and then dropped in or requested to maintain max forward speed until short final.

As the commercial from farmers would say, been there, done that!

Lets take a looks at the dynamics posted by Precisions as well.Double parasitic drag on the aircraft.

  • Decrease lift.
  • Minimize asymmetric lift and drag reducing likelihood of entering a spin.
  • Increases wing loading and smooths the aircraft response to turbulence.
  • Decreases lift allowing for better control in crosswinds and assists with braking.

Having the ability to add parasitic drag to your aircraft is a positive in many scenarios.

As a caveat I will say that if my only flying were strictly VFR at non controlled fields I doubt I’d need the speed brakes, but given the choice I’d take them any day of the week for better management of my powerplant.

Here are a few resources to read more about the value.

Flying Magazine: Flying with Speed Brakes

AOPA Magazine: Lowdown On Go Down

 

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Flying with Speed Brakes
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Flying with Speed Brakes
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Speed brakes why the fuss? And are they really worth it? If you have not flown with speedbrakes it is very easy to scoff at someone with them on their airplane.
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Idaho Aviator
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