Spin avoidance and stall recovery

Stalling and spinning are aerodynamic phenomena which remain common causes of fatalities. This occurs in departures from controlled flight in all categories of aeroplanes.

Contributing factors include:

  • unrecognised stall
  • poor recovery technique.

Stall and spin related accidents account for approximately one-quarter of all fatal general aviation accidents worldwide. This includes many during dual flight training.

Most unintentional spins, other than during dual instruction, happen at altitudes too low for recovery. This is generally on climb after take-off and turns onto final approach.

Spin avoidance and stall recovery training

Spin avoidance and stall recovery training helps you understand how to:

  • fly at speeds below the speed for minimum drag
  • recognise and recover from approaching stall and full stall, including wing drop at the stall in the context of situations in which it is most likely to occur.

It is relevant for:

  • initial flight training
  • as part of upset prevention and recovery training.

Understanding of aircraft limitations is essential. This includes when conducting training for:

  • advanced stalling including wing drop at the stall
  • recovery from a spin at the incipient or fully developed phases.

Spinning must not be actively induced in aircraft not certified for intentional spinning. This includes with the intention of teaching recovery from 'incipient spin'.

Pilots must have a spinning flight activity endorsement to conduct spinning as a flight activity.

Information for flight instructors and training organisations

A flight instructor with a Grade 1, 2 or 3 aeroplane training endorsement must hold a spinning flight activity endorsement. This is a prerequisite for the grant of a Grade 3 training endorsement.

The spinning flight activity endorsement provides the instructor with a margin of safety for a mishandled recovery from a wing drop at the stall. It does not provide endorsement to train intentional entry to a spin.

Guidance on stall training

AC 61-16 Spin avoidance and stall recovery training provides guidance on advanced stall training, including:

  • the difference between wing drop at the stall and the incipient phase of a spin
  • an interpretation of aircraft flight manual manoeuvre limitations with respect to spinning
  • acceptable methods of training and testing wing drop at the stall and spin avoidance.

There are many aircraft configurations and common scenarios in which wing drop is likely to occur. You may use these examples to show the characteristics of departure from normal flight for training and methods of recovery.

Various scenarios are shown in our training poster Spin avoidance – training scenarios.

Stall and spin avoidance lessons

Never induce wing drop with pro-spin rudder at the stall for the purposes of the ‘recovery from wing drop at the stall’ exercise.

Flight instructors must ensure the student is competent handling the aircraft at speeds just above the stall before moving to the stalling exercise.

A flight training organisation must ensure:

  • training instructional design and the records of training reflect that recovery from wing drop at the stall has been both specifically trained and assessed
  • flight instructors are competent in the conduct of the training and assessment of the slow flying and stalling exercises.

Testing recovery from wing drop at the stall

The student must put the aircraft into a configuration and scenario likely to result in a wing drop at the stall in that type of aircraft, rather than induce a spin with rudder at the stall. You should interpret 'incipient spin' in the context of advanced stalling training as meaning 'wing drop at the stall'.

Expect to see the standard application of controls for recovery from the stall. Breaking the stall with elevator with active use of rudder to arrest any yaw at the wing drop. See advice in the Flight Examiner Handbook.

Once the wing is unstalled, use balanced control inputs to bring the aeroplane back to the desired flight path. You should place emphasis on the application of correct technique rather than the achievement of a minimum height loss.

Spin recovery training

Pilots exposed to aerobatics or spinning in aeroplanes in their training are less likely to startle if they encounter an upset.

A flight instructor must hold a spinning training endorsement to conduct spinning training.

Aeroplane certification

You must have a spinning flight activity endorsement to conduct spinning as a flight activity.

To conduct a spin, an aircraft must be certified or approved for intentional spinning (tested to recover from a 6-turn spin within 1.5 turns of recovery inputs).

Wing drop at the stall is tested for all levels of aircraft certification. Aeroplanes not certified for intentional spinning are also tested as a requirement of certification to recover from a one turn spin within one turn of recovery inputs. This certification allows a margin of safety for a mishandled recovery from wing drop at the stall, but not intentional entry to a spin.

Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) are accepted, but not certified by us. The LSA manufacturer must declare whether their LSA meets this standard, or similar. Some LSA used for flying training may be declared to meet lesser standards than those mentioned above.

Last updated:
9 Dec 2021
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