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Dutch Roll

Dutch roll

A Dutch Roll is a combination of rolling and yawing (coupled lateral/directional) oscillations that normally occurs when the dihedral effects of an aircraft are more powerful than the directional stability. Usually dynamically stable but objectionable in an airplane because of the oscillatory nature. The damping of the oscillatory mode may be weak or strong depending on the properties of the particular aircraft.

If the aircraft has a right wing pushed down, the positive sideslip angle corrects the wing laterally before the nose is realigned with the relative wind. As the wing corrects the position, a lateral directional oscillation can occur resulting in the nose of the aircraft making a figure eight on the horizon as a result of two oscillations (roll and yaw), which, although of about the same magnitude, are out of phase with each other.

In most modern aircraft, except high-speed swept wing designs, these free directional oscillations usually die out automatically in very few cycles unless the air continues to be gusty or turbulent. Those aircraft with continuing Dutch roll tendencies are usually equipped with gyro-stabilized yaw dampers. Manufacturers try to reach a midpoint between too much and too little directional stability. Because it is more desirable for the aircraft to have “spiral instability” than Dutch roll tendencies, most aircraft are designed with that characteristic.

Yaw Dampers “Dampen” Dutch Roll

On swept wing aircraft such as the Boeing 737 yaw dampers “dampen” the Dutch Roll motion by providing automatic rudder inputs in response to inputs from a gyroscope type device.

Occupants will feel a smoother ride,particularly if seated in the rear of the airplane, when the yaw damper is engaged. The yaw damper should be off for takeoff and landing. There may be additional restrictions against its use during single-engine operation. Most yaw dampers can be engaged independently of the autopilot. V-tail Aircraft designs are more susceptible to Dutch roll tendencies than a conventional tail.

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