Preflight checklists often contain the item

  • Flight controls: Free and correct

However, if the rudder is tied to nose-wheel steering, is it even possible to check if the rudder is correctly connected (unless have a rear window and can see the rudder during taxi)?

  • $\begingroup$ How would you determine that the rudder is correctly connected even if it isn't tied to nose-wheel steering? The nose-wheel/rudder issue and the free & correct issue seem like two different questions to me. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Apr 26 '14 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger you push the pedal and stick your head out the side to see if it's turning the right direction? $\endgroup$ – falstro Apr 26 '14 at 20:21

Every small airplane that I've flown that uses the rudder pedals for nose wheel steering uses bungee cords or springs so that they will stretch when pushing the pedals without the aircraft moving. This allows the pedals to move without requiring the nose wheel to do so as well, and you can check them in the normal manner.

Larger airplanes that use the rudder pedals for nose wheel steering have a method of turning the nose wheel steering on and off, so the check could be done before the steering is engaged. That being said, most larger aircraft do the control check during the taxi (that's when most airliners are doing it) and there is nobody out there to make sure that the rudder is actually moving the correct direction. In my airplane, the response for the flight controls is "free and self-centering" (since we have hydraulic flight controls) and we don't verify the actual direction of rudder movement. That's a maintenance function.

  • $\begingroup$ Cool. I just had a deja vu.. Have I already asked this question? I need to check if the two types I fly with nose wheel steering (Dynamic WT9 and Socata TB10) have bungee cords. The rudder pedals feel very stiff when sitting still, how hard would you have to push? $\endgroup$ – falstro Apr 26 '14 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ Usually not too hard, and you wouldn't want to force it because if they aren't bungees you could break something. I've never flown either of those though so I have no idea! $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Apr 26 '14 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger The PA-28 series does not use bungees (the nose wheel is connected to the rudder pedal by rods). As with most airliners verifying correct rigging of the rudder on those planes is a maintenance item (done with the nose wheel jacked up off the ground). $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Apr 29 '14 at 19:26

Every plane I've ever flown with a linked nose gear, the rudder will make noise when it hits the stops. On top of that, the nose gear linkage is disconnected when you use more than a certain degree of deflection. If you push the pedals past that point and feel resistance, your rudder is working.

  • $\begingroup$ This might tell you that it's hooked up to the cables, but not which way around? Or is there some kind of trick? $\endgroup$ – falstro Apr 26 '14 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ @falstro if they are hooked up the wrong way then maintenance should have tested that before releasing the plane for operation $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Apr 26 '14 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ @ratchetfreak while true, there have been accidents where ailerons were reversed; which is why you check that they are moving the right way during preflight :) $\endgroup$ – falstro Apr 26 '14 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ @falstro do a check on your roll-out. Pull the nose wheel off the ground like a soft-field takeoff and wiggle the rudder a bit. Other than that, you're just going to have to have someone stand outside and look I guess. $\endgroup$ – StallSpin Apr 26 '14 at 20:56

It depends on the construction of the aircraft, if you have a linked nosewheel you generally cannot check this in preflight. Once you start up and are taxiing you would have a look out the back and check. When turning left I check compass, di, turn/bank all showing the correct response and rudder left. Vice versa for turning right.


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