Slow Flight (Minimum Controllable Airspeed)

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Flying an airplane at extremely slow speeds is not unusual. We do it every time we land. The object of performing the MCA maneuver is to show you that the airplane is controllable near the stall speed and to improve your ability to control the airplane at slow speeds. During this maneuver we will configure the airplane for landing and then slow down as though we were about to land. We will maintain our altitude and keep our airspeed just above stall speed for the landing configuration. We will make both right and left turns. Your job is to keep the altitude and airspeed within the PTS. We will also climb and descend during this maneuver but only when directed. Recovery from this is usually with a power off stall (like a landing), but sometimes we will do a normal recovery. This is essentially the same recovery you would do for a go around.

Aim of an MCA training

The MCA training should train/teach you...

  • the relationship of configuration, weight, center of gravity, maneuvering loads, angle of bank, and power to flight characteristics and controllability.
  • the relationship of the maneuver to critical flight situations, such as go-arounds.
  • the performance of the maneuver in various landing gear and flap configurations during straight-and-level flight and level turns.
  • a specified airspeed for the maneuver.
  • the coordination of flight controls.
  • the trim technique.
  • the re-establishment of cruise flight.


Maneuver Duration Time
1 Pre-flight instruction 10 Minutes 0:00 - 0:10
2 Travel to training area 10 Minutes 0:10 - 0:20
3 Instructor Demonstration 10 Minutes 0:20 - 0:30
4 Student Practice 20 Minutes 0:30 - 0:50
5 Return from practice area 10 Minutes 0:50 - 1:00
6 Post-flight Review 10 Minutes 1:00 - 1:10

Total time: 1:10


You will need a functional aircraft, a free practice area and an instructor


Instructor’s Actions

  1. Conduct preflight training on the elements of MCA.
  2. Demonstrate maneuvering at critical airspeed.
  3. Conduct post flight briefing.

Student’s Actions

  1. Ask questions, review homework.
  2. Perform preflight.
  3. Observe demonstrations.
  4. Perform IAW PTS (in accordance with practical test standards).

Completition Standarts

The student has to perform MCA IAW the PTS.

Common Errors

These errors can lead to fail in the MCA test

  • Failure to establish the specified configuration.
  • Improper entry technique.
  • Failure to establish and maintain the specified airspeed.
  • Excessive headings in altitude, heading and bank.
  • Rough or uncoordinated control technique.
  • Faulty trim technique.
  • Unintentional stall.
  • Inappropriate removal of hand from throttle.

Checklist for Flight

A. Lesson Requirements

  1. Task: Perform MCA.
  2. Condition: Given a functional aircraft.
  3. Standard: IAW the PTS.
    1. Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to maneuvering during slow flight.
    2. Selects an entry altitude that will allow the task to be completed no lower than 1,500 feet (460 meters) AGL.
    3. Establishes and maintains an airspeed at which any further increase in angle of attack, increase in load factor, or reduction in power, would result in an immediate stall.
    4. Accomplishes coordinated straight-and-level flight, turns, climbs, and descents with landing gear and flap configurations specified by the examiner.
    5. Divides attention between airplane control and orientation.
    6. Maintains the specified altitude, ±100 feet (30 meters); specified heading, ±10°; airspeed, +10/−0 knots; and specified angle of bank, ±10°.

B. Identify common errors in MCA

  1. Failure to establish the specified configuration.
  2. Improper entry technique.
  3. Failure to establish and maintain the specified airspeed.
  4. Excessive headings in altitude, heading and bank.
  5. Rough or uncoordinated control technique.
  6. Faulty trim technique.
  7. Unintentional stall.
  8. Inappropriate removal of hand from throttle.

C. Perform MCA

  1. Procedure
    1. Clearing turn
    2. Configure the plane for a normal landing. Gear down (as required), carb heat on, fuel pump on, high rpm on the prop, and full flaps.
    3. Slow the plane down to approach speed.
    4. Maneuver the airplane at this speed. Vs1.2 (60-70 kts depending on airplane)
    5. You may need to add power during turns to maintain airspeed or altitude.
  2. Recovery (Can be done via power off stall or as below)
    1. Apply full power.
    2. At PROC retract gear and one notch of flaps.
    3. Retract flaps completely once you reach Vy.

Used abbreviations

  • AGL = Above Ground Level
  • IAW = In Accordance With
  • MCA = Minimum Controllable Airspeed
  • PROC = Procedure
  • PTS = Practical Test Standards
  • Vs = Stalling Speed; Stall Speed
  • Vy = Velocity for Best Climb-Rate; Best Rate of Climb Speed
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