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Late report on a VFR trip Silvester from Rotterdam EHRD to Portoroz LJPZ

On Robins, the nosewheel is linked to the rudder, to be able to steer on the ground. However, this isn’t desirable in flight as the nosewheel and fairing facing sideways creates more drag. Therefore, when weight is taken off the nosewheel (e.g. after takeoff), it drops slightly and disengages, so that it stays straight even if you use the rudder. If you have a soft landing with little weight on the nosewheel, it doesn’t re-engage, so on the ground you can only steer with the rudder (no nosewheel). Does this help?

EGHO-LFQF-KCLW, United Kingdom

gallois wrote:

not a shimmy in the way you might get on a Rallye or Grob it is caused when you lift the nose wheel off the ground it drops slightly so that it stays straight, not affected by wind, once in the air reducing drag.

Sorry probably not the right technical term then, all I know you have to put weight on it to be able to steer on the runway after landing (or after taxi bump with high power and stick back) with the wheel (the rudder will work), same as Cessnas (.gCardinals to retract) or old Diamonds on fixed but on the Robins at least it locks down straight by gravity

The worst design so far was Faulke SF25C with a tailwheel lock lever and you have to centre it and lock it before takeoff/landing, you only unlock it for taxi turns, if you have doubts on how that would work in the air just leave it castor freely or lock it straight on the ground and never touch it again

As always one can learn to taxi with rudder only and two main wheels

Last Edited by Ibra at 28 May 09:21
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

gallois wrote:

it is not a shimmy in the way you might get on a Rallye or Grob it is caused when you lift the nose wheel off the ground it drops slightly so that it stays straight, .

The Cessna 172 has a similar mechanism. I once had a very unpleasant experience in an aircraft which probably had a combination of too much air in the nose wheel damper and a worn or misadjusted connection to the steering. At one point during taxi, I pressed the rudder pedal and nothing happened. I pressed it to the floor and still nothing happened. I stopped the aircraft and that probably compressed the strut enough that the steering connected and started working again.

not affected by wind, once in the air reducing drag

I don’t think that’s the reason as the rudder is usually centered in the air but rather so that the nosewheel points straight at touchdown even in a crosswind landing.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

This makes a lot of sense.

And if you are about to hit any sort of obstacle as in a runway excursion, you’d pull on the yoke to keep that prop from hitting the ground instinctively, therefore aggravating the situation…

LSZH(work) LSZF (GA base), Switzerland

Mooney_Driver wrote:

And if you are about to hit any sort of obstacle as in a runway excursion, you’d pull on the yoke to keep that prop from hitting the ground instinctively, therefore aggravating the situation…

Yes that design is problematic with the typical yoke position when you are taxi or rolling on the ground…

You could argue any design that locks front/tail wheel or let it castor freely would make things both good AND bad depending on how things are aligned on runway & wing & aircraft and who is flying the pilot of the aircraft

I am sure applying yoke surfaces at high speeds should work every time: aileron correction into wind and using rudder to keep a line on the ground, at slow speeds you start to need breaks, front/tail wheel steering and luck !

Last Edited by Ibra at 28 May 09:34
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

Thank you very much Sebastian for your detailed and reflecting report.
I admire your boldness and your humility. May all pilots show more of these (contradicting) qualities.
Your decision to declare a Mayday saved you from an article in the local newspapers.
There were a few cases like yours in France over the years and the Air force can send a jet ot escort you to an airport.

I had a runway excursion in the Robin I learnt with (locked front wheel). It was one of my first solo flights. My FI was not surprised, he looked and found no damage, no report was made. Airplane took off again an hour later (with him as FI). I was quite in shock but decided to fly again the next day not to let fear paralyze me.
In BEA reports, I find several accidents every year that I think are related to this issue. No fatalities but quite a lot of broken wood.

Carry on, get the experience, look for mentors, have fun

LFOU, France

Thanks @Capitaine, the perfect explanation.


Super WoW Sebastian! Clap clap!
I have just finished reading the thread.

All of those that know me know how much I am in favour of the survival of GA as a tool to go places, which is becoming increasingly difficult. If we don’t change things, it will eventually die and remain a sport for short local trips.
It is amazing what percentage of GA activity is restricted to local trips and hence not surprising that the above trend is worsening.
@Peter has done its fair share to promote going places, and at a smaller scale I am also doing all I can to show everyone that GA can be a useful tool, lately with our ASF-COVID project and the save TXL initiative for example.

I also endured a similar kind of renter-club relationship in my early years of flying for about 4 years while I tried to increase my going places experience before I became aircraft owner.

For those reasons, I sympathize enormously with you @Sebastian_H .

I agree with most that has been said.

Clubs tend to mix their asset-owner vs their club-aviation promotion sides. IN my view they are different and some of the comments defending the clubs decision are more appropriate for the former than the latter: it does not help achieve the club’s goals.

One of the main issues with getting going-places experience is clubs are not set up for it and few people do it. As a consequence it is difficult to learn, other than by reading trip reports at places like this

The main resulting hazard is that then it is difficult to know what you don’t know. Then you don’t factor it into your decision making until it finds you. You may then be lucky or wise or perhaps suffer tougher consequences. It cannot be expected that you know everything before embarking on a trip, but there should be some key concepts and tools beyond the school to get familiar with in order to protect you from the worst ones.

Good for you Sebastian since, other than some more icing awareness, you know quite a few of those by now through that trip alone!. THis is more than a lot of PPL’s with your hourly experience can say. So hats’ off to you.

The only simple advise I would add for all of us (including myself) is to team up with others for joint flying experience. Fly with someone more travel-experienced and share the costs, so that more experiences can be enjoyed sooner and safer at lesser cost. I wish clubs did this more and I use all opportunities I can to invite other pilots to fly with us. With a humble, critical mind like yours, it is always easy to learn from one another.

Again, well done and let me know if you come to Mallorca!

LESB, Spain

The issue of DR400 nosewheel steering loss on landing, never occurred in the 400hrs I flew mine.
There may be some difference by having a 180hp (possibly heavier engine?) vs one of the small engine variants
However it will definitely occur with too much pressure in the nosewheel oleo.
If it’s regularly happening when ground handling and hangaring, it is more likely to happen in a landing. Definitely time to review that oleo.
Our maintenance guys knew it so I learned early on.
I once landed on a huge runway with massive crossword. At the time there was the option to return to base but the runway was long enough to fly along waiting for the right moment for touchdown.
Touchdown was actually fine (in a very tiny lull) but the residual wind, while taxing, was so strong that I was convinced I had a puncture. When I got off the runway I had to get out and check because I still had 1/2 mile to taxi.

United Kingdom

The club was probably following you on FR24, watching the weather and discussing it in their private Whatsapp group: what the hell is this guy doing.

Bobo wrote:

Not sure if it is a match with the IR then? As I see it IFR flying is just like VFR flying but you trade in VFR safety margins for extra training and equipment.

I like the predictability of IFR flying. With VFR you never know if you will get clearance to enter controlled airspace, weather becomes a big uncertainty, etc.
I have been stuck many times at airports where I could not depart VFR while IFR it would have been a non-event.

I don’t recall that I ever had to divert because of WX on a IFR flight. VFR I usually booked a hotel only after landing because you would never know upfront if you would make it

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