Weight and Balance

  • Aviation Club » Weight and Balance

     

     
       
     

    Aircraft engineers set design limits on airplanes before they leave the factory, and these specifications tell the pilot how much weight the aircraft can handle - whether that weight is represented by people, cargo, or fuel.  The weight of the aircraft will determine how much runway will be needed for takeoff or landing.

    Not only does the total weight have to be less than certain limits, it can't be in the wrong place either.  Pilots also have to calculate the center of gravity of an aircraft to make sure it's within certain limits.  The center of gravity is typically aft (or behind) the center of lift, which is where the total lift created by the wings is concentrated.  If all the cargo of an airplane is loaded in the back, it may move the center of gravity too far aft and the plane will be very difficult to control.  If the cargo is too far forward, and the center of gravity is too far forward, the same can be true.

    Pilots need to know the design limits of their aircraft and how to calculate the center of gravity based on where they have placed the load in the plane.