Monday, May 18, 2009

Flying out of trim

We were coming back from France on a 767. I was seated by the window (of course) just aft of the left wing. My attention was drawn to the various moving wing surfaces during the various phases of the flight. Slats on the front, outboard and inboard ailerons and the spoilers. As I was seated next to the inboard ailerons, I was puzzeled as to why they were deflected, left down 10 and the right (yes, I went to look) up 10 degrees. They should have been flush with the wing. I started thinking that if they were not needed as in a turn, then they were creating unneeded drag. Increased drag means that you burn more fuel and ya de dah. As I didn't want us to have to go swimming, I decided to share my concerns with the flight crew. It took several conversations with a steward to get to talk with the Captain, who was none too pleased to see me up in the first class cabin area. Sitting up there incidentally was Lance Armstrong coming back from another championship ride. I shared my observation about the inboard ailerons with the Captain. He thanked me politely, then turned on his heels and I returned to my seat. Within 30 seconds after I sat down I saw the ailerons return to a neutral, in-line position.

Yes, I felt a bit foolish over my concern, but the point had been made. Flying out of trim is not in your best interest.