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Home > Fear of Flying > Can the wings break during very sharp turns?
Can the wings break during very sharp turns?
Flying - Fear of Flying
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 04:04

Hi Captain Lim,

Happy New Year! I really like your website as my sister is afraid of flying and it really helped her to calm down.

I live in NYC and often fly to New Delhi non-stop on 777-200ER (Continental Airlines) and love that plane.

But often I fly to some small regional airports in the US on Embraer ERJ 145 Family of aircraft. I get very nervous when this small plane makes very sharp turns (almost 60 degrees) especially when there are high winds or turbulence.

Is it safe to make very sharp turns in small planes like RJ145? Can the plane flip upside down with these kinds of turns and is there a safety mechanism which prevents turning more than certain degrees? Can the wings break under very sharp turns?

Thank you for your understanding.

Regards,

Ali


Embraer ERJ 145
Hi Ali,

Under normal circumstances, it is not possible for a plane to make very sharp turns beyond the design limits when they are installed with the EGPWS or enhanced ground proximity warning system. This system will alert the pilot to take remedial actions to prevent the plane from banking more than certain degrees. Hence they are unlikely to flip upside down!

As long as the plane flies below the design limits, the wings will not break. For instance, on the Boeing 777, they tested the strength and structure of its wings during the developing stages. Of course they broke only after the design limit was breached – that is when the wings were bent more than 24 feet from the tip! It is extremely remote for a plane to reach that kind of stress limit.

Another example - on an Airbus plane, it has a Bank Angle Protection function: The bank angle cannot go beyond 67 degrees. If the pilot releases the flight control (sidestick) above 33 degrees bank angle, the aircraft goes back to 33 degrees. See second video bottom.

Watch the first video below. Amongst the many warnings given by the GPWS, one of them is “Bank Angle!”


GPWS – Ground Proximity Warning System


Bank Angle Protection

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