Rapid Deceleration or Quick Stop

in Advanced Flight Maneuvers

This maneuver is used to decelerate from forward flight to a hover. It is often used to abort takeoffs, to stop if something blocks the helicopter flightpath, or simply to terminate an air taxi maneuver, as mentioned in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). A quick stop is usually practiced on a runway, taxiway, or over a large grassy area away from other traffic or obstacles.


The maneuver requires a high degree of coordination of all controls. It is practiced at an altitude that permits a safe clearance between the tail rotor and the surface throughout the maneuver, especially at the point where the pitch attitude is highest. The altitude at completion should be no higher than the maximum safe hovering altitude prescribed by that particular helicopter’s manufacturer. In selecting an altitude at which to begin the maneuver, take into account the overall length of the helicopter and its height-velocity diagram. Even though the maneuver is called a rapid deceleration or quick stop, it is performed slowly and smoothly with the primary emphasis on coordination.

During training, always perform this maneuver into the wind [Figure 10-3, position 1]. After leveling off at an altitude between 25 and 40 feet, depending upon the manufacturer’s recommendations, accelerate to the desired entry speed, which is approximately 45 knots for most training helicopters (position 2). The altitude chosen should be high enough to avoid danger to the tail rotor during the flare, but low enough to stay out of the hazardous areas of that helicopter’s heightvelocity diagram throughout the maneuver. In addition, this altitude should be low enough that the helicopter can be brought to a hover during the recovery.

Figure 10-3. Rapid deceleration or quick stop.

Figure 10-3. Rapid deceleration or quick stop.

At position 3, initiate the deceleration by applying aft cyclic to reduce forward groundspeed. Simultaneously, lower the collective, as necessary, to counteract any climbing tendency. The timing must be exact. If too little collective is taken out for the amount of aft cyclic applied, the helicopter climbs. If too much downward collective is applied, the helicopter will descend. A rapid application of aft cyclic requires an equally rapid application of down collective. As collective pitch is lowered, apply proper antitorque pedal pressure to maintain heading, and adjust the throttle to maintain rpm. The G loading on the rotor system depends on the pitch-up attitude. If the attitude is too high, the rotor system may stall and cause the helicopter to impact the surface.

After attaining the desired speed (position 4), initiate the recovery by lowering the nose and allowing the helicopter to descend to a normal hovering altitude in level flight and zero groundspeed (position 5). During the recovery, increase collective pitch, as necessary, to stop the helicopter at normal hovering altitude, adjust the throttle to maintain rpm, and apply proper antitorque pedal pressure, as necessary, to maintain heading. During the maneuver, visualize rotating around the tail rotor until a normal hovering altitude is reached.

Common Errors

  • Initiating the maneuver by lowering the collective without aft cyclic pressure to maintain altitude.
  • Initially applying aft cyclic stick too rapidly, causing the helicopter to balloon (climb).
  • Failing to effectively control the rate of deceleration to accomplish the desired results.
  • Allowing the helicopter to stop forward motion in a tail-low attitude.
  • Failing to maintain proper rotor rpm.
  • Waiting too long to apply collective pitch (power) during the recovery, resulting in excessive manifold pressure or an overtorque situation when collective pitch is applied rapidly.
  • Failing to maintain a safe clearance over the terrain.
  • Using antitorque pedals improperly, resulting in erratic heading changes.
  • Using an excessively nose-high attitude.
51l0aN891BL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_Are you ready to start your journey learning to fly helicopters? Learning to Fly Helicopters, Second Edition, provides details on the technical and practical aspects of rotarywing flight. Written in a conversational style, the book demystifies the art and science of helicopter flying.

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