Single engine aircraft (C182) not wanting to enter a stall

Philippe Leybaert
  • Single engine aircraft (C182) not wanting to enter a stall Philippe Leybaert

    When I took delivery of a new Cessna 182T last year, I did a test flight for certification purposes. During the test flight we had to perform a power off stall but that didn't go as planned as it was simply impossible to stall. What happened is this: when the airspeed dropped well below the power off stall speed we simply started to sink slowly with a nose-high attitude at about 35 KIAS. This "mushing" went on for what seemed ages before I eventually applied power and pushed the nose down to gain airspeed again. We tried it again after that and the same thing happened. I had an instructor with me who has thousands of hours in a C172 and he had never experienced something like this before.

    The odd thing is that this only happened during that flight. During later flights this didn't occur anymore.

    There was a passenger in the back seat, fuel tanks only half full so the CG was more aft than usual, but well within limits

    Ever since that flight I've wondered:

    • What could cause this to happen? (My guess is it is CG related)

    And most importantly:

    • If I would have continued this "mushing" flight, would it be possible to have entered a flat spin or a simple "drop out of the sky" like the infamous Air France 447?

  • I think this is more common than you might think in a C182. The 182 is much more nose-heavy than a 172 (which is particularly noticeable in the flare) and this seems to limit the amount of upward pitch authority the elevator has at low speeds. The only stalls I've done in a 182 are much as you described - you can hold full back-elevator and you just sort of sit there sinking.

    Spinning could be an issue if it becomes uncoordinated, but a 182 is a very stable airplane and unlikely to enter a flat spin unless the CG is beyond the aft limit or severely uncoordinated. Perhaps someone else can weigh in further on that possibility, though.

  • A stall occurs based on angle of attack, not speed. If the plane tends to nose over near stall speed, the angle of attack may not increase enough for a full stall, even though the plane is losing altitude. If you want to perform a low speed stall in the plane, keep pulling the stick back to maintain altitude or climb slightly as the power is eased off. Use the rudder to keep the wings level to reduce the likelihood of a spin.

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