All About Turn and Slip Indicators

Aircraft instruments are crucial to safe flight operations, ensuring that pilots are able to consistently monitor various flight conditions and characteristics that are needed for proper operations. The turn and slip indicator in particular is an instrument that combines the turn indicator and slip indicator into one single device. The turn indicator is useful for discerning the rate of change in regard to the aircraft’s heading, while the slip indicator is used to determine if the aircraft is in coordinated flight. As both readings are quite useful for pilots during flight operations, it is important that one understands how they garner data and what their readings mean.

The turn indicator is a gyroscopic flight instrument, and it operates on the principle of precession. When the aircraft begins to yaw, the gyro will face a torque force on its vertical axis which will result in a gyro procession on the gimbal’s axis. With the use of a calibration spring, the gyro is restrained to the rotation plane. Upon reaching a certain degree of roll, the pointer of the instrument will deflect and match with one of the two marks on the dial to indicate the rate of turn. The hash marks on the dial will indicate the standard rate of turn, that of which is two minutes per 360 degrees of turn. As certain aircraft may differ in their turning capabilities, indicators will denote their sensitivity.

The slip indicator comes in the form of an inclinometer which determines coordinated flight. For the construction of an inclinometer, a curved glass tube serves to seal a ball and liquids that act as a damping medium. As a simplistic method of determining coordinated flight, the ball will be affected by forces of gravity and the aircraft’s centripetal acceleration throughout the flight. If the aircraft begins to slip or skid, the ball will move and make an indication. Generally, the aircraft is slipping while the ball falls to the inside of the turn, while skidding is when the ball is on the outside of the turn. In some instances, a yaw string may be used in lieu of a slip indicator or inclinometer in order to garner a rudimentary indication of balance. 

The turn coordinator serves as an overhauled turn and slip indicator, and its difference may be found in the display and axis on which the gimbal is mounted. With the turn coordinator, the gimbal is pitched upwards by 30 degrees from the transverse axis. With such a design, the instrument can detect roll and yaw. This is very beneficial as it permits quicker readings in order to display a change on the instrument face. While the turn coordinator serves as a further development of the turn and slip indicator instrument, it can also be used as a performance instrument in instances such as when the attitude indicator fails. If there is a turn coordinator instrument present within an aircraft, it is important that the pilot understands that the instrument displays both roll rates and turn rates.

With the turn and slip indicator or turn coordinator, pilots can better manage their heading and turn rates for the benefit of flight operations. If you find yourself in need of aircraft flight instrument parts or other aircraft components, look no further than Fulfillment 3Sixty. Fulfillment 3Sxity is a premier online distributor of aircraft parts where customers can receive competitive pricing and lead-times on over 2 billion new, used, and obsolete items that we offer. As you explore our offered components, you may request a quote at any time through the submission of an Instant RFQ form. Once we have received your request, a dedicated account manager will reach out to you in 15 minutes or less with a personalized quote based on your individual needs.


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March 11, 2021

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