Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Aerospace, Physics, and Space Sciences

First Advisor

Brian A. Kish

Second Advisor

Stephen K. Cusick

Third Advisor

Ralph D. Kimberlin

Fourth Advisor

Daniel Batcheldor


The high number of Loss of Control and Controlled Flight into Terrain Accidents in General Aviation (GA) suggests that there is a lack of understanding and recognition of low energy states by pilots of GA aircraft. As a result there is a desire to implement an energy management system in GA aircraft to alert the pilot of low energy conditions and to give the required corrective action to get to a desired energy state. This requires an understanding of the performance capabilities of GA aircraft in terms of their ability to change their energy state. The ability to change the energy state of the aircraft comes from specific excess power, Ps. Five representative GA aircraft were tested to develop an understanding of the ability of general aviation aircraft to change their energy state. Level accelerations were performed and used to determine Ps for the aircraft. The objectives of the test program were to generate Ps curves for each aircraft, compare the curves, and determine any common features. The results of the experiment showed that all aircraft had best rate of climb speeds in the neighborhood of 90 kts and most aircraft had good climb performance of at least 200 ft/min, at the test density altitude of approximately 4000 ft, within an airspeed range of ±20 kts form 90 kts, 70 kts to 110 kts. The data collected is valuable for the development of GA energy state warning systems and energy state management systems that will contribute to an increase in GA safety.


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