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Aircraft Weight and Balance

There are many factors that lead to safe and efficient operation of an
aircraft. Among these is proper Weight and Balance control.
The weight limits are critical to flight safety. Operating above the
maximum weight limit compromises the structural integrity of the aircraft.
Operation with the center of gravity out of the approved limits will result
in control difficulty.
Weight and Balance system consists of three elements:
◦ The weighing of the aircraft
◦ Maintaining of the W&B records
◦ Proper loading of the aircraft.
Any inaccuracies in any of those elements defeats the purpose of the
The final loading calculations will be meaningless if the aircraft was
improperly weighed or if the W&B records contain errors.
The responsibility for proper weight and balance control begins
with the manufacturer (designers) but extends to the AME and
pilots to ensure the aircraft is safe and fit for flight.
This course will cover 4 sections:
Force and levers.
Calculations (fixed wing and helicopter)
There will be a workbook to help with practical exercises. You must bring it to every class.
Have a calculator available for every class.
Jeppsen general textbook is required. AC43.13
There will be one test at the end of the lessons. Test weight is 30%.
Force and Levers
Is the energy applied to an object that attempts to cause the
object to change its direction, speed or motion.
Simply defined as a push or pull exerted on an object.
Many practical machines can use a Mechanical Advantage to
change the amount of force required to move an object.
Some simple mechanical devices are:
◦ The lever
◦ Inclined plane
◦ Pulley and gears
Mechanical Advantage is calculated by dividing the weight
or resistance(R) of an object by the effort(E)

Mechanical Advantage= R/E

A mechanical advantage of 4 indicates for every 1 pound of
force applied, you are able to move 4 lbs. of resistance.
When using a pulley system, if I have a 200lbs weight and I
want to pull it using a 100 lb. pull what is the mechanical
Resistance is 200. Effort is 100 so 200/100= 2
A person is pushing with a force of 30 lbs. on a barrel that weights
180lbs. What is the mechanical advantage?
180 divided by 30 = 6
The most familiar and simplest machine is the Lever.
The lever is a device used to gain a mechanical advantage.
A Seesaw is a familiar example of a lever in which one weight
balance the other. The weight on one end will rotate the board
clockwise while the weight at the other end will rotate the
board counterclockwise.
Each weight produces a Moment or turning force. The moment
of an object is calculated by multiplying the objects weight by
the distance the object is from its balance point of Fulcrum.
Fulcrum- A point on which a lever is supported, balanced or
about which it turns.
There are 3 basic parts in a lever:
◦ The Fulcrum
◦ The Force or Effort
◦ The Resistance
A lever is balanced when the algebraic sum of the moment
is ZERO.
E.g. 10 lb. weight on each end. Both at 6 feet from the
Left weight, 10 x -6= -60
Right weight 10 x 6= 60
Sum of the moments equals zero so the seesaw is balanced.
First Class levers
In a First Class Lever the fulcrum is located between the
effort and the resistance (a seesaw)
The amount of weight and the distance can be varied to suit
its needs.
The formula used for calculating the effort or resistance
required is:
L= Length of effort arm
I= Length of resistance arm
R= Resistance
E= Effort force
Ref. 2-12
First Class Lever
24 = 20
12 E

Second Class levers
The second class lever has the fulcrum at one end and the
effort is applied to the other end.
The resistance is somewhere between these two points.
A Wheelbarrow is a good example of a second class lever.
We use the same formula to calculate the effort.
Second Class Lever

Figure 2-10. Using the second-class lever

illustrated, 50 pounds of effort is required to lift
200 pounds of resistance.
Third Class Levers
A third class lever has the fulcrum at one end and the
resistance or weight at the other end. The effort applied is
somewhere in between these points.
In aviation, a third class lever is used to move a resistance a
greater distance than the effort applied.
A good example of this lever is the retract mechanism of a
landing gear assembly.
Figure 2-12. To raise a 200-pound wheel, 1,600
pounds of effort are required. However, the
ratio of movement between the point where
effort is applied and the resistance is 1:8. This
means the effort moves six inches to raise the
wheel four feet.
Q. What type of lever is an aircraft?
A. First Class Lever.

Q. What is the Mechanical Advantage formula?

A. Resistance (weight) divided by Effort