Myths of Manoeuvring Speed

“It turns out that our early training on maneuvering speed was badly over-simplified. The truth is that you can’t move all the controls to the stop and it isn’t the same as gust penetration speed. Here’s the unvarnished truth about Va.”

Avweb recently started this topic at

I explained this further with three articles in the first three volumes of the Australian Aerobatic Club’s Vitamin G magazine.

You may have been told something like the definition quoted in Avweb’s article:

“The maximum speed at which the limit load can be imposed (either by gusts or full deflection of the control surfaces) without causing structural damage.”

Another one that I have seen is:

“Maneuvering Speed is the maximum speed at which you may use abrupt control travel.”

Aerobatic pilots should be familiar with the definition provided by CASA in their CAAP 155-1, Aerobatics, which states:

“Manoeuvring speed (VA) is the speed above which full deflection of the elevator control will exceed aircraft structural limitations. Below VA the aircraft will stall before structural limits can be exceeded.”

All are woefully inadequate definitions of VA and it is particularly disappointing to see that CASA’s advice to aerobatic pilots is also inadequate.

The original articles are:

The fourth and final article is provided here:

Ozaeros Maneuvring Speed Myths Part 4

The correct definition is provided by the FAA Special Airwothiness Information Bulletin CE-11-17:

“The Design Maneuvering Speed (VA) is the speed below which you can move a single flight control, one time, to its full deflection, for one axis of airplane rotation only (pitch, roll or yaw), in smooth air, without risk of damage to the airplane.”

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