Every pilot who has flown numerous types of airplanes has noted that each airplane handles somewhat differently - that is, each resists or responds to control pressures in its own way. A training type airplane is quick to respond to control applications, while a transport airplane usually feels heavy on the controls and responds to control pressures more slowly. These features can be designed into an airplane to facilitate the particular purpose the airplane is to fulfill by considering certain stability and maneuvering requirements. In the following discussion it is intended to summarize the more important aspects of an airplane's stability; its maneuvering and controllability qualities; how they are analyzed; and their relationship to various flight conditions. In brief, the basic differences between stability, maneuverability, and controllability are as follows:
1. Stability. The inherent quality of an airplane to correct for conditions that may disturb its equilibrium, and to return or to continue on the original flightpath. It is primarily an airplane design characteristic.
2. Maneuverability. The quality of an airplane that permits it to be maneuvered easily and to withstand the stresses imposed by maneuvers. It is governed by the airplane's weight, inertia, size and location of flight controls, structural strength, and powerplant. It too is an airplane design characteristic.
3. Controllability. The capability of
an airplane to respond to the pilot's control, especially with regard to
flightpath and attitude. It is the quality of the airplane's response to
the pilot's control application when maneuvering the airplane, regardless
of its stability characteristics.