Updated: Jan 6

An improperly loaded aircraft can lead to dangerous situations. Pilots must ensure their Center of Gravity (CG) falls within the allowable limits of the aircraft. What can happen if the aircraft is loaded nose or tail heavy?

Here's what you need to know.


If an aircraft is loaded with a forward CG (more nose heavy) the following effects can be experienced.

1 - Longer Takeoff Roll

Because the weight is concentrated forward in the aircraft, it will need to gain more airspeed before it is able to reach it's liftoff speed.

2 - Longer Landing Roll

The forward weight will created momentum in pulling the aircraft down the runway. Also, there won't be as much weight over the main wheel so braking will be less effective.

3 - Higher Stall Speed

The aircraft will stall at a higher airspeed due to "wing loading." The wings will seem to be carrying more weight and will need to fly at a higher airspeed to produce enough lift to carry the additional feel of weight.

4 - Easier Stall Recovery

The forward CG will assist the aircraft in recovering from a stall if one is entered.

5 - Decreased Cruise Speed

Because the CG is forward, the pilot will need to trim the aircraft "nose up" to maintain altitude at cruise. The deflected trim tab will cause drag with the relative airflow.


If the aircraft is loaded with an aft CG (more tail heavy) the following effects may be experienced.

1 - Lower Stall Speed

With the CG aft, the aircraft will have a lower stall speed due to decreased wing loading.

2 - Reduced Elevator Authority

The aft CG will cause the elevator and rudder to be less effective. This is because the arm from the CG to the elevator and rudder is shorter.

3 - More Difficult Stall Recovery

Because weight is concentrated toward the tail of the aircraft, it will be more difficult to lower the Angle of Attack in order to properly recover from a stalled condition.

4 - Faster Cruising Speed

The aft CG will not cause the trim tab on the elevator to be deflected as far. This means less drag is created during cruise and leads to a faster cruising speed.

Understanding Center of Gravity Limits and applying them correctly when loading your aircraft will prevent accidents such as the one seen at this video link >

Author - Nate Hodell

CFI/CFII/MEI/ATP - Creator of wifiCFI - Owner of Axiom Aviation Flight School.

This information is included in the Weight and Balance Lessons on wifiCFI. Sign up today to watch videos, listen to podcasts, take lesson quizzes, join live webinars, print lesson quicktakes, and more by clicking this link >

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