Maneuvering Differences

Hello pilots.

I am almost done with my PPL, and one thing I have noticed throughout my entire time flying is that landing and maneuvering a Cessna can be a little tough, especially in moderate winds.

(excluding extreme conditions) Is maneuvering a bigger plane like a CRJ or commercial jet easier? Are landings always smooth? Is the plane more stable because it is bigger?

I guess what I’m trying to ask is, for commercial pilots, is flying a commercial jet so basic that it just becomes a regular routine of steps?




The short answer is yes, bigger is better (or at least easier). Quick question, can you push your Cessna into a hanger? Do you think you could push an A330 (or even a CRJ) into a hanger? It’s basic physics my friend.

noun: momentum; plural noun: momenta
(Physics) the quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity.

noun: inertia
(Physics) a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

A larger, heavier and faster plane will have both, greater momentum and inertia meaning it’ll a) have a greater tendency to go where it wants to go and b) require more force to “upset” it’s path. Yes it gets easier…for most people :wink:


I know I can’t push a CRJ, but this guy pulled a 767 :flushed:


If you want to get technical, commercial jets are actually less stable and less maneuverable.

Stability is defined by an aircraft’s ability to return to its original attitude after being disturbed.

Maneuverability is defined by an aircraft’s ability to change its flight path.

Because of this, GA aircraft are relatively more stable and more maneuverable than commercial jets.

But, as Adam said, commercial jets are heavier. So, more force is required to disturb the aircraft’s attitude and flight path which creates an illusion that it’s more stable. Plus, commercial jets can also perform higher level functions like yaw damping, turn coordination, and elevator thrust compensation. These higher level functions make the airplane smoother and more comfortable for all on board.

Landing a GA aircraft is very difficult, no matter how good you are. I know I’m not your instructor. So, take this with a grain of salt. When landing in gusty conditions, focus on the aircraft’s flight path. Train yourself to resist overcorrecting. Remember, the Cessna’s high wing and forward CG design makes it very stable. It wants to return to its original orientation after being disturbed. I used to tell my students to “ride the waves,” on final. That seemed to help them accept all of the little bumps and gusts that they felt. I noticed that they started to loosen their grip, and allow the aircraft take its destined flight path to the runway. Pilot input and corrections are still required, of course.

Once they could relax on final, it was the flare that everyone needed most practice with. The flare is a combination of skill, understanding, art and luck. Keep at it. Don’t get discouraged. It’s only a matter of time until it clicks.




I find that the bigger the airplane is, the easier it is to fly, including cross winds and gusty winds. That being said, by no means is every landing smooth. Big airplanes weigh a lot, it can be difficult to get a really smooth landing.

An extra tool that we have in large airplanes is a radar altimeter that orally announces the height of the main gear above the ground. On our airplanes, the countdown begins at fifty feet and announces every ten feet. So it says out loud: “fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, ten”. This helps us know how far above the runway the wheels are and thus when we need to begin arresting our descent rate.

After thousands of hours, it does become routine, but I still think about it every time I land.


Thank you all for the information. Also, thanks for the advice on landings!

Hi friends…

What is the maximum level of mathematics in the way of becoming a pilot??



If you can do basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) you’ll be fine.


I appreciate Adam.