Vortex Ring State (Settling with Power)

Purpose: To demonstrate the proper recovery technique in the event of entering Vortex Ring State, as the result of operating at low airspeed, at moderate to high power settings, and a high rate of descent.

Note: Prior to performing this maneuver, pilot(s) should become familiar with Safety Notice SN-22.

More on Vortex Ring State

Cyclic: Pitch Attitude/Airspeed; Ground Track; Rate of Closure
Collective: Rate of Descent; Angle of Approach
Pedals Trim (Above 50 AGL); Heading (Below 50 ft AGL)


Settling with power is most dangerous when it happens at lower altitudes.  The most common flight condition is during a steep approach with a tailwind.

Note: This maneuver will be demonstrated at a minimum altitude of 1500 feet AGL.

  • Clear the area.
  • Apply smooth aft cyclic until airspeed approaches ETL, maintaining altitude and heading.
  • Bring the aircraft into an out of ground effect hover.
  • The aircraft will begin to shudder and have “sluggish” control movements.
  • Application of additional increased collective will increase vibration and sink rate.
  • To recover, simultaneously reduce collective pitch and apply forward cyclic.
  • At the first indication of airspeed, begin to slowly increase collective to achieve power that will arrest the descent and a 60 KIAS pitch attitude.
  • Recovery must be made prior to passing through 1000 feet AGL.

Performance Standards:

The pilot must have a thorough understanding of, and recognize and announce the onset of settling with power.  Following recognition the recovery should be completed prior to 1000′ AGL.

Common Errors

  1. Failure to recognize the conditions conducive to the development of settling with power.
  2. Failure to detect first indications.
  3. Improper use of controls during recovery.
Safety Considerations

  1. Positive exchange of controls
  2. Guard controls in the event the student applies abrupt control inputs
  3. Watch surrounding area.  Special attention to fixed wing traffic
  4. Be aware of descent rate.  Do not let it excessively build
  5. Rapidly raising collective during the recovery can droop engine/ rotor RPMs.