The Aileron Roll
is an aerobatic maneuver
in which the aircraft does a full, 360 degree, revolution about its longitudinal axis. When executed properly, there is no appreciable change in altitude and the aircraft exits the maneuver on the same heading as it entered. This is commonly one of the first maneuvers taught in basic aerobatics courses.
The aileron roll is commonly executed through the application of full aileron
in one direction. In many general aviation
and aerobatic training aircraft, prior to applying aileron input, the pilot must begin the maneuver by trading altitude for airspeed (e.g. diving), then pitching the aircraft up significantly (20 or 30 degrees). This helps to minimize altitude loss and ensure that the aircraft will have sufficient control authority to complete the maneuver. Further complicating the maneuver is the need to apply significant rudder
to avoid falling out of coordinated flight and possibly entering a spin
The aileron roll is commonly used in air shows and aerial combat training. The use of the pure aileron roll in air combat is contentious, however many common maneuvers bear heavy dependence on the aileron roll. Examples of this are the Immelmann turn
, barrel roll
, and Split S
Test pilots commonly employ the aileron roll to evaluate an aircraft's turning characteristics (e.g. time to turn).