YD rant

The Yaw Damper on the Q400 is more useless than a screen door on a submarine. AP is INOP if the YD is INOP when in reality that YD switch on the FGC is connected to void. Keeping coordinated flight? HA! At every minuscule change of power, my virtual hand goes automatically to that beloved rudder trim. I always feel bad for the virtual PAX sitting on the back... it must be a fun ride.

I love the Q, even with that "YD".


  • edited September 2021

    It performs exactly the way that the engineers intended, and surprisingly enough it does do something. I've got about 3000 hours on Dash 8 classics and I always thought that the yaw damper was worthless until the day that I had it MEL'd. I could not believe the difference... the nose was all over the place with the yaw damper MEL'd. Seriously felt bad for the people sitting in the last row. Every bump, wind gust, someone looked the wrong way at the plane, the nose was hunting. I attribute it to the large vertical stablizer...

    It led me to do some research, which is 5 years old now and my brain is fuzzy so forgive me if I get the details wrong. So basically, the Dash has a passive yaw damper versus an active yaw damper. The yaw dampers on aircraft that I flew prior to the Dash were all active (King Air 200/350, Pilatus, ERJ-145 after the Dash). They essentially lock the pilot out of the rudder pedals. You can press as hard as you want, but the pedals won't move because the yaw damper is engaged. It only takes one landing to forget to turn the yaw damper off before you never do it again! ...hopefully you have a quick thumb to disengage the yaw damp with the big red button on the yoke. Anyway, so with an active yaw damper you still have to trim the rudder (King Air experience talking) but it is not nearly as much as the Dash.

    So with the passive yaw damper, like the Dash has, it still nulls out yaws caused by wind/turbulence but it largely leaves the rudder input up to the pilot. The rudder also isn't locked out by the yaw damper, hence the difference of procedures from an active yaw damper to a passive YD... In the Dash the YD is selected on before taxi and remains on throughout the flight until it is turned off after landing. In things with an active YD, it should remain off until after takeoff and turned off again before landing.

    Yes, the immense amount of trimming that takes place when flying the Dash is a bit cumbersome but it honestly makes you a better pilot and teaches you to use your feet! I will never be as sharp as I was when I was flying the Dash full time, multiple legs and landings per day. We had a 38 knot crosswind limit if I remember right, back then I wouldn't even have a second thought about those winds.

    Something we used to do when we were feeling lazy on descents... lead your power reductions with the left power lever. Requires less trimming because the left turning tendency is being countered by the right engine.

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