Trim - Aerodynamic Factors

The term trim refers to employing adjustable aerodynamic devices on the aircraft to adjust forces so the pilot does not have to manually hold pressure on the controls. One means is to employ trim tabs. A trim tab is a small, adjustable hinged surface, located on the trailing edge of the elevator, aileron, or rudder control surfaces. (Some aircraft use adjustable stabilizers instead of trim tabs for pitch trim.) Trimming is accomplished by deflecting the tab in the direction opposite to that in which the primary control surface must be held. The force of the airflow striking the tab causes the main control surface to be deflected to a position that corrects the unbalanced condition of the aircraft.

Because the trim tabs use airflow to function, trim is a function of speed. Any change in speed results in the need to re-trim the aircraft. An aircraft properly trimmed in pitch seeks to return to the original speed before the change. It is very important for instrument pilots to keep the aircraft in constant trim. This reduces the pilot’s workload significantly, allowing attention to other duties without compromising aircraft control.