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Aircraft Performance

Problems in Aircraft Performance


Aircraft Performance as a subject is concerned with
Maximum range Maximum speed Maximum endurance Best rate of climb Minimum takeoff distance Minimum turn radius etc.

To estimate performance, we need to know how aerodynamic forces and propulsive forces vary with aircraft velocity.

Aircraft in Steady, Level Flight


For an aircraft to be in steady (V = constant), level flight, the forces must balance (no accelerations).

Recall that (neglecting compressibility effects)

Consider the DC-10 aircraft (Problem 4 from Assignment 5).

Information we may want from this graph:


What is the maximum speed of this aircraft at 35,000 ft? What is the minimum speed of this aircraft at 35,000 ft? At what speed should the DC-10 fly for maximum range? At what speed should the DC-10 fly for maximum endurance? To answer these, we must know how the DC-10 engine performs at 35,000 ft.

DC-10 Powerplant
General Electric CF6-6 High-Bypass Ratio Turbofan Static Thrust at Sea Level: 40,000 lbs Max Continuous Static Thrust at Sea Level: 32,000 lbs Max Continuous Thrust at 35,000 ft: 9,600 lbs
*We will simplify engine performance by assuming thrust does

not vary with Mach number. In general, thrust decreases as Mach number increases, especially at low altitude.

What is the aircrafts maximum speed at 35,000 ft?


Find where Tavail = D Hard to tell from the figure. By extrapolation, we estimate approximately 650 kts.

What is the aircrafts minimum speed at 35,000 ft?


About 250 kts according to the figure.

Must consider stalling speed:

Using an estimated CLmax = 1.5, Vstall = 436 ft/s or 258 kts.

Effect of Compressibility Drag

We see that the actual maximum cruising speed at 35,000 ft is approximately 506 kts ( = 855 ft/s = Mach 0.88). Now we concern ourselves with how long can the aircraft stay in the air (endurance)? how far can the aircraft fly (range)?

Further properties of the turbofan engine


Define the specific fuel consumption c = weight of fuel burned/unit of thrust/time Units of sfc are either
lbs fuel / lb thrust / hr, or N fuel / N thrust / hr

Strictly speaking, the sfc is a function of throttle setting. We will assume it is a constant (to simplify the calculations). The CF6-6D has c 0.6 lb/lb/hr Newer engines have lower values for sfc. The fuel flow is given by

Turbofan Aircraft Endurance


Let WI be the weight at the start of cruise and W0 be the weight at the end of cruise then WI - W0 is the fuel weight, Wf. In steady, level flight, T = D, but the drag, and hence the thrust, changes as the weight decreases (as fuel is burned). If the fuel flow (cT) remained constant, we could just divide to get the total time in hours: (WI - W0 )/ cT However, since the fuel flow does not remain constant, we have to integrate to get the expression for endurance.

Turbofan Aircraft Endurance, cont.


Using standard units, the expression for endurance is in hours:

Note the following:


Arriving at this expression required that CL/ CD remains constant throughout the flight The speed for maximum endurance occurs at minimum drag. Thus the speed for maximum endurance will change throughout the flight. The speed for minimum drag is the same as the speed for maximum CL/ CD .

Example Problem
Estimate the maximum endurance of the DC-10 aircraft.
C = 0.6 lb fuel / lb thrust / hr WI = 500,000 lb W0 = 370,000 lb

You may assume that the L / D remains constant throughout the flight.

Turbofan Aircraft Range


The range is the distance traveled on a tank of fuel. To find the range, need to know the specific range:

Note that a unit conversion must be done to get SR in consistent units. A typical unit for SR is Nmi / lb fuel:

If SR remained constant, we could multiply SR by Wf to get total range in Nmi

Turbofan Aircraft Range, cont.


SR does not remain constant because the thrust required changes as the weight changes (as fuel is burned). Therefore, we must integrate to account for the change in weight:

This is called the Breguet Range Equation for jets. It assumes that V and L/D are constant throughout the flight. (Altitude must change.) Note that the formula in the book assumes that the altitude is constant throughout the flight. Note that the speed for best range occurs where V L/D is maximized.

Example Problem
A DC-10 is begins its cruise at 35,000 feet. It weighs 500,000 lbs at the beginning of cruise and 370,000 lbs at the end of cruise.
Find the speed for best range for these starting conditions. Find the maximum range of the aircraft. How much time does it take to fly the maximum range?

Speed for minimum D

Speed for minimum D/V

tan 1

D V