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A Simple, Correct Pedagogical Presentation of Airplane

Lateral-Directional Dynamics
Narayan Ananthkrishnan1
Independent Consultant, Mumbai 400076, INDIA
Nandan K. Sinha2
Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai 600036, INDIA

This paper offers a clean and correct pedagogical presentation of the theory of airplane
lateral-directional dynamics. In this work, the definition of the dynamic (rate) derivatives
has been corrected, distinct timescales corresponding to the standard lateral-directional
modes have been identified, and a multiple timescale procedure including static residuals has
been followed to derive new literal approximations to the modes. The lateral-directional
small-perturbation
equations
have
themselves been written without having
to first derive the complete 6-degree of
freedom equations of airplane motion.
New, physically meaningful results for
the Dutch roll and spiral mode
parameters are obtained and discussed.
This work complements the revised
presentation of airplane longitudinal
dynamics in a companion paper.

I. Introduction

N a companion paper (Ananthkrishnan and


Sinha1), we have described certain shortcomings
of the traditional approach and presentation of
aircraft flight dynamics and offered a simple, correct
pedagogical alternative to airplane longitudinal Figure 1. Angles in the directional plane.
dynamics. We now carry this forward and apply the
same principles to airplane lateral-directional
dynamics in this paper.
To summarize briefly: 1. Many of the concepts
in flight dynamics may be introduced in an easier and more accessible manner by first working with the equations of
airplane motion in the longitudinal plane alone. The derivation of the complete six degree of freedom equations may
be delayed to a later point in the sequence. 2. The use of dimensional aerodynamic derivatives may be avoided.
Instead, the aerodynamic forces may be written in terms of their non-dimensional coefficients, followed by the
appropriate non-dimensional derivatives from aerodynamic theory. 3. The dynamic (rate) derivatives as originally
defined by Bryan2 are faulty and need to be corrected. It is the difference between the body and wind axis rates that
is aerodynamically relevant, not the body axis rates alone. 4. The different timescales emerge naturally from the
dynamic equations and may be explicitly stated. The difference in order between the timescales can be used to
cleanly derive the small-perturbation approximations for the dynamic modes. 5. To obtain correct approximations to
the slow mode parameters, one must consider a static residual of the faster mode variable which then varies as per
the slow mode timescale. This can be easily done. 6. It is better to use a single concept of stability (dynamic
stability) whereby for a second-order linear dynamics, stability requires positive stiffness and positive damping. The
ad hoc concept of static stability based on derivatives such as Cm, Cn, and Cl is best discarded.
1
2

Independent Consultant, B-257, IIT Campus, Powai, Mumbai 400076, INDIA; Associate Fellow AIAA.
Associate Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Madras, Chennai 600036, INDIA; Member AIAA.
1
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Working along similar lines, we first define the various angles in the directional and lateral motions. Then we
write down the lateral-directional small-perturbation equations, identify the timescales, and present the aerodynamic
model. Subsequently, the small-perturbation equations are transformed into second-order form and literal
approximations to the modes are derived. Some comments are made on the results.

II. Directional and Lateral Angles and Rates


The directional plane is the one formed by the axes XBYB, as shown in Fig. 1. The ZB and ZE axes are
coincident, into the plane of the paper in Fig. 1. There are three angles of interest the body-axis yaw angle , the
heading angle formed by the wind axis (or the velocity vector) with the Earth-fixed axes XEYE, and the sideslip
angle between the wind (velocity vector) and body-fixed axes. From the point of view of the airplane, the relative
wind V* can be split into two components, V*cos along axis XB and V*sin along axis YB. When the component
V*sin shows a relative airflow coming over the right wing (i.e., from the direction of positive YB axis), then the
angle is positive. The sense of the sideslip angle shown in Fig. 1 is positive. Subject to motion purely in the
directional plane, these angles are related by = -.
Comparing the longitudinal and directional angles, we can make the following associations:
and are body-axis orientation
angles they show which way the
body axis, and hence the airplane
nose, is pointing relative to the Earth.
and are wind orientation angles
they show which way the airplane is
flying, or equivalently what is the
direction of the relative wind, relative
to the Earth.
and are the orientation angles of
the airplane relative to the wind, so
they decide the static aerodynamic
forces/moments on the airplane. Rate
of change of and creates the
dynamic forces/moments on the
airplane.
Despite the close correspondence between
the directional and longitudinal angles, the
directional dynamics is significantly different Figure 2. Lateral motion angles about the body and wind axes.
from motion in the longitudinal plane. This is
primarily due to the presence of the lift, a
powerful aerodynamic force that dominates
longitudinal flight dynamics. There is no
equivalent source of creating a large side force in the directional plane. Instead, the preferred method for
maneuvering out of the longitudinal plane, such as executing a turn, is to first bank to that side and let the lift
provide a component of force in the sideways direction. At the same time, the lift can create a moment imbalance in
longitudinal flight which requires another lifting surface such as the horizontal tail to provide trim; this issue is
absent in the directional plane. What this means is that the directional dynamics is a little less complicated due to the
absence of a significant source of side force like the lift, as long as the airplane is not banked. On the other hand,
there is another source of complication in the directional dynamics. This is because any directional motion usually
creates a lift asymmetry between the right and left wings. As a result, one of the wings will drop and the other will
rise almost always in any directional flight. This means that the airplane will also roll (lateral motion) along with a
directional motion. Conversely, a rolling motion will also usually cause a directional motion because the component
of gravity acting along the wing that has dropped in the roll will cause to airplane to sideslip in that direction. Hence,
the directional and lateral motions are inextricably linked and must be taken together. Studying one without the
other, which is often done in textbooks, is only of academic interest most conventional airplanes just do not fly
that way. They fly with their lateral and directional motions coupled together.
For the angles in the lateral motion, we need to define two axes the body axis XB and the wind axis XW which
lies along the velocity vector, as sketched in Fig. 2(a). The corresponding roll angles, about XB and about XW,
are marked in Fig. 2(b) and 2(c), respectively, where the airplane velocity vector is directed into the plane of the
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paper. In case of large perturbations, the angles about XB and about XW are notably different, in particular the
coning motion by allows the trim angle of attack to remain constant which is not the case for a body-axis roll by
the angle . However, in case of small disturbances in roll, denoted by the perturbation angles and , and in
case * is quite small, then to the first approximation, there is no difference between a disturbance by the angle
about the body axis XB and a disturbance by the angle about the wind axis XW. Hence, under these conditions, we
can take .
The angular velocity about the body XB axis is called the body-axis roll rate pb, and that about the XW axis is the
wind-axis roll rate pw. rb is the body-axis yaw rate about ZB, and rw is the wind-axis yaw rate about ZW. The body
and wind axis rates are related through the orientation angles , and their rates. For instance (Raghavan and
Ananthkrishnan3),

pb pw sin

rb rw cos

and

(1)

III. Small-perturbation Lateral-Directional Equations


We can quickly write down the lateral-directional dynamic equations under the condition of small perturbation
without having to first derive the complete 6-degree of freedom equations of motion of an airplane.
The trim state is a level, straightline flight with the trim condition
specified by the trim velocity V* and
angle of attack *. The trim values of
the other variables are:

* 0,

* *,

* 0,

* 0,

* * 0
(2)

and all the body and wind axis rates


are also zero at this trim state. The
force and moment balance conditions
at trim are as follows:

T D; Y 0; L W ;
L 0; M 0; N 0

(3)

A note on the resolution of


the aerodynamic forces: The net
aerodynamic force is first resolved into
a component Y along the YB axis
and a resultant in the XB-ZB plane. The
net velocity vector V is also resolved Figure 3. Lateral-directional forces/moments and angles in case of
into a component v along the YB axis small perturbations.
and a resultant VXZ in the XB-ZB plane.
The resultant force in the XB-ZB plane
is then resolved into two components
a lift perpendicular to VXZ and a drag parallel to VXZ.
Now we shall not perturb the longitudinal variables from their trim values. So, V*, *, *, * are maintained at
their trim values, and the body-axis and wind-axis pitch rates, qb and qw, do not change from zero either. There is a
small issue with these assumptions a lateral-directional maneuver typically involves loss of altitude, which means
that the plane descends. So it is not truly possible to hold *=0 fixed. However, since we assume small perturbations
in the lateral-directional variables, we may justifiably consider *=0 to be held.

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Figure 3 shows the axes and the forces/moments and the various angles in case of small perturbations the yaw
angles and , the sideslip angle , and the roll angle . Under the assumption of and small *, the
angles limited to the directional plane may be related by

(4)

We consider a perturbation in yaw rate rb and rw about the body and wind axis, respectively. The wind axis
rate rw corresponds to the curvature in the flight path approximately in the horizontal plane. There is also a
perturbation in roll rate pb about the body axis and pw about the wind axis. The lift L is unchanged from its trim
value but could be tilted by the bank angle . Taking components of W along and normal to the lift direction,
there is an unbalanced component of W along the YB axis which is W sin mg mg . This is in
addition to the aerodynamic side force Y along YB marked in Fig. 3(a).
The lateral-directional equations under small perturbations can now be written by inspection. The centripetal
acceleration is equal to the net unbalanced force along the YB direction:

mV * Y mg

(5)

The moment equations about the XB and ZB axes are simply given by:

I xx L
I zz N

(6)
(7)

where Y is the sideforce, L is the rolling moment, and N is the yawing moment. Thus, Eqs. (5), (6) and (7) form the
small-perturbation lateral-directional dynamics equations.
A. Timescales
The perturbed force/moments are defined in terms of the corresponding aerodynamic coefficients as:

Y qS CY ; L qSbCl ; N qSbCn

(8)

where q is the dynamic pressure (= V2), S is a reference area, usually the airplane wing planform area, and b is
the wing span. With the definitions in Eq. (8), the small-perturbation equations (5), (6), and (7), appear as:

1
g
g qS

qS CY * * CY
*
mV
V
V W

(9)

qSb
I zz qSb

Cl
Cl
I xx
I xx I zz

(10)

qSb

Cn
I zz

(11)

where we have replaced with in Eq. (10). The underlined braces represent the timescales in Eqs. (9)
through (11). The various timescales are defined as follows:

g ~ 10sec;T

*
Ts V

I zz
b
~ 1sec; Tr * ~ 0.1sec
qSb
2V

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(12)

The slow timescale Ts of the order of 10 sec and the faster timescale Tf of the order of 1 sec are obvious from Eqs.
(9) through (11). However, a third, even faster timescale Tr, which we shall encounter later, of the order of 0.1 sec,
also needs to be introduced in case of the lateral-directional dynamics.
For a conventional airplane, there are three lateral-directional modes corresponding to the three timescales, as
follows:
A fast roll (rate) mode, which goes with the timescale Tr;
An intermediate dutch roll mode, which corresponds to the timescale Tf;
And a slow spiral mode, which occurs at the slow timescale, Ts.
Before we work on these modes, we need to write out the perturbed aerodynamic force and moment coefficients in
terms of the aerodynamic derivatives.
B. Small-perturbation Aerodynamic Modeling
The perturbed lateral-directional force/moment coefficients CY, Cl, Cn are expressed in terms of the perturbed
aerodynamic variables. As in the case of longitudinal dynamics (Ananthkrishnan and Sinha1), there are four different
aerodynamic effects to model:
Static due to Mach number and the relative orientation of the aircraft (body-axis) to the wind (wind-axis)
given by the aerodynamic angles, ,.
Dynamic due to the angular velocity of the airplane (body-axis) with respect to the angular velocity of the
relative wind (wind-axis) given by the difference between the two vectors, b-w.
Flow curvature effect due to the angular velocity of the wind axis arising from the airplane flying along a
curved flight path, w.
Downwash lag effect due to the wing-tip trailing vortices impacting the aft lifting surfaces with a time
delay of approximately lt/V*.
Now remembering that we have held the velocity and all the longitudinal variables fixed for our present analysis, the
lateral-directional perturbed force/moment coefficients can only be functions of the lateral variables. Hence, we can
ignore effects due to the Mach number, angle of attack , and the body and wind axis pitch rates qb and qw. Also the
downwash lag effect in case of the lateral-directional dynamics, which happens because of the interaction between
the wing-tip trailing vortices and the vertical tail, is not usually such a dominant effect and can presently be set
aside. Thus, we are left with the following variables whose effect is to be modeled:
Static
Dynamic pb-pw, rb-rw
Flow curvature pw, rw
Besides these, there is the effect due to control deflection usually there are two lateral-directional controls of
interest, the aileron and the rudder, which we shall include later as desired. The perturbed aerodynamic
force/moment coefficients may now be modeled as:

CY CY CYp1 (pb pw )(b / 2V * ) CYp2 pw (b / 2V * )


CYr1 (rb rw )(b / 2V * ) CYr 2 rw (b / 2V * )

(13)

Cl Cl Clp1 (pb pw )(b / 2V ) Clp 2 pw (b / 2V )


*

Clr1 (rb rw )(b / 2V * ) Clr 2 rw (b / 2V * )

(14)

Cn Cn Cnp1 (pb pw )(b / 2V ) Cnp2 pw (b / 2V )


*

Cnr1 (rb rw )(b / 2V * ) Cnr 2 rw (b / 2V * )

(15)
The fastest timescale Tr=b/2V* from Eq. (12) now appears in Eqs. (13) through (15) when modeling the rate
derivatives. Each of the aerodynamic derivatives in Eqs. (13) through (15) is defined as follows, where the * refers
to the trim state.

CY

CY
;
*

Cl

Cl
;
*

Cn

Cn

*;

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CYp1

CY
;
( pb pw )(b / 2V ) *

CYp2

CY
;
pw (b / 2V ) *

CYr1

CY
;
(rb rw )(b / 2V ) *

CYr 2

CY
;
rw (b / 2V ) *

Clp1

Clp 2

Cl
;
pw (b / 2V ) *

Clr1

Clr 2

Cl
;
( pb pw )(b / 2V ) *
Cnp2

Cl
;
(rb rw )(b / 2V ) *

Cl
;
rw (b / 2V ) *

Cn
pw (b / 2V ) *

Cnr1

Cnr 2

Cn
( pb pw )(b / 2V ) *

Cnp1

Cn
(rb rw )(b / 2V ) *

Cn
rw (b / 2V ) *

(16)

We can write the perturbed form of Eq. (1) as follows:

pb pw sin *

rb rw cos *

and

(17)

When * is small, the right hand side of the pb-pw equation can be taken to be the product of two small terms,
namely,

and sin * , and hence dropped. We may also assume cos * 1. Thus,

pb pw 0

and

rb rw

(18)

That is, we do not need to distinguish between a body-axis roll rate and a wind-axis roll rate when dealing with
small perturbations.
The wind axis angular rates can themselves be written in terms of the rate of change of the wind axis Euler
angles as follows (Raghavan and Ananthkrishnan3):

pw sin and

rw sin cos cos

(19)

Equation (19) can be linearized to obtain:

pw sin *

and

rw cos *cos

(20)

assuming cos 1.
With the relations in Eqs. (18) and (20), the perturbed aerodynamic force/moment coefficients in Eqs. (13)
through (15) may be updated as below:

CY CY CYp 2 (b / 2V * ) CYr1 ( )(b / 2V * ) CYr 2 (b / 2V * )


Cl Cl Clp 2 (b / 2V * ) Clr1 ( )(b / 2V * ) Clr 2 (b / 2V * )

(21)

Cn Cn Cnp 2 (b / 2V ) Cnr1 ( )(b / 2V ) Cnr 2 (b / 2V )


*

where the p1 derivative terms have dropped out since

pb pw 0 as per Eq. (18).

Now we can insert the aerodynamic model of Eq. (21) in the lateral-directional equations (9) through (11) to give
the complete set of equations as below:

g q S
*
*
*
*
CY CYp2 (b / 2V ) CYr1 ( )(b / 2V ) CYr 2 (b / 2V )
V W

(22)
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q Sb
Cl Clp 2 (b / 2V * ) Clr1 ( )(b / 2V * ) Clr 2 (b / 2V * )

I
xx

q Sb
Cn Cnp2 b 2V * Cnr1 b 2V * Cnr 2 b 2V *

I
zz

(23)

(24)

IV. Second-order Form of the Lateral-Directional Equations


We next write Eqs. (22) through (24) as a set of two second-order differential equations. First of all, the rate
derivatives of the side force coefficient, CYp2, CYr1, CYr2, are usually of lesser importance and may be ignored. Then,
Eq. (22) reduces to:

g q S
*
CY
V W

(25)

Before proceeding further, for ease of algebraic manipulation, let us define some short symbols:

qSb
qSb
qS
Cl L ;
Cn N ;
CY Y ;
W
I zz
I xx
qSb
qSb
qSb
b
b
b

Cnp 2 * N p 2 ;
Cnr1 * N r1;
Cnr 2 * N r 2 ;
2V
2V
2V
I zz
I zz
I zz

(26)

qSb
qSb
qSb
b
b
b

Clp 2 * Lp 2 ;
Clr1 * Lr1;
Clr 2 * Lr 2
2V
2V
2V
I xx
I xx
I xx
So, Eq. (25) can be compactly written as:

g
* Y
V

(27)

And Eq. (24) can be transcribed as:

N N p 2 N r1 ( ) N r 2

(28)

From Eq. (4), by differentiating all terms twice, we have,

(29)

And by differentiating Eq. (27) once, we get,

g
* Y
V

(30)

Merging Eqs. (28) through (30) yields:

g
g
N r1 * Y N N p 2 * N r 2 0
V
V

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(31)

Then substituting for

from Eq. (27), we finally get:

g
g
g
N r1 * Y N * Y N r 2 N p 2 *
V
V
V

g
* N r 2 0
V

(32)

Usually the derivative Np2 is not significant enough and may be dropped. Then, the yawing moment equation
appears as:

g
g
g
N r1 * Y N * Y N r 2 *
V
V

V
g
* N r 2 0
V

(33)

Turning our attention next to Eq. (23), in terms of the short symbols defined in Eq. (26),

L Lp 2 Lr1 ( ) Lr 2
Yet again we have

(34)

from Eq. (27), and using that we can rewrite Eq. (34) as:

g
g
L * Y Lr 2 L p 2 Lr1 ( ) * Lr 2
V
V

(35)
Equations (33) and (35) form the set of two second-order lateral-directional small-perturbation equations. These are
summarized in Table 1 which shows that the two equations of second order in the variables and are coupled
because of the , terms in the (rolling moment) equation, and the
moment) equation.

, terms in the (yawing

Table 1: Lateral-directional small-perturbation equations in second-order form


Equation
Modes and Time
scales

g
g
Rolling moment
Roll
(Tr) and
(35)
Lr1 L
Y Lr 2 L p 2 * Lr 2
and side force
spiral (Ts)
V*
V

Source

Yawing moment
and side force

g
g
g
g
N r1
Y N * Y N r 2 * * N r 2 0
*

V
V
V

(33)

Dutch roll (Tf)

Note that that (side force) equation has been absorbed into Eqs. (33) and (35); hence there is no separate equation
for . In fact, the variable has itself been eliminated. To that extent, the lateral-directional equations in Table 1
appear similar to the two equations in V and for the longitudinal case (Ananthkrishnan and Sinha1). However,
the two longitudinal equations are easily separated based on their timescales the V equation (for the phugoid
mode) operates at the slow timescale T2 whereas the dynamics (short period mode) occurs at the faster T1
timescale. Unfortunately, the division of the lateral-directional equations based on timescales is not so clear for most
conventional airplanes. As noted in the last column of Table 1, the (rolling moment) equation contains dynamics
both at the slowest (Ts) and the fastest (Tr) timescales, whereas the (yawing moment) equation operates at the
intermediate Tf timescale. This complicates matters significantly. In terms of the dynamics modes, (yawing
moment) equation represents a second-order dynamics that is called the dutch roll mode. The (rolling moment)
equation must split into two first-order dynamics a fast mode at the timescale Tr called the roll (rate) mode, and a
slow mode at the timescale Ts called the spiral mode.
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V. Approximations to Lateral-Directional Modes


We present a simplified, no-frills approach to extracting the lateral-directional mode parameters from the smallperturbation equations in the form as given in Table 1.
A. Roll (rate) Mode
First, we extract the roll mode at the fastest time scale, Tr, from the equation (35) in Table 1. The variable of
interest is split into two components one that responds at the fastest time scale Tr and another that changes as
per the intermediate time scale Tf. With this split, we rearrange the equation as follows:

L L

p2

ROLL MODE
where

g
g
L * Y Lr 2 L p 2 f * Lr 2
V
V

EQUALS ZERO
r1

(36)

r is the component at the faster time scale Tr and f is the component at the timescale Tf. The first set

of braces contains the fastest dynamics at the time scale Tr whereas at this timescale the terms in the second set of
braces are collectively equal to zero. Thus, the roll (rate) mode dynamics is given by the first-order equation:

Lp 2 r

(37)

The stability of the roll mode is given by the sign of the derivative Lp2, also called the roll eigenvalue r, being
negative. From the relations in Eq. (26), this can be written in terms of the aerodynamic derivatives as follows:

Clp 2 0

(38)

Clp 2 is usually always negative, so the roll mode is almost guaranteed to be stable for most conventional airplanes.
The second set of braces in Eq. (36) can be solved out to give,

1
L [ L ( g / V * )Y Lr 2 ] ( g / V * ) Lr 2
f
L r1
p2
(39)
Technically, this is called the residual the component of that remains after the faster dynamics at the time

scale Tr is complete and which now varies as per the next, intermediate time scale Tf.
B. Dutch-roll Mode
We move on to the next fastest mode at the time scale Tf, called the Dutch roll. The dominant variable for this mode
is and we examine the yaw equation (33) in Table 1 for .

g
g
g
g
N r1 * Y N * Y N r 2 * f * N r 2 0 (40)
V
V
V

V
where, as indicated, the in Eq. (40) is the residual f from the roll dynamics. So, we insert the expression for
f from Eq. (39) in the yaw equation (40) to obtain:

g
g
N r1 * Y N * Y N r 2
V
V

g
g 1

g
g
*
Lr1 L * Y Lr 2 * Lr 2 * N r 2 0

V
V
V Lp 2

V
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(41)

Re-arranging terms and dropping terms of higher order in ( g /V ), we have

g
g L
g
g L
N r1 * Y * r1 N * Y N r 2 *
V
V Lp 2
V
V Lp 2

(42)
g
* N r 2 0
V
Now we split into two components a faster one f at the intermediate timescale T f and a slower one
s at the slower timescale Ts . Then, rearranging the terms in Eq. (42), we can write,

g
g Lr1
g
g L

Y
N

r1

r2
f
*
*
*
*
V
V L p 2
V
V L p 2

DUTCH ROLL MODE


(43)

g
g L
g
N * Y N r 2 * s * N r 2 0
V
V L p 2
V

EQUALS ZERO
The first set of braces in Eq. (43) contains the second-order dynamics at timescale

T f in the variable of the

Dutch roll mode:

g
g L
g
g L
N r1 * Y * r1 N * Y N r 2 * 0
V
V L p 2
V
V L p 2

(44)

from which the damping and frequency of the Dutch roll mode may be easily read off as follows:

L
g
Y N r 2
*
L
V
p 2

2
nDR
N

(45)

L
g
(46)
2 DRnDR N r1 * Y r1
L
V
p 2
2
Assuming positive Dutch roll stiffness, that is, nDR 0 , then the condition for stability of the Dutch roll mode is
given by the requirement of the damping being positive. For simplicity, we ignore the less significant Y term in Eqs.
(46) and (47), and using the relations in Eq. (26), the conditions for positive stiffness and damping of the Dutch roll
mode may be obtained as:

Cn (Cl / Clp 2 ) 0

(47)

Cnr1 (Clr1 / Clp 2 ) 0

(48)

where is a dimensionless ratio of the various timescales as follows:

T f2 / TsTr

(49)
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Since Tf~1 sec, Ts~10 sec, andTr~0.1 sec, as defined in Eq. (49), ~1.
From the second set of braces in Eq. (43), we have

g
* Nr2
V

g
g L
N * Y N r 2 *

V
V L p 2

(50)

This is the residual after the Dutch roll dynamics has subsided. This will vary as per the slowest time scale Ts.
C. Spiral Mode
To derive an approximation to the spiral mode, we go back to Eq. (36), and examine the terms in the second set of
braces:

g
g
Lr1 L * Y Lr 2 Lp 2 * Lr 2
V
V

EQUALS ZERO

(51)

which is what was left of the roll moment equation after the part representing the roll mode was detached. This may
be written as below:

g
g
(52)

L L * Y Lr 2 s * Lr 2
L r1
V
V

p2
where all the terms, including the s , vary at the slowest time scale Ts. We ignore the term in this equation,
and use the expression for

s obtained from the residual in Eq. (50) after the Dutch roll mode has been solved

for. This gives,


L
p 2
N

Y
L
N
V * r2 r2
g

Lr 2 *
V
g
g L
* Y N r 2 *

V
V L p 2

Identifying Lp2 with the roll eigenvalue r, and the term in the square bracket in the denominator as
(45), and dropping terms in higher powers of

(53)

2
from Eq.
nDR

g
* , yields the following first-order equation for the spiral mode:
V

g L N r 2 N Lr 2
*

rd2
V

(54)

Since r is usually negative, for the spiral mode to be stable, we require:

[ L N r 2 N Lr 2 ] 0

(55)

Using the relations in Eq. (26), we may rewrite the spiral stability condition in terms of the aerodynamic derivatives
as:
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[Cl Cnr 2 Cn Clr 2 ] 0



( )

( )

()

(56)

()

where the usual signs of the derivatives are marked under each of them. Each product is positive, and the expression
in Eq. (56) turns out to be the difference between two positive terms. In general, the difference can turn out to be
either positive or negative in either case, it is usually quite small and close to zero, so that the spiral motion either
converges or diverges very slowly.
A summary of the stability requirements for the lateral-directional modes is presented in Table 2. Clearly, neither
Cn nor Cl alone provide any kind of stability criterion for the lateral-directional modes, though acting together in
the form of Eqs. (47) and (56), they impact the dutch roll stiffness and spiral mode eigenvalue, respectively. Thus,
the traditional notion of static stability based on Cn and Cl has no direct bearing on either directional or lateral
stability.
Table 2. Summary of lateral-directional stability requirements
Mode
Roll
Dutch Roll

Stability requirement

Clp 2 0

Cn (Cl / Clp 2 ) 0

(47),

(38)

Cnr1 (Clr1 / Clp 2 ) 0

[Cl Cnr 2 Cn Clr 2 ] 0

Spiral

(48)

(56)

VI. Key Aerodynamic Derivatives


From an examination of Table 2, we can identify the key aerodynamic derivatives that impact the dynamics of the
lateral-directional modes. To these, we add the control derivatives. These are together listed below:
Static: Cn, Cl (affect Dutch roll frequency and spiral mode eigenvalue)
Dynamic: Cnr1, Clr1 (affect Dutch roll damping)
Flow curvature: Clp2 (affects roll mode eigenvalue and Dutch roll frequency and damping), Cnr2, Clr2 (affects
spiral mode eigenvalue)
Control: Cnr, Cna, Clr, Cla
That Cn, Cl affect the Dutch roll frequency was known, but the exact relation was not clear. An ad hoc criterion
called Cn,dyn:

Cn ,dyn Cn cos ( I zz / I xx )Cl sin

(57)

has been in use which roughly brings together Cn, Cl in a physically correct sense, but does not always correlate
well with the Dutch roll frequency. The correct combination is now obtained as in Eq. (47).
Likewise, the correct combination of Cnr1, Clr1 that affects the Dutch roll damping is as given in Eq. (48).
That Cn, Cl cooperate in the Dutch roll frequency but oppose each other when it comes to the spiral eigenvalue
is also a known fact. However, traditionally the derivatives Cnr1, Clr1 have been used in the expression for the spiral
mode eigenvalue. Instead, the derivatives Cnr2, Clr2 are the ones that matter for the spiral mode, as seen in Eq. (56).
The derivatives Cnr1, Clr1 matter when the airplane nose yaws relative to a reasonably steady velocity vector, as seen
in the Dutch roll mode. On the other hand, the derivatives Cnr2, Clr2 enter when both the yawing motion and the
curvature of the flight path (deviation of the velocity vector) are roughly coincident, as in the spiral mode. Hence,
the distinction between these two sets of derivatives is crucial a point that has been missed for the past century!
For a detailed discussion of each of these derivatives listed in this section, please refer the textbook (Sinha and
Ananthkrishnan4).

VII. Implications for Flight Dynamic Simulations


Certainly the corrections to the small-perturbation aerodynamic model is of pedagogical interest. The corrected
literal approximations to the various lateral-directional modes should appeal to the student of flight dynamics as well
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as the practicing engineer since the literal approximations help correlate various airplane configuration parameters to
its flight dynamic response for example, the dihedral angle to the Dutch roll frequency. However, it must be noted
that the dynamic (rate) derivatives such as Cnr1, Clr1 are also used to build the aerodynamic model for a complete,
nonlinear, 6-degree of freedom simulation, such as the ones used for flight testing, pilot training simulators, and
control law design. The corrections to the aerodynamic model have major implications here, as for instance below.
Traditionally, the yaw damping has been modeled by a single term, Cnrrb. Instead, it turns out that the correct way
to model this effect is by the sum of the two terms underlined below:

Cn Cn Cnp 2 (b / 2V * ) Cnr1 ( )(b / 2V * ) Cnr 2 (b / 2V * )

(58)

There is a fallout on control design as well. Earlier, the body-axis yaw rate rb would be fed back in a yaw damper
design to augment the Dutch roll damping. According to the corrected model in Eq. (58),
variable for feedback.

is a more appropriate

VIII. Conclusion
The various improvements and corrections suggested by Ananthkrishnan and Sinha1 to the existing presentation
of airplane flight dynamics have been carried over and applied to the lateral-directional dynamics in this paper. The
faulty modeling of the dynamic (rate) derivatives, a carry over from the original work by Bryan2, has been corrected.
Three timescales, corresponding to the three standard lateral-directional modes, have been clearly defined, and a
multi-timescale approach has been used to obtain literal approximations to the three modes. New, corrected
expressions for the Dutch roll and spiral mode parameters are presented and explained. The implications of this
development for pedagogy, aircraft design and flight simulation are obvious.

IX. References
1

Ananthkrishnan, N., and Sinha, N.K., A Simple, Correct Pedagogical Presentation of Airplane Longitudinal Dynamics,
AIAA Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Conference, Boston MA, Aug 19-22, 2013, submitted.
2
Bryan, G. H., Stability in Aviation, MacMillan, London, 1911.
3
Raghavan, B., and Ananthkrishnan, N., Small-Perturbation Analysis of Airplane Dynamics with Dynamic Stability
Derivatives Redefined, Journal of Aerospace Sciences and Technologies, Vol. 61, No. 3, 2009, pp. 365-380.
4
Sinha, N. K., and Ananthkrishnan, N., Elementary Flight Dynamics with an Introduction to Bifurcation and Continuation
Methods, CRC Press, Boca Raton FL, 2014 (to be published).

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