Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 43

Basics.

Principles of Flight

Chapter 1.

BASICS.
The objective of this chapter is to give you some knowledge of
the physical basics of airflow around a body.
According to the JAA requirements you shall be able to describe:
Airflow around an airfoil and the origin of the corresponding
forces. The concept of angle of attack and pitch attitude.
List of Contents
Page
1-2
1-7
1-12
1-15
1-16
1-20

Paragraph
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.6

1-25

1.7

1-39

1.8

Introduction to the theory of flight.


Air as a fluid.
Airflow around a body.
Equation of continuity.
Bernoullis theorem.
Newtons laws and the effect of the wing
on the air.
Bernoullis theorem and the effect of the
air on the wing.
Behaviour of the wing when changing the
angle of attack.

This chapter presents the basics principles of aerodynamics needed


when studying the motion of a body through the air, and the influence
of the air flow on pressure and lift force.

TFHS and NAR

1 - 1

TFHS and NAR

1.1

INTRODUCTION TO THE THEORY OF FLIGHT.


This paragraph introduces the conditions for flight and describes the
equilibrium of forces acting on an aircraft in flight.

The atmosphere.
At first, you may wonder how an aircraft weighing for example 400
tons is able to fly in the invisible thin air. But consider the air, as it
is, a viscous fluid with a density. Its mass depends on the altitude
above sea level, but at sea level a cube of air with sides of 10 m, has
a mass of 1225 kg.

10 m
Mass of air
at sea level.

10 m
10 m

Mass of 1225 kg
Fig. 1.1

Due to its mass, the very high (~100 km) column of air above us
creates a very high pressure in all directions on everything. The
length of the arrows in the picture below represents the relative
pressure.
The atmosphere
Altitude

Pressure

33 000 ft
10 000 m - 1/4 = 250 hPa

20 000 ft
6 000 m - 1/2 = 500 hPa

0 ft
0 m - 1/1 = 1013 hPa
Fig. 1.2

The pressure at sea level normally ranges from 990 to 1030 hPa with
a mean value of 1013 hPa.
That is a force of ~100 000 N/m2, equal to 10 small cars. As an
example, on your head (fortunately also inside your head) it creates
a force equal to 3500 N.
The pressure is reduced with altitude quite quickly due to less air
above; already at 20 000 ft (6000 m) the pressure is only half of that
at ground level.
Due to this high pressure, it will be enough with only a slight
relative difference in pressure around the aircraft wings to lift a
very heavy aircraft. A pressure difference of only 1% gives a pressure
difference of 1000 N/m2. The loadings on aircraft wings normally
ranges from 500 to 5000 N/m2.

1 - 2

Basics.

Principles of Flight
A 1% lower pressure
on the upper surface
than the lower surface
creates a force
equal to 1000 N/m2,
enough to lift a person.

Pressure
~100 000 N/m2

1m

1m

1% difference in pressure
Fig. 1.3

The reduction of pressure caused by increased altitude causes a


reduced force at a given pressure difference over a surface, e.g. a 1%
difference at 20 000 ft will only produce a pressure difference of 500
N/m2 instead of the 1000 N/m2 at ground level. So, the possibility to
fly by using wings is limited at extremely high altitudes.
It is easy to understand that the air affects everything that moves
through it. When the air flows around a moving body it produces a
force called drag, which increases rapidly with the speed and limits
the maximum speed. But the density of the air will also cause friction
between the body and the air that will put a limit to the maximum
speed. The friction generates heating of the body and the surrounding
air.
At low speeds the generation of heat due to friction is negligible, but
at a very high speed the friction produces such heat that the airframe
structure could be weakened and lose its required strength.
Thus, the flyable envelope is limited by altitude and speed and is
shown in the figure below. As shown in the figure, todays aircraft
can use a small part of this flyable envelope.

100

Altitude
km

80
60
40
20

Space
flight

Insufficient lift
due to too low pressure

t
raf

le
Flyab

rc

Ai

0
kts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

ition

cond

Too high
aerodynamical
heating

9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Velocity 1000

km/h 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
Fig 1.4

In reality, only experimental aircraft can fly to the altitudes and


speeds bounded by the dotted lines in the figure; like altitudes of 100
000 ft (30 km) and speeds up to 3800 kts (7000 km/h). The normal
figures for todays aircraft, e.g. a jet fighter aircraft or Concorde are
limited to an altitude of 60 000 ft (18 km) and to a speed of 1100 kts
(2000 km/h).
However, the Space Shuttle entering the atmosphere for landing,
starts its descent at the upper right area in the figure. Despite the
very thin air of the outer atmosphere, the Space Shuttle will be so hot
due to friction that its front surfaces glow.
TFHS and NAR

1 - 3

TFHS and NAR

Counteracting the weight of a body.


Gravity is the attracting force acting between two or more bodies. For
practical reasons, in the context of this study, we will only consider
the attraction towards the centre of the earth. Weight is the name
given to this gravitational force. When a body is on the ground the
reaction force of the ground( on the body) balances its weight.

Fig. 1.5

Pressure from
the ground.
Weight
(reaction force) (action force)

Pressure from
the ground.
(reaction force)

Definition:
GRAVITY is the force of attraction of all bodies
towards the centre of the earth.
(Often, we call this gravitational force WEIGHT.)
The first problem of flight is to balance the weight of the body when
it is in the air without any contact with the ground surface. There are
different solutions to counteracting the weight: for example, we can
use an aerostatic force generated by a balloon filled with a gas lighter
than air. We can also use a lifting thrust generated by a propulsion
system such as a rocket engine, a jet engine or a propeller.

Thrust

Aerostatic
force
Weight
Thrust

Weight
Weight
Fig. 1.6

Another way to counteract weight is to use a component of the


aerodynamic force which is generated by the relative motion
between the aircraft and the air.
Lifting force

Fig. 1.7

Weight

The relative motion of the aircraft through the air can generate a
downward acceleration of the air, giving a reaction force in the
opposite direction called lift.
1 - 4

Basics.

Principles of Flight

Lift
(reaction force)

Mass of
air downwards
(action force)

Fig. 1.8

Before continuing, you ought to know something about the equilibrium


of forces.

The equilibrium of the forces acting on the


aircraft.
When the air flows around the wings it will produce a force on the
wing which is called the total aerodynamic force. This force acts
upwards and rearwards. The component of total aerodynamic force
acting perpendicular to the flight direction is called LIFT. DRAG,
on the other hand, is the name given to the component of total
aerodynamic force acting parallel to the flight direction.
Flig

Lift

ht p

Total
aerodynamic
force

ath

Dra

Fig. 1.9

LIFT is the component of the Total Aerodynamic Force acting


perpendicular to the flight direction.
DRAG is the component of the Total Aerodynamic Force
acting parallel to the flight direction.
When flying horizontally the weight of the aeroplane is balanced by
the lift. In addition, as the aeroplane moves through the air it will
experience the retarding force, drag, which, unless balanced, will
cause the aeroplane to decelerate. During horizontal flight at constant speed, the drag is balanced by the thrust, which is produced by
the engine.
Lift
Horizontal
flight path

Total
aerodynamic
force
Drag

Thrust

Weight
Fig. 1.10

In horizontal flight at constant speed:


The Weight of the aeroplane is balanced by the LIFT and
The Drag is balanced by the THRUST.
TFHS and NAR

1 - 5

TFHS and NAR

When the forces are in balance, and the resultant force acting on the
aeroplane is zero: the aircraft will neither accelerate or decelerate,
rise or descent. This situation is called equilibrium.
This means that the aeroplane will continue to fly at the same speed
and in the same direction, unless you as the pilot, or a windgust,
alter this situation.
When the forces are in balance, and the resultant force acting
on the aeroplane is zero, the situation is said to be in
EQUILIBRIUM.
The statement: WEIGHT = LIFT and THRUST = DRAG is true only
in horizontal and unaccelerated flight. When manoeuvring in
flight at constant condition all forces are also in balance and the
resultant force is still zero but with different equations, as is shown
here.
(Generating a
centrifugal
force)

(Generating a
centrifugal
force)

Lift

Lift
Weight
Weight
Lift
Lift
Drag
Thrust
Weight

Drag

Thrust
Weight

(Generating a
centrifugal
force)

Fig. 1.11

The principles of flight are concerned with how these forces are
generated and with the effects of these aerodynamic forces on motion
in the air. In order to ensure safety and to make the correct decisions
in flight, you as a pilot, must have an understanding of the laws
and of the principles that apply.

CAN YOU ANSWER THESE?


How great a difference in relative pressure around
the wings of the aircraft is needed to create a force
equal to 1000 N/m2 near the ground?
What force is the component of the aerodynamic force
acting perpendicular to the flight path?
What force is the component of the aerodynamic force
acting parallel to the flight path?
What forces balance the weight and drag respectively in
unaccelerated horizontal flight?
In what situations are the forces said to be in equilibrium?
1 - 6

Basics.

Principles of Flight
1.2

AIR AS A FLUID.
This paragraph describes the characteristics of the fluids such as
pressure, temperature, density and the relationship between them.

Properties of fluids.
The motion of air around the aircraft generates the aerodynamic
force necessary to fly. Aerodynamics is the science that studies the
motion of fluids and the principles governing this motion. Before
dealing with some basic principles of aerodynamics we must define
what a fluid is and describe its properties.
We can define a fluid in a very intuitive way. A fluid is a substance
that possesses the property of flowing freely and does not have a
definite shape but tends to conform to the outline of its container.
Fluids can be classified as liquids or gases. Liquids occupy a definite
volume independent of the volume in which they are contained;
gases expand to fill the entire volume of the container in which they
are placed.

Fig. 1.12

We can also observe that fluids behave differently when they are
flowing. For instance, heavy oil takes a longer time to flow and fill a
vessel than water does.
Fluids can be classified as LIQUIDS or GASES,
and they behave differently when they are flowing.
The different behaviour of fluids is due to the different internal
friction created between the layers of the fluid when it is in motion.
This is called viscosity. The viscosity (), also known as dynamic
viscosity, of a fluid is a measure of the resistance opposing the
relative motion of the molecules of a fluid.
To better understand the behaviour of fluids, we can consider two
parallel flat plates placed at a certain distance from each other. The
space between them is filled with water. One plate is fixed and the
other moves at a velocity V. Due to the viscosity of the fluid the speed
of the different layers of fluid will increase from zero near the fixed
plate to speed V near the movable plate and a certain force F is
needed to move the plate.

Fig. 1.13

The VISCOSITY of a fluid is a measure of the resistance opposing


the relative motion between the molecules of the fluid.
TFHS and NAR

1 - 7

TFHS and NAR

If we consider the same situation but with oil filling the space, we can
see that due to the higher viscosity, but with the same force, a lower speed
than the previous one is reached. A fluid with a higher viscosity will
therefore flow more slowly than a fluid of lower viscosity. We therefore say
that oil has a higher viscosity than water.
F
.
e

V
h

Oil

(F/A)
shear stress
=
.
(e/h)
rate of shear strain

(A = plate cross-sectional area


.
e = rate of change)

Fig. 1.14

The term kinematic viscosity ( ) is obtained by dividing the dynamic


viscosity by the density of the fluid ( = /).
A fluid with higher viscosity will flow more slowly
than a fluid with lower viscosity.

;;
;;
;;

Pressure, temperature, density.


If we now consider a certain mass of fluid, we can think of this parcel
of fluid as being made up of millions of molecules. Molecules are in
rapid and random motion even when the fluid is not in motion.
Molecules act like small tennis balls that hit each other and any
surface placed in the fluid.
We must now review an important law concerning fluid pressure. If
we consider a small body immersed in a fluid at rest, we will see that
the same pressure acts in all directions.

Fig. 1.15

In a fluid at rest the pressure at each point acts in all directions at


the same time. This law is also known as Pascal's Law.
Each molecule exerts a force on every surface it has contact with; the
ratio between applied force perpendicular to the surface and the
surface area is called pressure. Pressure is force/unit area.

1c

1c

Force/cm 2
m

1c

Fig. 1.16

1 cm
PRESSURE is the ratio between the force exerted
on the surface and the unit surface itself.

1 - 8

Basics.

Principles of Flight
The temperature of a certain mass of fluid is a measure of its molecular
motion. The greater the molecular motion, the higher the temperature.
High temperature
Low temperature

Fig. 1.17

The TEMPERATURE of a certain fluid


is a measure of its molecular motion.
When we decrease the temperature to the point of no molecular
motion, we reach the absolute zero or 0o K (Kelvin, equal to -273o C).
The temperature measured starting from absolute zero is called the
absolute temperature (T).

T = 0 Kelvin

;;
;;

Fig. 1.18

The ABSOLUTE TEMPERATURE Scale is the temperature


measured starting from absolute zero = 0o Kelvin (-273.16o C).
DENSITY, designated by the Greek letter (rho,) is the ratio between
the mass of fluid and the volume.

Lower

Higher

Equal mass

Fig. 1.19

Fluid compressibility.

We will here consider the effect of increasing pressure on a fluid. If


we take a certain mass of fluid and exert external pressure, the
volume of fluid will decrease.
When the same mass is contained in a smaller volume, the mass per
unit volume, i.e. the density, will increase.
The amount by which the density changes depends on the kind of
fluid and on the pressure applied. If the fluid is a liquid, the change
in volume is minimal in spite of high pressure. Thus, liquids are
practically incompressible and consequently its density is nearly
constant.

TFHS and NAR

1 - 9

TFHS and NAR

If the fluid is a gas, or a mixture of gases like air, the change in volume can
be large and the density is therefore variable. Thus we say that gases are
compressible.
LIQUIDS are practically INCOMPRESSIBLE and as a
consequence the DENSITY is nearly CONSTANT.
GASES are COMPRESSIBLE and their density is variable.

Relationship between pressure,


temperature and density.
Air density is an important factor since it affects both the force acting
on the aircraft and the engine performance. We are therefore
interested in knowing what factors affect air density.
The density of a mass of air can be changed by changing the size of
the container, as in figure 19. We can also vary the volume of a given
mass of air by changing the pressure and temperature of the air.
The DENSITY of a mass of air can be changed by
varying the volume the air occupies, or by varying the
pressure and the temperature of the air.
Consider a mass of air in two different situations. If we increase the
pressure, the mass of air will be compressed into a smaller volume
and the density will increase. If we decrease the pressure, the mass
of air will expand, filling a greater volume, and the density will
decrease.
If we now increase the temperature and keep the pressure constant,
the mass of air will expand and fill a greater volume and, as a
consequence, the density will decrease.
Equal mass.
Higher temp,
greater volume,
lower .

Fig. 1.20

With the increase in temperature, the mass of air


will expand, filling a greater volume, and
the density will decrease.
On the other hand, if we decrease the temperature, the mass of air
will occupy a smaller volume and the density will increase. Thus we
deduce that density is indirect proportion to pressure and in
inverse proportion to temperature:
Density is directly proportional to pressure and
inversely proportional to temperature: ~ P/T
We can express this relationship using a constant R, the magnitude
of which depends on the individual gas. The relationship is: P =
R T, where the temperature T is the ABSOLUTE TEMPERATURE.
This equation is known as the "EQUATION OF STATE".
1 - 10

;;
Basics.

Principles of Flight

The EQUATION OF STATE says that: P = R T

In the atmosphere both temperature and pressure change with


altitude; thus density also changes with altitude. As a result of a
greater rate of decrease in pressure than in temperature, the density
decreases with an increase altitude. Consequently, aircraft and
engine performance are affected by altitude.
Low temperature.

Much lower pressure. = Lower density.

High temperature. Much higher pressure. = Higher density.

Fig. 1.21

Aircraft and engine performance are affected by altitude


because DENSITY decreases with an increase altitude.

Air as an incompressible fluid.

We have said that air is compressible, but at speeds well below the
speed of sound, the air adapts itself in the way that it avoids being
compressed. Therefore the effect of air compressibility is
important only when the airspeed is high.
When the aircraft is flying at a high speed, > 300 kts, the air which
encounters it is compressed and phenomena such as areas with
higher density may occur in front of and near some of the surfaces.

Fig. 1.22

We will deal with this compressibility effect and shock waves in the
last chapter Aerodynamics for High Speed Aircraft. Here we
suppose that we are flying at a speed not close to the speed of sound
when the air behaves like an incompressible fluid.
CAN YOU ANSWER THESE?
What is meant by the viscocity of a fluid?
What is meant by pressure?
What is meant by temperature?
What is meant by the absolute temperature?
How does compressibility affect the density
of gases and of liquids?
During what condition does the compressibility of air
have a significant effect on the airflow around an aircraft?
TFHS and NAR

1 - 11

TFHS and NAR

1.3

AIRFLOW AROUND A BODY.


This paragraph defines what a streamline flow around a body is and
what happens when the flow becomes turbulent.

Streamline flow.
We will now observe the airflow around an airfoil section. Imagine
that the airflow is visualized by using smoke, here symbolized by thin
dotted lines. Due to the presence of the airfoil, the molecules of air
change their directions of motion and their speed. If the successive
molecules of air follow the same steady path, the flow of the smoke
makes steady lines. These lines are called streamlines and this type
of flow is called streamline flow because the streamline nearest
the airfoil follows the contour of the surface.

Streamlines.
Molecules
of air.

Fig. 1.23

STREAMLINE FLOW is a flow where the successive molecules


of air follow the same steady path, called STREAMLINE.
Steady streamlines means steady flow.
A streamline indicates the direction of the airflow at all points along
it and, as a consequence, there will be no air crossing the streamline.
If we consider a fixed point on a streamline, the velocity of a fluid
element occupying that point at time t0 will be the velocity of another
fluid element at this point at a later time t0 + t.
The velocity may change from one point to another along the
streamline, but at each fixed point the velocity will not change with
time, i.e it will be the same for all successive molecules even as time
goes on.
If we consider two points; point 1 and point 2, we can say that the
speed V1 at point 1 is different from the speed V2 at point 2 but that
all fluid molecules passing through point 1 will have the same speed
value. The same phenomenon will occur at point 2: all the fluid
molecules passing through point 2 will have the same speed value.
Point 1
Velocity 1

Point 2
Velocity
2

Fig. 1.24

1 - 12

Basics.

Principles of Flight
In a streamline flow the velocity may change from
one point to another along the streamline, but at
each fixed point the velocity will be the same for
all successive elements even as time goes on.

Stream tube.
Imagine an imaginary circle in a flow. If all the streamlines passing
through the outer edge of the circle are drawn, they generate a
tubular surface which is called a stream tube. Since the velocity
vector is always tangential to the surface of such a tube, there is no
flow into or out of the tube through its imaginary walls, but only
along the tube. (For example, the walls of an ordinary garden hose
form a streamtube for the water flowing through the hose.)

Stream tube.

Streamlines

Fig. 1.25

Turbulent flow.
The airflow cannot be streamlined around all kinds of bodies. We will
now observe the airflow around a cylinder.
We can note two different behaviours of the flow around this cylinder.
Upstreams we can see streamlines follow the contour of the surface,
but due to friction and pressure distribution, they become chaotic
when they leave the contour.

Flow direction.

Fig. 1.26

Behind the cylinder, the molecules of air do not follow a steady path,
and successive molecules may travel a path which is very different
from that of the preceding molecules. This type of flow is called
turbulent flow.
TURBULENT FLOW is a flow where the molecules
of air do not follow a steady path.
If we consider a certain point in turbulent flow, the fluid molecules
flowing through that point will have different velocities and directions
as time goes on.

Velocity and direction


varies in course of time.

Flow direction.

Fig. 1.27

TFHS and NAR

1 - 13

TFHS and NAR

In turbulent flow, the magnitude and direction of the


velocity at a certain point will vary in course of time.
We will now consider a body such as an airfoil in two different
conditions: an airfoil at rest with the airflow moving at velocity V and
then an airfoil moving in still air with the same velocity V. If we
visualize the flow pattern around the two airfoils, we find that they
are the same. What matters is the relative velocity between the airfoil
and the airflow, not if the airfoil is moving through the air or the air
is flowing past the airfoil.

Fig. 1.28

The flow pattern around a body is the same


no matter if the body is moving through the air
or if the air is flowing past the body.
Close to the body, the local flow velocities will vary and be different
from the velocity of the undisturbed flow well away from the body. In
order to measure this difference, we have to compare the free stream
velocity between the airfoil and the air at a certain distance from the
airfoil where the streamlines are not yet influenced by the presence
of the airfoil, otherwise the relative speed will be incorrect. Free
stream velocity is usually given other names, such as relative
velocity or relative wind.

Free stream
velocity
or
Relative
velocity

Local velocities

Fig. 1-29

The free stream velocity or relative velocity is measured in


front of the body where the streamlines are not
yet influenced by the presence of the body.

CAN YOU ANSWER THESE?


What is meant by streamline flow?
What will the speed and the direction be for all successive
molecules at a fixed point in a streamline flow ?
What is meant by turbulent flow?
What will the speed and the direction be for all successive
molecules at a fixed point in turbulent flow ?
Where is the free stream velocity measured?
1 - 14

Basics.

Principles of Flight
1.4

EQUATION OF CONTINUITY.
This paragraph deals with the Equation of Continuity also known as
Bernoulli's Principle.

Basics.
To begin with, we will introduce an important concept in order to
understand how a flow will adapt its motion inside as well as outside
a tube.
The principle of mass conservation says that mass in motion inside
a tube is constant and can be neither created nor destroyed.
Mass is constant and can be neither created nor destroyed.
Consider a tube with different section areas. This means that the
mass flowing through each cross section of the tube during a certain
time must be constant. The mass flowing in a cross section of the
tube during a certain time is called mass flow.
The same mass flow
in each section.
A certain
mass of air
into the tube.

Air

flow

The same
mass of air
out from the tube

Fig. 1.30

The mass flowing in a cross section of a tube during


a certain time is called MASS FLOW.
Mathematically speaking, mass flow is obtained by multiplying the
section area (A) by the density () by the velocity (V):
Mass flow = A V
The equation of continuity is the mathematical expression of the
principle of mass conservation applied to a defined fluid flow and is:
A V = constant.
Equation of continuity: A V = constant
If we consider airflow at low speed only, the air can be assumed to
be incompressible and the density will therefore be constant; in this
case the equation of continuity can be simplified and is:
A V = constant
The equation of continuity in an incompressible fluid
where is constant is: A V = constant
We can now apply this equation to a tube with different section areas.
The air flows into section A1 of the tube at a speed equal to V1 = 100
m/s. What will the speed of the air be in section A2 ?
Section A1
2 m2
V1 =100 m/sec.

Section A2
4 m2

V2 = ?

Fig. 1.31

TFHS and NAR

1 - 15

TFHS and NAR

A1 V1 = A2 V2 and you obtain:


V2 = A1/A2 V1 = 2 m2/4 m2 100 m/s = 50 m/s.
The speed in section A2 will be 50 m/s.
To understand the behaviour of airflow in a tube and its relationship
to the mass flow is very important in order to also understand the
behaviour of the airflow around a body.

CAN YOU ANSWER THESE?


What does the equation of continuity mean?
What will A (area) times V (velocity) be if (density) is constant in
an incompressible flow, according to the equation of continuity?

1.5

BERNOULLI'S THEOREM.
This paragraph deals with the static and dynamic pressure and
describes the relationship between the airflow speed and the pressure
exerted on the airfoil.

Static pressure.
If we consider a certain mass of air at rest, we can measure the
pressure of the air exerted in all directions on a surface. This
pressure is called the static pressure of the atmosphere. This static
pressure of the atmosphere is caused by the weight of the air above
the surface. In a fluid or a gas like the atmosphere, the static
pressure acts equally in all directions.

ic
spher
Atmo
e
r
pressu

Different weight
at different locations
of the atmosphere

Atmos
pher
pressu ic
re

The Earth
High pressure

Low pressure

Fig. 1.32

The static pressure of the atmosphere is caused by the


weight of the air acting on a surface. It acts equally in all
directions.
Static pressure is abbreviated P, p or Ps.

1 - 16

Basics.

Principles of Flight

Dynamic pressure.
If there is a higher static pressure at one location than at another, there
is unbalance. However, the air strives for a balanced situation. Thus, in
order to create a balanced situation, the air will fill the lower pressure
area by flowing as a wind from the higher to the lower pressure.

r
Highe ic
h
p er
atmos re
pressu
Wind is caused by
pressure differences.

Lower
atmosp
her
pressu ic
re

The Earth
Fig. 1.33

High pressure

Low pressure

A flow is always caused by pressure differences


along the flow direction.
Imagine you are holding your hand into the wind. The air in motion
strikes the hand and exerts a force on the surface. The value of this
force is roughly proportional to the dynamic pressure.
When the air in motion strikes a surface it exerts a force on
that surface which is proportional to the dynamic pressure.

;;;
;;
;;;
;;
;;;;;
This force is incorrectly called "pressure", physically speaking . It is
a force caused by the energy from the motion of the air. However,
this force is normally called the dynamic pressure. The dynamic
pressure depends on the speed of the hand relative to the air.
Moreover, the dynamic pressure also depends on the density of the
air.
If the relative speed between the air and the hand is increased, the
dynamic pressure is also increased. This is due to the greater
number of molecules per second that strikes the hand.

Low velocity

Number of molecules per second.

High velocity

Number of molecules per second.

Fig. 1.34

If the air becomes denser at constant relative speed, the dynamic


pressure increases, because the denser air contains a greater
number of molecules; consequently, the number of molecules per
second that strikes the hand is greater.

TFHS and NAR

1 - 17

TFHS and NAR

If the air becomes denser at constant relative speed,


the dynamic pressure increases.
Dynamic pressure is expressed as: 1/2 V2 where is the air density
and V is the relative speed. Dynamic pressure is often abbreviated "q".
Dynamic pressure is expressed as: 1/2 V2

The relationship between airflow speed


and static pressure.
Daniel Bernoulli, 1700 -1782, was a scientist who made research about
the behaviour of fluids. He drew conclusions about the relation between
pressure and kinetic energy. He deduced that "the sum of energies is a
constant". The two energies he was referring to are the kinetic energy, i.e.
energy of movement, and the pressure energy, i.e. potential energy. The
potential energy/volume unit correspond to the static pressure. Basically,
you cannot get something for nothing: if you increase the velocity (the
kinetic energy), the pressure (in this case perpendicular to a surface
parallell to the air flow) must decrease and vice versa. Since kinetic energy
is a function of the mass and the velocity, the connection between
pressure and velocity is found. That is, Bernoulli states that a decrease
in pressure causes an increase in velocity and vice versa.
"Bernoulli's Theorem" is interpreted as the total pressure remaining
constant in a steady streamline flow. So, the sum of static and
dynamic pressure is called the total pressure, which is constant:
Static pressure (p) + dynamic pressure (q) = total pressure (Ptot).
Bernoullis Theorem:
static pressure + dynamic pressure = constant.
The sum of static and dynamic pressure is called
the total pressure (p + q = Ptot).
The conclusion of Bernoulli's Theorem is that an increase in speed
(dynamic pressure) at a point along a streamline, causes a
decrease in the static pressure at that point, while a decrease in
dynamic pressure causes an increase in the static pressure at that
point. At zero speed, the total pressure is equal to the static
pressure.
In a steady streamline flow:
increased flow velocity parallel to a surface means decreased static
pressure perpendicular to that surface and vice versa.
Let us consider a flow over a uniform smooth surface.The velocity
will be constant along the surface, disregarding the flow velocity
closest to the surface which will slow down due to the friction.
Airflow past a uniform surface.
A certain
mass flow.

Fig. 1.35

1 - 18

The same
mass flow.

;;
;;
Basics.

Principles of Flight

If there is an obstacle on the surface, there will be a slightly higher


pressure at the front of the obstacle and a slightly lower pressure at the
rear end of the obstacle. The pressure differences along the surface will
cause the flow velocity to adapt to the new situation in the way that it will
fill the low pressure at the rear from the high pressure at the front. In
order to do that, the flow velocity will increase over the obstruction.
According to the principle of mass conservation and the equation of
continuity, the mass flow must be constant along the surface, so where
the velocity is at highest, the area of the flow will be less.

Airflow past a surface with an obstruction

A certain
mass flow.

The same mass flow


but a higher velocity
gives a smaller area.

The same mass flow


but a lower velocity
gives a greater area.

Fig. 1.36

Instead of flowing parallel to the curved surface the flow will be


convergent due to the fact that the air always flows from an area with
a higher static pressure to an area with a lower static pressure. In
spite of no limiting walls, the high speed flow will have a smaller
section area due to the lower static pressure in that area at
constant density.

The static pressure normal to the body in the figure, will vary
according to the change in speed over the obstruction. In the section
where the speed has been increased, the static pressure decreases
since the total pressure does not change in an incompressable
flow.

The static pressure reaches a minimum value where the speed and
the dynamic pressure are at their maximum. After that the speed
decreases gradually and consequently the static pressure increases
again.
In the next figure we will see how dynamic and static pressure
change over the region.

A certain
dynamic- and
static pressure.

A higher dynamicand a corresponding


lower static pressure.

Highest
static pressure

Decreasing dynamicand increasing


static pressure.

Lowest
static pressure

Fig. 1.37

TFHS and NAR

1 - 19

TFHS and NAR

The static pressure has its minimum value where the speed and the
dynamic pressure are at their maximum.

CAN YOU ANSWER THESE?


What causes static pressure?
In what directions is the static pressure acting?
What factors have any influence on the dynamic pressure?
How is dynamic pressure expressed?
What is the relationship between static and dynamic
pressure according to Bernoullis Theorem?
What is the sum of static and dynamic pressure called?
How will a variation in the flow velocity parallel to a surface
influence the static pressure normal to that surface
in steady streamline flow?

1.6

NEWTONS LAWS AND THE EFFECT


OF THE WING ON THE AIR.
This paragraph describes the effect of the wing on the air, the theories
of which are based on Newtons three laws.

Newton's First Law of Motion.


Another important factor determining the influence of a fluid on a
body is its mass. Despite the fact that air seems to have a very low
mass, its effect is great because of its mass. You already know that
at sea level, a cube of air with its sides 10 m wide will have a mass
of 1225 kg. When a body moves in the air, a lot of air has to be
removed in one way or another, but the air resists being moved
according to Newtons first law. Newton's First Law of Motion states
that a moving body will continue to move in a straight line at a
constant speed.

(A moving body experiencing no gravity and in vacuum.)


Fig. 1.38

Newton's First Law of Motion states that a moving body will


continue to move in a straight line at a constant speed.
This is valid for all moving bodies, an aircraft as well as the motion
of the air.

Newton's Second Law of Motion


Newton's Second Law of Motion states that in order to change the
state of a body moving in a straight line at a constant speed, a force
must be exerted on it. For example if you want to increase the speed
of a body, or change the direction, a force has to be exerted on it,

1 - 20

Basics.

Principles of Flight
Force

Fig. 1.39

Newton's Second Law of Motion of a body states that in order


to change the state of a body moving in a straight line at a
constant speed, a force must be exerted on it.

Equation of momentum and equation of impulse.


Newtons second law is expressed as the force exerted on a body (F)
being equal to the mass of the body (m) the acceleration (a);
F=ma
This is also valid for air since it has a mass, and therefore can be
regarded as a body. If the direction of the airflow is changed there has
to be a force acting on each element of air. As a consequence of the
developed pressure difference, a force acts on the fluid element so
that it will be pushed from the higher pressure to the lower pressure.

Region of higher pressure


Fluid element

Region of lower pressure

Fig. 1.40

If the air is to follow a curved surface, the fluid elements strive to


continue in a straight line according to Newtons first law, and
consequently the centrifugal force causes the air elements to rise
from the surface.
In that situation the fluid element is not able to exert the same
pressure on the surface, therefore a lower static pressure is developed.
This lower pressure over the surface creates a pressure difference in
comparison with the region further out from the surface. That
pressure difference causes a force that accelerates the air as a result
of following the curved surface.

Higher pres
sur
e

Fluid
element

Lower pr
ess
ur
Centrifugal
force

Force
caused by
pressure
differences

Fig. 1.41

TFHS and NAR

1 - 21

TFHS and NAR

In
cr

ea

se

ve
lo
cit

If the airflow has to follow the same curved surface at a higher speed there
will be a higher pressure difference, i.e. there will be lower static
pressure over the curved surface. Consequently, a higher speed of the
fluid over a concave surface will cause a lower static pressure. The effect
that the airflow deflects from its original path and instead follows the
curved surface is known as the Coanda effect.

Fluid
element

High
pres er
sure

.
ss

h lower p
uc
re
M
Centrifugal
force

A greater force
caused by
a higher pressure
difference.

Fig. 1.42

However, at a certain flow velocity the fluid elements are not able to
follow the curved path due to the viscosity of air, and the flow will be
turbulent.

Newtons Third Law of Motion.


Newton's Third Law of Motion states that if a body A influences
another body B with a certain force, body B will influence body A with
exactly the same force. An action force will cause a reaction force in
the opposite direction.

Action force

Reaction force

Bodies of equal mass

Action force

Reaction force

Fig. 1.43

If a body A hits another body B with a certain force,


body B will influence body A with exactly the same force.
If the bodies have different mass, the body with the smallest mass
will change its motion path most, but still there is balance between
the action force and the reaction force.
Action force

Reaction force

Heavy body
Light body
Action force
Reaction force
Fig. 1.44

1 - 22

Basics.

Principles of Flight
In the same way, the wing will influence the surrounding mass of air.
If the air is pushed downwards (action force) a corresponding
reaction force upwards will be exerted on the wing.

The influence of the wing on the air.


When an aircraft moves through the air its influence on the air is to
divert the mass of air downwards. The reaction force from the mass
of air causes an upwards lift force on the wings.
Reaction force

Mass

of air
Action force
acting on the airflow.

Downwards
diversion of air
(= downwash)

Fig. 1.45

In order to achieve equilibrium between the accelerating force and


the lift force at different speeds, the downward angle has to be
greater at low speeds than at high speeds or the accelerated mass of
air has to be greater.
Reaction force.
At low speeds

Mass

of air
Action force
acting on the airflow.

Lower velocity but


greater downward
angle of airflow
means sufficient
reaction force.

Fig. 1.46

The force required to accelerate the effected mass of


air downwards during flight, is exactly the lift force.

The downwash in the previous figures is very simplified. There is also


an upwash in front of the airfoil due to the created pressure
differences around the airfoil, but the net effect is a downwash of the
air when lift is produced. The upwash and downwash angles vary
with the distance from the wing as is shown in the next figure. Far
ahead and behind the wing, the up- and downwash is zero.

TFHS and NAR

1 - 23

TFHS and NAR

Upwash

Downwash
Above the trailing edge
there is a slightly less
downwash angle than at
the trailing edge.
Wing section

Fig. 1.47

Downwash angle at
the trailing edge.
Below the trailing edge
there is a slightly less
downwash angle than at
the trailing edge.

However, since there is no mechanical link between the air and the
wings, as there is between the ground and the landing gear when the
aircraft is on the ground, the only way a diversion of air can be
transformed into a reaction force, is by pressure differences around
the wings. However, contrary to what one
might believe, the pressure differences
are not dominated by the high
Not
pressure below the wings, due
higher
to the diversion of the air.
Fig. 1.48
pressure
only!
Instead, the pressure difference is dominated by a lower pressure
above the wings (light area in the figure below) compared to the
surrounding static pressure and the slight, if any, higher pressure
below the wing. The pressure difference that acts on the surfaces
creates a force that, multiplied with the corresponding area, is equal
to and opposite to the gravitational action, i.e. the weight.

Pressure
difference.

Lower pressure
above the wing
than below the wing
causes a pressure
difference that acts
as a lift force.

Fig. 1.49

The only way a flow of air can be transformed into a reaction


force is by pressure differences around the wings.
The pressure difference that acts on the wing, creates a force
that, when multiplied with the corresponding area, is equal
to and opposite to the gravitational action.
The distribution of pressure on the wing surface is different depending
on the flow velocity. When the flow has rather low subsonic velocity,
the surrounding air will remain mostly uncompressed, but at
supersonic speed the air will be compressed which has a different
effect on both the lift produced and the point of its application.
The next figure illustrates a wing section moving to the left at a
geometrical angle of attack of zero degree and at a certain value
respectively. The direction of the total aerodynamic force and the
point of its application is shown in uncompressed flow as well as in
compressed flow. In the case of velocities near the speed of sound
there will be a mix of uncompressed and compressed flow.
1 - 24

;;
Basics.

Principles of Flight

Uncompressed flow.
Low subsonic speed.

Compressed flow.
Supersonic speed.

Freestream 0

Freestream +

At zero geometrical angle of attack,


a certain lift is produced.
The total force is acting at the
forward part of the wing section.

At zero geometrical angle of


attack, a negative lift is produced.
The total force is acting at the
centre of the wing section.

Fig. 1.50

When compression occurs due to the effects of the flow, we are


dealing with the so-called Mach effects. This term will sometimes
be used in the beginning of this booklet but will be fully explained in
the last chapter 19 "Aerodynamics for high-speed aircraft".
If nothing else is mentioned in the texts and illustrations, they deal
only with uncompressed flow.

In order to understand the pressure distribution around a wing in


uncompressed flow, we need to study a very important relationship
between pressure and flow according to Bernoullis theorem.
CAN YOU ANSWER THESE?

What is stated in Newtons first, second and third law?


In what way do the wings affect the surrounding air?
In what way can an acceleration of air
downwards create a lifting force?
In what way can an acceleration of air downwards be
transformed into a lifting force on the wings?

1.7

BERNOULLIS THEOREM AND THE EFFECT


OF THE MOVING AIR ON THE WING.
This paragraph describes the effect of the air on the wing and the
variations of static pressure around the wing, the theories of which are
based on Bernoullis theorem.

Two-dimensional flow and circulation.


Since the pressure difference is the factor that creates lift, and since
the way pressure difference is created depends on a lot of factors, it
is very important for you as a pilot to know what really happens
around an airfoil section. In this section we shall see how pressure
differences around wings are created.
TFHS and NAR

1 - 25

TFHS and NAR

When a wing is moving through the air, the air adapts itself to the changed
situation. A good way to see how the elements of air change their positions
in the vicinity of a moving airfoil, is to study a picture relative to the air
instead of relative to the airfoil i.e. the section of air is fixed and the
airfoil is moved.
In the figure below an airfoil (black) is moving from a stationary
position to the right (illustrated by a grey section) to the present
position at left where the picture was taken. The dotted lines
illustrate particles in the air changing their position during the
motion of the airfoil.

Fig. 1.51

As is illustrated, you can see that the particles near the upper
surface will be moved up- rear- and downwards, and those at the
lower part will be moved mainly downwards.
Note! The vortex behind the starting point is a "starting vortex" which
causes the motion below the surface to be more rearwards, and the
motion above the surface to be more steeply downwards compared to
a situation where the airfoil is in continuous motion.
As soon as the wing starts moving, the lower surface of the wing
pushes the air downwards and slightly forwards. Thus, a slightly
higher pressure will be developed below the wing surface.
The air near the leading edge tries to avoid the high pressure
below and flows upwards towards the lower pressure area/region,
making these particles of air flow first slightly forwards, then
upwards-rearwards at a relatively high speed. The air near the upper
surface, however, has to fill the low pressure region where the upper
surface of the wing was just positioned, causing the particles of air
to flow rearwards and downwards.
The next figure illustrates how a particle of air positioned slightly in
front of and below an arriving airfoil, will travel around the airfoil and
make a circular path as shown.

1 - 26

Basics.

Principles of Flight
A slightly lower p
1

The line represents a


fixed position in the air

A slightly higher pressure

3
3

6
6
Fig. 1.52

Relative to the surrounding air, the particles of air have moved


forwards below, upwards at the leading edge, rearwards-downwards
above and downwards behind the airfoil. A so called circulation
relative to the airfoil is thus created. However, it should not be seen
as if a particle near the lower surface has been moved forward in
relation to the surface circulating all the way around the airfoil.
The particles have internal velocity vectors parallel to the airfoil
surface as shown in next figure (black arrows).

Velocity vector
parallel to the
surface (black)
Direction of motion
and velocity
(white)

Fig. 1.53

The velocity of the air, i.e. its particles, will have the highest velocity
relative to the airfoil where it flows from the highest to the lowest
pressure, i.e. at the forward part of the upper surface of the wing.
The highest flow velocity parallel to the surface will be
developed at the forward part of the upper surface of the
wing where the pressure gradient along the airfoil is highest.
TFHS and NAR

1 - 27

TFHS and NAR

The lowest relative velocity will be where the airfoil pushes the air slightly
forwards, i.e. at the lower surface near the leading edge.

Pressure distribution.
In order to make it easier to see what happens to the flow and the
pressure distribution, we will from now on regard a fixed airfoil in an
airflow. Imagine a very thin flat plate in a flow. If the plate is parallel
to the free stream direction, the flow will be undisturbed.
Flow
direction

Fig. 1.54

If we change the angle between the plate and the flow direction, called
the angle of attack (abbreviated A.o.A or ), the pressure situation
and the flow pattern around the plate will be altered. Due to the angle
of attack, the air will accelerate downwards giving a slightly higher
pressure below the surface and a slightly lower pressure above the
surface. The air in front of the plate will adapt to the new situation
and avoid the higher pressure on the lower side and try to fill the
lower pressure on the upper side, just as in figure 52, with an airfoil.
A slight upwash is therefore created in front of the plate.

Flow
direction

Upwash.

A.o.A

+
Fig. 1.55

The higher pressure below and the lower pressure above the
plate will cause an upwash of the air in front of the plate.
The air that flows near the leading edge upper surface speeds up
further as it flows from a higher to a lower pressure. This increase
in speed along the airfoil causes a local small decrease in the static
pressure normal to the airfoil surface. In addition to that, the
acceleration of the mass of air in the very curved path around the
leading edge of the plate will lead to an additional decrease in the
static pressure on the surface.
When the flow has passed the leading edge, the speed of the flow
decreases again as it approaches the trailing edge where there is a
comparatively higher pressure. However, the higher flow velocity
along the upper surface of the airfoil, combined with its streamline
motion pattern, will cause a decrease in the static pressure which is
normal to the surface.
The higher flow velocity at the upper surface
causes a decrease in static pressure.
On the contrary, the lower flow velocity along the lower surface of the
airfoil will cause a slightly higher static pressure.
1 - 28

Basics.

Principles of Flight
The figure below illustrates the static pressure around the plate at rest
(dotted arrows), and in a motion relative to the air (solid arrows).

Local pressure
at zero velocity

Local pressure
at a certain velocity

Flow
direction

Fig. 1.56

Note! the pressure difference in this and all other figures is exaggerated
in order to be more prominent in the picture, and it illustrates only the
principles of change of pressure. In reality there is only a small
percentages of change, and the distribution may vary much in detail
depending on the shape of the airfoil section and the angle of attack.
Thus, as a consequence of the flow around the plate, there will be a
difference in pressure between the upper and lower surfaces of the
plate. In the next figure, the difference in pressure is illustrated in
different shades: the paler shade of grey represents a lower pressure,
and the darker shade of grey represents a higher pressure than the
region out of influence.

Fig. 1.57

Total aerodynamic force of a plate.


The pressure difference on the surfaces of the plate produces a total
aerodynamic force that is directed principally upwards.

LIFT

Total
aerodynamic
force
DRAG

Fig. 1.58

Symmetrically curved airfoil sections.


If we instead of a flat plate put a cambered but symmetrical airfoil
section in an airflow we will get a somewhat different flow. At zero
angle of attack there will be some pressure differences between the
leading edge and the trailing edge that changes the flow velocity near
the surface as is shown in next figure.
TFHS and NAR

1 - 29

TFHS and NAR

Total aerodynamic force

Fig. 1.59

This change in velocity will cause a decrease in the static pressure


normal to the surface except at the leading edge where it will
increase.
Local pressure
at zero velocity

Local pressure
at a certain velocity

Flow
direction

Fig. 1.60

A symmetrical airfoil section at zero A.o.A will not create any


pressure difference between the upper and the lower surface. But at
a given A.o.A the flow will be different and hence the pressure and
the forces.

Local pressure
at zero velocity

Local pressure
at a certain velocity

Flow
direction

Fig. 1.61

LIFT

Total aerodynamic force

DRAG

+
Fig. 1.62

1 - 30

;;
;;
Basics.

Principles of Flight

A symmetrically curved airfoil creates greater pressure differences


than a flat plate at the same A.o.A.

A more effective airfoil section.

An airfoil section which creates even higher pressure differences at a given


angle of attack is an asymmetrically curved airfoil with a cross section like
the one shown in figure 63. The pressure distribution will be changed in
comparison with the symmetrical section as shown in the figure. Note
that the airfoil section in the figure below has the same angle of attack
as the preceding flat plate and the symmetrical section.
Local pressure
at zero velocity

Local pressure
at a certain velocity

Flow
direction

Fig. 1.63

Notice the great difference in pressure distribution between the


leading part of the upper surface of this airfoil and that of the flat
plate. The suction over the leading edge contributes to a more
upright total aerodynamic force with the effect of less drag from the
airfoil.

A figure showing the difference in pressure in a grey scale may look


as the next figure. Notice again that the main part of the lower
pressure on the upper surface is acting as a suction directed
slightly forwards.
If we compare the lift and drag generated by a flat plate and by an
airfoil section at the same angles of attack, we find that the airfoil
section gives a greater lift and less drag.

LIFT

Total
aerodynamic
force

DRAG

Fig. 1.64

A normal airfoil section gives a greater lift and less drag than
that generated by a flat plate at the same angle of attack .

TFHS and NAR

1 - 31

;;
;;
;;
;;
TFHS and NAR

Before analysing the airflow around an airfoil any further, some terminology
concerning the airfoil section need to be introduced.

Airfoil terminology.

The mean camber line is the line drawn halfways between the upper
and lower surfaces of the airfoil. This line gives us a picture of the
average curvature of the airfoil section. The shape of the mean camber line
is very important when determining the aerodynamic characteristics of
the airfoil section.

Mean camber line

Fig. 1.65

The mean camber line is the line drawn halfway


between the upper and lower surfaces of the airfoil.
It gives us a picture of the average curvature of the airfoil.

The point where the mean camber line intersects the front part of the
airfoil section is the leading edge, while the point where the mean
camber line intersects the rear part is the trailing edge.

Leading edge

Trailing edge

Fig. 1.66

The leading edge is the point where the mean camber


line intersects the front part of the airfoil section.
The trailing edge is the point where the mean
camber line intersects the rear part.

The chord line is a straight line joining the leading edge and the
trailing edge. The length of the chord line is called chord (c).

Chordline.

Chord.

Fig. 1.67

The chord of a wing may vary greatly from root to tip. Mostly the
root chord is greater than the tip chord. The reasons for varying
the chord along the span, are expressed in chapter 4 paragraph
2, and chapter 7, paragraph 2.
Root chord.

Fig. 1.68

1 - 32

Tip chord.

;;
;;
;;
Basics.

Principles of Flight

The chord line is a straight line joining


the leading edge and the trailing edge.
Chord is the length of the chord line.

The distance between the mean camber line and the chord line is
called the camber. The point where the distance between the mean
camber line and the chord line is the greatest, is called the maximum camber.

Maximum camber

Camber

Mean camber line

Chordline.

Fig. 1.69

The distance between the mean camber line and the chord
line is called the camber. The point where this distance is
greatest, is called the maximum camber.

The thickness of an airfoil is measured where the distance is the


greatest between the upper and the lower surfaces.

Maximum thickness

Fig. 1.70

A higly cambered wing may be thick or thin and a symmetrical airfoil


has zero camber.

Equal camber

Zero camber

Symmetrical ai

rfoil

Fig. 1.71

The thickness of an airfoil is measured where the distance is


the greatest between the upper and the lower surfaces.
A highly cambered wing may be thick or thin and
a symmetrical airfoil has zero camber.

The radius of the leading edge of the airfoil has a great impact on the
behaviour of the flow around the airfoil. A relatively great nose radius
makes it easier for the airflow to follow the airfoil upper surface at
high angles of attack. A very small nose radius may cause the flow
separation to start at the leading edge instead of the trailing edge.

TFHS and NAR

1 - 33

;;
;;
TFHS and NAR

Nose radius

Fig. 1.72

The radius of the leading edge of the airfoil has a great


impact on the behaviour of the flow around the airfoil.

In two dimensional aerodynamics the angle of attack (or angle of


incidence) is the angle between the chord line of the airfoil and the
free stream V. It is abbreviated as A.o.A or by the character . The
angle of attack is always based on the relative airflow free from the
influence of the airfoil.

Angle of Attack
(A.o.A or )

Chordline.

Free stream flow.

Fig. 1.73

In 2-D aerodynamics the local angle of attack is the angle


between the chord line of the airfoil and the relative airflow.
It is abbreviated as A.o.A or by the character .

However, normally in three dimensional aerodynamics the A.o.A ()


is given as a value relative to the symmetrical axis of the aircraft.
It is important not to confuse the angle of attack with the pitch angle
or the attitude of the aircraft, which is relative to the horizon.

The figure below shows a climb situation, where the pitch angle from
the horizon to the aircraft axis is rather great, but the angle of attack
from the air flow to the aircraft axis is small.

Pitch angle or attitude

Flig
ht p
ath

Climb angle

Air

Angle of Attack
(A.o.A)

flow

Horizon

Fig. 1.74

Do not confuse the angle of attack with the pitch angle.

Distribution of local velocity and


pressure on the airfoil section.
You now know the flow pattern around an airfoil at a low positive
angle of attack. But we need to study the airflow and pressure
distribution more closely to fully understand the creation of lift.
1 - 34

;;
;
Principles of Flight

Basics.

Due to the pressure distribution around a lifting surface there will


always be an upwash of the airflow in front of the airfoil and a
downwash behind it.
The airflow close ahead of the airfoil is pushed forwards, giving a gradual
decrease in speed relative to the airfoil. The airflow that meets the airfoil
surface at a perpendicular angle will stop when it reaches the surface.
That point is called the stagnation point.

Upwash

Downwash

Stagnation point

Fig. 1.75

Near a lifting surface there will always be an upwash of the


airflow in front of the airfoil and a downwash behind it.
The stagnation point is near the leading edge of the airfoil
where the airflow stops and the surrounding flow splits to
follow either the upper or the lower surface.

The air following the upper surface accelerates towards the area with
lower pressure, reaching the maximum speed where the pressure
gradient is at maximum at approximately the thickest part of the
airfoil section, and then decelerates gradually as it deviates from the
area with lowest pressure.
Acceleration
towards the
lower pressure

Area with the


lowest pressure.

Deceleration from
the area with
lowest pressure.

Fig. 1.76

The air that flows under the airfoil is deviated upwards ahead of the
airfoil in order to avoid the higher pressure below the surface and
decelerate as it flows towards the higher pressure. The air will
thereafter progressively accelerate when coming nearer the trailing
edge.

Fig. 1.77

Deceleration
Area with the Acceleration from
the area with
towards the
highest pressure.
highest pressure.
higher pressure

TFHS and NAR

1 - 35

;;
;;
TFHS and NAR

Consequently the velocity of the airflow varies chordwise and is different


on the upper and the lower surface. When the airflow reaches the trailing
edge, there are equal velocities of the air from both surfaces, but the air
elements that were divided at the leading edge have got different
positions due to the so called circulation of the air elements around the
airfoil.
At the trailing edge, the air from both above and below
the airfoil has the same velocity, but the elements of
air from the upper surface are further back than the
elements from the lower surface.

As you know, an increase in local speed causes a decrease in static


pressure over the surface. On the contrary, a decrease in local speed
causes an increase in static pressure over the surface. Consequently,
on most parts of the lower surface of the airfoil there is a slightly
higher static pressure than the free stream static pressure.
In the next figures, using shade scale again, the lighter areas
represents a lower pressure than the free stream static pressure,
and the darker areas a higher static pressure.

A.o.A 5 o

Flow speed

Fig. 1.78

At a higher angle of attack there will be higher pressure below and


lower pressure above which increases the flow velocity at the upper
surface near the leading edge. This will increase the total pressure
difference, thus creating a higher lift at the same flow velocity.

A.o.A 10 o

Flow speed

Fig. 1.79

On a cambered airfoil section with a very low A.o.A , both upper and
lower surface pressure can be lower than the free stream static
pressure. But, as long as a lift is produced, there is consequently a
pressure difference between the surfaces.

1 - 36

;;
;;
;;
Basics.

Principles of Flight

A.o.A 0 o

Flow speed

Fig. 1.80

To simplify the drawings of pressure distribution, we may instead


use arrows pointing away from the airfoil to indicate a pressure less
than the free airstream static pressure. And we use arrows pointing
towards the surface to indicate a pressure greater than the free
airstream static pressure. Or, to simplifying graphics further, we
may use a minus sign to indicate lower pressure and a plus sign to
indicate a relatively higher pressure than the free airstream pressure.

Fig. 1.81

Centre of pressure.

The difference in pressure between the upper and lower surfaces of


the airfoil is the origin of the total aerodynamic force exerted on the
airfoil. The total aerodynamic force acts along a line whose intersection
with the chord line is called the centre of pressure, abbreviated C.P.
As has already been mentioned, the total aerodynamic force has two
components, one perpendicular to the relative airflow called lift and
the other parallel to the relative airflow called drag.
Lift

Total aerodynamic force

Centre of pressure.
C.P.

Drag

~25% c

Fig. 1.82

The total aerodynamic force acts at a point


called the centre of pressure, abbreviated C.P.

The location of the C.P. varies with the angle of attack but in general
it is located within the forward half of the chord, approx. 25 % of the
chord.
TFHS and NAR

1 - 37

TFHS and NAR

An efficient airfoil section produces high lift and low drag.


Lift is caused by differences in the static pressure
perpendicular to the airfoil surfaces.
Differences in the static pressure perpendicular
to the airfoil surfaces is caused by variation of
airflow speed close to the surface.
Variation in the speed of the airflow is caused by
differences in chordwise pressure which causes
the air to flow from one region with higher pressure
to another region with lower pressure.

You will get much more information on lift-related drag in chapter 4,


"Induced and total drag", and on factors influencing the relationship
between lift and drag in chapter 13 "Lift/drag".

CAN YOU ANSWER THESE?


What is meant by the term circulation
of air around a lifting surface"?
What is the cause of the differences in fluid
speed around a lifting surface?
In what way do the differences in fluid speed influence
the static pressure normal to the surfaces?
What is meant by the total aerodynamic force
and what components of the total aerodynamic
force influence the lift and drag?
What is camber, max camber and the mean camber line?
What is chord and chordline?
What is meant by airfoil thickness?
What is meant by the angle of attack of an airfoil
and where is it measured?
What is the meaning of the abbreviations A.o.A and ?
What is the stagnation point?
How does the air flow in front of and behind a lifting surface?
What is the cause of the pressure differences
around a wing airfoil section?
What are the pressure differences around a lifting airfoil
section in comparison with the free stream pressure?
What is the point called where the
total aerodynamic force is acting?

1 - 38

;;
;;
;;
Basics.

Principles of Flight

1.8

BEHAVIOUR WHEN CHANGING THE


ANGLE OF ATTACK.

This paragraph deals with the behaviour of the lift when there is a
change in the angle of attack. It introduces the critical angle of attack
and the concept of stall.

Critical angle of attack and stall.

Let us now examine how the airflow around the airfoil changes when
the angle of attack increases. When the angle of attack is low, we will
see a streamline flow around the airfoil. The streamlines follow the
upper surface of the wing all the way to the trailing edge. The air flows
first towards decreasing pressure, then towards increasing pressure.
Flowing towards decreasing pressure
= acceleration

Flowing towards increasing pressure


= deceleration

Stagnation point

Flowing towards
increasing pressure
= deceleration

Flowing towards
decreasing pressure
= acceleration

Fig. 1.83

When the A.o.A is increased, the stagnation point will be moved


further down on the lower surface, the circulation will increase and
the differences of the local velocities around the airfoil will be greater.

Greater acceleration

Greater deceleration

Stagnation point moves down

Fig. 1.84

If the angle of attack is increased to a certain degree, the pressure


difference between the area with max velocity and the trailing edge
will be too great, slowing down the flow velocity near the trailing edge.
This prevents the air from following the surface and will cause the
airflow to break away and separate from the rear surface.

--

When flowing towards a too high pressure


gradient, the flow stops near the
surface and is separated.

++

The stagnation point


moves further down

Fig. 1.85

TFHS and NAR

The flow starts to flow upwards-forwards


at the trailing edge.

1 - 39

;;
;;
TFHS and NAR

When the A.o.A is increased, the area of separation becomes greater and
more turbulent. The point where the separation starts, called the
separation point, moves forward to the area with the lowest pressure.

---

Separation point
Flow directions

+
++

Fig. 1.86

The airflow breaks away and separates from the surface at


the SEPARATION POINT and becomes very turbulent.

If the angle of attack is increased further, the separation point moves


gradually towards the leading edge.
The separation point moves gradually towards
the leading edge at increased angle of attack.

At a certain value of the angle of attack for that aerofoil, called the
critical angle of attack, crit, or stall angle of attack, is exceeded
the airflow is separated on a very large portion of the upper surface
of the airfoil. The separation of airflow makes the static pressure in
this area increase which means less pressure difference in comparison
with the pressure on the lower surface. The lift will not increase any
further. This condition is defined as airfoil stall.

Separation point

+
++

Fig. 1.87

If the CRITICAL ANGLE OF ATTACK or STALL ANGLE OF


ATTACK is exceeded, the airflow is separated on a very large
portion of the upper surface of the airfoil causing less
pressure differences. This condition is defined as
AIRFOIL STALL.

We can now summarize what we have learnt. The speed variations


in the airflow cause an increase both in the zone of lower static
pressure on the upper surface, and a relatively higher static pressure
on the lower surface. On the upper surface of the airfoil we can also
see a movement of the maximum value of the lower static pressure
towards the leading edge.
The expansion of the zone
surface of the airfoil and
towards the leading edge
reaches the stall angle of

1 - 40

of lower static pressure on the upper


the movement of its maximum value
continue until the angle of attack
attack.

;;
Basics.

Principles of Flight

Stall
A.o.A

Fig. 1.88

Once the stall angle of attack is exceeded, the airflow breaks away
completely from the upper surface of the airfoil; the airfoil is stalled.
The streamline flow over the upper surface of the airfoil is reduced
and as a consequence, the zone of lower static pressure on the upper
surface of the airfoil is also much reduced.
When the airflow over the wing is separated from the surface, the
downward acceleration of the air mass is greatly reduced, as can
be seen in the figures 85 to 87. Therefore this stalled condition is also
called: loss of impulse.
The stalled condition is also called: loss of impulse.

The shape of the trailing edge is very important in this matter. A very
sharp trailing edge will allow the upper airflow to maintain a higher
speed at a higher A.o.A. If the trailing edge is rounded, the high
pressure from the lower side will easily flow upwards/forwards and
slow down the flow velocity from the upper surface, giving a rather
low critical angle of attack.
Separation point
Sharp trailing edge.

Equal A.o.A.

Separation point

Rounded
trailing edge.

Fig. 1.89

A rounded trailing edge gives a lower stall angle of attack.

Total aerodynamic force and centre of pressure


at a changed angle of attack.

The change in the distribution of pressure around the airfoil, which


is a result of the increase in the angle of attack, causes a similar
change in the total aerodynamic force. With an increase in the
angle of attack at a constant speed, the value of the total
aerodynamic force increases at the same time as the centre of
pressure moves towards the leading edge. Once the critical angle has
been reached, the total aerodynamic force reaches its maximum
value, and the centre of pressure will be located in its most forward
position.
TFHS and NAR

1 - 41

;
;;
;;
;
TFHS and NAR

Lift

Stall
A.o.A

Drag

Most forward C.P.

Fig. 1.90

Once the critical angle of attack is exceeded and the airfoil is stalled,
the total aerodynamic force is pointed more rearwards. The lift
decreases dramatically, and the centre of pressure moves rearwards.

At stall

At critical A.o.A

Lift

Lift

DRAG

DRAG

C.P. most forward

C.P. rearwards

Fig. 1.91

We have seen that the lift increases with an increase in the angle of
attack up to the point where it reaches its maximum value. The
maximum value of lift is obtained when the angle of attack is equal
to the stall angle of attack.
An angle of attack higher than the stall angle of attack will only
reduce the lift.
The maximum value of lift is obtained when the angle
of attack is equal to the stall angle of attack.

The drag, however, continues to increase with a further increase in


the angle of attack. So, the lift generated by a stalled airfoil decreases
dramatically while the drag still increases.
The lift generated by a stalled airfoil decreases
dramatically while the drag still increases.

In the chapter 2 "Lift" and chapter 7 "Stalling", you will find further
information on this concept.

1 - 42

Basics.

Principles of Flight

CAN YOU ANSWER THESE?


What will happen to the airflow near the airfoil
surface at the stall angle of attack?
How will the stagnation point change its
position with a higher A.o.A?
Where does the separation start when the A.o.A is too high?
How will the position of the separation point
change with an increase in the A.o.A?
What will happen to the airflow when
the stall angle of attack is surpassed?
At what A.o.A does the total aerodynamic
force reach its maximum value?
Why is it important that the trailing edge of the wing is sharp?
At what A.o.A will the C.P. have its most forward position?
How will lift and drag change when the
stall A.o.A has been surpassed?
How will the C.P. change its position when
the crit has been surpassed?
How is a stalled airfoil characterized
compared to a normal lifting one?

TFHS and NAR

1 - 43