# Prandtl’s Lifting Line Introduction

Assumptions:
• 3-D steady potential flow (inviscid & irrotational)
• Incompressible
• High aspect ratio wing
• Low sweep
• Small crossflow (along span)
⇒ flow looks like 2-D flow locally with α adjusted

Outputs:
• Total lift and induced drag estimates
• Rolling moment
• Lift distribution along span
• Basic scaling of
i
D
C with
L
C & geometry

2
e
i
L
D
C
C
A π
= ⇒ dominated by A , where
2
b
A
S
=

2
2
2
2
2
1
i
i
L
q S D
b q S
e
S
L L
D
b q e q e b
π
π π

∞ ∞
| |
|
\ .
=
| |
⇒ = =
|
\ .

2
1
i
L
D
q e b π

| |
=
|
\ .

In steady level flight where W L = , we have the following options for reducing
i
D :

• Raise

q (i.e. raise cruise velocity) ⇐ Friction increases
W
b
⇐ b W & coupled due to structures
• Improve wing efficiency, e ⇐Can be difficult

Prandtl’s Lifting Line Introduction
16.100 2002 2
Geometry & Basic Definitions for Lifting Line

• Chord is variable, ) ( y c c =
• Angle of attack is variable, ) ( y α α = and is a sum of two pieces

N N
N
( ) ( )
g
local freestream
geometric
twist
y y
α α
α α α

= +

• Effective angle of attack is modified by downwash from trailing vortices

N
( ) ( ) ( )
eff i
induced
y y y
α
α α α = −

Note: 0
i
α > for downwash

• Local lift coefficient linear with
eff
α

( )[ ( ) ( )]
l o eff LO
C a y y y α α = −

Fundamental Lifting Line Equation

Basic model results by:

• Assuming Kutta-Joukowsky locally gives L′ :

( ) ( )
( ) 2 ( )
( )
( ) ( )
l
L y V y
L y y
C y
q c y V c y
ρ
∞ ∞
∞ ∞
′ = Γ
′ Γ
⇒ = =

y
c(y)
C
l

eff
,y)
x
y=-b/2 y=b/2
Prandtl’s Lifting Line Introduction
16.100 2002 3
Distributing infinitely many horseshoe vortices along wing
4
c
-line to model
induced flow:

| |
2 ( )
( ) ( ) ( )
( )
2 ( )
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
( )
l o eff LO
o i LO
y
C a y y y
V c y
y
a y y y y
V c y
α α
α α α

Γ
( = − =
¸ ¸
Γ
= − − =

2 ( )
( ) ( ) ( )
( ) ( )
LO i
o
y
y y y
a y V c y
α α α

Γ
= + +
where
2
2
( )
( ) 1
( )
4
b
o o
i
b o
d
y dy
w y dy
y
V V y y
α
π
∞ ∞

Γ
= − =

Note: only unknown is ) ( y Γ !

We use a Fourier series to solve this.

=

= Γ
N
n
n
n A bV
1
sin 2 θ where θ cos
2
b
y − =

Thus, the governing equation is:

1 1
( )
4 sin
( ) sin ( )
( ) ( ) sin
i
N N
n LO n
n n o
b n
A n nA
a c
α θ
θ
α θ θ α θ
θ θ θ
= =
= + +
∑ ∑

y
x
Γ(x)