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3. DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS OF MOTION FOR STEADY COMPRESSIBLE FLOWS 9 Small perturbation potential theory, Solutions for supersonic flows. Mach waves and Mach angles, Prandti-Glauert affine transformation relations for subsonic flows, Linearised two dimensional supersonic flow theory, Lift, drag pitching moment and centre of pressure of supersonic profiles.

Small perturbation potential theory

Transport yourself back in time to the year 1940, and imagine that you are an aerodynamicist responsible for calculating the lift on the wing of a highperformance fighter plane. You recognize that the airspeed is high enough so that the well-established incompressible flow techniques of the day will give inaccurate results. Compressibility must be taken into account. However, you also recognize that the governing equations for compressible flow are nonlinear, and that no general solution exists for these equations. Numerical solutions are out of the question! So, what do you do? The only practical recourse is to seek assumptions regarding the physics of the flow which will allow the governing equations to become linear, but which at the same time do not totally compromise the accuracy of the real problem. In turn, these linear equations can be attacked by conventional mathematical techniques.

Comparison between uniform and perturbed flows

There are a number of practical aerodynamic problems where, on a physical basis, a uniform flow is changed, or perturbed, only slightly. One such example is the flow over a thin airfoil illustrated in the above figure. The flow is characterized by only a small deviation of the flow from its original uniform state. The analyses of such flows are usually called small-perturbation theories. Small-perturbation theory is frequently (but not always) linear theory, an example is the acoustic theory, where the assumption of small perturbations allowed a linearized solution. Linearized solutions in compressible flow always contain the assumption of small perturbations, but small perturbations do not always guarantee that the governing equations can be linearized.



The pressure coefficient Cp is defined as

where p is the local pressure, and p, , and V are the pressure, density, and velocity, respectively, in the uniform free stream. The pressure coefficient is simply a non-dimensional pressure difference; it is extremely useful in fluid dynamics. An alternative form of the pressure coefficient, convenient for compressible flow, can be obtained as follows

Substitute it in the above equation, we get

The above equation is an alternative form of Cp expressed in terms of and M rather than , and V. It is still an exact representation of Cp. We now proceed to obtain an approximate expression for Cp which is consistent with linearized theory. Since the total enthalpy is constant,

The above equation becomes,

and the above equation gives,

The above equation is still an exact expression. However considering small perturbations:

Hence the above equation is of the form

Thus, the previous equation can be expressed in the form of the above equation as follows, neglecting higher-order terms:

Substituting the above equation in the below equation,

We get,

The above equation becomes,

The above equation gives the linearized pressure coefficient, valid for small perturbations. Note its particularly simple form; the linearized pressure coefficient depends only on the x component of the perturbation velocity.

Prandtl-Glauert rule
It is a similarity rule, which relates incompressible flow over a given twodimensional profile to subsonic compressible flow over the same profile.

where Cp0 is the incompressible pressure coefficient. The above equation is called the Prandtl-Glauert rule.

Consider the compressible subsonic flow over a thin airfoil at small angle of attack (hence small perturbations), as sketched in the Fig 9.2 (pp.259). The usual inviscid flow boundary condition must hold at the surface, i e., the flow velocity must be tangent to the surface. Referring to Fig. 9 2, at the surface this boundary condition is

We have the linearized perturbation-velocity potential equation.

Note that this is an approximate equation and no longer represent the exact physics of the flow. 1. 2. 3. The perturbations must be small. Transonic flow 0.8 < M < 1.2) is excluded. Hypersonic flow (M > 5) is excluded.

This equation is valid for subsonic and supersonic flow only. However, this equation has the striking advantage that it is linear. In summary, we have demonstrated that subsonic and supersonic flows lend themselves to approximate, linearized theory for the case of irrotational, isentropic flow with small perturbations. In contrast, transonic and hypersonic flows cannot be linearized, even with small perturbations. This is another example of the consistency of nature. Note some of the physical problems associated with transonic flow (mixed subsonic-supersonic regions with possible shocks, and extreme sensitivity to geometry changes at sonic conditions) and with hypersonic flow (strong shock waves close to the geometric boundaries, i e., thin shock layers, as well as high enthalpy, and hence high-temperature conditions in the flow). Just on an intuitive basis, we would expect such physically complicated flows to be inherently nonlinear. For the remainder of this chapter, we will consider linear flows only; thus, we will deal with subsonic and supersonic flows.


An airfoil (in American English) or aerofoil (in British English) is the shape of a wing or blade (of a propeller, rotor or turbine) or sail as seen in cross-section. An airfoil-shaped body moved through a fluid produces an aerodynamic force. The component of this force perpendicular to the direction of motion is called lift. The component parallel to the direction of motion is called drag. Subsonic flight airfoils have a characteristic shape with a rounded leading edge, followed by a sharp trailing edge, often with asymmetric camber. Foils of similar function designed with water as the working fluid are called hydrofoils. The lift on an airfoil is primarily the result of its angle of attack and shape. When oriented at a suitable angle, the airfoil deflects the oncoming air, resulting in a force on the airfoil in the direction opposite to the deflection. This force is known as aerodynamic force and can be resolved into two components: Lift and drag. Most foil shapes require a positive

angle of attack to generate lift, but cambered airfoils can generate lift at zero angle of attack. This "turning" of the air in the vicinity of the airfoil creates curved streamlines which results in lower pressure on one side and higher pressure on the other. This pressure difference is accompanied by a velocity difference, via Bernoulli's principle, so the resulting flowfield about the airfoil has a higher average velocity on the upper surface than on the lower surface. The lift force can be related directly to the average top/bottom velocity difference without computing the pressure by using the concept of circulation and the Kutta-Joukowski theorem.

Examples of airfoils in nature and within various vehicles

Any object with an angle of attack in a moving fluid, such as a flat plate, a building, or the deck of a bridge, will generate an aerodynamic force (called lift) perpendicular to the flow. Airfoils are more efficient lifting shapes, able to generate more lift (up to a point), and to generate lift with less drag. A lift and drag curve obtained in wind tunnel testing is shown on the right. The curve represents an airfoil with a positive camber so some lift is produced at zero angle of attack. With increased angle of attack, lift increases in a roughly linear relation, called the slope of the lift curve. At about 18 degrees this airfoil stalls, and lift falls off quickly beyond that. The drop in lift can be explained by the action of the upper-surface boundary layer, which separates and greatly thickens over the upper surface at and past the stall angle. The thickened boundary layer's displacement thickness changes the airfoil's effective shape, in particular it reduces its effective camber, which modifies the overall flow field so as to reduce the circulation and the lift. The thicker boundary layer also causes a large increase in pressure drag, so that the overall drag increases sharply near and past the stall point. Airfoil design is a major facet of aerodynamics. Various airfoils serve different flight regimes. Asymmetric airfoils can generate lift at zero angle of attack, while a symmetric airfoil may better suit frequent inverted flight as in an aerobatic airplane. In the region of the ailerons and near a wingtip a symmetric airfoil can be used to increase the range of angles of attack to avoid spin-stall. Thus a large range of angles can be used without boundary layer separation. Subsonic airfoils have a round leading edge, which is naturally insensitive to the angle of attack. The cross section is not strictly circular, however: the radius of curvature is increased before the wing achieves maximum thickness to minimize the chance of boundary layer separation. This elongates the wing and moves the point of maximum thickness back from the leading edge. Supersonic airfoils are much more angular in shape and can have a very sharp leading edge, which is very sensitive to angle of attack. A supercritical airfoil has its maximum thickness close to the leading edge to have a lot of length to slowly shock the supersonic flow back to subsonic speeds. Generally such transonic airfoils and also the supersonic airfoils have a low camber to reduce drag divergence. Modern aircraft wings may have different airfoil sections along the wing span, each one optimized for the conditions in each section of the wing. Movable high-lift devices, flaps and sometimes slats, are fitted to airfoils on almost every aircraft. A trailing edge flap acts similarly to an aileron; however, it, as opposed to an aileron, can be retracted partially into the wing if not used.

As an object moves through a fluid, the velocity of the fluid varies around the surface of the object. The variation of velocity produces a variation of pressure on the surface of the object as shown by the the thin red lines on the figure. Integrating the pressure times the surface area around the body determines the aerodynamic force on the object. We can consider this single force to act through the average location of the pressure on the surface of the object. We call the average location of the pressure variation the center of pressure in the same way that we call the average location of the weight of an object the center of gravity. The aerodynamic force can then be resolved into two components, lift and drag, which act through the center of pressure in flight. Determining the center of pressure is very important for any flying object. To trim an airplane, or to provide stability for a model rocket or a kite, it is necessary to know the location of the center of pressure of the entire aircraft. How do engineers determine the location of the center of pressure for an aircraft which they are designing? In general, determining the center of pressure (cp) is a very complicated procedure because the pressure changes around the object. Determining the center of pressure requires the use of calculus and a knowledge of the pressure distribution around the body.

Pitching moment
In aerodynamics, the pitching moment on an airfoil is the moment (or torque) produced by the aerodynamic force on the airfoil if that aerodynamic force is considered to be applied, not at the center of pressure, but at the aerodynamic center of the airfoil. The pitching moment on the wing of an airplane is part of the total moment that must be balanced using the lift on the horizontal stabilizer. The lift on an airfoil is a distributed force that can be said to act at a point called the center of pressure. However, as angle of attack changes on a cambered airfoil, there is movement of the center of pressure forward and aft. This makes analysis difficult when attempting to use the concept of the center of pressure. One of the remarkable properties of a cambered airfoil is that, even though the center of pressure moves forward and aft, if the lift is imagined to act at a point called the aerodynamic center the moment of the lift force changes in proportion to the square of the airspeed. If the moment is divided by the dynamic pressure, the area and chord of the airfoil, to compute a pitching moment coefficient, this coefficient changes only a little over the operating range of angle of attack of the airfoil. The combination of the two concepts of aerodynamic center and pitching moment coefficient make it relatively simple to analyse some of the flight characteristics of an aircraft.

A graph showing coefficient of pitching moment with respect to angle of attack. The negative slope for positive indicates stability in pitching.