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# Induced and total drag.

Principles of Flight

Chapter 4.

INDUCED- and
TOTAL DRAG.
The objective of this chapter is to give you knowledge of the
aerodynamic causes of induced drag and total drag.
According to the JAA requirements you shall be able to describe:
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Downwash and the effects of wing tip vortices.
How induced drag varies with speed.
Design features that reduce induced drag.
Operational factors influencing the total drag.
List of Contents

Page
4-2
4-9
4-14

Paragraph
4.1
4.2
4.3

Induced drag.
Reducing induced drag.
Total drag.

This lesson describes INDUCED DRAG and how we can reduce it. It also
describes TOTAL DRAG.

4 - 1

4.1

INDUCED DRAG.
This paragraph describes INDUCED DRAG, what causes it, and its
relationship to airspeed.

Induced drag caused by the production of lift.
As we have already seen, all bodies (aircraft, car, elephant, a man
riding a bike etc.) moving through the air, creates a certain parasite
drag also called ZERO Lift Drag.
For an aircraft which is able to produce lift using wings, an
induced drag, usually simply called induced drag. We will now see
how it works.
When lift is produced, air is accelerated downwards, the pressure on
the upper wing surface being less than that on the lower wing surface.
As the air flows rearwards, some air will flow around the wing tip from
the high pressure area under the wing to the low pressure area above
the wing, and the surrounding air outside the aircraft will fill the low
pressure in the area above stretching behind the wing. These factors
will produce large vortices behind each wing tip.

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Fig. 4.1

Three-dimensional flow.
The airflow under the wing surface tries to avoid the higher pressure
in this area, resulting in a spanwise flow component of air outwards
from the fuselage. On the upper surface, however, the airflow tries to
fill the lower pressure, resulting in a spanwise component towards the
fuselage.
Airflow
upper surface.

Airflow
lower surface.
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+ +

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+

+

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Fig. 4.2

These different flow components will together spill around the wing tip
forming a twisting vortex core behind each wing tip.

Flow deviation on:
upper surface
lower surface

Fig. 4.3

4 - 2

We would then obtain a certain total aerodynamic force with a given lift and a given drag known as the parasite or zero lift drag Do. which influences the airflow around the wing. The net effect is a downwash behind the wing. the local airflow experienced by the airfoil would be parallel to the free stream giving a highly effective angle of attack.3 . e.6 If we did not have the downwash. 4. 4. This three-dimensional flow will cause a very complicated flow pattern behind the wing which also influences the wing itself. there is an overall downwash of air behind the trailing edge within the span of the wing. but the downward flow is behind the trailing edge of the wing. Fig. © TFHS and NAR 4 .g.Induced and total drag. so to speak. within the span of the wing. Principles of Flight The upward flow in the vortex is outside the span of the wing. Fig.4 In a three-dimensional flow.5 The wings are. The presence of the downwash causes a local airflow which is different from the airflow well ahead of the wing. and the direction of the downwash behind it. So the lift force generated perpendicular to this local relative wind will be tilted somewhat backwards. Local l ift vect or Effecti ve α Geometrical α Local r elative wind ε Chor d lin e Fig. flying in a self-induced downwash. an infinite span wing. This influences the wing itself. 4. The direction of the local airflow lies between the direction of the free stream airflow. well ahead of the wing.

we will take a look at the local lift vector again. ε Decrease in lift Total Aerodynamic Force including Local lift vector Downwash angle Do Di ε Fig. 4. abbreviated Di. This increase in drag.© TFHS and NAR Total Aerodyn.o. the total aerodynamic force produced by the wing is inclined backwards to the same degree ε. The induced drag increases.9 When the angle of attack increases.A will be less than the geometrical A. the effective A. the lift is decreased and the drag is increased .A. Di Induced drag Local l ift vect or Effecti ve α Geometrical α Local r elative wind ε Chor d lin e Fig. 4 . e Fig 4. This produces not only a greater difference in pressure between the upper and lower wing surfaces but also a greater downwash behind the wing. the downwash angle will increase. Do Geometrical α Effective α Local relative wind Chor d lin Note! The figure is only hypothetic. Force. Since the aerodynamic force is inclined backwards. 4. is an induced by-product of the production of lift and is called INDUCED DRAG.7 Because of the downwash the local airflow experienced by the wing is inclined downwards to a certain degree ε (epsilon). CL increases. which is due to the presence of the downwash. With an increase in the A.A and the local lift vector will be tilted more backwards giving higher induced drag.o. As a consequence.8 In order to simplify the picture.o.4 .

which means higher induced drag. When flying at half of this speed the induced drag is four times higher. induced drag varies with airspeed. Principles of Flight When the A. So. This causes the spanwise flow that spills around the wing tip to form a stronger vortex and a higher downwash. Di Stall 4 Di Di V Slow V 2V Fast Fig. 4. © TFHS and NAR 4 .17 LOW AIRSPEEDS equal HIGH INDUCED DRAG while HIGH AIRSPEEDS equal LOW INDUCED DRAG.A. CL is increased giving higher induced drag. We can see on the graph that. close to stalling speed.o. is increased. 4.A.7 .16 Note: The grey wing tip vortices illustrated above are only the vortex cores. Low airspeeds are associated with high induced drag while high airspeeds are associated with low induced drag. is increased. 4. L Low speed D0 Di Fig.o. More details on wing tip vortices are found in the chapter 13 "Lift/Drag" paragraph 4 "Wake Turbulence".Induced and total drag. while at high airspeeds the induced drag tends to be equal to zero. When the A.15 L High speed D0 Di Fig. CL is increased due to the greater difference in pressure between the upper and lower surfaces of the wing. the induced drag tends to be infinite.

Di Induced drag D i is the resultant from C L2 High A.o.A High C L High D i Low A. In order to compensate the low dynamic pressure due to low density at high altitudes. The induced drag is the resultant from the square of the CL . Increase in weight by 10% increases Di by 20%. 4.© TFHS and NAR Flying at high altitudes is like flying at low speeds.1. 4. However.7 . Di Constant altitude Stall High weight Low weight Di Di V Fig.0) × A (aspect ratio) Induced drag in Newton = C D i × S × q .A. The capacity of the wing to create induced drag is expressed by the induced drag coefficient called CDi. CL must be increased by increasing the A. this relationship is valid at constant mass only.19 Slow V Fast More mass means more induced drag at the same speed. if we increase the aircraft mass by loading it we increase the span loading and we must produce more lift.20 4 . Like induced drag it is proportional to the square of the CL (see the complete formula below).o. At the same speed we will consequently create more induced drag than with a lighter aircraft.18 Flying at HIGH ALTITUDES equals HIGHER INDUCED DRAG. 4.8 2 1 C Di = × CL π × e (ellipse factor 0. at the SAME TRUE AIRSPEED. in fact.A Low C L Low D i V Airspeed Coefficient for wing shape Fig.o. This will create a higher induced drag than that at low altitudes at the same true airspeed. We have seen that the induced drag created by a certain wing is related mainly to CL . Di High altitude Low altitude Di Di V Slow V Fast Fig.

This paragraph describes how we can reduce the INDUCED DRAG by changing ASPECT RATIO. WING PLANFORM and WING TIP MODIFICATION. The vortex core from the a/ c right wing is also visible for the same reason.Induced and total drag. It is visible because the a/c is flying in rather humid air and the produced low pressure decreases the temperature below the actual dew point. GEOMETRIC WASHOUT. if we want to reduce the induced drag we must reduce the intensity of the wing tip vortex. Fig.9 . Principles of Flight The induced drag is expressed by the induced drag coefficient called CDi. how does a change in altitude influence induced drag? How does a change in weight influence induced drag at a given true airspeed? 4. The part of the wing that is near the tip produces the greatest share of the induced drag. The picture below shows the elliptical area with low pressure on the upper surface of the wing. © TFHS and NAR 4 . AERODYNAMIC WASHOUT. The main cause of induced drag is the downwash caused by the wing and the wing tip vortex.21 CAN YOU ANSWER THESE? Is there any induced drag from a (hypothetical) two-dimensional wing? What is the cause of induced drag? How does the angle of attack influence induced drag? What is the ratio between the aircraft weight and the wing span called? Why does a wing with low span loading give lower induced drag and vice versa? In what way does induced drag alter if the speed is changed? Maintaining the given true airspeed. Thus. Aspect ratio. 4. which is proportional to CL2. With a long wing a smaller fraction of the wing is affected by the downwash which results in a better ratio between lift and drag.2 REDUCING INDUCED DRAG.

Wing tip Wing root Fig.25 Geometric washout and aerodynamic washout. This causes a reduced formation of wing tip vortices and lower induced drag. The smaller difference in pressure between the upper and lower surfaces of the wing near the wing tip reduces the airflow that spills around the wing tip. or more precisely. The lowest induced drag for a given wingspan is attained when the downwash angle is constant across the span. © TFHS and NAR 4 .26 On a GEOMETRIC TWIST. (More information on this in chapter 7 "Stalling") Wing planform. An untwisted elliptical wing of constant section has elliptic loading and this is the optimum shape as far as induced drag is concerned.27 AERODYNAMIC WASHOUT (TWIST) consists in changing the shape of the wing section from the wing root to the wing tip. successively thinner and less cambered profiles are used from the root to the tip.Induced and total drag. the smaller difference in pressure near the tip causes lower induced drag. Another way of reducing induced drag is to create a so-called geometric twist or washout. the angle of attack at the wing tip is lower than the angle of attack at the wing root near the fuselage. This is true for an elliptical wing. In order to decrease CL from the wing root to the wing tip. The wing planform also has a considerable influence on induced drag. A wing can have both geometric and aerodynamic twist in order to obtain low induced drag and good stall characteristics. a wing with elliptic loading. 4. Wing tip Wing root Fig. 4. 4. Principles of Flight This effect explains why a glider. the load distribution is a function of the planform of the wing. different profiles are used. In this case. Fig. This is done in order to increase the aspect ratio as much as possible. has such a great wingspan. Another way to achieve the same result is to use the so-called aerodynamic washout. Thus. If the wing is built with a twist. which of course must create very low induced drag.11 .

a better pressure distribution around the wing can be produced demanding a lower A.A for a given lift.3 times higher. . No wing tip modification Vortex further out Front views Infinite span pressure distribution Actual pressure distribution Better pressure distribution near wing tip.28 However. 4. at the same weight and speed makes the total aerodynamic force more upright. The wing tip can be modified in order to reduce induced drag. By making it more difficult for the airflow to spill around the wing tip.A will create a weaker wing tip vortex. The lower required A. giving lower induced drag which saves fuel. The low pressure area on the upper surface is stretched out to the wing tip since the pressure spill over the wingtip is reduced by the winglet surface. Fig. Fig.30 Modified wing tips reduce drag to a certain extent. 4. For the same reason the winglet reduces induced drag. 4. which do not have elliptic loading. This is one of the reasons why most wing planforms are moderately tapered.12 winglet Drag from winglet. A straight tapered wing of taper ratio 2:1 (twice the wing root chord to wing tip chord) behaves very much as an elliptical wing. wing Flow s inward The winglet surface creates only a small drag since the component of total force acts forward in the flight direction.A.31 4 . reducing its total drag Fig. reducing D i .o.29 Wing tip modification. For all other wings.1 to 1.o. Lowest induced drag Highest induced drag Equal wing surface area and span. 4.© TFHS and NAR CD Load distribution Uneven Elliptical CL Fig. Front views Winglet "Lift" Total force Better pressure distribution on upper surface near the wing tip gives lower req. an elliptical wing is complicated and difficult to produce with different sections and curvature all over the wing.o. A lower A. the value of induced drag is usually about 1. α.

However. 4. Efficient airfoil. winglets. This can be obtained by using an airfoil section that needs only a low A.34 © TFHS and NAR 4 .33 Wing tip modifications decrease induced drag but increase parasite drag and must therefore be introduced only when the total effect is positive.A. Do remember that all creation of lift will simultaneously cause undesirable drag. Flat plate. Equal chord and equal lift. these wing tip modifications increase parasite drag and must therefore be introduced only when the total effect is positive. No wing tip modification Wingtip tank Front views Better pressure distribution near wing tip. Produces high drag. Principles of Flight A wing tip tank also makes it more difficult for the airflow to spill around the wing tip and thus less induced drag is produced.13 . 4.32 The better pressure distribution near the wing tip increases also the rolling effect from the ailerons.A. the wing airfoil section has to be designed to create a high lift compared to the drag.Induced and total drag.o.e. i. Normally. Produces only low drag.o. Fig.A to create a certain lift. In order to make an aircraft able to fly with a resonable use of power.o. L Drag Requires a great A. L Drag Requires only a small A. these types of wing tip modifications. are used on long range aircraft flying at high altitudes where the low static pressure gives less dynamic pressure demanding a relative high angle of attack to produce the required lift. Fig. A high lift/drag ratio is obtained by letting a low pressure on the upper surface be the dominating factor of pressure difference. Fig. 4.

This paragraph describes TOTAL DRAG . Lift Zero Lift Drag + Induced Drag No lift Zero Lift Drag only Fig. and how it changes. Fig.36 Induced drag is a by-product of the creation of lift.3 TOTAL DRAG.© TFHS and NAR CAN YOU ANSWER THESE? What is wing aspect ratio? How does the aspect ratio influence induced drag? What is meant by geometric and aerodynamic washout? How does the geometric and/or aerodynamic washout influence induced drag? Why does an elliptical wing give the lowest induced drag? Why do most wings have a taper ratio of ~2:1? In what way does a modified wing tip work to reduce induced drag? Why are winglets often used on long range transport aircraft? Are winglets always an appropriate way of reducing drag? 4. 4. 4 .35 As opposed to parasite drag. We always experience parasite drag when we move through the air. ¤ Skin friction drag ¤ Interference drag. induced drag only occurs when we produce lift.14 . Total drag as the sum of DO + Di. 4. its components. We have seen that Zero Lift Drag or Parasite Drag is the sum of: ¤ Form drag.

We know that parasite drag is directly proportional to V2. Principles of Flight The sum of parasite drag and induced drag is called total drag. Shock Drag or Wave Drag. 4. 4. Zero Lift Drag or Parasite Drag + Induced Drag Form Friction Interference = TOTAL DRAG Di Do D tot Fig. decreasing as the speed increases.15 . 4. Zero lift drag Do 4 Do Do V V Fig. 4.37 When flying at high speeds close to the speed of sound we encounter still another type of drag. Parasite drag. induced drag is inversely proportional to V2. This means that parasite drag is zero at zero speed and increases with the square of the airspeed.40 © TFHS and NAR Slow V 2V Fast 4 . This means that induced drag tends to be very high at zero speed.39 2V Airspeed Contrary to parasite drag. It is the total of the resistance experienced by an aircraft when flying in the air. Shockwaves Fig. due to the effects of air compressibility. Total drag versus airspeed. We will deal with this later in the chapter: 19 "Aerodynamics of High Speed Aircraft".38 WAVE DRAG or SHOCK DRAG is created only at high speeds. Induced drag Di Stall 4 Di Di V Fig.Induced and total drag.

by adding the parasite drag to induced drag. designated Vmd (sometimes also VDmin ). 4.16 V Fast . It is called the most efficient airspeed. If we increase the speed to an intermediate value where Di = Do (1/1). Total Drag D tot Dtot Do Di V Slow Fig. we obtain a minimum value of total drag.42 At an intermediate airspeed Vmd where Di = Do. we can see that. we must add induced drag to parasite drag for each speed. and we will analyse it more closely later on. At high speed. 4. we have minimum total drag. induced drag is predominant while the parasite drag component of the total drag is very small.41 You can see that at low speeds. Di + Do = Dtot.© TFHS and NAR To calculate the variation in total drag with speed. Total Drag D tot Dtot = Do + D i V Slow Fast Vmd Fig. 4. parasite drag is predominant while there is a very small component of induced drag in the total drag. Total Drag D tot Dtot = Di + Do V Slow V Fast Fig.43 4 . This airspeed value is very important.

© TFHS and NAR 4 . like all aerodynamic forces.15 High 0. We can draw curves representing the variation of CD with the angle of attack for different aspect ratios. We see that total drag is directly proportional to dynamic pressure "q" and to the reference area "S". wing planform.A A. is expressed as a dynamic pressure factor multiplied by the area. CD 0.A.o. Since the aspect ratio of an aircraft does not change. This reference area is usually the wing area.05 5o 10 o 15 o 20 o A. Total Drag D tot Dynamic pressure = Reference area × q Coefficient of drag.Induced and total drag. and the angle of attack. This. as we have seen before.46 10 o 15 o 20 α crit Low o At high angles of attack there are high values of CD.15 A=5 A = 10 0. 4. we will have a look at what happens at different angles of attack.A Fig. CD 0. 4. wing aspect ratio "A".o. is the sum of the coefficient of parasite drag and the coefficient of induced drag. the coefficient of drag is high close to the stalling angle and plays a major role in the formula. We also have the coefficient CD which.A 5o Fig. represents the factors of the aircraft that create total drag. the total drag does not have the lowest value at the lowest flying speed! Coefficient of total drag.o.o.10 Shape D tot = q × S × C D 0. × S 1/2 ρ V 2 CD C Do + C Di Fig.10 D tot = q × S × C D 0.17 .05 A. Principles of Flight As has been shown in the figures. Total drag. in turn. 4.45 The CD takes into account the shape of the aircraft and the A. Note that at high angles of attack.g.44 The coefficient of drag CD takes into account the shape of the aircraft e.

This has a major effect on the total drag. the coefficient of drag is low. Total Drag Dynamic pressure D tot × q = Reference area 1/2 ρ V 2 S Coefficient of drag. If the air density decreases.47 15 o 20 Low o At low angles of attack CD is low but we have high speeds giving high total drag.10 D tot = q × S × C D 0. Drag reaches its minimum value at the most efficient airspeed abbreviated Vmd. Coming back to the total drag versus airspeed curve. the total drag decreases proportionally. CD 0.15 High 0.© TFHS and NAR At low angles of attack near cruising speed.49 With an increase in mass. We can see that as the speed increases. This explains why the drag force D is high at an extreme angle of attack as well as at high airspeeds. we have higher total drag. 4. the total drag is increased.05 A. the total drag decreases proportionally. but the airspeed "V" is higher. we must produce more lift to counteract the increased weight thus causing increased induced drag. The total drag depends upon the dynamic pressure and is thus affected by speed and also by air density.o.g. 1500 kg. 4. At 2000 kg the total drag increases further. we must mention that it is drawn for a given aircraft mass and a given aircraft configuration.18 . e. Total Drag D tot 2000 kg 1500 kg 1000 kg Di Slow Fast V Fig.48 If air density decreases. 4. 4 . even with the same weight.. × CD C Do + C Di Fig. If the mass of the aircraft increases.A 5o 10 o α at cruise Fig.

Principles of Flight We can also see that when the mass of the aircraft increases. When we make a steep turn. the most efficient airspeed increases. × 1/2 ρ V 2 CD C Do + C Di Fig. Total Drag D tot 2000 kg 1500 kg 1000 kg Di Slow Fast Vmd V Fig. Using high lift devices such as flaps. 4. 4. and more drag is created. the total drag increases. We see the effect of a partial extension of the flaps on the curve of total drag versus airspeed. an excess of lift over weight is required to balance the centrifugal force. for example. the total drag changes. Total Drag D tot With landing gear down Do "Clean" a/c Slow V md Fast V Fig.50 As mass increases. When the landing gear is extended. Total Drag D tot Dynamic pressure × q = Reference area S Coefficient of drag. drag increases significantly. 4. All these considerations are valid if the aircraft is in level flight.Induced and total drag. © TFHS and NAR 4 . the airspeed with minimum drag increases. we increase the drag. the drag increases even more. which creates more drag. or a pull-up.52 By extending the LANDING GEAR.19 . When the configuration of the aircraft changes. When the deflection of the flaps increases further.51 Manoeuvering requires an excess of lift.

The reason for this is that the wingsection must be very thin in order to reduce the wave drag at transonic or supersonic speeds. 4. High altitude reconnaissance aircraft Fig.© TFHS and NAR With landing flaps Total Drag D tot With t/o flaps Do "Clean" a/c Fast V V md Slow Fig.55 4 . On the contrary. The combination of a thin and long wing will be very heavy in order to have the required strength. Aircraft designed to fly at speeds near the speed of sound mostly have short wings with a low aspect ratio. aircraft which fly slowly or quite fast jet aircraft at high altitudes have wings with high aspect ratio. This is the reason why high-speed jet fighters operating at high speeds at all altitudes. Total Drag D tot Fig. Different curves of total drag with different aspect ratios. consequently a thin wing must be short to reduce weight. the total drag increases. especially on induced drag.20 Supersonic jet fighter . the wing aspect ratio has a major influence.53 As the FLAP DEFLECTION ANGLE increases.54 Slow Fast V At low speed the wing with a high aspect ratio has lower total drag because of the lower induced drag. As we have seen. Here we see two different curves of total drag versus airspeed for two aircraft with the same wing area but with different aspect ratios. usually have wings of low aspect ratio. 4. 4.

CAN YOU ANSWER THESE? Why is high induced drag produced at high A. Principles of Flight Transport aircraft which are designed to carry high loads long distances have wings with high aspect ratios and tapered wings.Induced and total drag.21 .56 Sophisticated gliders with long slender wings have less total drag than hang gliders. despite the lower total weight of the latter.A? What kind of drag is dominating at low speeds and high speeds respectively? What happens to the total drag when air density decreases? What happens to the drag if aircraft mass increases? What factors change the speed for minimum drag? Why will drag increase in a steep turn? In what way will extended landing gears influence drag? In what way will extended flaps influence drag? Why do some aircraft have wings with high aspect ratio while other aircraft have wings with low aspect ratio? What kind of drag do all bodies create when moving through the air? When and why is induced drag created? What kind of drag is only created by a flying aircraft? What kinds of drag are included in the total drag of a flying aircraft? © TFHS and NAR 4 . 4. Fig.57 You will have further information on this matter in the chapter 13 "Lift/Drag and Wake Turbulence". Drag Drag FIG.o. sometimes equipped with "winglets". 4.