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# 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.
Bernoulli´s theorem.
Newton´s laws and the effect of the wing
on the air.
Bernoulli´s 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.

1 - 1

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
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
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, today´s 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

s

ition

cond

8

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 today´s 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.

1 - 3

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

1.5 . which. The equilibrium of the forces acting on the aircraft. Principles of Flight Lift (reaction force) Mass of air downwards (action force) Fig. When the air flows around the wings it will produce a force on the wing which is called the total aerodynamic force. as the aeroplane moves through the air it will experience the retarding force. When flying horizontally the weight of the aeroplane is balanced by the lift.8 Before continuing. DRAG is the component of the Total Aerodynamic Force acting parallel to the flight direction. which is produced by the engine. 1. is the name given to the component of total aerodynamic force acting parallel to the flight direction. you ought to know something about the equilibrium of forces. This force acts upwards and rearwards. During horizontal flight at constant speed. on the other hand. © TFHS and NAR 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. Lift Horizontal flight path Total aerodynamic force Drag Thrust Weight Fig. In addition. unless balanced.9 LIFT is the component of the Total Aerodynamic Force acting perpendicular to the flight direction.Basics. DRAG. will cause the aeroplane to decelerate. 1. The component of total aerodynamic force acting perpendicular to the flight direction is called LIFT. the drag is balanced by the thrust. drag. Flig Lift ht p Total aerodynamic force ath Dra g Fig.

and the resultant force acting on the aeroplane is zero. When manoeuvring in flight at constant condition all forces are also in balance and the resultant force is still zero but with different equations.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. rise or descent. 1. and the resultant force acting on the aeroplane is zero: the aircraft will neither accelerate or decelerate.6 . The statement: WEIGHT = LIFT and THRUST = DRAG is true only in horizontal and unaccelerated flight. 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. or a windgust. alter this situation. When the forces are in balance. unless you as the pilot. 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 .© TFHS and NAR When the forces are in balance. the situation is said to be in EQUILIBRIUM. must have an understanding of the laws and of the principles that apply. In order to ensure safety and to make the correct decisions in flight. you as a pilot. This means that the aeroplane will continue to fly at the same speed and in the same direction. This situation is called equilibrium.

We can define a fluid in a very intuitive way. Aerodynamics is the science that studies the motion of fluids and the principles governing this motion. Fluids can be classified as liquids or gases. © TFHS and NAR 1 . heavy oil takes a longer time to flow and fill a vessel than water does. The different behaviour of fluids is due to the different internal friction created between the layers of the fluid when it is in motion. we can consider two parallel flat plates placed at a certain distance from each other. 1. Fig.7 . also known as dynamic viscosity. Properties of fluids. 1. Fig.12 We can also observe that fluids behave differently when they are flowing. This is called “viscosity”. Before dealing with some basic principles of aerodynamics we must define what a fluid is and describe its properties. One plate is fixed and the other moves at a velocity V. The space between them is filled with water. Principles of Flight 1. The motion of air around the aircraft generates the aerodynamic force necessary to fly. of a fluid is a measure of the resistance opposing the relative motion of the molecules of a fluid. This paragraph describes the characteristics of the fluids such as pressure. 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.Basics. Fluids can be classified as LIQUIDS or GASES. and they behave differently when they are flowing. 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. density and the relationship between them. For instance. 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. To better understand the behaviour of fluids. temperature. The viscosity (µ).2 AIR AS A FLUID.13 The VISCOSITY of a fluid is a measure of the resistance opposing the relative motion between the molecules of the fluid.

but with the same force.© TFHS and NAR If we consider the same situation but with oil filling the space.15 In a fluid at rest the pressure at each point acts in all directions at the same time. . F ... We therefore say that oil has a higher viscosity than water. Molecules are in rapid and random motion even when the fluid is not in motion. a lower speed than the previous one is reached.8 . 1. . density. If we now consider a certain mass of fluid. we can see that due to the higher viscosity. (e/h) rate of shear strain (A = plate cross-sectional area . 1 . 1. temperature. e µ= V h Oil (F/A) shear stress = . Pressure is force/unit area. Fig. we will see that the same pressure acts in all directions.. 1. We must now review an important law concerning fluid pressure. m 1c m 1c Force/cm 2 m 1c Fig. . Each molecule exerts a force on every surface it has contact with. A fluid with higher viscosity will flow more slowly than a fluid with lower viscosity. we can think of this parcel of fluid as being made up of millions of molecules. If we consider a small body immersed in a fluid at rest. A fluid with a higher viscosity will therefore flow more slowly than a fluid of lower viscosity.14 The term kinematic viscosity (ν ) is obtained by dividing the dynamic viscosity by the density of the fluid (ν = µ/ρ). the ratio between applied force perpendicular to the surface and the surface area is called pressure. e = rate of change) Fig. Pressure. This law is also known as Pascal's Law.16 1 cm PRESSURE is the ratio between the force exerted on the surface and the unit surface itself. Molecules act like small tennis balls that hit each other and any surface placed in the fluid.

the higher the temperature. T = 0 Kelvin . If we take a certain mass of fluid and exert external pressure.) is the ratio between the mass of fluid and the volume. The temperature measured starting from absolute zero is called the absolute temperature (T). Fig. we reach the absolute zero or 0o K (Kelvin. When we decrease the temperature to the point of no molecular motion. © TFHS and NAR 1 . the change in volume is minimal in spite of high pressure. The amount by which the density changes depends on the kind of fluid and on the pressure applied. The greater the molecular motion..19 Fluid compressibility.. DENSITY. Principles of Flight The temperature of a certain mass of fluid is a measure of its molecular motion. equal to -273o C).16o C). Lower ρ Higher ρ Equal mass Fig. will increase. liquids are practically incompressible and consequently its density is nearly constant. designated by the Greek letter ρ (rho. 1. High temperature Low temperature Fig. the mass per unit volume. If the fluid is a liquid. When the same mass is contained in a smaller volume. Thus. 1. 1. i.17 The TEMPERATURE of a certain fluid is a measure of its molecular motion. the volume of fluid will decrease. We will here consider the effect of increasing pressure on a fluid. the density. .e.Basics.18 The ABSOLUTE TEMPERATURE Scale is the temperature measured starting from absolute zero = 0o Kelvin (-273.9 .

filling a greater volume. Thus we deduce that density ρ is indirect proportion to pressure and in inverse proportion to temperature: Density ρ is directly proportional to pressure and inversely proportional to temperature: ρ ~ P/T We can express this relationship using a constant R. We can also vary the volume of a given mass of air by changing the pressure and temperature of the air. filling a greater volume. the magnitude of which depends on the individual gas. If we increase the pressure. This equation is known as the "EQUATION OF STATE". 1. the change in volume can be large and the density is therefore variable. On the other hand. lower ρ. the density will decrease. the mass of air will be compressed into a smaller volume and the density will increase.10 . the mass of air will expand.© TFHS and NAR If the fluid is a gas. temperature and density. greater volume. and the density will decrease. Relationship between pressure. The density of a mass of air can be changed by changing the size of the container. the mass of air will expand and fill a greater volume and. The relationship is: P = ρ ∞ R ∞ T. LIQUIDS are practically INCOMPRESSIBLE and as a consequence the DENSITY is nearly CONSTANT. Higher temp. as in figure 19. Equal mass. if we decrease the temperature. The DENSITY of a mass of air can be changed by varying the volume the air occupies. and the density will decrease. GASES are COMPRESSIBLE and their density is variable. Consider a mass of air in two different situations. Air density is an important factor since it affects both the force acting on the aircraft and the engine performance. If we decrease the pressure. as a consequence. or a mixture of gases like air. the mass of air will expand. We are therefore interested in knowing what factors affect air density. where the temperature T is the ABSOLUTE TEMPERATURE. Thus we say that gases are compressible.20 With the increase in temperature. or by varying the pressure and the temperature of the air. 1 . If we now increase the temperature and keep the pressure constant. Fig. the mass of air will occupy a smaller volume and the density will increase.

. Low temperature. Fig. 1. Fig. As a result of a greater rate of decrease in pressure than in temperature. High temperature. Much higher pressure. Principles of Flight The EQUATION OF STATE says that: P = ρ ∞ R ∞ T In the atmosphere both temperature and pressure change with altitude. Much lower pressure. 1.. > 300 kts. = Higher density.11 . When the aircraft is flying at a high speed. 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. Therefore the effect of air compressibility is important only when the airspeed is high. but at speeds well below the speed of sound. thus density also changes with altitude.21 Aircraft and engine performance are affected by altitude because DENSITY decreases with an increase altitude. the air adapts itself in the way that it avoids being compressed. Air as an incompressible fluid. = Lower density. 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. 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 .22 We will deal with this compressibility effect and shock waves in the last chapter “Aerodynamics for High Speed Aircraft”. Consequently. aircraft and engine performance are affected by altitude. We have said that air is compressible. the density decreases with an increase altitude. Basics.

Streamline flow.© TFHS and NAR 1. 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. i. called STREAMLINE. If we consider two points. 1. A streamline indicates the direction of the airflow at all points along it and. Fig.24 1 . the flow of the smoke makes steady lines. 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. Steady streamlines means steady flow. We will now observe the airflow around an airfoil section. Molecules of air.3 AIRFLOW AROUND A BODY. point 1 and point 2. but at each fixed point the velocity will not change with time. The velocity may change from one point to another along the streamline. Point 1 Velocity 1 Point 2 Velocity 2 Fig. there will be no air crossing the streamline. Streamlines.e it will be the same for all successive molecules even as time goes on. Due to the presence of the airfoil.23 STREAMLINE FLOW is a flow where the successive molecules of air follow the same steady path. If we consider a fixed point on a streamline. This paragraph defines what a streamline flow around a body is and what happens when the flow becomes turbulent. 1. 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 same phenomenon will occur at point 2: all the fluid molecules passing through point 2 will have the same speed value. Imagine that the airflow is visualized by using smoke. the molecules of air change their directions of motion and their speed. as a consequence.12 . here symbolized by thin dotted lines. If the successive molecules of air follow the same steady path.

13 . Fig. Velocity and direction varies in course of time. but at each fixed point the velocity will be the same for all successive elements even as time goes on. Flow direction. and successive molecules may travel a path which is very different from that of the preceding molecules. the fluid molecules flowing through that point will have different velocities and directions as time goes on. 1. TURBULENT FLOW is a flow where the molecules of air do not follow a steady path. but due to friction and pressure distribution. If we consider a certain point in turbulent flow.26 Behind the cylinder. Streamlines Fig. Upstreams we can see streamlines follow the contour of the surface.Basics. This type of flow is called turbulent flow. 1. (For example.25 Turbulent flow. but only along the tube. The airflow cannot be streamlined around all kinds of bodies.27 © TFHS and NAR 1 . If all the streamlines passing through the outer edge of the circle are drawn. there is no flow into or out of the tube through its imaginary walls. We can note two different behaviours of the flow around this cylinder. they generate a tubular surface which is called a stream tube. 1. Principles of Flight In a streamline flow the velocity may change from one point to another along the streamline. Imagine an imaginary circle in a flow. Stream tube. Fig. the molecules of air do not follow a steady path. Since the velocity vector is always tangential to the surface of such a tube. the walls of an ordinary garden hose form a streamtube for the water flowing through the hose. Flow direction.) Stream tube. We will now observe the airflow around a cylinder. they become chaotic when they leave the contour.

What matters is the relative velocity between the airfoil and the airflow. 1. not if the airfoil is moving through the air or the air is flowing past the airfoil. If we visualize the flow pattern around the two airfoils.14 . Close to the body. we find that they are the same. Free stream velocity is usually given other names. 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. In order to measure this difference. 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 . otherwise the relative speed will be incorrect. Fig. Free stream velocity or Relative velocity Local velocities Fig. the local flow velocities will vary and be different from the velocity of the undisturbed flow well away from the body. 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. 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.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. such as relative velocity or relative wind.© 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 introduce an important concept in order to understand how a flow will adapt its motion inside as well as outside a tube. This paragraph deals with the Equation of Continuity also known as Bernoulli's Principle. the air can be assumed to be incompressible and the density will therefore be constant. The same mass flow in each section. Mass is constant and can be neither created nor destroyed. What will the speed of the air be in section A2 ? Section A1 2 m2 V1 =100 m/sec. Principles of Flight 1. Air flow The same mass of air out from the tube Fig.4 EQUATION OF CONTINUITY. Basics. mass flow is obtained by multiplying the section area (A) by the density (ρ) by the velocity (V): Mass flow = A ∞ ρ ∞ V The equation of continuity is the mathematical expression of the principle of mass conservation applied to a defined fluid flow and is: A ∞ ρ ∞ V = constant.31 © TFHS and NAR 1 . Mathematically speaking. To begin with. A certain mass of air into the tube. 1.30 The mass flowing in a cross section of a tube during a certain time is called MASS FLOW. This means that the mass flowing through each cross section of the tube during a certain time must be constant. Consider a tube with different section areas. The principle of mass conservation says that mass in motion inside a tube is constant and can be neither created nor destroyed. Section A2 4 m2 V2 = ? Fig. The air flows into section A1 of the tube at a speed equal to V1 = 100 m/s.Basics. in this case the equation of continuity can be simplified and is: A ∞ V = constant The equation of continuity in an incompressible fluid where ρ is constant is: A ∞ V = constant We can now apply this equation to a tube with different section areas. The mass flowing in a cross section of the tube during a certain time is called mass flow. Equation of continuity: A ∞ ρ ∞ V = constant If we consider airflow at low speed only.15 . 1.

CAN YOU ANSWER THESE? What does the equation of continuity mean? What will A (area) times V (velocity) be if ρ (density) is constant in an incompressible flow. according to the equation of continuity? 1. the static pressure acts equally in all directions. 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. 1 . The speed in section A2 will be 50 m/s. 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. This static pressure of the atmosphere is caused by the weight of the air above the surface. 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 is abbreviated P. we can measure the pressure of the air exerted in all directions on a surface. If we consider a certain mass of air at rest.16 .© TFHS and NAR A1 ∞ V1 = A2 ∞ V2 and you obtain: V2 = A1/A2 ∞ V1 = 2 m2/4 m2 ∞ 100 m/s = 50 m/s.32 The static pressure of the atmosphere is caused by the weight of the air acting on a surface. p or Ps. Static pressure. This pressure is called the static pressure of the atmosphere. 1. It acts equally in all directions. In a fluid or a gas like the atmosphere.5 BERNOULLI'S THEOREM.

in order to create a balanced situation.. When the air in motion strikes a surface it exerts a force on that surface which is proportional to the dynamic pressure. because the denser air contains a greater number of molecules..Basics. 1. . . This is due to the greater number of molecules per second that strikes the hand.. there is unbalance. The value of this force is roughly proportional to the dynamic pressure. This force is incorrectly called "pressure". the dynamic pressure increases.34 If the air becomes denser at constant relative speed. . physically speaking .33 High pressure Low pressure A flow is always caused by pressure differences along the flow direction. . However. 1. Principles of Flight Dynamic pressure.... Imagine you are holding your hand into the wind. © TFHS and NAR 1 . the dynamic pressure also depends on the density of the air. Moreover. It is a force caused by the energy from the motion of the air. If there is a higher static pressure at one location than at another. consequently. . the air will fill the lower pressure area by flowing as a wind from the higher to the lower pressure. High velocity Number of molecules per second.. the dynamic pressure is also increased. Low velocity Number of molecules per second. If the relative speed between the air and the hand is increased.. The dynamic pressure depends on the speed of the hand relative to the air.17 . Thus. Lower atmosp her pressu ic re The Earth Fig.. The air in motion strikes the hand and exerts a force on the surface. Fig. r Highe ic h p er atmos re pressu Wind is caused by pressure differences. the number of molecules per second that strikes the hand is greater. However. the air strives for a balanced situation. this force is normally called the dynamic pressure..

"Bernoulli's Theorem" is interpreted as the total pressure remaining constant in a steady streamline flow. That is. Daniel Bernoulli. while a decrease in dynamic pressure causes an increase in the static pressure at that point. At zero speed. Bernoullis Theorem: static pressure + dynamic pressure = constant. i. the total pressure is equal to the static pressure. the dynamic pressure increases.18 The same mass flow.35 1 . Basically.The velocity will be constant along the surface. .e. Let us consider a flow over a uniform smooth surface. the connection between pressure and velocity is found.e. Bernoulli states that a decrease in pressure causes an increase in velocity and vice versa. He deduced that "the sum of energies is a constant". So. The sum of static and dynamic pressure is called the total pressure (p + q = Ptot). Dynamic pressure is expressed as: 1/2 · ρ · V2 where ρ is the air density and V is the relative speed. was a scientist who made research about the behaviour of fluids. Since kinetic energy is a function of the mass and the velocity. the sum of static and dynamic pressure is called the total pressure. you cannot get something for nothing: if you increase the velocity (the kinetic energy). He drew conclusions about the relation between pressure and kinetic energy. disregarding the flow velocity closest to the surface which will slow down due to the friction. the pressure (in this case perpendicular to a surface parallell to the air flow) must decrease and vice versa. In a steady streamline flow: increased flow velocity parallel to a surface means decreased static pressure perpendicular to that surface and vice versa. potential energy. Airflow past a uniform surface. 1700 -1782. energy of movement. The conclusion of Bernoulli's Theorem is that an increase in speed (dynamic pressure) at a point along a streamline. The two energies he was referring to are the kinetic energy. causes a decrease in the static pressure at that point. A certain mass flow. 1. which is constant: Static pressure (p) + dynamic pressure (q) = total pressure (Ptot). Fig.© TFHS and NAR If the air becomes denser at constant relative speed. Dynamic pressure is expressed as: 1/2 · ρ · V2 The relationship between airflow speed and static pressure. Dynamic pressure is often abbreviated "q". The potential energy/volume unit correspond to the static pressure. and the pressure energy. i.

37 © TFHS and NAR 1 . Basics. the area of the flow will be less.19 . In the section where the speed has been increased. 1. The same mass flow but a lower velocity gives a greater area. the flow velocity will increase over the obstruction. Principles of Flight If there is an obstacle on the surface. In the next figure we will see how dynamic and static pressure change over the region. the high speed flow will have a smaller section area due to the lower static pressure in that area at constant density. A higher dynamicand a corresponding lower static pressure. A certain dynamic. Airflow past a surface with an obstruction A certain mass flow. so where the velocity is at highest. the mass flow must be constant along the surface. In spite of no limiting walls. will vary according to the change in speed over the obstruction. - + Highest static pressure Decreasing dynamicand increasing static pressure. In order to do that.. 1. 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. After that the speed decreases gradually and consequently the static pressure increases again.and static pressure. The static pressure reaches a minimum value where the speed and the dynamic pressure are at their maximum. The same mass flow but a higher velocity gives a smaller area.. 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. - + Fig..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. the static pressure decreases since the total pressure does not change in an incompressable flow. According to the principle of mass conservation and the equation of continuity. The static pressure normal to the body in the figure. . Lowest static pressure Fig.

a force has to be exerted on it. 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. You already know that at sea level. This is valid for all moving bodies. Newton's First Law of Motion states that a moving body will continue to move in a straight line at a constant speed.) Fig. For example if you want to increase the speed of a body.20 . an aircraft as well as the motion of the air.© TFHS and NAR The static pressure has its minimum value where the speed and the dynamic pressure are at their maximum. a lot of air has to be removed in one way or another.6 NEWTON´S LAWS AND THE EFFECT OF THE WING ON THE AIR. its effect is great because of its mass. or change the direction. Another important factor determining the influence of a fluid on a body is its mass. but the air resists being moved according to Newton´s first law.38 Newton's First Law of Motion states that a moving body will continue to move in a straight line at a constant speed. a cube of air with its sides 10 m wide will have a mass of 1225 kg. When a body moves in the air. 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 Bernoulli´s 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. 1. This paragraph describes the effect of the wing on the air. a force must be exerted on it. the theories of which are based on Newton´s three laws. Despite the fact that air seems to have a very low mass. Newton's First Law of Motion. (A moving body experiencing no gravity and in vacuum. 1 .

1.40 If the air is to follow a curved surface. As a consequence of the developed pressure difference. Newton´s second law is expressed as the force exerted on a body (F) being equal to the mass of the body (m) · the acceleration (a). If the direction of the airflow is changed there has to be a force acting on each element of air. Higher pres sur e e Fluid element Lower pr ess ur Centrifugal force Force caused by pressure differences Fig. Principles of Flight Force Fig. 1. a force acts on the fluid element so that it will be pushed from the higher pressure to the lower pressure.41 © TFHS and NAR 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.Basics. a force must be exerted on it. Equation of momentum and equation of impulse. 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. 1. That pressure difference causes a force that accelerates the air as a result of following the curved surface. and consequently the centrifugal force causes the air elements to rise from the surface. F=m·a This is also valid for air since it has a mass. and therefore can be regarded as a body. the fluid elements strive to continue in a straight line according to Newton´s first law. Region of higher pressure Fluid element Region of lower pressure Fig.21 . In that situation the fluid element is not able to exert the same pressure on the surface.

i. 1. 1. Fig. ss h lower p uc re M Centrifugal force A greater force caused by a higher pressure difference. and the flow will be turbulent. Action force Reaction force Heavy body Light body Action force Reaction force Fig. Action force Reaction force Bodies of equal mass Action force Reaction force Fig. An action force will cause a reaction force in the opposite direction.44 1 . body B will influence body A with exactly the same force. there will be lower static pressure over the curved surface. at a certain flow velocity the fluid elements are not able to follow the curved path due to the viscosity of air. body B will influence body A with exactly the same force.© TFHS and NAR In cr ea se d ve lo cit y If the airflow has to follow the same curved surface at a higher speed there will be a higher pressure difference.43 If a body A hits another body B with a certain force. The effect that the airflow deflects from its original path and instead follows the curved surface is known as the Coanda effect. but still there is balance between the action force and the reaction force. the body with the smallest mass will change its motion path most.e. Newton´s Third Law of Motion. a higher speed of the fluid over a concave surface will cause a lower static pressure.42 However.22 . 1. Newton's Third Law of Motion states that if a body A influences another body B with a certain force. Consequently. If the bodies have different mass. Fluid element High pres er sure .

1. © TFHS and NAR 1 . There is also an upwash in front of the airfoil due to the created pressure differences around the airfoil.23 . If the air is pushed downwards (action force) a corresponding reaction force upwards will be exerted on the wing. The downwash in the previous figures is very simplified. The influence of the wing on the air. 1. but the net effect is a downwash of the air when lift is produced. Far ahead and behind the wing. Downwards diversion of air (= downwash) Fig. is exactly the lift force. the downward angle has to be greater at low speeds than at high speeds or the accelerated mass of air has to be greater. the wing will influence the surrounding mass of air.46 The force required to accelerate the effected mass of air downwards during flight. Reaction force. Lower velocity but greater downward angle of airflow means sufficient reaction force. Reaction force Mass of air Action force acting on the airflow.Basics. At low speeds Mass of air Action force acting on the airflow. the up. The upwash and downwash angles vary with the distance from the wing as is shown in the next figure.and downwash is zero. Principles of Flight In the same way. Fig. The reaction force from the mass of air causes an upwards lift force on the wings.45 In order to achieve equilibrium between the accelerating force and the lift force at different speeds. When an aircraft moves through the air its influence on the air is to divert the mass of air downwards.

the weight. as there is between the ground and the landing gear when the aircraft is on the ground. if any. the surrounding air will remain mostly uncompressed. Fig. contrary to what one might believe. However. Below the trailing edge there is a slightly less downwash angle than at the trailing edge. The pressure difference that acts on the surfaces creates a force that.e.© TFHS and NAR Upwash Downwash Above the trailing edge there is a slightly less downwash angle than at the trailing edge. The direction of the total aerodynamic force and the point of its application is shown in uncompressed flow as well as in compressed flow.49 The only way a flow of air can be transformed into a reaction force is by pressure differences around the wings. When the flow has rather low subsonic velocity. is equal to and opposite to the gravitational action. the only way a diversion of air can be transformed into a reaction force.24 . when multiplied with the corresponding area. However. the pressure differences are not dominated by the high Not pressure below the wings. creates a force that.48 pressure only! Instead. 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. higher pressure below the wing.47 Downwash angle at the trailing edge. 1. Wing section Fig. Lower pressure above the wing than below the wing causes a pressure difference that acts as a lift force. 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. 1. 1. In the case of velocities near the speed of sound there will be a mix of uncompressed and compressed flow. i. is equal to and opposite to the gravitational action. Fig. 1 . due higher to the diversion of the air. Pressure difference. is by pressure differences around the wings. The pressure difference that acts on the wing. The distribution of pressure on the wing surface is different depending on the flow velocity. multiplied with the corresponding area. since there is no mechanical link between the air and the wings. 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.

and since the way pressure difference is created depends on a lot of factors. Since the pressure difference is the factor that creates lift. If nothing else is mentioned in the texts and illustrations. Low subsonic speed. At zero geometrical angle of attack.25 . 1. they deal only with uncompressed flow. Freestream 0 α 0α Freestream + α +α At zero geometrical angle of attack. a negative lift is produced. © TFHS and NAR 1 . 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".7 BERNOULLI´S THEOREM AND THE EFFECT OF THE MOVING AIR ON THE WING.50 When compression occurs due to the effects of the flow. 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. Principles of Flight Uncompressed flow. we are dealing with the so-called Mach effects. we need to study a very important relationship between pressure and flow according to Bernoulli´s theorem. CAN YOU ANSWER THESE? What is stated in Newton´s first. Two-dimensional flow and circulation.. The total force is acting at the forward part of the wing section. In this section we shall see how pressure differences around wings are created. 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 Bernoulli´s theorem. it is very important for you as a pilot to know what really happens around an airfoil section. a certain lift is produced.. Supersonic speed. Basics. In order to understand the pressure distribution around a wing in uncompressed flow. The total force is acting at the centre of the wing section. Compressed flow. Fig.

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. making these particles of air flow first slightly forwards. will travel around the airfoil and make a circular path as shown. Thus.rear. then upwards-rearwards at a relatively high speed. the section of air is fixed and the airfoil is moved. Fig. the lower surface of the wing pushes the air downwards and slightly forwards. is to study a picture relative to the air instead of relative to the airfoil i. The dotted lines illustrate particles in the air changing their position during the motion of the airfoil. 1.e. however. causing the particles of air to flow rearwards and downwards. has to fill the low pressure region where the upper surface of the wing was just positioned.© TFHS and NAR When a wing is moving through the air.and downwards.26 . A good way to see how the elements of air change their positions in the vicinity of a moving airfoil.51 As is illustrated. As soon as the wing starts moving. 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. The next figure illustrates how a particle of air positioned slightly in front of and below an arriving airfoil. 1 . and the motion above the surface to be more steeply downwards compared to a situation where the airfoil is in continuous motion. The air near the upper surface. you can see that the particles near the upper surface will be moved up. the air adapts itself to the changed situation. Note! The vortex behind the starting point is a "starting vortex" which causes the motion below the surface to be more rearwards. and those at the lower part will be moved mainly downwards.

at the forward part of the upper surface of the wing.Basics. A so called circulation relative to the airfoil is thus created.52 Relative to the surrounding air. 1. will have the highest velocity relative to the airfoil where it flows from the highest to the lowest pressure. Velocity vector parallel to the surface (black) Direction of motion and velocity (white) Fig. i. 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.27 . rearwards-downwards above and downwards behind the airfoil.e.53 The velocity of the air. i. Principles of Flight A slightly lower p 1 The line represents a fixed position in the air 1 2 A slightly higher pressure 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 Fig. 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. upwards at the leading edge.e. The particles have internal velocity vectors parallel to the airfoil surface as shown in next figure (black arrows). the particles of air have moved forwards below. its particles. © TFHS and NAR 1 . 1. However.

The air that flows near the leading edge upper surface speeds up further as it flows from a higher to a lower pressure. will cause a decrease in the static pressure which is normal to the surface. the pressure situation and the flow pattern around the plate will be altered.54 If we change the angle between the plate and the flow direction. at the lower surface near the leading edge.e.© TFHS and NAR The lowest relative velocity will be where the airfoil pushes the air slightly forwards. However. 1. Flow direction Fig. the speed of the flow decreases again as it approaches the trailing edge where there is a comparatively higher pressure. 1 . we will from now on regard a fixed airfoil in an airflow.28 . 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.55 The higher pressure below and the lower pressure above the plate will cause an upwash of the air in front of the plate. If the plate is parallel to the free stream direction. When the flow has passed the leading edge.A + Fig. The higher flow velocity at the upper surface causes a decrease in static pressure. combined with its streamline motion pattern. called the angle of attack (abbreviated A. 1. On the contrary. the higher flow velocity along the upper surface of the airfoil. with an airfoil. In order to make it easier to see what happens to the flow and the pressure distribution.o. the lower flow velocity along the lower surface of the airfoil will cause a slightly higher static pressure. This increase in speed along the airfoil causes a local small decrease in the static pressure normal to the airfoil surface. 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. A slight upwash is therefore created in front of the plate.o. i. A. the air will accelerate downwards giving a slightly higher pressure below the surface and a slightly lower pressure above the surface. just as in figure 52. Pressure distribution. the flow will be undisturbed.A or α). Flow direction Upwash. Imagine a very thin flat plate in a flow. In addition to that. Due to the angle of attack.

+ Fig. 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. 1. LIFT Total aerodynamic force DRAG Fig. The pressure difference on the surfaces of the plate produces a total aerodynamic force that is directed principally upwards.56 Note! the pressure difference in this and all other figures is exaggerated in order to be more prominent in the picture. If we instead of a flat plate put a cambered but symmetrical airfoil section in an airflow we will get a somewhat different flow. Principles of Flight The figure below illustrates the static pressure around the plate at rest (dotted arrows). Thus.58 Symmetrically curved airfoil sections.29 . 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. and it illustrates only the principles of change of pressure. © TFHS and NAR 1 . In reality there is only a small percentages of change.57 Total aerodynamic force of a plate. 1. as a consequence of the flow around the plate. In the next figure. and the distribution may vary much in detail depending on the shape of the airfoil section and the angle of attack. Local pressure at zero velocity Local pressure at a certain velocity Flow direction Fig. 1. there will be a difference in pressure between the upper and lower surfaces of the plate. and in a motion relative to the air (solid arrows).Basics.

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.A the flow will be different and hence the pressure and the forces.62 1 .o. 1.A will not create any pressure difference between the upper and the lower surface.© TFHS and NAR Total aerodynamic force - + Fig. Local pressure at zero velocity Local pressure at a certain velocity Flow direction Fig. 1.o. But at a given A. 1.61 LIFT Total aerodynamic force DRAG + Fig.30 . 1.60 A symmetrical airfoil section at zero A.

LIFT Total aerodynamic force DRAG Fig.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.. Principles of Flight A symmetrically curved airfoil creates greater pressure differences than a flat plate at the same A.. 1.o. Basics. If we compare the lift and drag generated by a flat plate and by an airfoil section at the same angles of attack. Notice again that the main part of the lower pressure on the upper surface is acting as a suction directed slightly forwards. we find that the airfoil section gives a greater lift and less drag. A figure showing the difference in pressure in a grey scale may look as the next figure. Local pressure at zero velocity Local pressure at a certain velocity Flow direction Fig. © TFHS and NAR 1 . The suction over the leading edge contributes to a more upright total aerodynamic force with the effect of less drag from the airfoil.. A more effective airfoil section. 1. The pressure distribution will be changed in comparison with the symmetrical section as shown in the figure. 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.A.31 . Note that the airfoil section in the figure below has the same angle of attack as the preceding flat plate and the symmetrical section.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 . .

The trailing edge is the point where the mean camber line intersects the rear part. some terminology concerning the airfoil section need to be introduced. paragraph 2. are expressed in chapter 4 paragraph 2.32 Tip chord. Mostly the root chord is greater than the tip chord. Chordline.. It gives us a picture of the average curvature of the airfoil.. Leading edge Trailing edge Fig. 1. Chord. . The mean camber line is the line drawn halfways between the upper and lower surfaces of the airfoil. and chapter 7. . Fig. © TFHS and NAR Before analysing the airflow around an airfoil any further. Root chord. 1. . while the point where the mean camber line intersects the rear part is the trailing edge. Fig.65 The mean camber line is the line drawn halfway between the upper and lower surfaces of the airfoil. The point where the mean camber line intersects the front part of the airfoil section is the leading edge.. . The chord line is a straight line joining the leading edge and the trailing edge.. Mean camber line Fig.66 The leading edge is the point where the mean camber line intersects the front part of the airfoil section. The length of the chord line is called chord (c). The shape of the mean camber line is very important when determining the aerodynamic characteristics of the airfoil section. 1.. Airfoil terminology. This line gives us a picture of the average curvature of the airfoil section.68 1 . 1.67 The chord of a wing may vary greatly from root to tip. The reasons for varying the chord along the span.

Chord is the length of the chord line. The point where the distance between the mean camber line and the chord line is the greatest.. 1. The point where this distance is greatest. Maximum thickness Fig. Maximum camber Camber Mean camber line Chordline. Principles of Flight The chord line is a straight line joining the leading edge and the trailing edge..69 The distance between the mean camber line and the chord line is called the camber. . Fig. The radius of the leading edge of the airfoil has a great impact on the behaviour of the flow around the airfoil. Basics. A relatively great nose radius makes it easier for the airflow to follow the airfoil upper surface at high angles of attack.. Equal camber Zero camber Symmetrical ai rfoil Fig.33 . © TFHS and NAR 1 . The distance between the mean camber line and the chord line is called the camber.. A very small nose radius may cause the flow separation to start at the leading edge instead of the trailing edge. A highly cambered wing may be thick or thin and a symmetrical airfoil has zero camber.71 The thickness of an airfoil is measured where the distance is the greatest between the upper and the lower surfaces. 1. The thickness of an airfoil is measured where the distance is the greatest between the upper and the lower surfaces. 1. is called the maximum camber. is called the maximum camber. .70 A higly cambered wing may be thick or thin and a symmetrical airfoil has zero camber.

o.o. It is abbreviated as A.72 The radius of the leading edge of the airfoil has a great impact on the behaviour of the flow around the airfoil. 1. © TFHS and NAR Nose radius Fig. where the pitch angle from the horizon to the aircraft axis is rather great. Distribution of local velocity and pressure on the airfoil section. normally in three dimensional aerodynamics the A. However.73 In 2-D aerodynamics the local angle of attack is the angle between the chord line of the airfoil and the relative airflow.o.. The angle of attack is always based on the relative airflow free from the influence of 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.74 Do not confuse the angle of attack with the pitch angle. Free stream flow.34 . The figure below shows a climb situation.o. 1 . Pitch angle or attitude θ Flig ht p ath Climb angle γ Air Angle of Attack (A..A or by the character α. Fig.A (α) is given as a value relative to the symmetrical axis of the aircraft. Angle of Attack (A. 1.. but the angle of attack from the air flow to the aircraft axis is small. It is abbreviated as A. You now know the flow pattern around an airfoil at a low positive angle of attack. which is relative to the horizon.o. 1. But we need to study the airflow and pressure distribution more closely to fully understand the creation of lift.A or α) Chordline.A) α flow Horizon Fig. . It is important not to confuse the angle of attack with the pitch angle or the attitude of the aircraft.A or by the character α.

The airflow that meets the airfoil surface at a perpendicular angle will stop when it reaches the surface. reaching the maximum speed where the pressure gradient is at maximum at approximately the thickest part of the airfoil section..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. That point is called the stagnation point. 1. Deceleration from the area with lowest pressure.75 Near a lifting surface there will always be an upwash of the airflow in front of the airfoil and a downwash behind it. highest pressure.. 1. . and then decelerates gradually as it deviates from the area with lowest pressure. 1.77 Deceleration Area with the Acceleration from the area with towards the highest pressure. The air will thereafter progressively accelerate when coming nearer the trailing edge. Fig. giving a gradual decrease in speed relative to the airfoil. higher pressure © TFHS and NAR 1 . Fig. The air following the upper surface accelerates towards the area with lower pressure. 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. 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. Principles of Flight Basics. Acceleration towards the lower pressure Area with the lowest pressure. The airflow close ahead of the airfoil is pushed forwards. Upwash Downwash Stagnation point Fig.35 .

o. As you know. 1. On the contrary. But. A. In the next figures.A . an increase in local speed causes a decrease in static pressure over the surface. Consequently. When the airflow reaches the trailing edge. . using shade scale again.36 . 1 . there is consequently a pressure difference between the surfaces.. This will increase the total pressure difference. © TFHS and NAR Consequently the velocity of the airflow varies chordwise and is different on the upper and the lower surface. 1.A 5 o Flow speed Fig. A. but the elements of air from the upper surface are further back than the elements from the lower surface. At the trailing edge. 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.A 10 o Flow speed Fig. thus creating a higher lift at the same flow velocity. both upper and lower surface pressure can be lower than the free stream static pressure. on most parts of the lower surface of the airfoil there is a slightly higher static pressure than the free stream static pressure. there are equal velocities of the air from both surfaces. the lighter areas represents a lower pressure than the free stream static pressure. as long as a lift is produced..79 On a cambered airfoil section with a very low A. and the darker areas a higher static pressure.. the air from both above and below the airfoil has the same velocity.o. a decrease in local speed causes an increase in static pressure over the surface.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.o.

A 0 o Flow speed Fig. 1. Lift Total aerodynamic force Centre of pressure. 1. The location of the C. Or. abbreviated C..80 To simplify the drawings of pressure distribution. varies with the angle of attack but in general it is located within the forward half of the chord. The total aerodynamic force acts along a line whose intersection with the chord line is called the 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. we may instead use arrows pointing away from the airfoil to indicate a pressure less than the free airstream static pressure.P. - + Fig.82 The total aerodynamic force acts at a point called the centre of pressure... Drag ~25% c Fig. 25 % of the chord. 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.37 . one perpendicular to the relative airflow called lift and the other parallel to the relative airflow called drag. approx. .P..81 Centre of pressure. And we use arrows pointing towards the surface to indicate a pressure greater than the free airstream static pressure. the total aerodynamic force has two components.P. abbreviated C. to simplifying graphics further.o.P. Basics. 1. © TFHS and NAR 1 . As has already been mentioned. C. Principles of Flight A. .

Lift is caused by differences in the static pressure perpendicular to the airfoil surfaces. 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. 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.o. You will get much more information on lift-related drag in chapter 4.A and α ? 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 . 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.© TFHS and NAR An efficient airfoil section produces high lift and low drag. "Induced and total drag". Differences in the static pressure perpendicular to the airfoil surfaces is caused by variation of airflow speed close to the surface. and on factors influencing the relationship between lift and drag in chapter 13 "Lift/drag".

the stagnation point will be moved further down on the lower surface. then towards increasing pressure. -- When flowing towards a too high pressure gradient. we will see a streamline flow around the airfoil.. Let us now examine how the airflow around the airfoil changes when the angle of attack increases.8 BEHAVIOUR WHEN CHANGING THE ANGLE OF ATTACK.A is increased. ++ The stagnation point moves further down Fig.84 If the angle of attack is increased to a certain degree. This paragraph deals with the behaviour of the lift when there is a change in the angle of attack. This prevents the air from following the surface and will cause the airflow to break away and separate from the rear surface. 1. Basics. When the angle of attack is low.. Flowing towards decreasing pressure = acceleration Flowing towards increasing pressure = deceleration - + Stagnation point Flowing towards increasing pressure = deceleration Flowing towards decreasing pressure = acceleration Fig. the circulation will increase and the differences of the local velocities around the airfoil will be greater. 1. 1. slowing down the flow velocity near the trailing edge.39 .o. It introduces the critical angle of attack and the concept of stall. The streamlines follow the upper surface of the wing all the way to the trailing edge. . Critical angle of attack and stall. Principles of Flight 1. ..85 © TFHS and NAR The flow starts to flow upwards-forwards at the trailing edge.. the pressure difference between the area with max velocity and the trailing edge will be too great. the flow stops near the surface and is separated. Greater acceleration - + - Greater deceleration + Stagnation point moves down Fig.83 When the A. The air flows first towards decreasing pressure. 1 .

. is exceeded the airflow is separated on a very large portion of the upper surface of the airfoil. the area of separation becomes greater and more turbulent. or stall angle of attack. The point where the separation starts. . moves forward to the area with the lowest pressure. If the angle of attack is increased further..86 The airflow breaks away and separates from the surface at the SEPARATION POINT and becomes very turbulent. At a certain value of the angle of attack for that aerofoil. 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.. called the critical angle of attack.87 If the CRITICAL ANGLE OF ATTACK or STALL ANGLE OF ATTACK is exceeded.40 of lower static pressure on the upper the movement of its maximum value continue until the angle of attack attack. the airflow is separated on a very large portion of the upper surface of the airfoil causing less pressure differences. --- Separation point Flow directions + ++ Fig. 1. 1. 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. called the separation point. The separation point moves gradually towards the leading edge at increased angle of attack. and a relatively higher static pressure on the lower surface. αcrit. .o. - Separation point + ++ Fig. The speed variations in the airflow cause an increase both in the zone of lower static pressure on the upper surface. The expansion of the zone surface of the airfoil and towards the leading edge reaches the stall angle of 1 . the separation point moves gradually towards the leading edge.A is increased. This condition is defined as airfoil stall. This condition is defined as AIRFOIL STALL. The lift will not increase any further. We can now summarize what we have learnt. © TFHS and NAR When the A.

the zone of lower static pressure on the upper surface of the airfoil is also much reduced. The stalled condition is also called: loss of impulse. Equal A.A + - + Fig.41 . 1. The shape of the trailing edge is very important in this matter.A. causes a similar change in the total aerodynamic force.. Therefore this stalled condition is also called: loss of impulse.A.o.. When the airflow over the wing is separated from the surface. Separation point Rounded trailing edge. the downward acceleration of the air mass is greatly reduced. The streamline flow over the upper surface of the airfoil is reduced and as a consequence. The change in the distribution of pressure around the airfoil.88 Once the stall angle of attack is exceeded. Once the critical angle has been reached. the high pressure from the lower side will easily flow upwards/forwards and slow down the flow velocity from the upper surface. Total aerodynamic force and centre of pressure at a changed angle of attack. Basics. A very sharp trailing edge will allow the upper airflow to maintain a higher speed at a higher A. 1. Separation point Sharp trailing edge. If the trailing edge is rounded. the airflow breaks away completely from the upper surface of the airfoil. the value of the total aerodynamic force increases at the same time as the centre of pressure moves towards the leading edge. © TFHS and NAR 1 . the total aerodynamic force reaches its maximum value. the airfoil is stalled.o.o. and the centre of pressure will be located in its most forward position.89 A rounded trailing edge gives a lower stall angle of attack. With an increase in the angle of attack at a constant speed. giving a rather low critical angle of attack. Principles of Flight - Stall A. which is a result of the increase in the angle of attack. as can be seen in the figures 85 to 87. Fig.

o.90 Once the critical angle of attack is exceeded and the airfoil is stalled. however. The lift decreases dramatically.o. 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..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. 1. The drag. . The maximum value of lift is obtained when the angle of attack is equal to the stall angle of attack.P. The lift generated by a stalled airfoil decreases dramatically while the drag still increases..P.. 1 . At stall At critical A. rearwards Fig. 1. . the lift generated by a stalled airfoil decreases dramatically while the drag still increases. continues to increase with a further increase in the angle of attack. In the chapter 2 "Lift" and chapter 7 "Stalling". Fig. . most forward C.A Drag Most forward C.42 . © TFHS and NAR Lift Stall A. you will find further information on this concept. and the centre of pressure moves rearwards.A Lift Lift DRAG DRAG C.P. the total aerodynamic force is pointed more rearwards. So.

o. have its most forward position? How will lift and drag change when the stall A.Basics.A? What will happen to the airflow when the stall angle of attack is surpassed? At what A.A? Where does the separation start when the A.o.o. 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.A will the C.o. change its position when the αcrit has been surpassed? How is a stalled airfoil characterized compared to a normal lifting one? © TFHS and NAR 1 .P.P.A has been surpassed? How will the C.43 .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.o.A is too high? How will the position of the separation point change with an increase in the A.