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ME 4241 Aircraft Performance, Stability and Control


Kenneth Goh Zhong Jing
Chia Wah Tat Louis
Koh He Xiang
Law Yi Zhuan


10 March 2014

Department of Mechanical Engineering
National University of Singapore

A separate analysis conducted and funded by Pan Am also strongly supports the existence of a microburst in the vicinity of the airport at the time of the accident. The shape and action of this echo was similar to those observed in association with microburst. This consequently resulted in the aircraft striking the trees about 2376 feet at the end of runway 10 and crashed [1]. researchers from University of Dayton Research institute (UDRI) performed a more detailed analysis and concluded that rainfall had played a part in addition to the microburst. Despite microburst being concluded by NTSB as the primary factor contributing to the crash of the aircraft based on this case study. but also widespread of shower over the east end of the airport on the aircraft’s intended take off path. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) not only reported that that wind conditions were gusty. An analysis of the aircraft’s flight data recorder strongly supports the conclusion that the downdraft was a weak to moderate microburst. Analysis of the satellite data. Findings by NTSB attributed the cause of the rapid descent of the plane during take-off to microburst induced wind shear due to the severe weather. from the time of lift off until the aircraft impacted the ground. Further analysis of data a few years after the accident accompanied by several evidences substantiating the presence of heavy rainfall at the time of the accident. Airplane Performance Analysis The NOAA and Pan Am wind analyses indicated that Flight 759 flew through a microburst and encountered. and their involvement in the accident. operated by a Boeing 727-235. variable and swirling. Based on the available data. an increasing headwind. weather radar data and precipitation patterns showed a VIP level 3 (:STRONG) echo directly over the airport at the time of the accident. had shown to also cause roughening of the wing surface analogous to ice or frosts. in rapid succession. To analyse the effects of these . imposing a detrimental effect on the aerodynamic forces generated by the aircraft such as reduction in lift and increase in drag that aggravated the situation. a regularly scheduled passenger flight from Miami to San Diego with en route stops in New Orleans and Las Vegas began its take off from runway 10 at the New Orleans’s international airport in Kenner.Pam Am Flight 759. this report aims to perform a detailed study of the effect of microburst-induced wind shear and heavy rainfall as the secondary factor on aircraft stability and control. During the time of take-off. Wind Shear/Microburst Analysis The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was the body responsible for performing analysis on surface and low-level wind. the NOAA concluded that Flight 759 flew through the centre of a convectively generated downdraft shortly after lift-off. Microburst-induced wind shear which imposed a downdraft and a decreasing headwind rendered the pilot’s inability to react during the circumstance. A few years later. a downdraft. leading to their failure to bring the plane under control. and then an increasing tailwind.

This runback water layer tends to accumulate in regions of flow separation. drag. the indicated airspeed will change. When an airplane flies into an area where the direction of the horizontal wind changes abruptly. splashback of the droplets into the airflow field would occur. and the vertical speed will change in the positive direction. according to Wan et al. the airplane's nose will pitch down. If the airplane flies into an increasing headwind. resulting in the loss of boundary layer air momentum [2]. If the vertical wind's direction is downward. and thrust. the roughening of airfoil surface. changes the angle of attack which causes a change in both lift and drag. the following forces which acts on the airplane must be considered: lift.rapidly changing wind or the flight path of an airplane. If the airplane flies into a decreasing headwind. Both lift and drag will also change abruptly and thus produce an imbalance in the forces acting along the airplane's longitudinal and vertical axes. The indicated airspeed. The cloud of droplets (also known as ejecta fog) produced by the rain impact would be reaccelerated to the local flow velocity. lift. namely the loss of boundary layer air momentum. and hence de-energizes the boundary layer. and drag will increase. with respect to the airplane's path relative to the ground. [4] . the relative wind will increase. . the airplane's nose will pitch up. the angular change in the direction of the total wind vector. In addition. This inadvertently results in a loss of lift and an increase in drag. the water layer on the wing surface would also enhance flow separation and reduce the stall angle. The basic stability of the airplane will cause it to pitch up initially. The indicated airspeed will decrease. and the vertical speed will change in the negative direction. When the airplane flies into a vertical wind. In addition. The change is equivalent to the abrupt change in the relative wind. Numerical simulation by Valentine and Decker [3] on the rain effect on airfoil in 1995 reported the presence of ejecta fog in their simulations and concluded that the splashback effect results in a decrease in stall angle. under the rain conditions experienced by Flight 759. increase in drag and a decrease in the stall angle can be observed. weight. the ultimate effect on the airplane's flight path will be an increase in the descent rate relative to the ground. changes in the lift and the drag are most significant because they depend at any instant on the airplane's relative wind vector. the effect will be the opposite. and the decrease in airfoil momentum. When rain droplets impinge on the airfoil. Rainfall Analysis Previous studies conducted both numerically and experimentally concluded that rain effect causes significant aerodynamic penalties on the aircraft. Three main reasons for the aerodynamic efficiency degradation have been postulated. lift will decrease. A loss of lift. the roughening of airfoil surface is due to a fraction of raindrop that is not splashed back which remains on the upper airfoil surface as a layer of thin water film on the airfoil. which alters the shape of the airfoil[2]. angle of attack is reduced and the lift and drag will decrease causing the airplane to accelerate downward. however. In a dynamic situation.

This will allow the pilots to know the precise location and the conditions of the atmosphere along the flight path of the airplane. With on-board system. Hence. the effect of momentum transfer can be deemed to be insignificant for the rainfall rate given at the time of the tragedy. sufficient training for the pilots to ensure their procedures are correct is also necessary. the pilot can make necessary amendments to his flight path after seeking for approval. In the event of a severe thunderstorm. All these will make air travel safer. rain impacting the airfoil surface will result in momentum transfer from the rain droplets to the airfoil. However. Delta Airlines flight 191. keeping in mind that the tarmac may be wet and slippery. the pilots can make critical decisions quickly. . At the time of take-off. There have been many air accidents involving microburst-induced wind shear and it is necessary to be able to detect such weather conditions as it is very dangerous to airplanes. With this data.Under such conditions. the pilot has to make a decision whether to land the plane or move to another suitable airport by calculating the fuel left. Such weather usually combine strong winds with heavy rain. After Pan Am flight 759 and another similar air crash. the meteorological data indicated a rainfall rate of 144 mm/h near the departure end of the runway [5]. it is mandatory for all commercial aircraft to have an airborne wind shear detection and alert system [6]. while the aircraft is in a high lift configuration for take-off. relevant data are made available to the pilots quicker to make better decisions. making it difficult for the pilot to control the plane. This detection and alert system is also more efficient than the previous method of obtaining data from the radar located in the vicinity of the airport to alerting the air traffic controller and then to inform the pilot as there will be lag time involved. Conclusion With modern equipment that are available in the airports and on-board planes. Suggestions Microburst-induced wind shear and rain are two weather conditions that usually occur. Lastly. Also. a reduction in stall angle may inadvertently trigger an aerodynamic stall scenario. this effect is considered to be less significant than the other effects for rainfall rates below 500 mm/h [2].

T. Luers. 22(8): p. Chou. 6.Pan American World Airways. Emsley. N4737. and C. Haines. National Transportation Safety Board. 4. 638-644. 1992 [cited 2015 9 March]. Making the Skies Safe from Windshear.A. Reinvestigation of high lift airfoil under the influence of heavy rain effects. Boeing 727-235. in Proceedings of the 50th AIAA Aerospace Science Meeting including the New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition.. Decker. 2012. NASA.K. July 9 1982.. Aircraft Accident Report . 1995. 2.-J. Available from: http://www. I. 21(4): p. and J.nasa. . MARCHMAN. Robertson. New Orleans International Airport. 24(9): p. Journal of aircraft. Clipper 759. 5.A. Inc. P. 3. Louisiana. M. Dietenberger. J. Rain effects at low Reynolds number. T.html. Wan. 1983. and R. 719-728.References 1. 639-648. Reconstruction of Pan Am Orleans accident. A Lagrangian-Eulerian scheme for flow around an airfoil in rain. E.A. 1985. International journal of multiphase flow. and H. 1987. Kenner. Valentine. Journal of Aircraft.