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Introduction 01. The atmosphere is the term given to the layer of air which surrounds the Earth and extends upwards from the surface to about 500 miles. The flight of all objects using fixed or moving wings to sustain them, or air breathing engines to propel them, is confined to the lower layers of the atmosphere. The properties of the atmosphere are therefore of great importance to all forms of flight. 02. The Earth's atmosphere can be said to consist of four concentric gaseous layers. The layer nearest the surface is known as the troposphere, above which are the stratosphere, the mesosphere and the thermosphere. The boundary of the troposphere known as the tropopause, is not at a constant height but varies from an average of about 25,000-ft at the poles to 54,000 ft at the equator. Above the tropopause the stratosphere extends to approximately 30 miles. At greater heights various authorities have at some time divided the remaining atmosphere into further regions but for descriptive purposes the terms mesosphere and thermosphere are used here. The ionosphere is a region of the atmosphere extending from roughly 40 to 250 miles altitude in which there is appreciable ionization. The presence of charged particles in this region, which starts in the mesosphere and runs into the thermosphere, profoundly affects the propagation of electromagnetic radiation of long wavelengths (radio and radar waves). 03. Through these layers the atmosphere undergoes a gradual transition from its characteristics at sea level to those at the fringe of the thermosphere, which merges with space. The weight of the atmosphere is about one millionth of that of the Earth, and an air column one square metre in section extending vertically through the atmosphere weighs 9800 kg. Since air is compressible, the troposphere contains much the greater part (over three quarters in middle latitudes) of the whole mass of the atmosphere, while the remaining fraction is spread out with ever-increasing rarity over a height range of some hundred times that of the troposphere. 04. Average representative values of atmospheric characteristics are shown in Fig 1. It will be noted that the pressure falls steadily with height, but that temperature falls steadily to the tropopause, where it then remains constant through the stratosphere, but increasing or a while in the warm upper layers. Temperature falls again in the mesosphere and eventually increases rapidly in the thermosphere. The mean free path (M) in Fig 1 is an indication of the distance of one molecule of gas from its neighbors, thus, in the thermosphere, although the individual air molecules have the temperatures shown, their extremely rarefied nature results in a negligible heat transfer to any body present.


Fig 1 The Atmosphere Physical Properties of Air 05. Air is a compressible fluid and as such it is able to flow or change its shape when subjected even to minute pressures. At normal temperatures, metals such as iron and copper are highly resistant to deformation by pressure, but in liquid form they flow readily. In solids the molecules adhere so strongly that large forces are needed to change their position with respect to other molecules. In fluids, however, the degree of cohesion of the molecules is so small that very small forces suffice to move them in relation to each other. A fluid in which there is no cohesion between the molecules, and therefore no internal friction, and which is incompressible would be an "ideal" fluid - if it were obtainable. Fluid Pressure 06. At any point in a fluid the pressure is the same in all directions, and if a body is immersed in a stationary fluid the pressure on any point of the body acts at right angles to the surface at that point irrespective of the shape or position of the body.


Composition of Air 07. Since air is a fluid having a very low internal friction it can be considered, within limits, to be an ideal fluid. Air is a mixture of a number of separate gases, the proportions of which are: It can be seen that for all practical purposes the atmosphere can be regarded as consisting of 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen by volume. Up to a height of some five to six miles water vapor is found in varying quantities, the amount of water vapor in a given mass of air depending on the temperature and whether the air is, or has recently been, over large areas of water. The higher the temperature the greater the amount of water vapor that the air can hold. Measurement of Temperature 08. The Celsius scale is normally used for recording atmospheric temperatures and the working temperatures of engines and other equipment. On this scale water freezes at 0 and boils at 100, at sea level. In scientific measurement of temperature absolute zero has a special significance; at this temperature a body is said to have no heat whatsoever. Temperatures relative to absolute zero are measured in Kelvins (also known before 1967 as degrees Kelvin) and are used in all formulae dealing with density and pressures. Kelvin (K) zero occurs at - 273.15 Celsius (C). 09. Conversion Factors. Occasionally the Fahrenheit (F) scale may still be encountered; it is not suitable for scientific purposes as Fahrenheit zero has no particular significance: Water at sea levels freezes at 32F and boils at 212F. To convert F to C, subtract 32 and multiply by; to convert C to F, multiply by and add 32. To convert C to Kelvins or K (Absolute) add 273 (or more precisely 273.15). Standard Atmosphere 10. The values of temperature, pressure and density are never constant in any given layer of the atmosphere, in fact, they are all constantly changing. Experience has shown


that there is a requirement for a standard atmosphere for the comparison of aircraft performances, calibration of altimeters and other practical uses. A number are in existence but most countries use the International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). 11. The ISA assumes a mean sea level temperature of +15C, a pressure of 1013.25mb (14.7-psi) and a density of 1.225 kg per m3. The temperature lapse rate is assumed to be uniform at the rate of 6.5C per kilometer (1.98C per 1,000 ft) up to a height of 11km (36,090 ft) above which height it remains constant at -56.5C (See Table 1). Table 1 ICAO Standard Atmosphere (Surface Density 1.225 kg per m3)
Altitude (ft0) Temperature (C) Pressure (mb) Pressure (psi) Density (kg per m3 ) Relative Density (%)

0 5,000 10,000 15,000 20,000 25,000 30,000 35,000 40,000 45,000 50,000 Density

+15.0 +5.1 -4.8 -14.7 -24.6 -34.5 -44.4 -54.3 -56.5 -56.5 -56.5

1013.25 843.1 696.8 571.8 465.6 376.0 300.9 238.4 187.6 147.5 116.0

14.7 12.22 10.11 8.29 6.75 5.45 4.36 3.46 2.72 2.15 1.68

1.225 1.056 0.905 0.771 0.653 0.549 0.458 0.386 0.302 0.237 0.186

100.0 86.2 73.8 62.9 53.3 44.8 37.4 31.0 24.6 19.4 15.2

12. Density (symbol " ") is mass per unit volume. The unit of density used in this volume is kg per m3. The relationship of density to temperature and pressure can be expressed thus: P/T =constant, where p = pressure in mb T =absolute temperature Effects of Pressure on Density 13. When air is compressed, a greater amount can occupy a given volume; ie the mass, and therefore the density, has increased. Conversely, when air is expanded less mass occupies the original volume and the density decreases. From the formula in para 12 it can be seen that, provided the temperature remains constant, density is directly proportional to pressure, ie if the pressure is halved, so is the density, and vice versa.


Effect of Temperature on Density 14. When air is heated it expands so that a smaller mass will occupy a given volume, therefore the density will have decreased, assuming that the pressure remains constant. The converse will also apply. Thus the density of the air will vary inversely as the absolute temperature: this is borne out by the formula in para 12. In the atmosphere the fairly rapid drop in pressure as altitude is increased has the dominating effect on density, as against the effect of the fall in temperature which tends to increase the density. Effect of Humidity on Density 15. The preceding paragraphs have assumed that the air is perfectly dry. In the atmosphere some water vapor is invariably present; this may be almost negligible in certain conditions but in others the humidity may become an important factor in the performance of an aircraft. The density of water vapor under standard sea level conditions is 0.760 kg per m3. Therefore water vapor can be seen to weigh 0.760/1.225 as much 5/8as air, roughly as much as air at sea level. This means that under standard sea level conditions the portion of a mass of air, which holds water vapor, weighs (1-5/8) or 3/8 less than it would if it were dry. Therefore air is least dense when it contains a maximum amount of water vapor and most dense when it is perfectly dry.

Pressure Altitude. 16. If the sea level pressure should be other than 1013.25 mb, then there is a requirement to relate the actual pressure experienced at a given point to a height (above or below MSL) in the ISA at which the same pressure will be found. This is pressure altitude, and is widely used in Operating Data Manuals and performance charts. Pressure altitude can be found either by calculating a height change of 30 ft for every 1 mb difference in pressure away from 1,013.25 mb at the surface, or by setting the sub-scale of an ICAN calibrated altimeter to 1,013.25 mb and reading pressure altitude directly from the instrument. Density Altitude 17. For aircraft operations air density is usually expressed as a density altitude. Density Altitude is defined as that height (above or below mean sea level) in the standard atmosphere to which the actual density at any particular point corresponds. For standard conditions of temperature and pressure, density altitude is the same as pressure altitude. Density Altitude equals pressure altitude (120t), where t is the difference between local air temperature at pressure altitude and the standard temperature for the same pressure altitude. If the air temperature is higher than standard, then (120t) is added to pressure altitude, if it is lower, subtracted.


Dynamic Pressure 18. Because it possesses density, air in motion must possess energy and therefore exerts a pressure on any object in its path. This dynamic pressure is proportional to the density and the square of the speed. The energy due to movement, the kinetic energy (KE), of one cubic metre of air moving at a stated speed is given by the following formula: KE = 1/2 V2joules, where is the local air density in kg per m3 and V is the speed in metres per second. (Joule = the work done when the point of application of a force of one Newton is displaced through a distance of 1 metre in the direction of the force (1 ft lb = 1.355 joules)). (Newton = that force which applied to a mass of 1 kilogramme, gives it an acceleration of 1 metre per second per second (1 lb force = 4.44 Newtons). If this volume of moving air is completely trapped and brought to rest by means of an open-ended tube the total energy remains constant. In being brought to rest the kinetic energy becomes pressure energy (small losses are incurred because air is not an ideal fluid) which, for all practical purposes, is equal to1/2 V2 newtons per m2, or if the area of the tube is S square metres, then: Total Pressure (dynamic + static) = V2S Newtons. 19. The term 1/2 V2 is common to all aerodynamic forces and fundamentally determines the air loads imposed on an object moving through the air. It is often modified to include a correction factor or coefficient. The term stands for the dynamic pressure imposed by air of a certain density moving at a given speed and which is brought completely to rest. The abbreviation for the term 1/2 V2 is the symbol "q". Note dynamic pressure cannot be measured on its own, as the ambient pressure of the atmosphere (known as static) is always present. This total pressure is also known as stagnation or pitot pressure 1It can be seen that (Dynamic + Static) - Static = Dynamic.

See chapter 2


Method of Measuring Air Speed 20. It is essential that an aircraft have some means of measuring the speed at which it is passing through the air. The method of doing this is by comparing the total pressure (static + dynamic) with static pressure. An instrument measures the difference between the two pressures and indicates dynamic pressure in terms of speed, the indicated speed varying approximately as the square root of the dynamic pressure. This instrument is known as an air speed indicator (ASI)2 Relationships between Air Speeds 21. The general term air speed is further qualified as:

a. Indicated Air Speed (IAS)(V1). The reading on the ASI is the indicated air speed. (Note: In practice, any instrument error is usually very small and can, for all practical purposes, be ignored.) b. Calibrated Air Speed (CAS)(Vc). When the IAS has been corrected by the application of pressure error correction (PEC) and instrument error correction, the result is known as calibrated air speed (CAS). PEC can be obtained from the Aircrew Manual for the type of aircraft. When the PEC figures for individual instruments are displayed on the cockpit, they include the instrument error correction for that particular ASI. CAS was once termed RAS (Rectified Air Speed) and this term may well be discovered in old texts and etched on the circular slide rules of some navigational computers. c. Equivalent Air Speed (EAS)(Ve). Equivalent air speed is obtained by adding the compressibility error correction (CEC) to CAS. d. True Air Speed (TAS)(V). The TAS is obtained by dividing the EAS by the square root of the relative air density. 22. The ASI can be calibrated to read correctly for only one density/altitude. Most ASIs are calibrated for ICAO atmosphere conditions; under these conditions and at the standard sea level density ( o); the EAS (Ve) is equal to the TAS (V). At any other altitude where the density is then. Ve=V /


Were is the relative density

Thus, at 40,000 ft where the standard density is one quarter of the sea level value, the EAS will be half the TAS.

See section on Instruments


23. From the preceding paragraphs it can be seen that there are two important speeds. The TAS is significant because it gives a measure of the speed of a body relative to the undisturbed air and the EAS is significant because the aerodynamic forces acting on an aircraft are directly proportional to the dynamic pressure and thus the EAS. 24. a. The TAS may be calculated from the IAS in the following ways: By navigational computer

b. From a graph. Some Operator Data Manuals contain IAS/TAS conversion graphs and these enable TAS to be computed from knowledge of pressure height, indicated air speed and indicated air temperature. c. By mental calculation

Mach Number 25. Small disturbances generated by a body passing through the atmosphere are transmitted as pressure waves, which are in effect sound waves, whether audible or not. In considering the motion of the body it is frequently found convenient to express its velocity relative to the velocity of these pressure waves. This ratio is Mach number (M). M=V/a Where V = TAS and a = local speed of sound in air, which varies as the square root of the absolute temperature of the local air mass.


26. Fig 2 shows the theoretical relationship between TAS, EAS and Mach number.

Fig 2 Theoretical Relationship between TAS, EAS and Mach Number