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AIRFOIL AERODYNAMICS

3. 1 FORCES AND MOMENTS

It is conventional to separate aerodynamic forces and moments into three force

components (lift, drag, sideforce) and three moments (pitch, yaw, roll). These

components may be defined relative to the wind direction (wind axis system) or relative to

the vehicle centerline (body axis system) or a combination of the two. One must be careful

in the computation or use of force and moment data to use the proper axis system and to be

consistent in its use. The most commonly used system is the wind axis system where the

forces are defined either along the free stream velocity vector or perpendicular to it as

shown in Figure 3.1.

Figure 3.1. Wind Axis System

To many people this axis system appears inverted and somewhat unnatural. It was chosen

primarily because it is a standard right hand system. It is often more intuitive to invert part

of the system to make the z axis point "ups and the x axis go with the wind; however, in

that arrangement the moments do not follow the right hand rule. Either system can be used

if one is careful in its use.

It is important to note that the axis system is aligned with the wind, rather than the

horizon or the vehicle axis. This is an easy source of confusion since it is common to

visualize the wind vector concurrent with the horizon or along the aircraft axis. Indeed, in

a straight and level flight situation for an aircraft the free stream wind vector might coincide

with the vehicle axis and the horizon; however it is best not to think in terms of that special

case. Some people prefer to think of the x axis shown in Figure 3.1 as lying along the path

of flight of the vehicle. Figure 3.2 illustrates the problem by showing a typical glide

situation for an aircraft.

63

Figure 3.2. Aircraft in Glide

The three orthogonal forces are lift, L, drag, D, and side force, Y. Lift is defined as the

force along the negative z axis (normally "upward") and acting perpendicular to the free

stream direction. Note that this is not necessarily upward with respect to the aircraft axis or

the horizon as indicated in Figure 3.2.

Drag is defined as the force in the direction of the relative wind or along the negative x

axis. Drag can always be thought of as the force which resists the motion of the vehicle.

Side force, given the symbol Y, is defined as mutually perpendicular to both lift and

drag and is positive outhe the right hand or starboard side of the vehicle.

The three moments, pitch (M), roll (L

R

) and yaw (N) are the moments which tend to

result in a rotation of the vehicle about the y, x or z axes respectively.

Pitching moment, M, is by far the most widely discussed of the three moments since it

must be considered in two dimensional (x, z plane) problems as well as in 3-D cases.

Pitching moment is defined as positive when it tends to raise the nose of the vehicle. It is

this basic definition of the sense of pitch that requires the use of an "inverted" (z

downward) axis system in order to have a right had coordinate system. The pitching

moment acts about the positive y axis.

The rolling moment, L

R

, is the moment which causes rotation about the x axis or

causes an aircraft to roll one wing up and the other down. Note that this definition of roll

may not coincide with that of an airplane pilot who thinks of roll as occurring about the

plane's body axis rather than the wind axis.

Yawing moment, N. rotates the vehicle around the lift direction and is defined as

positive when it is clockwise or results in a nose right motion. Again the use of a body

axis rather than a wind axis may result in a different value for yawing moment.

64

3. 2 DIMENSIONAL ANALYSIS AND NON-DIMENSIONAL

COEFFICIENTS

It is convenient in engineering work to deal with non-dimensional terms or unitless

numbers rather than everyday dimensional terms. The resulting non-dimensional

parameters not only remain unchanged from one unit system to another but they are usually

more meaningful in terms of the physics of a problem than conventional dimensional

numbers.

It is possible to develop the concept of a non-dimensional force coefficient and to

examine the important physical parameter groupings on which aerodynamic forces depend

by using a simple process known as dimensional analysis. Dimensional analysis, as used

here, is simply a process of first identifying the parameters on which fluid forces depend

and then grouping these parameters in such a way that the units or dimensions balance.

Assume then that it is know that the forces one body in a fluid depend on the following:

1. The properties of the fluid itself, pressure, P, density, , viscosity, , and the

speed of sound (fluid's elastic properties), a. Note that one need not include

temperature since P and are considered.

2. The speed of the body relative to the fluid, V.

3. The acceleration of gravity, g.

4. The characteristic size or dimension of the body, l, or the distance of a body

from a fluid boundary, also designated l.

Hence it can be said that the force on a body in a fluid is a function of all of the above,

F f( ,V,l, ,g,P,a)

[3.1]

or to be completely general, the force is a function of each variable to some power,

F f(

A

,V

B

,l

C

,

D

,g

E

,P

G

,a

H

)

[3.2]

Since the left hand side of this equation, [3.1] has the dimensions of force, the right

hand side must also have the same dimensions. Force has units of mass multiplied by

acceleration (kilograms meters/seconds

2

or slugs feet/seconds

2

). To be general then it can

be said that force has dimensions of (mass)x(length)/(time)

2

and letting M, L, and T

represent these physical dependencies one can write the dimensions for force as MLT

-2

.

Likewise, one can write the dimensions for all the other terms in equation 3.2 in terms of

mass, length, and time:

65

Parameter Dimension

velocity (V) LT

-1

length (L) L

density ( ) ML

-3

viscosity ( ) ML

-1

T

-1

pressure (P) ML

-1

T

-2

gravitational

acceleration (g) LT

-2

speed of sound (a) LT

-1

force (F) MLT

-2

Now, substituting these into equation [3.2] the result is a dimensional equation of the

form:

MLT

2

ML

3

( )

A

LT

1

( )

B

L ( )

C

ML

1

T

1

( )

D

LT

2

( )

E

ML

1

T

2

( )

G

LT

1

( )

H

[3.3]

The task is now to balance the above equation dimensionally; i.e.., the sum of the mass

exponents on the left side of the equation must equal those on the right, etc. Equating

exponents of mass, length and time respectively leads to three equations:

(Mass) 1 = A + D + G

(Length) 1 = -3A + B + C - D + E - G + H

(Time) 2 = B + D + 2E + 2G + H

[3.4]

Now, equations [Figure 3.4] give a set of three equations and seven unkowns. These

equations may be solved for the values of any three of the unknowns in terms of the

remaining four. Solving then for A, B, and C in terms of the remaining terms gives:

A = 1 - D - G

B = 2 - D - 2E - 2G - H

C = 2 - D + E

[3.5]

Substituting these solutions [Figure 3.2.5] into the original relationship [3.2.2] and

grouping all terms of like exponents gives:

F V

2

l

2 Vl

_

,

D

gl

V

2

_

,

E

P

V

2

_

,

G

V

a

_

,

H

1

]

1

1

[3.6]

66

It is noted that each of the terms with an unknown exponent is a dimensionless term;

i.e., the term

Vl

is unitless as are

gl

V

2

,

p

V

2

and

V

a

. If the equation is divided

by

V

2

l

2

, both side become unitless.

F V

2

l

2

f

Vl

_

,

gl

V

2

_

,

P

V

2

_

,

V

a

_

,

1

]

1

1

[3.7]

Two conclusions can be drawn from equation [3.7]. The first is that the proper way to

nondimensionalize a fluid force is to divide it by the fluid density, the square of the velocity

and the square of the characteristic dimension of the body or the body's representative area.

Since the term

1

2

V

2

represents the dynamic pressure of the fluid as found in Bernoulli's

equation, a factor of

1

2

is introduced into the relationship and a "force coefficient" is

defined as

C

F

F

1

2

V

2

S

(unitless)

[3.8]

where S is the representative area of the body. In two dimensional problems a

characteristic length (2-D area) is used in the denominator instead of S.

The second conclusion is that the nondimensional fluid force is dependent on the

groups of parameters on the right of equation [3.7]. These groups are known as "similarity

parameters" and are important in relating nondimensional force coefficients found on one

body in a fluid to those on a geometrically similar body of different size. Technically,

equation [3.7] says that for force coefficients on two geometrically similar bodies to be

equal, each of the grouped terms or "similarity parameters" must be identical for the flows

around the two bodies. It is obvious that it would be quite a task to make all of these

similarity parameters equal for tests on bodies of two different sizes or in different fluids.

Fortunately, it is seldom necessary to match all four of these similarity parameters at the

same time as an examination of the meaning of each term will show.

The first term on the right of equation [3.7] is known as Reynolds number, Re.

Re

Vl

[3.9]

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Reynolds number is a parameter relating inertial effects in a fluid to viscous effects. This is

an important parameter for flow similarity because it is found that laminar-turbulent

transition in a boundary layer is a function of Re and a body at low Re values may have a

significantly different behavior from one at high Reynolds number. The classic example of

Reynolds number effects is found in the flow around a sphere or cylinder, where at low Re

boundary layer separation occurs early, resulting in a high wake drag and at high Re

separation is delayed by turbulence and the wake drag is reduced.

Reynolds number is an important similarity parameter which must be considered in

every flow. However, there are some cases where it may be ignored. These are generally

where flow separation occurs at a sharp corner on a body and the separation point will not

be influenced by the laminar or turbulent character of the flow. For this reason Re may not

be a factor when considering flows around some non-streamlined shapes. However, these

situations are rare and Reynolds number is almost always the most important factor in

considerations of flow scaling and similarity.

The second most important similarity parameter in most aerospace problems is Mach

number, M, where

M

V

a

[3.10]

This parameter indicates the relevance of compressibility effects. Compressibility effects

occur due to elastic compression and expansion of a fluid as it passes over a body. These

are important only when compression or mach waves begin to form in a fluid as it flows

around a body. Hence, Mach number similarity need not be considered at speeds giving

Mach numbers less than 0.5 or so. In water Mach number need not be considered since

water is an incompressible fluid.

In some aerospace problems both Reynolds number and Mach number are important

but it is impossible to satisfy both types of similarity at one time. Here, tests are usually

done to examine separately the effects of each parameter and the resulting scaling of data

must be done using engineering judgement based on past experience and a thorough

understanding of the problem at hand.

The remaining two parameter groupings on the right side of equation [3.7] are

encountered primarily in the fields of naval architecture or ocean engineering. The first of

these is the inverse square root of a widely used similarity parameter known as Froude

number (F), where

F V gL

[3.11]

Froude number is the ratio of inertial forces to gravitational forces and it is essentially a

measure of the importance of the effects of a fluid boundary or interface on the forces on

the body. Here the term L refers to a distance which may be the distance of the vehicle

above or below the ground or air-water interface or the height of waves generated by a

68

ship. The importance of Froude number is perhaps most easily understood when

considering the motion of a submarine below the surface. When a submarine is sufficiently

far below the surface it can move without disturbing the surface; however, if it is close to

the surface, waves are generated. The energy present in these waves represents an energy

loss by the submarine and consequently must be treated as part of the vehicle's drag. In

like manner any vehicle moving over, under or through the air-sea interface which causes

such surface waves develops a wave drag and for proper simulation of this drag in testing

Froude number for aerodynamic similarity, hydrodynamic problems often involve a need

for both Re and F similarity at the same time, a condition which may not be easily

achievable.

The last of the four similarity parameters developed in equation [3-7] is Euler number,

Euler number

P

V

2

[3.12]

which is a measure of the ratio of inertial forces and pressure forces. This term assumes

importance when cavitation is a problem on ship hulls or propellers. Basically, cavitation

occurs when the pressures caused by motion of water around a body become low enough

to result in boiling of the water. Cavitation can result in loss of lift on hydrofoils, loss of

thrust on propellers, and high drag on hulls and is thus a very important phenomenon.

Proper scaling of flows where cavitation may occur therefore nessitates the use of Euler

number to insure similarity. In practice Ocean Engineers define a slightly different number

called the cavitation number, , where

P P

v

V

2

and P

v

is the vapor pressure of the water. This is used in place of Euler number as the

cavitation similarity parameter.

Example 3.1. An aircraft is designed to fly at 250 mph at an altitude of 25,000 feet

where the pressure, temperature and density are standard. We wish to test a one-tenth scale

model of this plane in a wind tunnel at sea level standard conditions. What problems might

we have in achieving flow similarity?

The Reynolds number for the full scale aircraft would be

Re

f

Vl

f

and, at standard conditions for 25,000 feet and 250 mph we have

0.001066sl ft

3

3.196x10

-7

sl ft

V = 250mph = 367.5 fps

69

This gives a Reynolds Number per foot of

Re

f

l

f

1.226x10

6

ft

-1

Note: It is common practice in wind tunnel testing to speak of Reynolds Number

per foot.

To achieve this Reynolds Number on a one-tenth scale model in the wind tunnel at

sea level conditions we need to make

Re

f

Re

m

SL

V

m

1

m SL

Re

f

1

f

1.223 10

6

1

b

Thus, the speed in the wind tunnel test section must be

V

m

1.226x10

6

l

f SL

( )

SL

l

m

Using

SL

= 0.002376 sl ft

3

,

SL

= 3.719 x 10

7

sl ftsec and l

f

l

m

= 10, we

get:

V

m

1919ft sec 1305mph

But this supersonic speed quite obviously violates the Mach Number similarity

requirement! Does this mean that it is impossible to properly test for full scale

aerodynamics effects by using small scale models in a wind tunnel? Fortunately not.

One solution is to use a sealed, variable density wind tunnel. Most of the early

wing aerodynamics tests of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics ( NACA ),

NASA's predecessor, were done in such a tunnel at Langley Field using 1/20th scale

models tested in a tunnel pressurized to 20 atmospheres, giving a density twenty times

normal and matching full scale Reynolds Numbers.

Another commonly used method, provided that the model scale is not too small, is

to "fool" the flow into behaving like it would at a higher Reynolds Number. The primary

flow influence of Reynolds Number on a streamlined shape is to determine where on the

shape the flow in the thin "boundary layer" next to the body changes from a smooth

"laminar"" behavior to a turbulent behavior. This, in turn, partly determines where flow

separation from the surface might occur. We can "fool" the flow by forcing or tripping"

boundary layer transition from laminar to turbulent flow by using a "trip strip" which can

be as simple as a line of fine sand grains glued to the surface.

70

3. 3 FORCE AND MOMENT COEFFICIENTS

In the preceeding section it was shown that thenondimensional force coefficient took

the form

C

F

Force

1

2

V

2

S

Hence, force coefficients can be defined for the aerodynamic forces of lift, drag and

sideforce:

lift coefficient, C

L

lift

1

2

V

2

S

drag coefficient, C

D

drag

1

2

V

2

S

side force coefficient, C

Y

side force

1

2

V

2

S

As with all force coefficients these are unitless (nondimensional) and therefore are invariant

from one unit system to another.

One problem which appears when using force coefficients is the area, S, to be used in

the denominator. This is merely a representative area which is characteristic of the body or

case being considered. For example, when using lift coefficient the area S used is almost

always the planform or projected area of the wing. This is logical since the wing is the lift

producing element of the vehicle. The best area to use for drag coefficient is not as obvious

and any one of several areas will be found in common usage; wing planform area when

considering drag wings, fuselage or hull cross sectional when considering such shapes, or

"wetted" (total surface) area when skin friction drag is being treated. Similar variations will

be found when defining characteristic areas for side force coefficients. Hence, it is

important that one be extremely careful in interpreting data in coefficient form since

themagnitude of the resulting coefficient may vary greatly depending on the choice of a

representative area. For the same reason extreme care must be exercised in combining

71

coefficients. The drag coefficients of various parts of a vehicle cannot merely be added to

get a total drag coefficient unless all the coefficients are based on a common area

Force coefficients can also be similarly defined in two dimensions where only a two

dimensional section of a body such as an airfoil section is under consideration. In these

cases only lift and drag are considered and the forces are two dimensional forces; that is,

they are expressed in units of force-per-unit-length such as force-per-foot or meter of wing

span. Therefore, to obtain a nondimensional coefficient only a characteristic length is

needed in the denominator.

C

L

2D

L

1

2

V

2

1

C

D

2D

D

1

2

V

2

1

3.13

The length commonly used for two dimensional lift and drag coefficients is the wing chord

(distance from leading-to-trailing edge) when dealing with airfoils.

Moment coefficients are similarly defined except that an additional length factor is

needed in the coefficient denominator. The length most commonly used is the wing's mean

chord c or the length of the body.

C

M

M

1

2

V

2

S c

3.14

In like manner coefficients for rolling and yawing moment may be defined with appropriate

characteristic lengths.

In two dimensions the pitching moment coefficient becomes

C

M

2D

M

1

2

V

2

c

2

3.15

72

3. 4 AIRFOIL GEOMETRY

In order to discuss airfoil aerodynamics it is necessary to have a grasp of the

terminology commonly used to define the geometry of a wing. This terminology will be

discussed in reference to Figure 3.3 which shows the "planform" view of a wing and

Figure 3.4 which shows a typical airfoil section.

Figure 3.3. Wing Planform Geometry

Figure 3.4. Wing Section Geometry

73

The wing span, b, is the tip-to-tip dimension perpendicular to the fuselage centerline

indlucing the width of the fuselage.

Several chords may be defined for a 3-D wing. The root chord, C

o

, is the distance

from the airfoil leading edge to trailing edge taken parallel to the fuselage centerline at he

wing-fuselage junction. The tip chord C

T

is the same dimension taken at the wing tip.

Two

different definitions of a mean or average chord are in common usage. The mean chord c

is defined as

c

o

b 2

cdy

o

b 2

dy

[3.16]

where y is measured from fuselage centerline along the span to the wing tip. Also defined

is the "aerodynamic mean chord", cA ,

cA

o

b 2

c

2

dy

o

b 2

cdy

[3.17]

Wing area, S, is usually thought of as the planform area rather than the actual surface

area. The planform area includes the imaginary area between the wings in the fuselage.

When this fuselage area is to be ignored, ie., the planform area of the exposed wing only is

to be used, this is referred to as the net wing area S

N

.

A term which is of some importance in airfoil fluid dynamics is the "aspect ratio"

AR . Aspect ratio is a measure of the "narrowness" of the wing planform and is the ratio of

the wing span to the mean chord

AR b c

[3.18a]

which is often written as

AR

b

2

bc

b

2

S

[3.18b]

a form which is easier to use. Aspect ratio will be found to be a measure of the 3-D

efficiency of a wing.

74

While some airfoils have a rectangular planform, most are swept and/or tapered to some

degree. Wing sweep can be measured at the leading or trailing edge or at some other point

such as a line along the quarter chord (C/4 behind the leading edge) and the sweep angle is

given the symbol . Taper is defined in terms of a taper ratio where C

r

C

o

. The

wing angle of attack ( ) shown in Fig. 3.4 is defined as the angle between the chord line

and the fluid velocity vector.

Wing camber is usually expressed as percent camber of an airfoil section where percent

camber is the percentage of the airfoil chord represented by the maximum perpendicular

distance between the chord and camber lines. Wing thickness is also defined in terms of

percent chord.

Figure 3.5 illustrates wing dihedral which is defined as a dihdral angle due to the

inclination of the wings from a common plane. Dihedral is built into wings for roll

stabaility purposes and the dihedral angle is defined as 2 , the sum of the inclination angles

of both wings. A negative dihedral is called "anhedral".

Figure 3.5. Wing Dihedral

75

3. 5 NACA AIRFOIL DESIGNATIONS

In the early days of wing development wing shapes were often given names and

numbers in a very nonsystematic manner. Sections were names after researchers such as

Clark or Eiffel or after laboratories or research groups (RAF, Gottingen) and each group

developed its own series of airfoil shapes. In an attempt to systematize airfoil research and

designation, the National Advisary Committee for Aeronautics or NACA (NASA's

forerunner), devised a systematic scheme of testing and classifying airfoil sections.

Hundreds of airfoil sections were thoroughly tested and catalogues. These airfoils were

designated by four, five, and six digit numbers according to basic shape and performance.

The data from these tests is reported in numerous NACA publications and some of it will

be referenced in later sections. To properly use this data one should understand the

meaning of the NACA airfoil designations.

Most of the NACA airfoils fall into the four, five or six digit airfoil series as explained

in examples below.

NACA 2412

2 - The maximum camber of the mean line is 0.02c

4 - the position maximum camber is 0.4c

12 - the maximum thickness is 0.12c

NACA 23021

2 - the maximum camber of the mean line is approximately 0.02c (also the

design lift coefficient is 0.15 times the first digit for this series)

30 - the position of the maximum camber is at 0.30/2 = 0.15c

21- the maximum thickness is 0.21c

NACA 63

2

-215 (laminar flow series)

6 - series designation

3 - the maximum pressure is at 0.3c

2 - the drag coefficient is near its minimum value over of lift coefficients of

0.2 above and below the design C

L

2 - the design lift coefficient is 0.2

15 - the maximum thickness is 0.15c

There are other series of airfoil sections besides the ones given above, however, these

are most common. There is a new class of airfoil which will be discussed later that is being

developed out of the "super critical" design of wing. NASA has now began to

systematically number these shapes in categories of low, medium and high speed airfoils

with shapes given designations such as LS(1)-0417 and MS (1)-0313 etc. Hence, the

process of systematically defining and designating airfoil shapes still continues.

76

3. 6. PITCHING MOMENT AND ITS TRANSFER

Before a discussion of airfoil characteristics can be meaningful a better understanding

of pitching moment is helpful. Since most of the later discussion of airfoils will center

around the dimensional case the only moment of concern will be the pitching moment. It is

obvious that pitching moment can be defined as acting about any chosen point on the

airfoil, however, its value will vary depending on the point of definition. It is therefore

convenient to choose some sort of standard reference points for definition of pitching

moment which will be meaningful physically. One then needs to be able to transfer a

pitching moment which has been measured or calculated at a given point on the airfoil to

one of the chosen reference points or any other location.

In order to transfer the pitching moment all forces and moments acting on the airfoil

must be known. In two dimensions this means that one must know the lift, drag and

pitching moment at some point. Suppose, for example, that wing has been mounted in a

wind tunnel and the lift, drag and pitching moment measured at the mounting point (a), a

distance, a, behind the airfoil's leading edge, as shown in Figure 3.6 (a) and that one needs

to know the pitching moment about a different point x where a structural member is to be

located.

Figure 3.6. Transfer of Pitching Moment

The forces are invariant in the transfer, however, their effects on the moment must be

considered.

L

a

L

x

D

a

D

x

77

To examine the effect of the moment transfer take the moments in each case relative to a

common reference point, the leading edge. In case a, the lift and drag produce moments

around the leading edge of

a ( ) Lcos ( )

and a ( ) Dsin ( )

Since both moments are counterclockwise they are considered negative.

Thus, the entire moment about the leading edge is

M

LE

= M

a

- Lacos - Dasin

Likewise for wing b

M

LE

= M

x

-Lxcos -Dxsin

Since these two moments must be identical, equating [3.19] and [3.20] gives

M

x

= M

a

- Lcos Dsin ( ) a - x ( )

converting to coefficient form by dividing by

1

2

V

2

c

2

gives

C

Mx

C

Ma

C

L

cos +C

D

sin ( )

a

c

x

c

_

,

As mentioned previously, there are some cases of special interest regarding placement

of pitching moment. One such case is the point where the pitching moment becomes zero

and another is the point where the moment becomes a constant over a wide range of angle

of attack or lift. Both of these may be important both aerodynamically and structurally in

the design of a wing. These two points are called the center of pressure and the

aerodynamic center, respectively.

The aerodynamic center is probably the most commonly used reference point for

forces and moment on an airfoil. If one were to measure the forces and pitching moment on

an airfoil over a wide range of angles of attack or lift coefficient and then for each value of

C

L

look at the values of C

M

at various chordwise positions on the wing, one special point

would be found where C

M

was virtually constant for all values of C

L

This point is the

aerodynamic center.

78

The aerodynamic center is defined as the point along the chord where the pitching

moment coefficient is constant and independent of the lift coefficient. Note that C

M

is

constant at the aerodynamic center and not necessarily zero. There are some limits to this

definition since at high angles of attack where C

L

does not change linearly with the

aerodynamic center may shift; however, the concept of an aerodynamic center is very

useful and valid over the normal operating range of C

L

's for an airfoil.

It is therefore useful to find an equation which will locate the aerodynamic center once

the forces and pitching moment about some point on the airfoil have been found.

Returning to equation [3.22] and assuming that the unknown position x is the aerodynamic

center

C

M

xac

C

Ma

C

L

cos +C

D

sin ( )

a

c

x

ac

c

_

,

[3.23]

Several assumptions can be used to simplify this equation based on the already

mentioned fact that the definition for the aerodynamic center is only meaningful for

moderate angles of attack. At these angles cos is approximately ten times the magnitude

of sin ,

cos 10sin

Also at moderate one normally finds that C

L

is about twenty times the magnitude of

C

D

,

C

L

20C

D

therefore,

C

L

cos 200C

D

sin

and the latter term can be neglected. Using this and assuming Cos is approximately

unity gives

C

Mx

ac

C

M

a

C

L

a

c

x

ac

c

_

,

[3.24]

Now the definition for aerodynamic center can be utilized. This definition states that at

the aerodynamic center C

M

does not vary as C

L

is changed, or

dC

Mac

dC

L

0

79

To use this the derivative of equation [3.23] is taken with respect to C

L

,

dC

Mac

dC

L

dC

Ma

dC

L

dC

L

dC

L

a

c

x

ac

c

_

,

By definition then the term on the left becomes zero and the derivative of C

L

with respect

to itself is unity; thus, the equation can be rearranged as

x

ac

c

a

c

dC

Ma

dC

L

[3.24]

Using the equation 3.24 the position of the aerodynamic center can be found as a

distance x

ac

from the leading edge by finding the value of the derivative of the known

moment coefficient with respect to the lift coefficient. This can be easily obtained by

plotting a graph of C

M

versus C

L

and measuring the slope of the curve. Such a curve will

be essential linear over a normal range of angle of attack for most common airfoils.

EXAMPLE 3.2 For a particular airfoil section the pitching moment coefficient about a

point 1/3 chord behind the leading edge varies with the lift coefficient in the following

manner:

C

L

K 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8

C

M

K 0.02 0.00 + 0.02 + 0.04

Find the aerodynamic center and the value of C

Mo

.

It is seen that C

M

varies linearly with C

L

, value of dC

M

dC

L

being

0.04 0.02 ( )

0.80 0.20

+

0.06

0.60

+0.10

Therefore, from equation 3.12, with a/c = 1/3

x

ac

c

1

3

0.10 0.233

The aerodynamic centre is therefore at 23.3% chord behind the leading edge.

Plotting C

M

against C

L

gives the value of C

Mo

, the value of C

M

when C

L

= 0, as

-0.04.

80

Theoretically, on a flat plate or circular arc airfoil in subsonic flow the aerodynamic

center is exactly one forth of the chord from the leading edge or at a point called the

"quarter chord". In practice it is usually from 23 to 25% of the chord from the leading edge

at incompressible speeds. For this reason it is popular to define aerodynamic forces and

pitching moments about the quarter chord as is the practice in may reports of tabulated

airfoil aerodynamic data.

When speeds are high enough for compressibility to become a factor (M 0.5) the

aerodynamic center will start to move rearward along the airfoil. The theoretical position of

the aerodynamic center in supersonic flow is at 50% chord. This shift will be examined in a

later section where compressibility effects on airfoils are discussed.

The center of pressure, while not necessarily a fixed point over a range of or

C

L

, is important since this is the point where the moment disappears. It is the point, not

necessarily on the chord, where the pitching moment is zero for a particular value of lift.

Returning to equation [3.20] the following relation can be written relating the moment at the

leading edge, M

LE

to the moment at the center of pressure M

MP

.

M

LE

M

MCP

Lcos +Dsin ( )k

CP

C

Now, recognizing that by definition M

CP

= O and writing X

CP

as k

CP

C where k

CP

is the

fraction of the chord to the center of pressure, the result is

M

LE

M

CP

Lcos a + Dsin a ( )k

CP

C

.

Writing the same equation with the moment about the aerodynamic center in the equation

gives

M

LE

M

ac

Lcos + Dsin ( )Xac

Now equating the two equations [3.25] and [3.56] and dividing by

1

2

V

2

c

2

to get the

relation in coefficient form gives

C

Mac

C

L

cos + C

D

sin ( )

Xac

c

C

L

cos + C

D

sin ( )kcp

Solving for kcp, the position of the center of pressure as a fraction of the chord,

kcp

Xac

c

C

Mac

C

L

cos + C

D

sin

81

Here again, since is relatively small and C

L

> > C

C

, the term C

D

sin can be

neglected and cos is assumed to be unity, giving

kcp

Xac

c

C

Mac

C

L

Hence a relation has been developed which will determine the position of the center of

pressure for any value of C

L

once the pitching moment at the aerodynamic center and the

location of the aerodynamic center known.

Since C

Mac

is almost always negative it can be seen from equation [3.28] that

kcp

Xac

c

will be positive, indicating that the center of pressure is almost always behind

the aerodynamic center.

Example 3.3 For the airfoil section of Example 3.2, plot a curve showing the

approximate variation of center of pressure position with lift coefficient, for lift coefficients

between zero and unity.

For this case, kcp 0.233

0.04

C

L

0.233+

0.04

C

L

82

The corresponding curve is shown above. It shows that kcp tends asymptotically to Xac as

C

L

increases, and tends to infinity behind the airfoil as C

L

tends to zero. For values of

C

L

less that 0.05 the center of pressure is actually behind the airfoil.

For a symmetrical section (zero camber) and for some special camber lines, the pitching

moment coefficient about the aerodynamic center is zero. It then follows, that kcp = x

ac

;

i.e., the center of pressure and the aerodynamic center coincide, and that for moderate

incidences the center of pressure is therefore stationary at about the quarterchord point.

3. 7 AIRFOIL AERODYNAMIC PERFORMANCE

Now that the meaning of forces and moments on airfoils have been discussed and the

terminology of airfoil geometry is understood, the effects of changes in airfoil geometry

and fluid flow behavior can be explored. The discussion that follows will be very general

and many exceptions can undoubtedly be found to the examples given; however, the airfoil

behavior discussed will be that typical of most airfoils.

Any discussion of airfoils should begin with the simple symmetrical airfoil which

typically exhibits an aerodynamic behavior similar to that shown in Figure 3.7.

Theoretically the lift coefficient for a two dimensional airfoil increases linearly with a curve

slope of 2 per radian when plotted against . When the C

L

curve begins to become

non-linear, flow separation is beginning along the upper surface of the airfoil. As

separation or stall progresses the curve slope decreases until a peak is reached and beyond

this angle of attack C

L

will decrease. At this peak the value of lift coefficient is termed

C

Lmax

The nature of the stall region will vary with leading edge radius, Reynolds number

and other factors which will be discussed later.

Fig. 3.7. Symmetrical airfoil characteristics.

83

The pitching moment coefficient shown is for the quarter chord position and since this

is roughly the position for the aerodynamic center for an airfoil in incompressible flow,

C

Mc 4

is constant over the range of where dC

L

d is constant.

The drag coefficient for the symmetrical airfoil is seen to be at a minimum at a C

L

of

zero which corresponds to a zero angle of attack. Drag coefficient rises rapidly in the stall

region as wake drag increases.

The effects of camber on an airfoil are illustrated in Figure 3.8.

Fig. 3.8. Effects of Camber

The primary effect of camber on an airfoil is to shift the C

L

vs curve to the left which

means that the cambered airfoil produces a finite lift at a zero nominal angle of attack. The

cambered airfoil experiences a zero lift at some negative angle of attack designated

LO

.

Stall usually occurs at a lower nominal angle of attack for the cambered airfoil, however

C

Lmax

will usually be somewhat increased over that for a symmetrical airfoil of comparable

thickness and leading edge radius.

Increasing camber is seen to produce a larger negative C

Mc 4

and to cause shift in the

drag polar to correspond to the C

L

shift.

The effects of changes in airfoil thickness depend largely on where the maximum

thickness of the airfoil occurs. It is somewhat intuitive that a thicker section will produce a

higher drag coefficient, however, the primary effect of thickness is on the wings stall

behavior and the lift curve slope. The effect of thickness on the lift curve slope varies with

the distribution of the thickness along the chord as shown in Figure 3.9

84

Fig. 3.9 Effect of Thickness on Lift Curve Slope

For the NACA 4 and 5 digit series airfoils the slope of the lift curve is seen to decrease

slightly as thickness increases (the theoretical slope should be 2 radian or

0.10966/degree)/ whereas, for the 63 series airfoil it shows an increase.

The thickness can also either increase or decrease C

Lmax

as illustrated in Figure 3.10.

An increase in thickness up to a point can lead to a higher C

Lmax

because of its effect on

improving the leading edge radius, however further increases increase the likelihood of

earlier separation over the rear of the airfoil.

Figure 3.10. Thickness effects on C

Lmax

85

The most significant effect of thickness is to be seen near the airfoil's leading edge in

terms of leading edge radius. Too small a leading edge radius can result in an abrupt stall

with a sudden decrease in lift coefficient. A larger leading edge radius can smooth the stall

and give an increase in C

LMax

as shown in Figure 3.11.

Figure 3.11

The effects of Reynolds number on airfoil performance are due to the influence of

Reynolds number on the airfoil boundary layer and on flow separation. These effects have

been discussed to some extent earlier. At low values of Re a laminar boundary layer exists

over a large distance from the leading edge of the airfoil. A laminar boundary layer is very

poor at resisting separation over the region of the airfoil where the flow is slowing down

and the pressure is increasing, and early flow separation may result, giving larger drag and

early stall. At high Re values the boundary layer goes turbulent at an early point on the

airfoil and because of the ability of a turbulent boundary layer to resist flow separation,

wake drag may be reduced and stall delayed. These effects are illustrated in Figure 3.12

for a typical airfoil.

Figure 3.12. Reynolds Number Effects on Lift and Drag

86

One of the more important effects of Reynolds number is its influence on the near stall

region at high angles of attack. Increasing Reynolds number almost always increases

C

LMax

and it can also have a significant effect on the nature of stall as shown in Figure

3.13. For a particular airfoil it is seen that at low Re a fairly smooth stall exists with a

relatively low C

LMax

. As Re is increased a higher C

LMax

is obtained but the stall is a

sharp one. Here the high Re flow is able to resist separation but when it finally occurs it

suddenly covers a large portion of the airfoil. At even higher Re the turbulent boundary

layer is able to resist a sudden leading edge separation and an ever higher C

LMax

is

achieved with a somewhat improved stall behavior.

Figure 3.13. Effect of Re on Stall

The effect shown in Figure 3.13 is also a function of the airfoil thickness and

particularly the leading edge radius even small increases in Re may increase C

LMax

while

on a thin airfoil with small leading edge radius it may be necessary to go to very high

values of Re before significant C

LMax

increases occur, as shown in Figure 3.14. A small

leading edge radius produces very large flow accelerations at high angles of attack resulting

in large pressure deficits. The subsequent pressure rise as the flow slows down again over

the airfoil's upper surface is also very rapid and this large "adverse" pressure gradient

causes flow separation. Very high Reynolds numbers are required to resist the separation

inducing effects of this large pressure gradient. on a thicker airfoil with a larger leading

edge radius the pressure gradient is not as large and it is not necessary to reach as large a

value of Re to control separation.

Fig. 3.14. Effects of thickness and Re on C

LMax

87

Compressibility effects on an airfoil must be considered at Mach numbers above 0.5 or

so. Even at relatively modest subsonic speeds the local velocities of air over a wing may

approach the speed of sound. When the free stream velocity is great enough that the local

flow at some point on the upper surface of the airfoil reaches the speed of sound the airfoil

is said to have reached its "critical Mach number, M

crit

." For example, the NACA 4412

airfoil flying in air at sea level standard conditions will begin to experience locally

supersonic flow at about 20 - 30% of the chord behind the leading edge at a speed of 592

fps or 180m/s. Since the speed of sound is 1117 fps at sea level the wing is flying at a

Mach number of 0.53. Hence its critical Mach number M

crit

= 0.53.

Once a region of supersonic flow beings to form on the airfoil a shock wave will form

as the flow "shocks" down to subsonic flow. In a shock wave the flow deceleration occurs

very suddenly resulting in a sharp, essentially instantaneous, pressure increase. It is this

pressure increase or compression wave which results in the sonic boom when the wave is

strong enough to reach the ground. The sudden pressure increase in the shock wave acts

as an almost infinite adverse pressure gradient on the wing's boundary layer, resulting in

almost certain flow separation. This process is illustrated in Figure 3.15.

Figure 3.15. Transonic Flow Patterns Around an Airfoil

As this supersonic flow region and accompanying shock wave grow the separated

wake also grows, increasing drag and changing the manner in which lift is produced on the

wing. This causes the aerodynamic center to shift and large changes in the pitching

moment about the quarter chord. These changes with Mach number are shown in Figure

3.16 as changes in the slope of the lift curve, drag coefficient and moment coefficient about

the quarter chord.

88

Figure 3.16. Compressibility Effects on Lift Curve Slope, Drag and Pitching Moment

It is these large changes which created the myth of the "sound barrier" in the early days

of transonic flight. For an aircraft designed for subsonic flight these changes could easily

lead to disaster when the wing reached and passed its critical Mach number in a high speed

dive. When these speeds were reached there was a sudden sharp rise in drag which

required thrust beyond that available in the engine technology of the day, and worse, the

sudden aerodynamic center shift and flow separation caused severe stress in the structure

and loss of control. As shown in Figure 3.16-c the value of C

Mc 4

may go from a negative

to a positive value, resulting in a complete reversal of the stability behavior of the aircraft

and control behavior. The result was often a disaster where the aircraft went out of control

and broke up in mid-air. Once powerplants were large enough to handle the drag rise and

aircraft were designed to handle the moment shifts it became possible to fly in and through

the transonic regime.

3. 8 FLAPS AND HIGH LIFT DEVICES

In order to fly, an aircraft must produce enough lift to counteract its weight. From the

equation for lift coefficient [3.12] it can be seen that the lift generated by a wing is a

function of its area, (S), the square of its velocity (V

coefficient (C

L

).

Lift

1

2

V

2

SC

L

Hence, lift can be increased by increasing any one of these four parameters. This presents

little problem in high speed flight since for a given wing and angle of attack the lift

increases as the square of the speed. There are however, problems at lower speeds.

89

The lower limit for the airspeed of a wing is its stall speed V

STALL

. This is the speed

at which a wing of given area will stall at a given altitude (or density). Stall occurs when

the lift coefficient has reached its maximum (C

LMax

). Thus for a given wing area, density

and weight of aircraft, the minimum flying speed is given by:

V

min

L

1

2

SC

Lmax

2W

SC

L max

This is obviously then the speed which will result in the shortest takeoff or landing roll.

Naturally, it would not be safe to land or takeoff an aircraft at C

LMax

conditions since it is

on the verge of stall; thus, a slightly higher speed is used to give a safety factor. This

speed is usually figured to be 1.3V

STALL

. However, the fact still remains that the

minimum safe flying speed and, hence, the minimum landing or takeoff distance is

determined by C

LMax

for a wing at a given altitude, weight and wing area.

In the early days of aviation, when more lift was needed to keep landing and takeoff

distances within limits, a larger wing area was used. However, this also increased the drag

of the aircraft and limited its cruise speed. A more highly cambered wing or one which

was relatively thick to give a larger leading edge radius could also be used to increase

C

LMax

but these also increased drag and limited cruise speed. Therefore, the cruise speed

of an aircraft was effectively limited by the length of runway available for the takeoff and

landing. What was needed was a way to use a minimal drag wing for high speed cruise

and then increase wing area and/or camber for takeoff and landing to reduce the required

takeoff and landing speeds.

The answer to this requirement was the flap. The basic idea behind the use of the flap

is that of developing a variable camber airfoil which will normally have a low camber, low

drag shape but can have its camber increased when a higher maximum lift coefficient is

needed for low speed flight. Adjustable camber airfoils were built and flown as early as

1910 and the hinged flap can be traced to as early as 1914 in England.

Theory can show that a change in camber near the trailing edge of an airfoil has a much

greater effect on C

L

than changes at any other position. Hence flaps are, in their simplest

form, merely hinged portions of the airfoil's trailing edge as shown in Figure 3.17. The

typical effects of flap deflection are also shown in the figure to be essentially the same as

adding camber.

90

Figure 3.17. Aerodynarnic Effects of the Flap

.

91

There are many different designs for flaps, some more effective than others. The

effectiveness of a variety of flaps is illustrated in Figure 3.18.

Designation Diagram C

LMax

at C

LMax

(degrees)

L D

at C

LMax

Reference

NACA

Basic airfoil

Clark Y

1.29 15 7.5 TN 459

.30c

Plain flap

deflected 45

o

1.95 12 4.0 TR 427

.30c

Slotted flap

deflected 45

o

1.98 12 4.0 TR 427

.30c

Slit flap

deflected 45

o

2.16 14 4.9 TN 422

.30c hinged at .80c

Split flap (zap)

deflected 45

o

2.26 13 4.43 TN 422

.30c hinged at .90c

Split flap (zap)

deflected 45

o

2.32 12.5 4.45 TN 422

.30c

Fowler flap

deflected 40

o

2.82 13 4.55 TR 534

.40c

Fowler flap

deflected 40

o

3.09 14 4.1 TR 534

Fixed slot 1.77 24 5.35 TR 427

Handley Page

automatic slot

1.04 28 4.1 TN 459

Fixed slot and

.30c plain flap

deflected 45

o

2.18 19 3.7 TR 427

Fixed slot and

.30c slotted flap

deflected 45

o

2.26 18 3.77 TR 427

Handley Page slot and

.40c Fowler flap

deflected 40

o

3.36 16 3.7 TN 459

Data taken form NACA 7 x 10 ft tunnel, wing AR=6, Re=609,000

Fig. 3.18. Effectiveness of Flaps and Slots on a Clark Y airfoil.

92

Some of the flaps have slots between the flap and the main wing and some both deflect and

extend. The Fowler flap, which deflects and extends to open a slot is seen to be the most

effective of the single flap systems, increasing C

LMax

by a factor of 2.4.

The leading edge slot and flap is also illustrated in Figure 3.18. It is seen that the

leading edge flap and slot can be very effective in increasing C

LMax

by itself and its use

with trailing edge flaps improves the performance of the wing even further.

The leading edge flap, slot of "slat" does not achieve its effectiveness through a change

in camber, because a camber change at the leading edge has very little effect; but works by

reducing the likelihood of flow separation and stall at high angles, much like an increased

leading edge radius or increased Reynolds number would. Figure 3.19 illustrates the basic

influence of the slot on an airfoils performance.

Figure 3.19. Effect of Leading Edge Slot

Figure 3.20 shows several types of leading edge devices which have been used on

wings. The first four do not incorporate slots and achieve their effect essentially by

providing an easier path for the flow to follow over the leading edge. This reduces the low

pressure peak experienced by the upper surface of the airfoil at high angles of attack since

the flow does not have to accelerate as rapidly to get around the leading edge.

Subsequently the following adverse pressure gradient is not as strong and separation is less

likely.

93

Figure 3.20. Leading Edge Devices

The other two devices shown in Figure 3.20 incorporate a slot of some type. The

leading edge flap with a slot is much more effective than one without it. The action of the

leading edge slot has often been incorrectly explained as that of a nozzle which directs high

speed air into the wing's boundary layer, "energizing" it so that it can continue on around

the wing without separating. However, an examination of the flow through the slot will

show that it is, in fact, a very low speed flow and that, instead of adding high speed air to

the flow above the wing, it slows the flow.

The slot effect is best understood if the main wing and the leading edge flap or slat are

viewed as two separate wings. If these two wings (A and B in Figure 3.21) were tested

alone at the orientation to the free stream shown, a pressure distribution similar to that

shown by the dashed lines in the plot would result. When the two are placed in proximity

to each other however, the blockage of flow through the slot slows the flow over the

bottom of wing A and the leading edge of wing B. This reduction in the velocity of the

flow has two effects. The most important effect is that by slowing the flow over the

leading edge of wing B, the low pressure peak is reduced in magnitude, thus reducing the

severity of the adverse pressure gradient which follows and delaying separation. This

means the wing can go to higher angles of attack before stall. As is always the case,

however, this benefit is not free. The solid line on the C

P

graph shows that the new

pressure distribution reduces the lift generated by the wing.

The loss of lift on wing B is more than counteracted by the increase i lift on wing A due

to the reduced velocity and hence, higher pressure below wing A. In actuality, the flow

around wing B results in an effective large positive angle of attack on wing A. The

pressure distribution on wing A thus changes as shown in Figure 3.21 and the lift on wing

A changes from negative to a large positive value.

94

The net effect of the flow over the two wings is a slotted airfoil which can go to high

angles of attack before separation and stall. In actuality, the total flow is a bit more

complicated than that just described and includes boundary layer interaction and

downstream influences. However, the essentials of the flow fit the above description.

Figure 3.21. Action of a Leading Edge Slot.

Slotted trailing edge flaps work on the same principle as that just described for the

leading edge slot. In this case the slots allow the trailing edge flaps to be deflected to very

large angles without flap stall. Modern transport aircraft which need to be able to cruise at

high speeds and land in reasonable distances often use multiple flap and slot systems such

as the one shown in Figure 3.22.

Fig. 3.22. Geometry of Leading Edge Slat and Triple Slotted Flap

95

A number of other devices exist which are intended to increase the maximum lift

coefficient of an airfoil. Most of these devices are in some way dependent on power from

the aircraft and are essentially boundary layer control devices. With non-power augmented

devices such as mechanical flaps and slats it is possible to achieve lift coefficients in the

range of 3.5 to 4.0. According to inviscid theory the upper limit on C

L

is 4 or about

12.5. Of course, this theory does not account for the effects of viscosity in retarding the

flow in the boundary layer and subsequent flow separation. By attempting to control the

boundary layer to prevent separation it is possible to achieve higher maximum lift

coefficients.

The two primary types of power augmented boundary layer control high lift devices

used have been suction and blowing. Boundary layer suction can be effective in

delaying separation on an airfoil. Suction is applied through a slot in the wing surface in

the region where the adverse pressure gradient would be likely to lead to separation. The

suction pulls away the "stale" boundary layer and, essentially a new boundary layer begins.

It is possible to roughly double C

Lmax

for an airfoil by using suction properly. The

improvement in C

Lmax

increases as the suction increases.

A certain amount of power is required to create the suction used to control the boundary

layer and this power usage must be accounted for. Since power used in a vehicle is usually

that used for propulsion to overcome drag and the use of suction for boundary layer control

must be considered as part of the total vehicle power requirement, this power is usually

treated as a drag penalty. Hence the question must always be asked whether or not the gain

in lift is worth the price paid.

Boundary layer blowing may be accomplished in several different ways and is more

common than suction as a boundary layer control device. Boundary layer control by

blowing is usually accomplished by introducing a jet through a slot such that the jet is

tangential to the boundary layer (Figure 3.23). This jet "energizes" the boundary layer by

introducing a high speed stream and by entraining fluid from outside the boundary layer.

Like suction similarly placed, boundary layer blowing on the wing's upper surface can

essentially double the C

Lmax

of the airfoil. Again, the power required for blowing must be

considered as a penalty and is usually treated as drag.

Blowing is often used to control the flow over the flaps where fluid is blown over the

flap either from a slot in the aft portion of the main airfoil or from a slot in the leading edge

of the flap itself. This can be extremely effective in increasing C

Lmax

for a wing by

preventing flow separation over the flaps at high wing angles of attack and high flap

deflection angles (Figure 3.24).

96

Fig. 3.23. Boundary Layer

Figure 3.24. Internally Blown Flaps

97

A type of blowng with sinilar effect is found in the externally flow flap (Figure 3.25)

where the jet engine or fan exhaust flows over the airfoil enhancing the normal flap, slot,

slat action to increase C

Lmax

. Engine placement is critical in this system and the exhaust

must be designed to cover as much of the wing as possible.

Many other types of boundary layer control, high lift devices exist or have been

investigated. These are too numerous to mention within the scope of this text. These

include the augmentor wing upper surface blowing, the Coanda effect, jet flaps and other

devices.

Figure 3.25. Externally Blown Flaps.

3.9 LAMINAR FLOW AIRFOILS

An examination of boundary layer behavior would show that a laminar boundary layer

causes less skin friction drag than a turbulent boundary layer; however, the turbulent

boundary layer is much better at resisting flow separation. Knowing this, NACA

researchers in the late 1930's and 1940's designed a low drag series of airfoils called

laminar flow airfoils. These airfoils, know as the NACA 6-series airfoils, were designed

to take advantage of the low skin friction of a laminar boundary layer by encouraging a

laminar flow over the first 30 to 50 percent of the airfoil surface.

In order to maintain laminar flow over a large portion of an airfoil something must be

done to prevent laminar-turbulent transition and to prevent flow separation, which occurs

rather easily in a laminar boundary layer. In the laminar flow airfoil this can be achieved at

low to moderate angles of attack by shaping the airfoil to produce a favorable pressure

gradient over the area where laminar flow is required. A favorable pressure gradient, that

is one where pressure is decreasing and flow is accelerating, has the effect of suppressing

the development of turbulence in the boundary layer. Laminar-turbulent transition in a

boundary layer is caused by the growth and merger of small scale turbulence disturbances

in the flow. The likelihood of the growth of these disturbances is spoken of in terms of

boundary layer stability and a favorable pressure gradient is a stabilizing one while an

adverse gradient is de-stabilizing.

98

The most straightforward way of creating a favorable pressure gradient on an airfoil is

to shape the wing in such a way that the flow accelerates relatively slowly over a large

portion of the wing. This is done primarily by reducing the leading edge radius to cut

down on large accelerations there, and by moving the maximum thickness of the airfoil

rearward. This will result in easier separation at high angles of attack and a lower C

Lmax

but will give a lower drag at more moderate angles of attack hence, saving fuel in a long

distance cruise condition. Figure 3 26 shows the difference in wing shape and pressure

gradient between the conventional NACA 0015 airfoil and its laminar flow counterpart, the

NACA 65

3

-015.

Figure 3.26. Conventional and Laminar Flow Airfoils

Figure 3.27 shows the result of this change in comparing an NACA 2415 airfoil with a

NACA 64

2

-415 wing. Both airfoils are 15% thickness and have the same camber,

however the latter has a region of reduced drag coefficient over a range of C

L

from 0 to

0.5. This area of reduced C

D

is known as the "drag bucket" and it is this "bucket" that is

the primary characteristic of laminar flow airfoils. It should be noted that at C

L

s above the

bucket, the drag of the laminar flow airfoil is actually higher than its conventional

counterpart because of the effect of the sharper leading edge at high , however the

reduction of drag coefficient by a factor of two in the drag bucket region may be more

important in a given wing design than the effects at higher angles of attack.

The position of the drag bucket can be changed as shown in Figure 3.28 with the first

digit in the second series of three numbers in the NACA designation referring to the value

of C

L

at the center of the drag bucket. This gives the designer an important tool, allowing

her or him to select a laminar flow airfoil which is best for his or her design. If an aircraft

is to be designed for long distance cruise and a C

L

of 0.2 is needed in cruise, the designer

can select the laminar flow airfoil which will position the drag bucket around the C

L

= 0.2

range, giving a low drag cruise and a high fuel economy in cruise. Likewise if a high

performance aircraft requires low drag during maneuvers and climbs where C

L

is high, the

drag bucket can be placed there.

99

Fig. 3.27: Drag Bucket for a Laminar Airfoil

Figure 3.28. Placement of Drag Bucket

100

Laminar flow airfoils have been used on almost all transport aircraft and on many

general aviation aircraft designed since about 1940. They can greatly reduce drag in cruise

and with proper use of flaps and other high lift devices it is still possible to achieve high

C

Lmax

values when needed for landing and takeoff. It should be noted however, that it is

possible to loose the drag bucket if sufficient dirt or roughness accumulates on the forward

part of the airfoil and, hence, such wings must be kept clean to work at their best.

3.10 SUPERCRITICAL AIRFOILS

The problem of drag rise, moment shift and lift loss during transonic flow was

discussed earlier. When the critical Mach number is reached, a shock wave forms on the

airfoil's upper surface and the flow is very likely to separate due to the large adverse

pressure gradient imposed by the shock. Anything which can be done to increase the

critical Mach number; i.e., delay the onset of the shock wave to a higher speed, will allow

higher speed subsonic flight with low drag. Hence a higher M

crit

will allow flight at

higher speed on a given amount of engine power or flight at the same speed as wings with

low M

crit

at reduced power and fuel levels.

The most obvious way to delay the onset of an upper wing surface shock is to reduce

the curvature of the upper surface in such a way that the flow does not accelerate to as high

a speed as it would with a conventional or even a laminar flow airfoil. With a "flatter"

upper surface the region of supersonic flow may be spread over a larger portion of the

airfoil and the flow does not accelerate to as high a supersonic speed. This accomplishes

two things, it delays the onset of the shock until a more aft position where any resulting

separation will affect less of the airfoil and it gives a weaker shock which is less likely to

cause separation. Because of the lower supersonic speeds over the airfoil the pressures

developed are not as low and lift due to the flow over the upper surface may be reduced

from that on a conventional airfoil. Hence, the new airfoil is designed with a large camber

created by a cusp in the lower surface at the trailing edge which creates enough lift to make

up for that lost on the upper surface. The resulting design is shown in Figure 3.29.

Figure 3.29. Supercritical Airfoils

101

The supercritical airfoil has proved to be very effective at lower speeds as well as in the

transonic regime. As of the mid 1970's supercritical airfoils were appealing on transport

designs for production in the 1980's and beyond. Low speed versions of the airfoil have

been tested on general aviation aircraft and are appearing on new models of such airplanes.

the airfoil design has an advantage of giving low drag with a relatively thick wing section

(13 to 21% thickness) and thus provides room for improved structure or fuel capacity. The

large thickness and large leading edge radius generally result in a higher C

Lmax

in low

speed applications.

The primary drawback for the supercritical airfoil design has been the large negative

pitching moment caused by the large magnitude of lift generated near its trailing edge.

Another problem has been in the manufacture of the sharp trailing edges which result from

the trailing edge cusp. It is, however, possible to design around these problems and the

supercritical airfoil is expected to be the wing used on most aircraft for the foreseeable

future.

3.11 THREE DIMENSIONAL EFFECTS

Most of the discussion in the previous sections of this chapter has dealt with two

dimensional airfoil behavior. A two dimensional airfoil is, of course, only a section or

slice of a 3-D airfoil and two dimensional airfoil aerodynamics must be considered the ideal

case. Three dimensional effects can often be thought of as simply factors which limit the

normal 2D performance of an airfoil. The two primary three dimensional factors which

affect wing performance are aspect ratio, AR, and wing sweep.

As mentioned in section 3.4 aspect ratio is a measure of the ratio of the span to the

mean chord. Aspect ratio has a significant effect on the performance of the total wing

because of wing tip losses. Ideally, the lift generated by an untapered wing would be

constant at every point along the span. However, due to flow around the wing tip there are

lift losses near the tip as shown in Figure 4.30. Since there is a lower pressure on top of

the wing than below the fluid will flow around the wingtip to the area of lower pressure.

This, therefore reduces the lift generated near the wingtip and must be considered as a 3-D

loss. This flow around the wingtip is also the source of the trailing vortex, a swirling flow

coming off of each wingtip.

The loss of lift at the tip of a 3-D wing goes inboard over some percentage of the

span. Hence, for a short stubby wing with low AR a greater percentage of the total wing

area experiences some tip loss than in a high aspect ratio wing. Therefore a high aspect

wing will produce more lift than a low aspect ratio wing of the same area and airfoil

section. The 3-D wing has a higher drag coefficient than the 2D airfoil and this additional

drag is inversely proportional to aspect ratio. The net result is that a high aspect ratio airfoil

has higher lift and lower drag than a low aspect ratio wing of the same area and airfoil

shape.

102

Figure 3.30. 3-D Airflow Effects

Wing sweep primarily affects the performance of a 3-D airfoil in the transonic flow

regime. The primary effect of sweeping the wing is to raise the critical Mach number of the

airfoil. The shock wave, which develops on an airfoil in transonic flow, is developed in

response to the component of the free stream to the line down the quarter chord of the

wing. Hence, for a given free stream velocity, the greater the wing sweep the lower will be

the component of velocity normal to the quarter chord line. It is not until this normal

component of the flow reaches the critical Mach number that the drag rise will occur and

even when it does occur the drag rise is not as great as in the unswept case. Figure 3.31

shows the effect of varymg degrees of sweep on one senes of wings.

Figure 3.31. Sweepback Effect on Drag Rise vs. Mach No.

As is the case with almost any change that is of benefit in some way a price must be

paid for the favorable effects of sweep. This price is sweep-induced cross flow tip stall.

The span-wise flow which results from the sweep can cause severe adverse pressure

gradients at the wing tips and tip stall. Severe structural as well as aerodynamic problems

can result.

103

Summary

A review of this chapter will show that almost all phenomena which occur on airfoils

can be understood in terms of simple pressure-velocity behavior and their effects on the

behavior and their effects on the behavior of the boundary layer. All that is needed for a

physical understanding of airfoil aerodynamics is an appreciation of the meaning of the

pressure-velocity relationship called Bernoullis equation. This, combined with a physical

feel for the meaning of laminar, turbulent and separated boundary layers can explain the

aerodynamic behavior of flow about any shape. Other texts will show how to take this

simple physical understanding and build it into a useful mathematical description of fluid

flows.

104

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