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Basic Aerodynamics & Theory of Flight

By Ahmad Ahsan

Winglets and improve aircraft performance Reduce drag

Can be installed on various aircraft easily Can be installed after production. Do not need extensive technical support Small change to aspect ratio and aircraft weight, means negligible effect on aircraft handling

Trailingvortices are by-productDownwash changes the air Vortices & of wing lift, their influence Trailing
flow pattern. They alter the flow direction and speed in the vicinity of the wing and tail surfaces. The air behind the wing is drawn downwards, and this is called downwash. Downwash also influences the approaching air, the flow over the wing, and causes the air to be deflected downwards as it flows past the wing. Due to downwash, the angle of attack relative to the local airstream is reduced. This means that less lift will be generated at certain angles. It also produces trailing vortex drag Trailing vortices also produce a large upwash outboard of the wing tips. The upward momentum change thus produced cancels out the downward momentum change of the downwash.


The net aerodynamic force parallel to the relative wind, usually the sum of two components: induced drag and parasite drag. Drag is the force that resists movement of an aircraft through the air. Drag is the aerodynamic force that opposes an aircraft's motion through the air. Drag is generated by every part of the airplane (even the engines) Drag is a mechanical force. It is generated by the interaction and contact of a solid body with a fluid (liquid or gas). Drag is a force and is therefore a vector quantity having both a magnitude and a direction. Drag acts in a direction that is opposite to the motion of the aircraft. Lift acts perpendicular to the motion. There are many factors that affect the magnitude of the drag.

Factors that Affect Drag

Geometry has a large effect on the amount of drag generated by an object. Drag depends linearly on the size of the object moving through the air. The cross-sectional shape of an object determines the form drag created by the pressure variation around the object. The three dimensional planform shape affects the induced drag of a lifting wing. The amount of drag also depends on the surface roughness of the object; a smooth, waxed surface produces less drag than a roughened surface. This effect is called skin friction and is usually included in the measured drag coefficient of the object.

Factors that Affect Drag

Drag is associated with the movement of the aircraft through the air, and varies with the square of the velocity of the air. If the object moves through the air at speeds near the speed of sound, shock waves are formed on the object which create an additional drag component called wave drag. The motion of the object through the air also causes boundary layers to form on the object. A boundary layer is a region of very low speed flow near the surface which contributes to the skin friction. Drag depends directly on the mass of the airflow going past the aircraft. The drag also depends on viscosity and compressibility of air. We can gather all of this information through the Drag Equation.


There are two basic types: parasite drag and induced drag. The first is called parasite because it in no way functions to aid flight, while the second, induced drag, is a result of an airfoil developing lift. Parasite drag is comprised of all the forces that work to slow an aircrafts movement. As the term parasite implies, it is the drag that is not associated with the production of lift. This includes the displacement of the air by the aircraft, turbulence generated in the airstream, or a hindrance of air moving over the surface of the aircraft and airfoil. There are three types of parasite drag: form drag, interference drag, and skin friction.


The second basic type of drag is induced drag. It is an established physical fact that no system that does work in the mechanical sense can be 100 percent efficient. This means that whatever the nature of the system, the required work is obtained at the expense of certain additional work that is dissipated or lost in the system. The more efficient the system, the smaller this loss. In level flight the aerodynamic properties of a wing or rotor produce a required lift, but this can be obtained only at the expense of a certain penalty. The name given to this penalty is induced drag. Induced drag is inherent whenever an airfoil is producing lift and, in fact, this type of drag is inseparable from the production of lift. Consequently, it is always present if lift is produced.

Lowest drag, max gliding dist. Decrease with weight

Boundary Layer

Prandtl found that the effects of viscosity were only important and apparent in a very thin layer adjacent to the surface. He called this the boundary layer. For an aircraft wing in cruising flight, it is, at most, only a few centimetres thick. For the purposes of calculations, however, it is necessary to define this area.

Propulsion Systems
Introduction Importance and Function Speed, Reliability, Economics Compromises Development to Current Stage Types

An air inlet on an aircraft. On an modern full-sized aircraft you can have: 1. Carburetor intake 2. Cooling intake 3. air conditioning intake Intakes are not limited to this a wind speed indicator intake is one unlisted example.

An engine nozzle is used to expand and accelerate the gasses from combustion.

This is also used in rockets

A special turbofan engine used primarily for lift in VTOL/STOL aircraft and often mounted in a wing with vertical thrust axis.

An enclosure on an aircraft.

4 stroke cycle. Induction Compression Power Exhaust

Rotating blades fixed to a shaft. Can be used for flight or propulsion through the waterthink of a boat people.

A propfan is a modified turbofan engine, with the fan placed outside of the engine nacelle.

A jet engine without a compressor and has almost no moving parts. It can propel objects at 5 times the speed of sound.

An engine that contains the reaction within itself needing no external fuel. So this would work in space if you could bring a lot of fuel with you.

A scramjet is a supersonic ramjet. It can go anywhere from mach 12 to 24. It is a better ramjet but it does not work at subsonic speeds like a ramjetso is it still better?


Short takeoff and landing ability. This means it can take off and land with less then 1000 feet of space.


STOVL is short for short take off and vertical landing. Can take off within 1500 feet but needs no runway to land.


A turbine engine works by compressing air that moves into the engine, enriching the air with fuel, and igniting the air. This forces the air out of the back of the engine, propelling it forward.

A turbofan engine is similar to a jet engine in the way that it ignites fuel enriched air, but a turbine is used to move air into the engine


A Turbojet engine works on the same concept as most jet engines, but does not have a fan, and during the injection of the fuel, the air is also compressed, providing greater thrust


Vectored thrust is the ability to angle thrust in any direction other than parallel to the planes flight path

VTOL (Vertical Take Off Landing) is a classification of fixed wing aircraft that can take off and land vertically without the use of a runway.

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