# Flight Mechanics Aircraft Stability

BY MR. ANU JACOB PAUL, M.TECH (AERO)
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Stability - Overview
 Definitions of.
± Static & dynamic stability, airplane axes, trim

 Longitudinal static stability
± Centre of pressure, aerodynamic centre, neutral point

 Directional & lateral static stability  Speed stability  Longitudinal dynamic stability
± Short period pitching oscillation, phugoid

 Lateral dynamic stability
± Roll damping, spiral mode, dutch roll, spin
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Stability & Control
Stability  Consequences of small disturbances from equilibrium (trimmed conditions) which arise at random from an external medium (e.g. gusts). Control  Response of aircraft to deliberate applied forces/moments which causes aircraft to deviate from initial equilibrium condition.

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Axes of Motion Longitudinal stability pitching Lateral stability rolling Directional stability yawing 4 .

No net forces: T=D LW = W + LT No net moments: MCG = 0  Longitudinal (pitch) trim is provided by tailplane/elevators/trim tabs/canards/etc (depends on aircraft configuration).Trim  Relates to a state of equilibrium. 5 . so that there are no net moments or forces acting on the aircraft.

Static Stability  Relates to initial tendency of body to return to equilibrium starting position or not. Cone on base Statically stable Cone on side Neutral static stability Cone on point Statically unstable  Dynamic stability relates to subsequent time history of motions (see later). 6 .

Static Stability Positive static stability Negative static stability Neutral static stability 7 .

Longitudinal Static Stability (a) Negative static stability (b) Positive static stability (c) Neutral static stability 8 .

 There can be no pitching moment (M) about a centre of pressure reference point. also known as centre of lift. 9 .Centre of Pressure (CP)  Position on the body through which the aerodynamic force (lift) is considered to act.

 Sign & magnitude of pitching moment depends on reference point position chosen.Reference Point Position  If any position other than the centre of pressure is used as the reference point then a pitching moment must also be included in the analysis. 10 .

 This point is the aerodynamic centre of the wing section. 11 .Pitching Moment v CL (For Wing Alone)  Plot depends on reference point taken.  One position for reference point at which pitching moment is constant for a change in CL.

 This represents the zerolift pitching moment coefficient (CMo). 12 .Zero-Lift Pitching Moment  All plots of CM v CL will intersect the CM axis at a given point.

e.  For conventionally cambered wings. negative). there can be no change in pitching moment when either CL or E is varied.  This must mean that all lift increments must also act through the aerodynamic centre for a change in E. 13 . pitching moment about aerodynamic centre is nose-down (i.Aerodynamic Centre  From its definition.

14 . the Cp position then moves rearwards.Movement of Centre of Pressure  For a conventionally cambered wing the centre of pressure moves forward as the angle of attack and lift increases. due to the forward shift of the peak of the suction pressure on the upper surface.  Post-stall.

Centre of Pressure Movement with E 15 .

16 .Aerodynamic Centre Position  This is fixed in position for a given Mach number .at around the 1/4 chord position for subsonic flight or just forward of the mid-chord position for supersonic flight.

 The zero-lift pitching moment (and its coefficient) must also then be zero for symmetrical sections (as often used on tailplanes). 17 .Symmetrical Wing Sections  Here.  This is at the 1/4 chord point. both the CP and aerodynamic centre are fixed in position for a change in E. though boundary layer effects may move it slightly forwards by 1 or 2%.

 The main contributions will come from the wing and horizontal stability/control surfaces (though the fuselage/nacelles/etc. will also contribute slightly). 18 .Neutral Point  This is the mean position of the aerodynamic centre of the complete aircraft.

positive stability  If N coincident with CG .negative stability  If N behind CG .neutral stability. 19 .  If N ahead of CG .Longitudinal Static Stability  Depends on the relationship between an aircraft¶s neutral point and CG.

Longitudinal Static Stability  Condition for stability is that pitching moment should reduce (i. become more nose-down) for a change in E or CL.  Often expressed in terms of a CM v CL plot.e.  Trim point taken for when CMCG = 0. with CM taken about the CG. 20 .

 Degree of directional stability depends on fin size and moment arm aft of CG.Directional (Yawing) Stability  Mainly provided by the fin(s).  Acts by moving overall yawing aerodynamic centre to behind the CG to provide a weathercock effect. 21 .

22 .Wing Sweepback May also be used to enhance directional stability.

23 .  Main purpose is to prevent fin stalling by increasing sideslip stall angle.  Also increases fin effectiveness at high E.Dorsal Fin Extensions  Often used on aircraft.

Lateral/Rolling Static Stability  Three standard wing design methods used to impart lateral static stability characteristics on an aircraft: ± (a) Wing dihedral ± (b) High wing position ± (c) Wing sweepback 24 .

Lateral/Rolling Static Stability 25 .

Speed Stability  An aircraft flying slower than its minimum drag speed is operating in an unstable regime. 26 .  It is better to operate at speeds higher than the minimum drag speed. ± A drop in speed will increase the drag which will reduce the speed further and so on.

Dynamic Stability  Refers to subsequent time history of motions following the initial response to a disturbance. 27 .  If divergent then dynamic instability exists. case (c) is longitudinally dynamically unstable (all are statically stable).  Cases (a) & (b) here are longitudinally dynamically stable. motions have to be convergent or damped out.  For dynamic stability.

 Effect reduces with increasing altitude & transonic speeds.Longitudinal Dynamic Stability Short Period Pitching Oscillation  Most aircraft designed to be heavily damped in pitch with only one or two oscillations.  Damping due to increased opposing moment from tailplane for increasing E. 28 .

Longitudinal Dynamic Stability Phugoid  Simple case involving interchange of airspeed and altitude from kinetic and potential energy considerations. though peak-peak variations of > 300m possible.  Low frequency oscillations. 29 . typically 1 minute per cycle. and only a small problem to pilot and control system designer.  Drag variation opposes speed variation and weakly damps out oscillations.

 The roll damping moment depends on the roll rate not the roll angle.Lateral Dynamic Stability Roll Damping  The wing will damp any rolling moment due to down going wing having effective E increased .  Damping effect reduced for low aspect ratio aircraft.  Results in heavily damped non-oscillatory motion. 30 .

 Usually fairly weak and easily controlled by pilot.Lateral Dynamic Stability Spiral Mode  Involves complicated mixture of side forces and moments in rolling and yawing senses. 31 .  Resultant rolling motion may be dynamically unstable.  Initial sideslip produces yawing and rolling due to forces on fin and sweepback. producing slowly divergent nonoscillatory spiral path.

Lateral Dynamic Stability Dutch Roll  Oscillatory motion combining roll & yaw with aircraft waddling from side to side.often primary sizing criterion.  Unpleasant for crew/passengers so not tolerated. 32 .  Problems worsen with wing dihedral (trade off with lateral static stability & spiral divergence) and high sweep.  Damping mainly affected by fin size .

 Complicated spiral flight match with mixture of roll & yaw.  Spin can be flat or steep with flat spin especially difficult to recover from .involves reattachment of separated flow using rudders/elevators. giving large rolling moment and increased yawing moment due to increased drag. 33 .Lateral Dynamic Stability Spin  Results from one wing stalling before the other.