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Section 6

Basic aerodynamics

6.1 General airfoil theory


When an airfoil is located in an airstream, the flow divides at the leading edge, the stagnation point. The camber of the airfoil section means that the air passing over the top surface has further to travel to reach the trailing edge than that travelling along the lower surface. In accordance with Bernoulli's equation the higher velocity along the upper airfoil surface results in a lower pressure, producing a lift force. The net result of the velocity differences produces an effect equivalent to that of a parallel air stream and a rotational velocity ('vortex') see Figures 6.1 and 6.2. For the case of a theoretical finite airfoil section, the pressure on the upper and lower surface tries to equalize by flowing round the tips. This rotation persists downstream of the wing resulting in a long U-shaped vortex (see Figure 6.1). The generation of these vortices needs the input of a continuous supply of energy; the net result being to increase the drag of the wing, i.e. by the addition of so-called

induced drag.
6.2 Airfoil coefficients
Lift, drag and moment (L, D, M) acting on an aircraft wing are expressed by the equations: Lift (L) per unit width -

CL12 pU2
2

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Fig. 6.1

Flows around a finite 3-D airfoil

Fig. 6.2

Airfoil sections: general layout

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Aeronautical Engineer's Data Book

Drag (D) per unit width - CD12 pU~ 2 Moment (M) about LE or 1/4 chord - CM pU2 12 2 per unit width.

CL, CD and CM are the lift, drag and moment coefficients, respectively. Figure 6.3 shows typical values plotted against the angle of attack, or incidence, (a). The value of CD is small so a value of 10 CD is often used for the characteristic curve. CL rises towards stall point and then falls off dramatically, as the wing enters the stalled condition. CD rises gradually, increasing dramatically after the stall point. Other general relationships are:
9 As a rule of thumb, a Reynolds number of Re 1 0 6 is considered a general flight condition. 9 Maximum CL increases steadily for Reynolds numbers between 105 and 1 0 7. 9 CD decreases rapidly up to Reynolds numbers of about 1 0 6 , beyond which the rate of change reduces. 9 Thickness and camber both affect the maximum CL that can be achieved. As a general rule, CL increases with thickness and then reduces again as the airfoil becomes even thicker. CL generally increases as camber increases. The minimum CD achievable increases fairly steadily with section thickness.
=

6.3 Pressure distributions


The pressure distribution across an airfoil section varies with the angle of attack (a). Figure 6.4 shows the effect as a increases, and the notation used. The pressure coefficient Cp reduces towards the trailing edge.

Basic aerodynamics
Characteristics for an asymmetrical 'infinite-span 2D airfoil' Stall point # / 1.5

99

o e-

/
i/

75

1.0

\,-\,
! !

50

0.5
-5 ~ 0

10~

15~
O~

20~

-25 CL= 0 at the no-lift angle (-o~)

Characteristic curves of a practical wing 2.0 1.6 1.2 0.8 0.20

,/
. /
#-

0.16 0.12 0.08 0.04

0.4. L

o/

-0.4

-0.04 -0.08 ~

CM1/4

~ ~,,,~

\
\

-0.12

-8 ~

-4 ~

0~

4~
O~

8~

12~

16~

20 ~

Fig. 6.3

Airfoil coefficients

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Aeronautical Engineer's Data Book

Arrow length represents the magnitude of pressure coefficient Cp Poo= upstream pressure

O~ .---. 5 ~

Stagnation point (S) moves backwards on the airfoil lower surface

Pressure coefficient Cp = 1

( p - p=)

%
o~=12 ~

p v2

Fig. 6.4

Airfoil pressure coefficient (Cp)

6.4 Aerodynamic centre The aerodynamic centre (AC) is defined as the point in the section about which the pitching moment coefficient (CM) is constant, i.e. does not vary with lift coefficient (CL). Its theoretical positions are indicated in Table 6.1.

Table 6.1 Position of aerodynamic centre

Condition
a<10 ~ Section with high aspect ratio Flat or curved plate: inviscid, incompressible flow

Theoretical positon of the A C


At approx. 1/4 chord somewhere near the chord line. At 50% chord. At approx. 1/4 chord.

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Using common approximations, the following equations can be derived: XAC


c

9
c

d
dCL

(C~a)

where CM. - pitching moment coefficient at distance a back from LE XAC -- position of AC back from LE. c - chord length.

6.5 Centre of pressure


The centre of pressure (CP) is defined as the point in the section about which there is no pitching moment, i.e. the aerodynamic forces on the entire section can be represented by lift and drag forces acting at this point. The CP does not have to lie within the airfoil profile and can change location, depending on the magnitude of the lift coefficient Q . The CP is conventionally shown at distance kcv back from the section leading edge (see Figure 6.5). Using
Lift and drag only cut at the CP

L. Lift

"1
..I

ME r XAc "1

Drag

Aerodynamic centre
Lift

~ 1 \ Centre of pressure (CP) ~


Fig. 6.5 Aerodynamic centre and centre of pressure

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Aeronautical Engineer's Data Book

the principle of moments the following expression can be derived for kcp: kcp"~'AC _

CMAc
CL cos a + CD sin a

Assuming that cos a = 1 and CD sin a ~- 0 gives: kcp


~ XAC -

CMAC
G

6.6 S u p e r s o n i c c o n d i t i o n s

As an aircraft is accelerated to approach supersonic speed the equations of motion which describe the flow change in character. In order to predict the behaviour of airfoil sections in upper subsonic and supersonic regions, compressible flow equations are required.
6.6.1 Basic definitions M Mach number M~ Free stream Mach number Mc Critical Mach number, i.e. the value of which results in flow of M~ - 1 at some location on the airfoil surface.

Figure 6.6 shows approximate forms of the pressure distribution on a two-dimensional airfoil around the critical region. Owing to the complex non-linear form of the equations of motion which describe high speed flow, two popular simplifications are used: the small perturbation approximation and the so-called exact approximation.
6.6.2 Supersonic effects on drag In the supersonic region, induced drag (due to lift) increases in relation to the parameter

V/M 2- 1 function of the plan form geometry of the wing.


6.6.3 Supersonic effects on aerodynamic centre Figure 6.7 shows the location of wing aerodynamic centre for several values of tip chord/root chord ratio (y). These are empirically based results which can be used as a 'rule of thumb'.

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Fig. 6.6 Variation of pressure deterioration (2-D airfoil)

6.7 Wing loading: semi-ellipse assumption


The simplest general loading condition assumption for symmetric flight is that of the semiellipse. The equivalent equations for lift, downwash and induced drag become: For lift:

L=p

VKons

replacing L by CL 1/2PV28 gives:

Ko-

CLVS
gs

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Aeronautical Engineer's Data Book


i
i

2.0 1.8 1.6 1.4

Taper ratio ~.= c,/c,= 1.o

AR tanALE

~ 6
~ ~ 5

~
I

4
~ 3

Xa.c.
Cr

1.2 I 1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 1.4


1.2

~ 2

Subsonic ~F---~ |
I

-~

Supersonic
m__u~
AR tanALE

ct/cR = 0.5

1.0
Xa.c.

~
~

4
3

0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0


|

Unsww_~I-.E__~--~'~"~ ~ 1 t
Subsonic ~-~ -----* Supersonic

Ct/Ca = 0.25
1.2 ~ ~ 6

ARtanALE

1me

-~-i5

Xa . 0.8 ~

'

"'

~ - -

06 ~ _ . _ ~ ~
0.4 0.2
0 0 tanALE

I
Subsonic ~ 1 [3 tanALE ---~ Supersonic 0 13 tanALE 1 tanALE [3 0

Fig. 6.7 Wing aerodynamic centre location: subsonic/ supersonic flight. Originally published in The AIAA Aerospace Engineers Design Guide, 4th Edition. Copyright 9 1998 by The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. Reprinted with permission.

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For downwash velocity (w)" w - -4--S' i.e. it is constant along the span. For induced drag (vortex):
CL 2

K0

DDv- n:AR where aspect ratio (AR) - span2 area


4S2

Hence, CDvfalls (theoretically) to zero as aspect ratio increases. At zero lift in symmetric flight,
CDv -- O.