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Stability

The stability of an airplane refers to the tendency of the airplane to return to its original level winged configuration after it has been perturbed from this configuration by some disturbance. If the airplane returns to its original configuration after being perturbed, the airplane is said to be stable.

By 'configuration', I mean the pitch, yaw and roll angles of the airplane

Stability in the pitching, rolling and yawing directions are referred by the terms longitudinal, lateral and directional stability (see the figure below).

A system is said to be stable if it can recover from

small disturbances that affect its operation.

A system is said to be stable if it can recover from small disturbances that affect
A system is said to be stable if it can recover from small disturbances that affect
A system is said to be stable if it can recover from small disturbances that affect

A cone resting on its base is stable.

Unstable

Neutrally stable. Assumes new position caused by the disturbance.

An aircraft's stability is expressed in relation to each axis:

lateral stability (stability in roll), directional stability (stability in yaw) and longitudinal stability (stability in pitch). Lateral and directional stabilities are inter-dependent.

Stability may be defined as follows:

  • - Positive stability: tends to return to original condition after a disturbance.

  • - Negative stability: tends to increase the disturbance.

  • - Neutral stability: remains at the new condition.

TYPES OF STABILITY

Static

Dynamic

Lateral

Longitudinal

directional

First!

Static stability

refers to the aircraft's initial response to a disturbance.

A statically unstable aircraft will uniformly depart from a condition of

equilibrium.

The returning forces may be so great that the aircraft will pass beyond the original position and continue in that direction until stability again tries to

restore the aircraft into its original position. This will continue with the

oscillations either side of the original becoming larger

Static stability is proportional to the stabiliser area and the tail moment. You get double static stability if you double the tail area or double the tail moment.

Condition for Static Stability

L Aircraft c.g. (center of Gravity)
L
Aircraft c.g. (center of Gravity)

The gust generates a small clockwise Moment about c.g., and a small positive additional lift

For static stability, if (upward gust), flows, causing the nose to drop.

DYNAMIC

Dynamic stability is the overall tendency of an airplane to return to its original position, following a series of damped out oscillations

Stability may be (a) positive, meaning the airplane will develop forces or moments which tend to restore it to its original position; (b) neutral, meaning the restoring forces are absent and the airplane will neither return from its disturbed position, nor move further away; (c) negative, meaning it will develop forces or moments which tend to move it further away. Negative stability is, in other words, the

condition of instability.

When the oscillations become smaller and eventually return the aircraft to its original position the aircraft has positive static and positive dynamic stability.

DYNAMIC • Dynamic stability is the overall tendency of an airplane to return to its original

Dynamic stability is also proportional to the stabiliser area but increases with the square of the tail moment, which means that you get four time the dynamic stability if you double the tail arm length.

However, making the tail arm longer or Increasing the stabiliser area will move the mass of the aircraft towards the rear, which may also mean the need to make the nose longer in order to minimize the weight required to balance the aircraft ...

Lateral Stability

It is the ability of the aircraft to recover from a roll without pilot’s intervention.

Dihedral is good for If the wing is tilted upwards from root to tip, it has
Dihedral is good for
If the wing is tilted upwards
from root to tip, it has a
dihedral.
lateral stability.

Anhedral

If the wing dips down from root

to tip, it has an anhedral.

Anhedral is bad for lateral stability.

Anhedral If the wing dips down from root to tip, it has an anhedral. Anhedral is
Anhedral If the wing dips down from root to tip, it has an anhedral. Anhedral is

What happens when the aircraft

undergo a roll?

Lift

What happens when the aircraft undergo a roll? Lift Lift A portion of the lift is

Lift

What happens when the aircraft undergo a roll? Lift Lift A portion of the lift is

A portion of the lift is pointed sideways. The vehicle moves laterally.

This is called sideslip.

During sideslip, a relative wind flows

from right to left

During sideslip, a relative wind flows from right to left A downwash occurs on the left

A downwash occurs

on the left wing,

reducing lift.

During sideslip, a relative wind flows from right to left A downwash occurs on the left

This wind has

a component normal

to the wing on

the right, viewing from the front. This is an upwash.

The upwash increases

lift on the right wing.

As a result, the aircraft rights itself, and recovers from the roll.

sweepback

Sweepback

Sweepback Angle is the angle at which the wing points backwards from the root to the tip.

Sweepback is used mainly on high-speed aircraft and its primary purpose is to delay the formation of sonic shock waves which are produced at high speeds and cause a large increase in drag.

The secondary effect of sweepback is to improve lateral stability. When a side-slip occurs, the lower wing presents a larger span as seen from the direction of the approaching air, and as

with dihedral, the effect is to roll the aircraft back towards the horizontal. In general, as the

sweepback angle is increased the dihedral angle will be reduced

Directional Stability

Freestream comes from pilot’s

Directional Stability Freestream comes from pilot’s right side, due to cross wind. It causes nose to

right side, due to cross wind. It causes nose to rotate to left

viewed from the top.

The force on the tail causes the aircraft to rotate back to original direction.

Directional Stability Freestream comes from pilot’s right side, due to cross wind. It causes nose to

A cross wind may cause the nose to rotate about the vertical axis, changing the flight direction. The vertical tail behaves like a wing at an angle of attack, producing a side force, rotates the aircraft to its original direction.

The Fin

An airplane has the tendency always to fly head-on into the relative airflow. This tendency which might be described as weather vaning is directly attributable to the vertical tail fin and to some extent also the vertical side areas of the fuselage.

If the airplane yaws away from its course, the airflow strikes the vertical tail surface from the s

and forces it back to its original line of flight In order for the tail surfaces to function properly in this weather vaning cap

Longitudinal stability

Longitudinal stability is pitch stability, or stability around the lateral axis of the airplane

Longitudinal stability depends on the location of the centre of gravity, the stabiliser area and how far the stabiliser is placed from the main wing. Most aircraft would be completely unstable without the horizontal stabiliser.

To obtain longitudinal stability, airplanes are designed to be nose heavy when correctly loaded. The center of gravity is ahead of the center of pressure. This design feature is incorporated so that, in the event of

engine failure, the airplane will assume a normal glide. It is because of this

nose heavy characteristic that the airplane requires a tailplane. Its function is to resist this diving tendency

Two principal factors influence longitudinal stability

1) size and position of the horizontal stabilizer, and

(2) position of the center of gravity

The Horizontal Stabilizer

The tail plane, or stabilizer, is placed on the tail end of a lever arm (the fuselage) to provide longitudinal stability. It may be quite small. However, being situated at the end of the lever arm, it has great leverage. When the angle of attack on the wings is increased by a disturbance, the center of pressure moves forward, tending to turn the nose of the airplane up and the tail down. The tailplane, moving down, meets the air at a greater angle of attack, obtains more lift and tends to restore the balance.

On most airplanes, the stabilizer appears to be set at an angle of incidence that would

produce an upward lift. It must, however, be remembered that the tailplane is in a position to be in the downwash from the wings. The air that strikes the stabilizer has already passed over the wings and been deflected slightly downward. The angle of the downwash is about half the angle of attack of the main airfoils. The proper angle of incidence of the stabilizer therefore is very important in order for it to be effective in its function.

Center of Gravity

The center of gravity is very important in achieving longitudinal stability. If the airplane is

loaded with the center of gravity too far aft, the airplane may assume a nose up rather than a nose down attitude. The inherent stability will be lacking and, even though down elevator may correct the situation, control of the airplane in the longitudinal plane will be difficult and perhaps, in extreme cases, impossible.

How can a Designer Ensure Longitudinal

Static stability?

Aircraft c.g.
Aircraft c.g.

Tail Lift

Rule #2 : Place the horizontal tail as far aft as possible. This will

cause the nose to drop, if there is a vertical gust, reducing a, and lift. The opposite will occur if there is downward gust.

A canard is a tail upstream of the c.g., statically unstable!

How can a Designer Ensure Longitudinal

Static stability?

Aircraft c.g.
Aircraft c.g.

Tail Lift

Rule #2 : Place the horizontal tail as far aft as possible. This will

cause the nose to drop, if there is a vertical gust, reducing a, and lift. The opposite will occur if there is downward gust.

A canard is a tail upstream of the c.g., statically unstable!