Fundamental Forces in Flight

Welcome to the first of a ten part series on the fundamentals of aircraft design. The aim of this series is to give you an introduction to the principles used by engineers in the design of a new aircraft. We start at the very beginning with Fundamentals of Flight, and progress through the various components of the aircraft: wing, fuselage, tail design. Finally we’ll end off with a off with some basic mathematical modelling of aircraft performance.

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Aerodynamic Lift, Drag and Moment Coefficients

In the previous post we introduced the four fundamental forces acting on an aircraft during flight: Lift, Drag, Thrust and Weight and examined how they interact with one-another. We are now going to look more closely at the two aerodynamic forces Lift and Drag. We will look at the relationship between the two forces, study how they interact with one another, and learn how to non-dimensionalize the resulting forces. Let’s do this!

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Wing Area and Aspect Ratio

This is the third post in a series of fundamental aircraft design articles which aim to give you an introduction to aircraft design principles. In the previous post we examined the lift, drag, and pitching moment coefficient acting on an aerodynamic body caused by the resulting pressure and shear distribution. In this post we introduce wing design and show why it is a great place to start when designing a new airplane.

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Sweep Angle and Supersonic Flight

The concept of wing sweep was introduced in the previous post which discussed the concepts of Wing Area and Aspect Ratio and their importance in the design of a new aircraft. We’ll now spend some time looking at wing sweep and discuss how correctly applying a sweep angle to a wing is a necessity if you are designing an aircraft that operates anywhere near the transonic or supersonic region.

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Introduction to Airfoil Aerodynamics

This is part 5 in a series of fundamental aircraft design articles that aims to give you an introduction to aircraft design principles. In a previous post we looked at the importance of the shape and plan-form of the wing, and how this has a great impact on the flying characteristics of the aircraft. Specifically we looked at wing area and aspect ratio. In this post we look more closely at the shape of the wing airfoil: why this differs from aircraft to aircraft, and how a careful airfoil selection will help to produce the flying characteristics you desire for your airplane.

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Aircraft Engine and Propeller Sizing

Welcome to Part 10, the final installment in the Fundamentals of Aircraft Design series. In Part 9 we completed a preliminary drag estimation of a new light sport aircraft design. In this tutorial we build on from the drag estimation, and specify an engine and propeller combination in order to determine the variation in thrust with airspeed. By superimposing this thrust curve onto the drag graph, we can calculate the aircraft’s theoretical maximum speed, or speed at various engine power settings. Let’s get started!

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