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Canards: design with care

Much apparent controversy surrounds the use of the canard configuration in today's aircraft. B. R. A. Burns, technical manager of BAe's Experimental Aircraft Programme, sheds some light on the subject.
anards, currently finding favour in all classes of aeroplane, require careful design if they are to outperform conventional configurations. While there are aerodynamic advantages, the benefits for stable aeroplanes are largely layout related. Canards come into their own on unstable, high-performance combat aircraft. Any aeroplane may be made stable by locating the e.g. ahead of the aerodynamic centre (a.c). Lift therefore acts behind weight, generating a nose-down moment which must be trimmed by some means. Pitch control of a tailless aeroplane is effected by wing-mounted elevators, or elevons. This requires a swept or delta wing, to obtain a reasonable moment arm from the e.g. to the pitch control surface. A stable tailless aeroplane has several disadvantages, not least an inability to use wing flaps because there is no means of trimming the additional pitching moment that they generate. Also trim drag is high, particularly at forward e.g. positions, because large elevon downloads are required for trim. As a result, e.g. range is limited. In a tailed aeroplane the range of e.g. positions required for various loadings of fuel, passengers, or weapons determines the size of the tailplane and locates the e.g. range in relation to wing chord. Tailplane download In a stable tailed aeroplane the forward e.g. limit is determined by the ability of the tailplane to produce a download to balance wing lift, which acts behind the e.g. The tail must also counteract the "no lift" pitching moment generated by wing camber, which is greatest with flaps down. (A cambered wing produces lift at zero angle of attack (AoA). At zero lift, negative AoA, the wing carries a download at the front and an upload at the rear, producing a nose-down moment.) The e.g. limit moves forward with increasing tail size at a rate proportional
FLIGHT International, 23 February 1985

to tailplane maximum download capability. For this reason some aeroplanes feature devices to augment tailplane negative liftleading-edge blowing on the Buccaneer and slats on the Phantom are examples. The aft e.g. limit is determined by stability, and in a stable aeroplane is located a few per cent of wing chord ahead of the neutral stability point, where e.g. and a.c. coincide. The aft e.g. limit moves rearwards with increasing tailplane size, but only at a comparatively shallow rate because its effectiveness as a stabiliser is diminished by wing downwash, typically by 50 per cent. It is a misconception that tailed aeroplanes always carry tailplane downloads. They usually do, with flaps down and at forward e.g. positions, but with flaps up at the e.g. aft, tail loads at high lift are

frequently positive (up), although the tail's maximum lifting capability is rarely approached. As our tail sizing diagram shows (Fig A), there is a steep increase in e.g. range with increasing tail size as the limits move apart. In the example illustrated, a 40 per cent increase in tail size doubles the e.g. range from 10 per cent to 20 per cent of wing chord. Also the e.g. range is located well within the wing chord, so that the trimming load on the tail (and trim drag) is small. Putting a foreplane the same distance ahead of the wing as the tailplane was behind leaves the forward e.g. limit unchanged, but the surface, now clear of wing downwash, becomes an efficient destabiliser. If the aeroplane is to remain stable, then the aft e.g. limit must move forward. Both e.g. limits move forward with Above Bert Rutan's VariEze set a new fashion increasing foreplane size, the forward, in general-aviation design. Below pitching control-power limit moving at a slightly moment is reversed in unstable configurations greater rate proportional to foreplane lifting capability. To achieve a usable e.g. range in a stable aeroplane, therefore, foreplane design must emphasise maximum lift, for control power, while reducing its destabilising effect by minimising lift curve slope (the rate of change of lift with incidence). Our foreplane sizing diagram suggests that a much larger foreplane than tailplane is required to achieve the same e.g. range in a stable aeroplane. A factor of two is indicated. Also the practical e.g. range is ahead of the wing leading edge, so that the foreplane carries a significant proportion of total lift. Wing flaps cannot be trimmed without a large increase in foreplane sizea further 50 per cent is indicated. An ingenious solution to flap trimming is employed by Beech on its Starship I. With wing flaps extended, their Fowler action moves wing a.c. aft, allowing a A Y kControl ' ' Stability more destabilising canard to be used. As power Weight limit lift-curve slope decreases with sweep, limit


s "


Forward limits

Aft limit (high lift, flaps up)

e.g. range

30 10% e.g. range

40 0 10 Position on wing cord (%)

Forward limits

Germany's TKF90 tested the unstable canard configuration Beech is able to sweep the canard forward (maximum destabilising effect) to trim the flaps, and back (minimum destabilising effect) for cruise. At the same time, as the canard sweeps back, its moment arm shortens, reducing its control power in sympathy with flap retraction. It is important to be "right first time" with a canard configuration. If the c.g./a.c. relationship proves to be wrong, increasing the size of the foreplane will not get the designer out of trouble, as a larger tail willthe wing has to move at the same time. Foreplane stall The foreplane must be made to stall before the wing to avoid severe pitch-up. This can be achieved in a number of ways; by careful choice of wing and foreplane aerofoil sections and decalage (relative incidence), or by stall delaying devices on the wing, such as strakes inboard and camber outboard. A foreplane does have advantages for the stable aeroplane, as it contributes substantially to total lift. Wing flaps may be unnecessary, leading to a simpler, lighter wing. The increased lifting area results in a smaller total wing plus foreplane area than wing plus tailplane, with a saving in profile drag and weight, and in a more compact layout. Induced drag (drag due to lift) is greater, however, because of the high span loading of the foreplane and the fact that the wing behind it has to climb in the foreplane downwash, so that its lift vector is inclined rearwards. In practice, this interference between foreplane and wing overturns empirical calculations which suggest lower induced drag when lift is shared between two surfaces. The situation is made worse if the canard configuration is scaled by reducing wing area to maintain the same total lift. This penalty is not as serious as it sounds, however, because induced drag is 20

r*^ < =* a \



0 10 20 Position on wing chord (%)


Fig A (top left) shows the steep increase in e.g. substantially to pitch damping, increasing range with increasing tailplane size as the e.g. stability in manoeuvres and giving a limits move apart. Fig B (above) The foreplane smoother ride in turbulence. A canard must be much larger than the tailplane to obtain aeroplane may therefore be safely flown with neutral static stability. the same e.g. range in a stable aircraft. Fig C (top right) artificial stability enables tail size to be Two further advantages may help reduced by 35 per cent explain the popularity of canard configurations with business aircraft designers. First, volume utilisation is better, with no only 25-50 per cent of the total in cruise, hollow rear fuselage required merely to and the saving in profile dragthe other provide adequate tail moment arm. 50-75 per centthrough lower total lifting Secondly, an aft-mounted wing with pusher engines locates propeller noise and surface area can offset the increase. With a tailplane, its influence of vibration well behind the passenger cabin. stability decreases when the elevator is With careful design, stable canards can free to float upwards at high AoA, the be made competitive. For military combat resulting downforce tending to increase aircraft, with their emphasis on high angle of attack. In contrast, a foreplane sustained manoeuvrability, the stable with elevator free generates a downforce canard is undesirable, however. In high-g ahead of the e.g. which tends to reduce combat induced drag can amount to as AoA, stabilising the aircraft. Additionally, much as 90 per cent of the total and, as because both wing and foreplane are much of the mission fuel is expended in remote from the e.g. they both contribute such combat, there is a premium on

FLIGHT International, 23 February 1



Aerodynamic definitions
Canard Aerodynamic centre (a.c.) The point On an aerofoil about which there is no change in pitching moment with change of lift. Subsonically, the a.c. lies roughly on the quarterehord mark. Supersonieally, the a.c. moves back to around half chord. Stability An aircraft exhibits longitudinal static stability if, when pitched nose up, (say by a gust,) the added wing lift due to the increased angle of attack tends to force the nose back down. In other words, the a.c. is behind the e.g. When the a.c. and e.g. coincide, the aircraft is neutrally stable. Induced drag The component of total drag that is dependent on lift. Sometimes called vortex drag. Induced drag is inversely proportional to aspect ratio, therefore the shorter the span, the higher induced drag. Profile drag Total drag minus induced drag. Profile drag has two parts, a pressure component related to shape, called form drag, and a skinfriction component dependent on the surface area exposed to the airthe wetted area.


> \ C*^ e.g. location > L ^ S

Canard /


0-6 Tailless 0-4 -10 V 0-6 Max. (recoverable) angle of attack

0-4 10 -10 Stability margin (%)


Fig D (above) locating the e.g. at its optimum, rearward position limits recoverable angle of attack in unstable, tailless aircraft. Moving it forward reduces L/D. The answer lies in an unstable canard configuration. Left an ingenious solution to the problem of trimming wing flaps is provided on Starship 1 (see text). Below one of the best-known canard aircraft is the Viggen of the no-lift pitching moment. This limit on aft e.g. travel can be avoided, however, by programming the flaps to follow a minimum drag schedule. The disadvantages of tailless aeroplanes, outlined earlier, are greatly reduced by artificial stability but, if the e.g. is located at its best (most rearward) position for maximum lift/drag ratio, the elevons reach their effective limit of travel at a moderate AoA and there is nothing left with which to recover from high angles of attack. AoA, and therefore usable lift, is severely restricted. Alternatively, if the e.g. is located further forward, increasing usable lift, there is a serious L/D penalty (see fig. D). This is where the unstable canard comes into its own. L/D performance is closely related to overall (wing plus foreplane) instability. A foreplane allows the e.g. to be positioned well aft for optimum L/D without restricting usable lift. For a combat aircraft the unstable

achieving low drag at high lift. Any aeroplane may be made unstable by locating the e.g. behind the a.c. Stability is then provided artificially by means of a full-time fly-by-wire flight control system. In a tailed aeroplane artificial stability may reduce tail size and allow its full positive lifting capability to be used to trim the unstable wing lift moment. As our tail sizing diagram suggests (Fig C) tail size is reduced by 35 per cent compared with a naturally stable aeroplane. The forward e.g. limit is essentially unchanged but, with the e.g. aft, the tail has to provide a download to prevent the aeroplane tucking under at low AoA, flaps down, because

canard configuration provides competitive L/D in subsonic (unstable) flight and superior L/D in supersonic flight [with slight positive stability, uploads on a foreplane are more efficient than downloads on a tailplane, when induced drag is small and shock-wave drag is dominant]. With a close-coupled layout, subsonic interference between foreplane and wing is favourable at high angle of attack. Other advantages include better potential for gust alleviation, because active flaps counteracting lift changes, and foreplane deflection opposing pitch motion, act in the same sense. On a tailed aeroplane they oppose each other. Also without the tailplane support, frame afterbody lines are cleaner and wave drag is lower. A foreplane is able to trim vectored thrust from rear-mounted nozzles with added lift, improving both Stol performance and manoeuvrability. The canard configuration also has the potential for direct lift and sideforce control (translation without rotation and vice versa), offering benefits in weapon aiming. There is no doubt about the growing popularity of the unstable canard configuration. The Gripen, Lavi, EAP and ACK are examples of combat aircraft featuring the layout, with Starship 1 and Avtek 400 following style in the business field. In general aviation Bert Rutan's VariEze set a trend that many others have since emulated. n

FLIGHT International, 23 February 1985