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Chapter 1

1.1 Opening remarks
The normal operation of a civil transport airplane
involves take-off, climb to cruise altitude,
cruising, descent, loiter and landing (Fig.1.1).
In addition, the airplane may also carry out glide
(which is descent with power off), curved flights
in horizontal and vertical planes and other flights
involving accelerations.

Fig 1.1 Typical flight path of a passenger airplane
Apart from the flights during controlled operations,
an airplane may also be subjected to disturbances
which may cause changes in its flight path and
produce rotations about its axes.
The study of these motions of the airplane – either
intended by the pilot or those following a
disturbance–forms the subject of Flight Dynamics.
Flight Dynamics: It is a branch of dynamics
dealing with the forces acting and the motion of an
object moving in the earth’s atmosphere.
In this course our attention is focused on motion of
the airplane. Helicopters, rockets and missiles are
not covered . 5
At this stage it may be helpful to recapitulate the
anatomy of the airplane . Fig.1.2a and b show
the major components of an airplane.

Fig 1.2a Major components of an airplane

(From Ref.1.10, chapter 2) 6
Fig 1.2b Control surfaces and flaps on an airplane
(From Ref.1.10, chapter 2)
The features that make flight dynamics a separate
subject are :
i. The motion of an object in flight can take
place along three axes and about three axes.
This is more complicated than the motions of
machinery and mechanisms which are
restrained by kinematic constraints, or those
of land based or water based vehicles which
are confined to move on a surface.
ii. The special nature of the forces, like
aerodynamic forces, acting on the object
(Fig 1.3) whose magnitude and direction
changes with the orientation of the airplane ,
relative to its flight path. 8
iii. The system of aerodynamic controls used in flight
(aileron, elevator, rudder).

Fig 1.3 Forces on an airplane 9

1.2 Body axes system
To formulate and solve a problem in dynamics we
need a system of axes. To define such a system we
note that an airplane is nearly symmetric in
geometry and mass distribution about a plane which
is a called the plane of symmetry. This plane is used
for defining the body axes system. Figure 1.4b shows
a system of axes (OXbYbZb) fixed on the airplane
(body axes system) which moves with the airplane.
The origin ‘O’ of the body axes system is the center
of gravity (c.g.) of the body which, by assumption of
symmetry , lies in the plane of symmetry (Fig.1.4a) .
The axis OXb is taken positive in the forward
direction. The axis OZb is perpendicular to OXb in the
plane of symmetry , positive downwards .
Fig 1.4 a Plane of symmetry and body axis system
Fig 1.4b. Body axes system, forces , moments and
linear and angular velocities
(Adapted from Ref.1.2d, chapter 1)
The axis OYb is perpendicular to the plane of
symmetry such that OXbYbZb is a right handed
Figure 1.4b shows the forces and moments
acting on the airplane and the components of linear
and angular velocities. The quantity V is the
velocity vector. The quantities X,Y,Z are the
components of the resultant aerodynamic force,
along OXb, OYb and OZb axes. L’ , M, N are the
rolling moment, pitching moment and yawing
moment respectively about OXb, OYb and OZb; the
rolling moment is denoted by L’ to distinguish it
from lift (L) . u,v,w are the components , along
OXb, OYb and OZb of the velocity vector (V). The 13
angular velocity components are indicated by p,q,r.
1.3 Forces acting on an airplane
During the analysis of its motion the airplane
will be considered as a rigid body. The forces acting
on an object in flight are
– Gravitational forces
– Aerodynamic forces
– Propulsive forces.
The aerodynamic forces and moments arise due to
motion of airplane relative to air. The aerodynamic
forces are the drag, the lift and the side force. The
moments are the rolling moment, the pitching
moment and the yawing moment.
The propulsive force is the thrust produced by 14
the engine or the engine propeller combination.
In the case of an airplane, the gravitational
force is mainly due to the attraction of the earth.
The magnitude of the gravitational force is the
weight of the airplane (in Newtons).
W = mg; where W is the gravitational force, m is
the mass of the airplane and g is the acceleration
due to gravity.
The line of action of the gravitational force is
along the line joining the centre of gravity (c.g.)
of the airplane and the center of the earth. It is
directed towards the center of earth (see next
section for further discussion). 15
The value of the acceleration due to gravity (g)
decreases with increase in altitude (h) . It can be
calculated based on it’s value at sea level (g0), and
using the following formula:
(g/g0) = [R / (R + h)]2 ( 1.1)
Where R is the radius of the earth,
R = 6400 km (approx.) and g0 = 9.81ms-2
However for typical airplane flights (h<20 km) , g
is generally taken to be constant.

1.4 Flat earth and spherical earth models
In flight mechanics, there are two ways of
dealing with the gravitational force, namely the
flat earth model and the spherical earth model.
In the flat earth model, the gravitational
acceleration is taken to act vertically
downwards (Fig 1.5).
When the distance over which the flight takes
place is small, the flat earth model is adequate.
See Miele (Ref 1.1) for details.
Flight path

Gravitational force

Fig.1.5.Flat Earth Model
In the spherical earth model, the gravitational
force is taken to act along the line joining the
center of earth and c.g. of the airplane. It is
directed towards the center of the earth
(Fig. 1.6).
The spherical earth model is used for accurate
analysis of flights involving very long distances.

Fig 1.6. Spherical earth model
Remark :
In this course we use the flat earth model. This
is adequate for the following reasons.
(a) The distances involved in flights with
acceleration are small and the gravitational
force can be considered in the vertical direction
by proper choice of axes.
(b) In un-accelerated flights like level flight we
consider the forces at the chosen instant of
time and obtain the distance covered etc. by
integration. This procedure is accurate as long
as we understand that the altitude means

height of the airplane above the surface of the
earth and the distance is measured on a sphere
of radius equal to the sum of the radius of earth
plus the altitude of airplane. This type of
analysis is also called point performance

1.5 Approach
The approach used in flight mechanics is to apply
Newton’s laws to the motion of objects in flight.
Let us recall these laws:
Newton’s first law states that every object at rest
or in uniform motion continues to be in that state
unless acted upon by an external force.
Newton’s second law states that the force acting
on a body is equal to its rate of change of
Newton’s third law states that to every action,
there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Newton’s second law can be written as:
F = ma ; a = dV/dt; V = dr/dt. (1.2)
Where F = sum of all forces acting on the body,
m= mass, a= acceleration, V= velocity, r= the
position vector of the object and t= time.
(quantities in bold are vectors)

Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity and
velocity is the rate of change of position vector.
To prescribe the position vector, we need to have
a co-ordinate system with reference to which the
position vector/displacement is measured.
1.6 Frame of reference
A frame of reference (coordinate system) in
which Newton’s laws of motion are valid is known
as a Newtonian frame of reference.
Since Newton’s laws deal with acceleration, a
frame of reference moving with uniform velocity
with respect to a Newtonian frame is also a
Newtonian frame or inertial frame.
However, if the reference frame is rotating
with some angular velocity (ǔ), then, additional
accelerations like centripetal acceleration
{ǔ x (ǔ x r)} and coriolis acceleration (v x ǔ)
will come into picture.
For further details on non-Newtonian reference
frame, see Ref 1.2a.
In flight mechanics, a co-ordinate system
attached to the earth approximates a Newtonian
frame (Fig.1.7).
The effects of the rotation of earth around
itself and around the sun on this approximation
can be estimated as follows. 23
Fig 1.7 Earth fixed and body fixed co-ordinate
systems 24
We know that the earth rotates about itself once per
day. Hence
ǔ = 2 S/ (3600x24) = 7.27x10-5s-1;
Since r equals 6400 km; the maximum centripetal
acceleration (ǔ2r) equals 0.034 ms-2.
The earth also goes around the sun and completes
one orbit in approximately 365 days. Hence
ǔ = 2 S / (365x3600x24) = 1.99x10-7s-1;In this case
the radius would be the mean distance between the
sun and the earth which is 1.5x1011m. Consequently
ǔ2R = 0.006 ms-2.
Thus we note that the centripetal accelerations due
to rotation of earth about itself and around the sun
are small as compared to acceleration due to gravity.
These rotational motions would also bring
about coriolis acceleration (v x ǔ). However its
magnitude, which depends on the flight velocity,
would be much smaller than the acceleration due
to gravity in flights up to Mach number of 3.
Hence the influence can be neglected.
Thus, taking a reference frame attached to the
surface of the earth as a Newtonian frame is
adequate for the analysis of airplane flight.
Figure 1.7 shows such a coordinate system.

1.7 Equilibrium
The above three types of forces (aerodynamic,
propulsive and gravitational) and moments govern
the motion of an airplane in flight.
If the sums of all these forces and moments are
zero, then the airplane is said to be in equilibrium
and will move along a straight line with constant
velocity (see Newton's first law). If any of the forces
is unbalanced , then the airplane will have a linear
acceleration in the direction of a unbalanced force.
If any of the moments is unbalanced, then the
airplane will have an angular acceleration about the
axis of the unbalanced moment.
The relationship between the unbalanced forces
and the linear accelerations and those between
unbalanced moments and angular accelerations are
provided by Newton’s second law of motion. These
relationships are called equations of motion.

1.8 Equations of motion
To derive the equations of motion we need to
know the acceleration of a particle on the body. The
acceleration is the rate of change of velocity and the
velocity is the rate of change of position vector with
respect to the chosen a frame of reference.
The minimum number of coordinates required to
prescribe the motion is called the number of degrees
of freedom. The number of equations governing the
motion equals the degrees of freedom. As an
example we may recall that the motion of a particle
moving in a plane is prescribed by the x- and y-
coordinates of the particle at various instants of time
and this motion is described by two equations. 29
Similarly the position of any point on a rigid
pendulum is describe by just one coordinate namely
the angular position (LJ) of the pendulum (Fig.1.8). In
this case we have only one equation to describe the
motion . In yet another example , if a particle is
constrained to move on a sphere, then its position is
prescribed by the longitude and latitude . This motion
has only two degrees of freedom.
To describe its motion we treat the airplane as a
rigid body. It may be recalled that in a rigid body the
distance between any two points is fixed. Thus r in
Fig. 1.9 does not change during the motion. To decide
the minimum number of coordinates needed to
prescribe the position of a point on a rigid body which
Fig. 1.8 Motion of a single degree of freedom system
Fig 1.9 Position of a point on a rigid airplane 32
is translating and rotating, we proceed as follows.
A rigid body with N particles may appear to have
3N degrees of freedom, but the constraint of rigidity
reduces this number . To arrive at the minimum
number of coordinates we approach the problem in a
different way. Following Ref.1.2b, we can state that to
fix the location of a point on a rigid body we do not
need to prescribe its distance from all the points, but
only need to prescribe its distance from three points
which do not lie on the same line (Fig.1.10a). Thus if
the positions of these three points are prescribed with
respect to a reference frame , then the position of any
point on the body is known. This may indicate nine
degrees of freedom . This number is reduced to six
because the distances r12, r23 and r13 in Fig.1.10a are
constants .
Another way of looking at the problem is to
consider that we prescribe the three coordinates of
point 1 with respect to the reference frame. Now the
point 2 is constrained, because of rigid body
assumption, to move on a sphere centered on point 1
and needs only two coordinates to prescribe its motion.
Once the points 1 and 2 are determined, the point 3 is
constrained , again due to rigid body assumption, to
move on a circle about the axis joining points 1 and 2.
Hence only one independent coordinate is needed to
prescribe the position of point 3. Thus the number of
independent coordinates is six (3+2+1).

Fig 1.10a Position of a point with respect to three

reference points
(Adapted from Ref.1.2b, Chapter 4)
From the above discussion it is clear that the
coordinates could be lengths or angles.
In mechanics the six degrees of freedom
associated with a rigid body, consists of the three
coordinates of the origin of the body with respect to
the chosen frame of reference and the three angles
which describe the angular position of a coordinate
system fixed on the body (OXbYbZb) with respect to the
fixed frame of reference (EXeYeZe) as shown in
Fig.1.10b. These angles are known as Eulerian angles.
These will be discussed in ch.4 of flight dynamics- II .
See also Ch.4 of Ref.1.2b.
i) The derivation of the equations of motions in 36
general case with six degrees of freedom (see Ref 1.1)
Fig 1.10b Coordinates of a point on a rigid body
is rather involved and would be out of place here.
ii) Herein, we consider various cases separately and
write down the equations of motion in each case.

1.9 Subdivisions of flight dynamics

The subject of flight dynamics is generally divided
into two main branches viz.
Performance Analysis and Stability and control.
In performance analysis, we generally
consider the equilibrium of forces only. It is
assumed that by proper deflections of the controls,
the moments can be made zero and that the
changes in aerodynamic forces due to deflection of
controls are small. The motions considered in
performance analysis are steady and accelerations,
when involved, do not change rapidly with time.
The following flights are included in performance
-Unaccelerated flights
• Steady level flight
• Climb, glide and descent
-Accelerated Flights
• Accelerated level flight and climb
• Take-off and landing
• Turn, loop and other flights along curved paths
which are called maneuvers.

Roughly speaking, the stability analysis is
concerned with the motion following a disturbance.
Stability analysis tells us whether an airplane, after
being disturbed, will return to it’s original flight
path or not.
Control analysis deals with the forces that the
deflection of the controls must produce to bring to
zero the three moments (rolling, pitching and
yawing) and achieve a desired flight condition. It
also deals with design of control surfaces and the
forces on control wheel/stick /pedals.
Stability and control are linked together and are
generally studied under a common heading.
Flight dynamics I of this course deals with
performance analysis. By carrying out this analysis
we can obtain variation of performance items such
as maximum level speed, minimum level speed,
rate of climb, angle of climb, distance covered ,
with a given amount of fuel called ‘Range’ , time of
flight called ‘Endurance’ , minimum radius of turn,
maximum rate of turn, take off distance, landing
distance etc. The effects of flight conditions namely
the weight , altitude and flight velocity of the
airplane can also be examined. This study would
also help in solving design problems of deciding the
power required, thrust required , fuel required
etc. for given specifications like maximum speed, 41
maximum rate of climb, range, endurance etc.
Alternatively, the performance analysis can be
considered as the analysis of the motion of flight
vehicle considered as a point mass, moving
under the influence of applied forces. The
stability analysis similarly can be considered as
motion of a vehicle of finite size, under the
influence of applied forces and moments.

1.10 General Remarks
i) Attitude :
As mentioned in section 1.8 the instantaneous
position of the airplane , with respect to the
earth fixed axes system (EXe Ye Ze) , is given
by the coordinates of the c.g. at that instant of
time. The attitude of the airplane is described
by the angular orientation of the OXbYbZb
system with respect to OXeYeZe system or the
Euler angles mentioned in section 1.8 (see
Ref.1.2c, chapter 10 for details) . Let us
consider simpler cases. When an airplane
climbs along a straight line its attitude is given
by the angle ‘ J ’ between the axis OXb and
and the horizontal (Fig.1.11a ). When an airplane
executes a turn, the projection of OXb axis , in the
horizontal plane , makes an angle ƺ with reference
to a fixed horizontal axis (Fig.1.11b) . When an
airplane is banked the axis OYb makes an angle ĭ
with respect to the horizontal (Fig.1.11c).
ii) Flight path:
In the subsequent sections, the flight path,
also called the trajectory, means the path or the
line along which the c.g. of the airplane moves.
The tangent to this curve at a point gives the
direction of flight velocity at that point on the flight
path. The relative wind is in a direction opposite to
that of the flight velocity . 44
Fig 1.11a Airplane in a climb 45
Fig 1.11b Airplane in a turn-view from top

(Adapted from Ref.1.10, chapter 6)

Fig 1.11c Angle of bank (ij)
(Adapted from Ref. 1.11, chapter 3) 47
iii) Angle of attack and side slip
While discussing the forces acting on an airfoil,
we take the chord of the airfoil as the reference
line and the angle between the chord line and the
relative wind as the angle of attack(Į). The
aerodynamic forces viz lift (L) and drag (D) ,
produced by the airfoil, depend on the angle of
attack (Į) and are respectively perpendicular and
parallel to relative wind direction (Fig.1.11 d).
In the case of an airplane the flight path, as
mentioned earlier , is the line along which c.g. of
the airplane moves . The tangent to the flight
path is the direction of flight velocity (V). The
relative wind is in a direction opposite to the 48
flight velocity. If the flight path is confined to the
Fig 1.11d Angle of attack and forces on a airfoil

plane of symmetry, then the angle of attack would
be the angle between the relative wind direction
and the fuselage reference line (FRL) or OXb axis
(see Fig.1.11e) . However in a general case the
velocity vector (V) will have components both
along and perpendicular to the plane of symmetry.
The component perpendicular to the plane of
symmetry is denoted by ‘v’ . The projection of the
velocity vector in the plane of symmetry would
have components u and w along OXb and OZb axes
(Fig.1.11f) . With this background we define the
angle of sideslip and angle of attack .
Fig 1.11e Flight path in the plane of symmetry 51

Fig 1.11f Velocity components in a general case and

definition of angle of attack and sideslip
(Adapted from Ref.1.2d , chapter 1)
The angle of sideslip (ǃ)is the angle between the
velocity vector (V) and the plane of symmetry i.e.
ǃ = sin-1 (v/ |V|); where |V| is the magnitude of V.
The angle of attack (Į) is the angle between the
projection of velocity vector (V) in the XB-ZB plane
and the OXb axis or
1 w 1 w 1 w
D tan sin sin
u 2
| V | v 2
u2  w2

It is easy to show that , if V denotes magnitude of

velocity (V) , then
u = V cos Į cos ȕ , v= V sin ǃ; w= V sin Į cos ǃ .
iv) By definition, the aerodynamic drag (D) is
parallel to the relative wind direction. The lift force
lies in the plane of symmetry of the airplane and is
perpendicular to the direction of flight velocity.
v) Simplified treatment in performance
In a steady flight, there is no acceleration
along the flight path and in a level flight, the
altitude of the flight remains constant. A steady,
straight and level flight, generally means a flight
along a straight line at a constant velocity and
constant altitude.
Sometimes, this flight is also referred to as
unaccelerated level flight. To illustrate the simplified54
treatment in performance analysis, we consider the
case of unaccelerated level flight.
The forces acting on an airplane in
unaccelerated level flight are shown in the Fig.1.12.
They are:
Lift (L)
Thrust (T)
Drag (D) and
Weight (W) of the airplane.
It may be noted that the point of action of the thrust
and it’s direction depend on the engine location.
However, the direction of the thrust can be taken
parallel to the airplane reference axis.
Fig 1.12 Forces acting in steady level flight

The lift and drag, being perpendicular to the relative
wind, are in the vertical and horizontal directions
respectively, in this flight.
The weight acts at the c.g. in a vertically
downward direction.
In an unaccelerated level flight, the components
of acceleration in the horizontal and vertical directions
are zero.
Hence, the sums of the components of all the
forces in these directions are zero. Resolving the
forces along and perpendicular to the flight path
(see Fig.1.12.), we get the following equations of
force equilibrium:
T cos Į – D = 0 (1.3)
T sin Į + L – W = 0 (1.4)

Apart from these equations, equilibrium demands

that the moment about the y-axis to be zero, i.e.,
Mcg = 0
Unless the moment condition is satisfied, the
airplane will begin to rotate about the c.g.
Let us now examine how the moment is
balanced in an airplane.
The contributions to Mcg come from all the
components of the airplane.
As regards the wing , the point where the
resultant vector of the lift and drag intersects the58
plane of symmetry is known as the centre of
pressure. This resultant force produces a moment
about the c.g. However, the location of the center
of pressure depends on the lift coefficient and
hence the moment contribution of wing changes
with the angle of attack as the lift coefficient
depends on the angle of attack. For convenience,
the lift and the drag are transferred to the
aerodynamic center along with a moment (Mac).
Recall that moment coefficient about the a.c.
(Cmac) is, by definition, constant with change in
angle of attack.
Similarly, the moment contributions of the
fuselage and the horizontal tail change with the angle
of attack. The engine thrust also produces a moment
about the c.g. which depends on the thrust required.
Hence, the sum of the moments about the c.g.
contributed by the wing, fuselage, horizontal tail and
engine changes with the angle of attack. By
appropriate choice of the horizontal tail setting (i.e.
incidence of horizontal tail with respect to fuselage
central line ) , one may be able to make the sum of
these moments to be zero in a certain flight
condition, which is generally the cruise flight
condition. Under other flight conditions, generation of
corrective aerodynamic moment is facilitated by
suitable deflection of elevator (See Fig.1.2b for
location of elevator). By deflecting the elevator , the
lift on the horizontal tail surface can be varied and
the moment produced by the horizontal tail balances
the moments produced by all other components.
The above points will now be illustrated with the
help of an example.

Example 1.1
A jet aircraft weighing 60,000 N has it’s line of
thrust 0.15 m below the line of drag. When flying at
a certain speed, the thrust required is 12,000 N
and the center of pressure of the wing lift is 0.45 m
aft of the airplane c.g.. What is the lift on the wing
and the load on the tail plane whose center of
pressure is 7.5 m behind the c.g.? Assume
unaccelerated level flight and the angle of attack to
be small during the flight.

The various forces and dimensions are presented in
Fig.1.13. The lift on the wing is LW and the lift on
the tail is LT. Since the angle of attack (Į) is small,
one may take cos Į = 1 and sin Į = 0. Thus, from
the force equilibrium (Eqs. 1.3 and 1.4), we get:
LW + LT – W = 0
i.e. D = T = 12000 N and LT + LW = 60000 N
From Fig.1.13., the moment equilibrium about the
c.g. gives:
T (zd + 0.15) – D.zd – 0.45.LW – 7.5.LT = 0
Fig. 1.13 Forces acting on an airplane in steady level
where zd is the distance of drag below the c.g..
Solving these equations, we get,
LW = 63574.47 N and LT = -3574.47 N
It is seen that
A) The lift on the wing is about 63.6 kN while the
lift on the tail is only 3.6 kN, in the downward
B) The contribution of tail to the total lift is thus
small, in this case, about 6% and negative. This
negative contribution necessitates the wing lift to
be more than the weight of the airplane. This
increase the lift results in additional drag called
trim drag. 64
C) The distance zd is of no significance in this
problem as the drag and thrust form a couple
whose moment is equal to the thrust multiplied
by the distance between them.
D) Generally, the angle of attack (Į) is small.
Hence, sin Į is small and cos Į is nearly equal to
unity. Thus, the equations of force equilibrium
reduce to
T – D = 0 and L – W = 0. (1.5)
E) It is assumed that the pitching moment
equilibrium i.e. ƶMcg=0 is achieved by appropriate
deflection of the elevator. The changes in the lift
and drag due to elevator deflections are generally
small and in performance analysis, as stated
earlier, these changes are ignored and one
considers the simplified picture as shown in Fig.1.14.

Fig.1.14. Simplified picture of the forces acting on

an airplane in level flight. 66
1.11 Course content
Some background material is required for
performance analysis. We know that:
L = (1/2) Ǐ V2 S CL
D = (1/2) Ǐ V2 S CD
Where CL and CD are the lift and drag coefficients.
S is the area of the wing.
CL and CD depend on Į, Mach number (M = V / a)
and Reynolds number (Re = Ǐ V l /μ ) i.e.
CD = f(CL,M, Re)
The relation between CLand CD at given M and Re is
known as the drag polar of the airplane.
Similarly, the density of air (Ǐ) depends on the
flight altitude. Further the Mach number depends
on the speed of sound, which in turn depends on
the ambient air temperature. Thus, for
performance analysis, we need to know the
variations of pressure, temperature, density,
viscosity etc. with altitude in earth’s atmosphere.
For evaluation of performance we also need
to know the engine characteristics such as,
variations of thrust/ power and fuel consumption
with the flight speed and altitude.

3.1. Introduction

As mentioned in chapter 1, to evaluate the

performance of an airplane we need to know as
to what will be the drag coefficient of the airplane
(CD) when the lift coefficient (CL) and Mach
number are given.
The relationship between the drag coefficient and
the lift coefficient is called drag polar.
The usual method to estimate the drag of an
airplane is to add the drags of the major
components of the airplane and then apply
correction for the interference effects.
The major components of the airplane which
contribute to drag are wing, fuselage, horizontal
tail, vertical tail, nacelles and landing gear.

D = Dwing + Dfuse + Dht + Dvt + Dnac + Dlg +
Detc + Dint (3.1)
where Dwing, Dfuse , Dht, Dvt and Dlg denote drag
due to wing, fuselage, horizontal tail, vertical tail
and landing gear respectively.
Detc includes the drag of items like external fuel
tanks, bombs, struts etc..

Dint is the drag due to interference. This arises
due to the following reasons.
While estimating the drag of wing, fuselage and
other components we consider the drag of the
component when it is free from the influence of
any other components. Whereas in an airplane
the wing, fuselage, and tails lie in close
proximity of each other and flow past one
component is influenced by that past the other.
As an illustration let us consider an airfoil kept
in a stream of velocity V’. Let the drag be 5 N.
Now consider a small plate whose drag at the
same speed of be 2 N.
Then the drag of the airfoil and the plate as a
combination (Fig. 3.1) would, in general, be
higher than the sum of individual drags. i.e.
D airfoil+plate> (5+2)=(5+2)+Dint
It is evident that Dint will also depend on the
place where the plate is located on the airfoil.
i) Ways to reduce interference drag
A large number of studies have been carried out
on interference drag and it is found that Dint can
be brought down to 5 to 10% of the sum of the
drags of all components, by giving proper fillets
at the junctions of wing and fuselage and tails
and fuselage ( Fig 3.2 ).
Fig 3.1 Interference drag
Fig 3.2 Reduction of interference drag using fillets
(Adapted from Ref.3.1, pp. 181)
ii) Favorable interference effect
The interference effects need not always
increase the drag . The drag of the airfoil plus
the plate can be lower than the drag of the
airfoil when a thin plate is attached to the
trailing edge of the airfoil which is called splitter
plate. The birds flying in formation flight
experience lower drag than when flying
(iii) Contributions to airplane lift
The main contribution to the lift comes from
wing-fuselage combination and a small
contribution from the horizontal tail i.e. :
L = Lwing + fuselage + Lht (3.2) 8
For airplanes with wings having aspect ratio
greater than six, the lift due to the wing-fuselage
combination is roughly equal to the lift produced
by the gross wing area. The gross wing area (S)
is the planform area of the wing, extended into
the fuselage, up to the plane of the symmetry.
iv) Contributions to airplane pitching moment
The pitching moment of the airplane is taken
about its center of gravity and denoted by Mcg.
Main contributions to Mcg are from wing, fuselage,
nacelle and horizontal tail i.e.
Mcg = Mwing + Mfuselage + Mht + Mnac (3.3)
(v) Non-dimensional quantities

To obtain the non-dimensional quantities namely drag

coefficient (CD), lift coefficient (CL) and pitching
moment coefficient (Cmcg) the reference quantities are
the free stream dynamic pressure (½ ȡV’2) ,the gross
wing area (S) and the mean aerodynamic chord of the
wing ( c ). Consequently ,
D L M cg
CD = 1 2
; CL = 1 2
; Cmcg = 2
U U 1
2 Vf S 2 Vf S 2 UVf Sc

However, the drag coefficient and lift coefficient

of the individual components are based on their
own reference areas i.e.
(a) For wing, horizontal tail and vertical tail the
reference area is their planform area.

(b) For fuselage, nacelle, fuel tanks, bombs and

such other bodies the reference area is either the
wetted area or the frontal area. The wetted area is
the area of the surface of the body in contact
with the fluid. The frontal area is the maximum
cross-sectional area of the body.
(c) For other components like landing gear the
reference area is given along with the definition
of CD.

(I) The reference area, on which the CD and CL of an
individual component is based, is also called
proper area and denoted by SS; the drag
coefficient based on SS is denoted by CDS.
(II)The reference areas for different components are
different for the following reasons. The aim of
using non-dimensional quantities like CD is to be
able to predict characteristics of many similar
shapes by conducting computations or tests on a
few models. For this to be effective, the
phenomena causing the drag must be taken into
account. In this context the drag of streamline
shapes like wing and slender bodies is mainly due12
to skin friction and depends on the wetted area.
Whereas the drag of bluff bodies like the fuselage
of a piston-engined airplane , is mainly the
pressure drag and depends on the frontal area.
It may be added that for wings, the usual
practice is to take the reference area as the
planform area because it is proportional to the
wetted area.
(III) At this stage the reader is advised to the revise
the background on aerodynamics (see for
examples references 1.7 & 1.8 ).
Following the above remarks we can express the
total drag of the airplane as :
D 1
2 U Vf2 S CD
 12 UVf2 S fuseCD fuse

 12 U Vf2 S nac CDnac  12 UVf2 S ht CDht  12 U Vf2 Svt CD vt

 12 U Vf2CDlg Slg  12 U Vf2 Setc CDetc  Dint
It may be recalled that Setc and CDetc referred to areas
and drag coefficients of other items like external fuel
tanks , bombs , struts etc..
Or C D 2
2 U V f S

S fu s e S ht S vt
C D w in g  C D fu s e  C D ht  C D vt
S nac S lg S e tc
 C D nac  C D lg  C D e tc  C D in t (3.6)
S S S 14
The data on drag lift and pitching moment, compiled
from various sources, is available in references
1.7,1.8,1.9 and 3.1a to 3.7.

3.2. Estimation of Drag Polar – Low Speed Case

As mentioned in the previous section, the drag polar

of an airplane can be obtained by summing-up the
drags of individual components and then adding 5 to
10% for interference drag. This exercise has to be
done at different angles of attack. A few remarks are
mentioned before obtaining the drag polar.
i) Angles of Attack:
For defining the angle of attack of an airplane,
the fuselage reference line is taken as the airplane
reference line (Figs. 1.9,3.3). However the angles of
attack of the wing and tail are not the same as that16
of the fuselage.
The wing is fixed on the fuselage such that it makes
an angle, iw, to the fuselage reference line (Fig 3.3).
The angle iw is generally chosen such that during the
cruising flight the wing can produce enough lift when
fuselage is at zero angle of attack. This is done
because the fuselage produces least drag when it is at
zero angle of attack and that is what one would like
to have during cruising flight, i.e. during cruise the
wing produces the lift required to balance the weight
whereas the fuselage being at zero angle of attack
produces least drag.
The tail is set on fuselage at an angle it (Fig. 3.3)
such that during cruise the lift required from the tail,
Fig 3.3 Wing setting and tail setting

to make the airplane pitching moment zero, is
produced by the tail without elevator deflection.
This is because, the drag, at low angles of attack,
is least when the required lift is produced without
elevator deflection.
ii) Drag coefficient of wing
The drag coefficient of a wing consist of the (a)
profile drag due to airfoil (Cd) and (b) the induced
drag due to the finite aspect ratio of the wing
(CDi). The profile drag of the airfoil consists of the
skin friction drag and the pressure drag. It may be
recalled that an element of airfoil in a flow
experiences shears stress tangential to the surface
and pressure normal to it . The shear stress
multiplied by the area of the element gives the
tangential force. The component of this
tangential force in the free stream direction when
integrated over the profile gives the skin friction
drag. Similarly the pressure distribution results in
normal force on the element whose component in
the free stream direction, integrated over the
profile gives the pressure drag. The pressure
drag is also called form drag. The sum of the skin
friction drag and the pressure drag is called
profile drag. The profile drag depends on the
airfoil shape, Reynolds number, angle of attack
and surface roughness.
The chord of the wing varies along the span and
further the shapes of the profiles may also
change along it (span). Hence for the purpose of
calculation of profile drag of the wing , a
representative airfoil may be chosen with chord
equal to the average chord ( avg
C ); where S is
the wing area and b is the wing span.
As regards the generation of induced drag it may
be recalled that a wing has a finite span. This
results in a system of trailing vertices and
induced angle due to these vertices tilts the
aerodynamic force rearwards. This results in a
component in the free stream direction which is
called induced drag. The induced drag 21
coefficient is given by :
CDi (1 G ) (3.7)
Where A is the wing aspect ratio (A=b2/S) and į
is a factor which depends on wing aspect ratio,
taper ratio and sweep.
When a flap is deflected, there will be increments
in lift and both profile drag and induced drag.
A similar procedure can be used to estimate
drags of horizontal and vertical tails. However
contributions to induced drag can be neglected
for the tail surfaces.
iii) Drag coefficient of fuselage
The drag coefficient of a fuselage (CDf) consists
of the drag or the fuselage at zero angle of attack
(CD0)f plus drag due to angle of attack. It can be
expressed as :
CDf=(CD0)f+K(Į)2 (3.8)
For a streamlined body (CD0)f is mainly skin
friction drag and depends on (a) Reynolds
number, based on length of fuselage (lf),(b)
surface roughness and (c) fineness ratio (Af).
The fineness ratio is defined as:
Af=lf /de (3.9)
where de is the equivalent diameter given by:
(ʌ/4)de2 = Afmax
where Afmax equals the area of the maximum cross-
section of fuselage.
When the fineness ratio of the fuselage is small for
e.g. in case of general aviation airplanes , the
fuselage is treated as a bluff body. In such cases the
drag is mainly pressure drag and the drag coefficient
is based on the frontal area (Afmax).
The drag coefficients of other bodies like engine
nacelle, external fuel tanks, bombs can also be
estimated in a similar manner.
iv) The drag coefficients of other components like
landing gear are based on areas specific to the
component. They should be obtain from the sources
of drag data mentioned earlier.
3.2.1 Drag polar
To obtain the drag polar by adding the drag
coefficients of individual components at
corresponding angles of attack , needs a large
amount of detailed data about the airplane
geometry and drag coefficients. A typical drag polar
obtained by such a procedure or by experiments on
a model of the airplane appears as shown in
Fig. 3.4a. When this curve is replotted as CD vs.
CL2 (Fig.3.4b), it is found that over a wide range
of CL the curve is a straight line and one could
CD=CD0 + KCL2 (3.10)
Fig 3.4a Typical drag polar of a piston – engined airplane

CD0 is the intercept of the straight line and is
called zero lift drag coefficient or parasite drag
coefficient (Fig.3.4b).
The term KCL2 is called induced drag coefficient
or more appropriately lift dependent drag
coefficient. K is written as:

S Ae

where e, called Oswald efficiency factor, includes

the changes in drag due to angle of attack of the
wing, the fuselage and other components
(Refs.1.9, Chapter 2 & 3.3, Chapter 2).
Fig 3.4(b) Drag polar- CD vrs.CL2
It may be added that in the original definition of
Oswald efficiency factor only the contribution of
wing was included.

i) The reason why an expression like Eq.(3.10) fits
the drag polar is because the lift dependent drags
of wing and fuselage are proportional to the
square of the angle of attack.
ii) The drag polar given by Eq.(3.10) is called
parabolic drag polar.
iii) It found that CD0 is roughly equal to the sum of
the minimum drag coefficients of various
components plus the correction for interference . 29
iv) Parasite drag area and equivalent skin
friction coefficient
The product CD0 x S is called parasite drag area.
For streamlined airplanes the parasite drag is
mostly skin friction drag plus a small pressure
drag. The skin friction drag depends on the
wetted area of the surface. The wetted area of
the entire airplane is denoted by Swet and the
equivalent skin friction coefficient (Cfe) is defined
as :
CD0 x S = Cfe x Swet
S wet
or CD0 C fe
Reference 3.7 , Chapter 12 gives values of Cfe
for different types of airplanes.
v) The factor ‘e’ lies between 0.8 to 0.9 for
airplanes with unswept wings and between 0.6
to 0.8 for those with swept wings.
See Refs.3.3 & 3.4 for estimating CD0 and K.
vi) The parabolic polar is an approximation . It is
inaccurate near CL =0 and CL= CLmax (Fig.3.4b).
It is should not be used beyond CLmax .
A quick estimate of the drag polar is carried out
in example 3.1.

Example 3. 1
An airplane has a wing of planform area 51.22 m2
and span 20 m. It has a fuselage of frontal area
3.72 m2 and two nacelles having a total frontal
area of 3.25 m2. The total planform area of
horizontal and vertical tails is 18.6 m2 . Obtain a
rough estimate of the drag polar in a flight at a
speed of 430 kmph at sea level (s.l.). when
landing gear is in retracted position.

Solution :
Flight speed is 430 kmph = 119.5 m/s.
Average chord of wing = S/b = 51.22/20=2.566 m.
Reynolds number (Re) based on average chord is:

1 1 9 .5 u 2 .5 6 6
21 u 106
1 4 .6 u 1 0  6

Assuming a 12% thick airfoil the (CDmin)wing at this

Re would be 0.0054 (See Reference 3.4).
Since the frontal area is specified, the fuselage is
treated as a bluff body; (CDmin)fuselage can be taken
as 0.08 (Ref.3.4).
The nacelle generally has a lower fineness ratio
and (CDmin)nac can be taken as 0.10.
(CDmin)tail for the tail surfaces is taken as 0.006,
which is slightly higher than that for wing as
the Re for tail surfaces would be smaller. The
results are presented in Table 3.1.
Part SS (m2) CDS CDSSS (m2)

Wing 51.22 0.0054 0.279

Fuselage 3.72 0.080 0.300
Nacelles 3.25 0.1 0.325
Tail surfaces 18.6 0.006 0.112
Total 1.013
Table 3.1 Rough estimate of CD0 34
Adding 10% for interference effects, the total
parasite drag area (CDSSS ) is:
1.013 + 0.1013 = 1.1143 m2. Hence
CD0= 1.1143/51.22 = 0.0216
Wing aspect ratio is 202/51.22=7.8
Taking e = 0.83 (see reference 3.4, page A119
for details) we get the drag polar as

CD 0.0216  C L2
S X 7.8 X 0.83

or CD = 0.0216 + 0.049 CL2


i) A detailed estimation of the drag polar of Piper

Cherokee airplane is presented in appendix A.

ii) Typical values of CD0 , A, e and the polar for

subsonic airplanes are given in Table 3.2.

Type of CD0 A e Typical polar
Low speed 0.022 to 6 to 8 0.8 to
0.025 + 0.055CL2
(M <0.3) 0.04 0.9

Medium 0.018 to 10 to 12 0.85

speed 0.020 to 0.9
0.019 + 0.04CL2
(M around
High 0.015 to 6 to 8 0.6 to
subsonic 0.017 0.75 0.016 +0.06CL2
(M around
0.8, Swept

Table 3.2 Typical values of CD0, A ,e and polar
Table 3.2 shows that for low speed airplanes CD0 is
higher than in other cases. This is because these
airplanes have exposed landing gear, bluff fuselage
and struts. They also have only moderate aspect
ratio (6 to 8) so that wing-span is not large and the
hanger-space needed for parking the plane is not
The CD0 for high subsonic airplanes is low due to
smooth surfaces, thin wings and slender fuselage. It
may be added that during the design process, the
values of airfoil thickness ratio, aspect ratio and
angle of sweep for the wing are obtained from
considerations of optimum performance. 38
3.3 Drag polar at high speeds

At this stage the reader is advised to revise

background on compressible aerodynamics and
gas dynamics (see Refs.1.7 & 1.8). Some
important aspects are brought out in the
following remarks.
(1) When the Mach number roughly exceeds a
value of 0.3, the changes in the fluid density
within the flow field become significant and the
flow needs to be treated as compressible.
(2) In a compressible flow the changes of
temperature in the flow field may be large and
hence the speed of sound (a= J RT ) may vary
from point to point.
(3) When the Mach number exceeds unity, the flow is
called supersonic.
(4) When a supersonic flow decelerates, shock waves
occur. The pressure, temperature, density and Mach
number change discontinuously across the shock.
The shocks may be normal or oblique. The Mach
number behind a normal shock is subsonic; behind
an oblique shock it may be subsonic or supersonic.
(5) When supersonic flow encounters a concave corner,
as shown in Fig 3.5 (a), the flow changes the
direction across a shock. When such a flow
encounters a convex corner, as shown in Fig 3.5.(b)
the flow expands across a series of Mach waves. 40
(a) (b)
Fig 3.5 Supersonic flow at corners
a) Concave corner (b) Convex corner
(From Ref.1.7,chapter 5) 41
(6) A typical flow past a diamond airfoil at
supersonic Mach number is shown in Fig 3.6.
If the Mach number is low supersonic (i.e. only
slightly higher than unity) and the angle ș , as
shown in Fig 3.6, is high then instead of the
attached shock waves at the leading edge, a bow
shock wave may occur ahead of the airfoil. A
blunt-nosed airfoil can be thought of an airfoil
with large value of ‘ș’ at the leading edge and
will have a bow shock at the leading edge as
shown in Fig 3.7. Behind a bow shock there is a
region of subsonic flow ( Fig 3.7) .
Fig 3.6 Supersonic flow past a diamond airfoil
(From Ref.1.9, chapter1) 43
Fig 3.7 Bow shock ahead of blunt-nosed airfoil
( Adapted from Ref.1.7, chapter 5 )
(7) Transonic flow
This type of flow occurs when the free stream
Mach number is around unity. The changes in the
flow and hence in the drag occurring in this range
of Mach numbers can be appreciated from the
following statements.
(I) In subsonic flow past an airfoil the flow has zero
velocity at the stagnation point. Then the flow
accelerates, it reaches a maximum value (Vmax)
and later attains the free stream velocity (V’).
The ratio Vmax /V’ is greater than unity and
depends on (a) shape of airfoil (b) thickness ratio
(t/c) and ( c ) angle of attack (Į)
(II) As (Vmax/ V’ ) is greater than unity, the ratio
of the maximum Mach number on the airfoil
( M max) and free stream Mach number (M’)
would also be more than unity. However
( Mmax/M’ ) would not be equal to (Vmax /V’ )
as the speed of sound varies from point to
point on the airfoil.
(III) Critical Mach number
As M’ increases, Mmax also increases. The free
stream Mach number for which the maximum
Mach number on the airfoil equals unity is
called critical Mach number (Mcrit).
(IV) When M’ exceeds Mcrit , a region of supersonic
flow occurs which is terminated by a shock wave.
The changes in flow pattern are shown in Fig 3.8.
(V) As free stream Mach number increases the
region of supersonic flow enlarges and this region
occurs on both the upper and lower surfaces of
the airfoil (Figs. 3.8 c & d).
(VI) At a free stream Mach number slightly higher
than unity, a bow shock is seen near the leading
edge of the airfoil ( Fig. 3.8 e).
(VII) At still higher Mach numbers the bow shock
approaches the leading edge and if the leading
edge is sharp, then the shock waves attach to the
leading edge as shown in Fig 3.6.
Fig 3.8 Flow past airfoil near critical Mach number
(Adapted from Ref. 1.9,chapter 1)
(VIII) Transonic flow regime
When M’ is less than Mcrit the flow every where
i.e. in the free stream and on the body is
It is seen that when Mcrit < M’ < 1, the free
stream Mach number is subsonic but there are
regions of supersonic flow on the airfoil ( Figs.
3.8 c & d ) .
Further When M’ is slightly more than unity i.e.
free stream is supersonic, there is bow shock
ahead of the airfoil resulting in subsonic flow near
the leading edge.
When the shock waves are attached to the
leading edge ( Fig. 3.6 ) the flow is supersonic 49
every where i.e. in the free stream and on the
The above flow features permit us to classify the
flow in to three regimes.
(a) Sub-critical regime when the Mach number is
subsonic in the free stream as well as on the
body ( M’ < Mcrit ).
(b) Transonic regime when the regions of subsonic
and supersonic flow are seen within the flow field.
(c) Supersonic regime when the Mach number in the
free stream as well as on the airfoil is supersonic.
The extent of the transonic regime is loosely
stated as between 0.8 to 1.2. However the actual
extent is between Mcrit and the Mach number at
which the flow becomes supersonic everywhere.
The extent depends on the shape of the airfoil
and the angle of attack.
(8) In the transonic regime the lift coefficient and
drag coefficient undergo rapid changes with Mach
number ( Fig.3.9).
For a chosen angle of attack the drag coefficient
begins to increase near Mcrit and reaches a peak
around M’ =1.
Drag divergence Mach number
When the change in Cd with Mach number is
studied experimentally, we can notice the effect
of appearance of shock waves in the form of
increase in drag coefficient . The beginning of the
transonic region is characterized by drag 51
divergence Mach number (MD) at which the
Fig 3.9 Schematic variations of Cl and Cd of an
airfoil in transonic regime.
(Adapted from Ref. 1.9, chapter1) 52
increase in the drag coefficient is 0.002 over the
value of Cd at sub-critical Mach numbers. It may
be added that for a chosen angle of attack the
value of Cd remains almost constant at sub-
critical Mach numbers. As mentioned earlier the
increase in the drag coefficient in the transonic
region is due to appearance of shock waves and
hence it is also called wave drag.
The drag divergence Mach number of an airfoil
depends on its shape, thickness ratio and the
angle of attack.
(9) The drag divergence Mach number of a wing
depends on the drag divergence Mach number of
the airfoil used, and the aspect ratio. It can be 53
increased by incorporating sweep ( ȁ ) to the
wing. The geometrical parameters of the wing
are shown in Fig.3.10. The beneficial effects of
sweep on (a) increasing MD , (b) decreasing
peak value of wave drag coefficient (CDpeak)
and (c ) increasing Mach number at which
CDpeak occurs are shown in Fig.3.11.

Fig 3.10 Geometric parameters of a wing55
Fig 3.11 Effect of wing sweep on variation of CD
with Mach number.
(Adapted from Ref.1.9, chapter 1) 56
(10) Drag at supersonic speeds
At supersonic Mach numbers also the drag of a
wing can be expressed as sum of the profile drag
of the wing section plus the drag due to effect of
finite aspect ratio . The profile drag consists of
pressure drag plus the skin friction drag . The
pressure drag results from the pressure
distribution caused by the shock waves and
expansion waves (Fig.3.6) and hence is called
wave drag. At supersonic speed the skin friction
drag is only a small fraction of the wave drag. The
wave drag of a symmetrical aerofoil (Cdw) can
be expressed as (Ref.1.7 , chapter 5 ):
Cdw [D 2  (t / c) 2 ]
M f2  1

The wave drag of a finite wing at supersonic speeds

can also be expressed as KCL2 ( see Ref.1.7 ,
chapter 5 for details). However in this case K
depends on free stream Mach number (M’ ), aspect
ratio and leading edge sweep of the wing (see
Ref.1.7 for details).
(11) It can be imagined that the flow past a
fuselage will also show that the maximum velocity
(Vmax) on the fuselage is higher than V’.
Consequently, a fuselage will also have a critical
Mach number (Mcritf ) which depends on the fineness
ratio of the fuselage. For the slender fuselage,
typical of high subsonic jet airplanes, Mcritf could
be around 0.9. Above Mcritf, the drag of the
fuselage will be a function of Mach number in
addition to the angle of attack.

3.3.1 Drag polar of at high speeds
The drag polar of an airplane, which is obtained
by the summing the drag coefficients of its
major components, will also undergo changes as
Mach number changes from subsonic to
supersonic. However it is found that the
approximation of parabolic polar is still valid at
transonic and supersonic speeds, but CD0 and K
are now functions of Mach number i.e. :
CD = CD0(M) + K(M)CL2 (3.12)
Detailed estimation of the drag polar of a
subsonic jet airplane is presented in Appendix B

i) Guidelines for variations of CD0 and K for a
subsonic jet transport airplane
Subsonic jet airplanes are generally designed such
that there is no significant wave drag up to cruise
Mach number ( Mcruise ). However to calculate the
maximum speed in level flight (Vmax) or the
maximum Mach number (Mmax ), we need guidelines
for increase in CDo and K beyond Mcruise .Towards this
end we consider the data on B727-100 airplane.
Reference 3.8 gives drag polars of B727-100 at
M=0.7,0.76,0.82,0.84,0.86 and 0.88. Values of CD
and CL corresponding to various Mach numbers
were read and are shown in Fig. 3.12 by symbols.
Following the parabolic approximation, these polars
were fitted with Eq.(3.12) and CD0 and K were
obtained using least square technique. The fitted
polars are shown as curves in Fig. 3.12. The
values of CD0 and K are given in Table 3.3. and
presented in Figures 3.13 (a) & (b).

0.7 0.01631 0.04969
0.76 0.01634 0.05257
0.82 0.01668 0.06101
0.84 0.01695 0.06807
0.86 0.01733 0.08183
0.88 0.01792 0.103

Table 3.3 Variations of CD0 and K with Mach number

Fig 3.12 Drag polars at different Mach numbers
for B727-100
Fig 3.13 (a) Parameters of drag polar -CD0 for B727-100
Fig 3.13 (b) Parameters of drag polar- K for B727-100
It is seen that the drag polar and hence CD0 and
K are almost constant up to M=0.76. The
variations of CD0 and K between M=0.76 and
0.86, when fitted with polynomial curves give
the following equations (see also Figures 3.13 a &
CD0=0.01634 -0.001( M-0.76)+0.11 (M-0.76)2 (3.13)
K= 0.05257+ (M-0.76)2 + 20.0 (M-0.76)3 (3.14)
Note: For M” 0.76 , CD0= 0.01634 , K=0.05257
Based on these trends the variations of CD0 and K
beyond Mcruise but up to Mcruise+0.1 can be
expressed by Eqs. (3.13a) and (3.14a) and
treated as guideline for calculation of Mmax and 66
range of an airplane (see also Appendix B )
CD=CD0cr -0.001 ( M-Mcruise)+0.11 (M-Mcruise)2 (3.13 a)
K=Kcr+ (M-0.76)2 + 20.0(M-0.76)3 (3.14 a)
Where CD0cr and Kcr are the values of CD0 and K at
cruise Mach number. It may be pointed out that the
value of 0.01634 in Eq.(3.13) has been replace by
CD0cr in Eq.(3.13a). This has been done to permit use
of the equation for different types of airplanes which
may have their own values of CDcr (see Appendix B).
Similar is the reason for using Kcr in Eq.(3.14a).
(2) Variations of CD0 and K for a fighter airplane
Reference 1.8 has given drag polars of F-15 fighter
airplane at M=0.8,0.95,1.2,1.4 and 2.2.These are
shown in Fig 3.14.
These drag polars were also fitted with Eq.(3.12) and
CD0 and K were calculated. The variations of CD0 and
K are shown in Figs.3.15 (a) & (b). It is
interesting to note that CD0 has a peak and then
decreases, whereas K increases monotonically
with Mach number. It may be recalled that the
Mach number, at which CD0 has the peak value,
depends mainly on the sweep of the wing.

Fig 3.14 Drag polars at different Mach numbers for F15
(Adapted from Ref.1.8, chapter2)
Please note : The origins for polars corresponding to69
different Mach numbers are shifted.
Fig 3.15(a) Typical variations of CD0 with Mach
number for fighter airplane
Fig 3.15(b) Typical variations of K with Mach
number for a fighter airplane
3.4 Drag polar at hypersonic speeds

When the free stream Mach number exceeds five,

the changes in temperature and pressure behind
the shock waves are large and the treatment of
a flow has to be different. Hence the flows with
Mach number greater than five are termed
hypersonic flow. Reference 3.8 may be referred
to for details. For the purpose of flight
mechanics it may be mentioned that the drag
polar at hypersonic speeds is given by the
following modified expression (Ref. 1.1).
CD=CD0(M)+K(M)CL3/2 (3.15)
Note that the index of CL term is 1.5 and not 2.0

3.5 Lift to drag ratio

The ratio CL/CD is called lift to drag ratio. It is an

indicator of the aerodynamic efficiency of the
design of the airplane. For parabolic polar CL/CD
can be worked out as follows.
Hence CD/CL = (CD0/CL) +KCL (3.16)
Differentiating Eq.(3.16) with CL and equating to
zero gives CLmd which corresponds to minimum
of (CD/CL) or maximum of (CL/CD).
CLmd = (CD0/K)1/2 (3.17)

CDmd = CD0 +K(CLmd)2= 2CD0 (3.18)

(L/D)max = (CLmd/CDmd) = (3.19)
2 CD0K
To show that CLmd corresponds to minimum of
(CD/CL ), take second derivative of the right hand
side of Eq.(3.16) and verify that it is greater than

3.6 Other types of drag

In sections 3.1,3.2 and 3.3 we discussed the skin

friction drag, pressure drag (or form drag),
profile drag , interference drag , parasite drag,
induced drag, lift dependent drag and wave drag.
Following additional types of drags are mentioned
briefly to complete the discussion on drag.
I) Cooling drag: The piston engines used in
airplanes are air cooled engines. In such a
situations when a part of free stream air passes
over the cooling fins and accessories, some
momentum is lost and this results in a drag
called cooling drag.
II) Base drag: If the rear end of a body terminates
abruptly , the area at the rear is called a base.
The abrupt ending causes flow to separate and a
low pressure region exists over the base. This
causes a pressure drag called base drag.
III) External stores drag: Presence of external
fuel tank, bombs, missiles etc. causes additional
parasite drag which is called external stores drag.
Antennas, lights etc. also cause parasite drag
which is called protuberance drag.
IV) Leakage drag: Air leaking into and out of gaps
and holes in the airplane surface causes increase
in parasite called leakage drag. 76
V) Trim drag: In example 1.1 it was shown that
to balance the pitching moment about c.g. (Mcg),
the horizontal tail produces a lift (-Lt) in the
downward direction. To compensate for this , the
wing needs to produce a lift (LW) equal to the
weight of the airplane plus the downward load
(LW = W+Lt) . Hence the induced drag of the wing,
which depends on Lw , would be more than that
when the lift equals weight. This additional drag is
called trim drag as the action of making Mcg equal
to zero is referred to as trimming the airplane.

3.7 High lift devices
3.7.1 Introduction
From earlier discussion we know that:
L U V 2 SC L (3.20)
Further for an airplane to take-off , the lift must
at least be equal to the weight of the airplane , or
L W UV 2 SCL (3.21)
Hence 2W
V (3.22)

Since CL has a maximum value , we define

stalling speed (Vs) as:
2W (3.23)
U SCL max
The take-off speed (VTo) is actually higher than the
stalling speed. It is easy to imagine that the take-
off distance would be proportional V2To and in turn
to Vs2. Thus to reduce the take-off distance we
need to reduce Vs. Further the wing loading (W/S)
is decided by other consideration like cruise. Hence
CLmax should be high to reduce take-off and landing
distances. The devices to increase CLmax are called
high lift devices.

3.7.2 Factors limiting CLmax
Consider an airfoil at low angle of attack (Į).
Figure 3.16a shows a flow visualization picture of
the flow field . Boundary layers are seen on the
upper and lower surfaces. As the pressure
gradient is low, the boundary layers are attached.
The lift coefficient is nearly zero. Now consider
the same airfoil at slightly higher angle of attack
(Fig.3.16b). The velocity on the upper surface is
higher than that on the lower surface and
consequently the pressure is lower on the upper
surface as compared to that on the lower surface.
The airfoil develops higher lift coefficient as
compares to that in Fig.3.16a.
3.16a Flow past an airfoil at low angle of attack.
Note: The flow is from left to right
(Adapted from Ref. 3.10 , chapter 3) 81
3.16b Flow past an airfoil at moderate angle of attack.
Note: The flow is from right to left
(Adapted from Ref. 3.11 , part 3 section II B)82
However the pressure gradient is also higher on
the upper surface and the boundary layer
separates ahead of the trailing edge (Fig.3.16b) .
As the angle of attack approaches about 150 the
separation point approaches the leading edge of
the airfoil (Fig.3.16c). Then the lift coefficient
begins to decrease (Fig.3.16d) and the airfoil is
said to be stalled. The value of Į for which Cl
equals Clmax is called stalling angle (Įstall). Based
on these observations , delay of stalling is an
important method to increase Clmax. Since stalling
is due to separation of boundary layer, many
methods have been suggested for boundary layer
control. In the suction method the airfoil 83
3.16c Flow past an airfoil at angle of attack near stall.
Note: The flow is from left to right
(Adapted from Ref. 3.10 , chapter 3) 84
3.16d Typical Cl vrs Į curve

surface is made porous and boundary layer is
sucked (Fig.3.17a) . In the blowing method, fluid
is blown tangential to the surface and the low
energy fluid in the boundary layer is energized
(Fig.3.17b). This effect (energizing ) is achieved
in a passive manner by a leading edge slot
(Fig.3.17c) and a slotted flap (section 3.7.3) .
See Ref.3.13, chapter 11, for other methods of
boundary layer control and for further details.

Fig. 3.17 Boundary layer control with suction and
blowing (Adapted from Ref.3.12, section 9)
3.7.3. Ways to increase Clmax
Beside the boundary layer control, there are two
other way to increase Clmax viz. increase of camber
and increase of wing area. These methods are briefly
described below .
I) Increase in Clmax due to change of camber
It may be recalled that when camber of an airfoil
increases, the zero lift angle (Įol) decreases and the
Cl vrs Į curve shifts to the left (Fig.3.18) . It is
observed that Įstall does not decrease significantly
due to the increase of camber and a higher Clmax is
realized (Fig.3.18). However, the camber of the
airfoil used on the wing is chosen such that minimum
drag coefficient occurs near the lift coefficient 88
Fig. 3.18 Increase in Clmax due to increase of camber
corresponding to the cruise or the design lift
coefficient . One of the ways to achieve the increase
in camber during take-off and landing is to use flaps.
In a plain flap the rear portion of the airfoil is hinged
and is deflected when Clmax is required to be increased
(Fig.3.19a) . In a split flap only the lower half of the
airfoil is moved down (Fig.3.19b) . To observe the
change in camber brought about by a flap deflection,
draw a line in-between the upper and lower surfaces
of the airfoil with flap deflected. This line is
approximately the camber line of the flapped airfoil.
The line joining the ends of the camber line is the new
chord line . The difference between the ordinates of
the camber line and the chord line is a measure of 90
Fig. 3.19 Flaps, slot and slat
(Adapted from Ref.3.7 , chapter 12)
II) Increase in Clmax due to boundary layer
In a slotted flap (Fig.3.19c) the effects of camber
change and the boundary layer control are
brought together. In this case when the flap is
deflected a gap is created between the main
surface and the flap (Fig.3.19c) . As the pressure
on the lower side of airfoil is more than that on
the upper side, the air from the lower side of the
airfoil rushes to the upper side and energizes the
boundary layer on the upper surface. This way the
separation is delayed and Clmax increases
(Fig.3.20). The slot is referred to as a passive
boundary layer control , as no blowing by external92
source is involved in this devise.
Fig.3.20 Effects of camber change and boundary layer
control on CLmax 93
After the success of single slotted flap , the double
slotted and triple slotted flaps were developed
(Figs.3.19 d and e).
III) Increase in Clmax due to change in wing area
Equation (3.20) shows that the lift can be increased
when the wing area (S) is increased. An increase in
wing area can be achieved if the flap, in addition to
being deflected, also moves outwards and effectively
increases the wing area. This is done in a Fowler flap
(Fig.3.19 f) . Thus a Fowler flap incorporates three
methods to increase Clmax viz change of camber,
boundary layer control and increase of wing area. It
may be added that while defining the Clmax in case of
Fowler flap, the reference area is the original area 94
of the wing and not that of the extended wing.
A zap flap is a split flap where the lower portion also
moves outwards as the flap is deflected.
IV) Leading edge devices
High lift devices are also used near the leading edge
of the wing. A slot near the leading edge (Fig.3.19 g)
also permits passive way of energizing the boundary
layer. However a permanent slot has adverse effects
during cruise. Hence leading edge slat as shown in
Fig.3.19h is used . When deployed it produces a slot
and increase Clmax by delaying separation.
On high subsonic speed airplanes , both leading
edge and trailing edge devices are used to increase
Clmax(Fig.3.2.). 95