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Khan MD Sayeem

Automotive Engineering Laboratory
Air Flow around a model airplane

The purpose of this laboratory was to comprehend fluid dynamics and the aerodynamic performance
of a model airplane.

Introduction: A wind tunnel is equipment used to analyze the effects of air around
solid objects. A direct measurement was used to collect data about the effect of wind;
that is the force on fuselage using a balance. A model airplane of rear mount Learjet
aircraft was used which was mounted on the back and direct measurements and
visualizations of total pressure loss and axial force. The airplane has a motorized ducted
fan to simulate the effect of a jet engine. The thrust can be changed accordingly. A
model of the airplane is shown below.

Laboratory equipment and essentials:

Variable Directional wind Tunnel

Learjet model aircraft
Standard pilot static tube to measure static pressure of a uniform flow
Pilot tube measurement device

Pressure port switcher

Digital manometer converts atm to voltage
A/D converter board
Load cell- converts force to voltage
A digital angle gauge, a mercury barometer, a hygrometer and thermometer.
For a detailed overview of the procedure please see the text book however a short
version is described below:
At first atmospheric pressure and temperature were noted down.
Overall the pressure downstream from the fuselage and downstream from the engine
was measured using a pitot static tube and flow of air visualized on the body of the
aircraft. All the preparations and experimental set up were done by the instructors
beforehand. The Pitot tube was set up by a student and the data was automatically
measured using a computer model. Later air flow was visualized using the tuft method.
After the program on PC was started the below were measured using different methods:
-dynamic pressure and total pressure of uniform flow
-total pressure downstream from fuselage
-dynamic and total pressure of uniform stream.
Details of equipment and setup are shown below:

Experimental setup is shown above

Fig: Model airplane and wind Tunnel

Measurement points(Main Wings):

Results and Data Analysis:

Pressure on the nozzle makes a much greater instability than if it were to hit the
farther ends of the wing.The connection with the loss of total pressure is also quite
similar. The air pressure hits the wings cross section more away from the nozzle;
stability in the graph is much more consistent as shown in total pressure. Engine
outputs cause differences as well from the engine dynamic pressure to the engine
static pressure. Dynamic pressure determines the flow of gas and the static pressure
measures the flow all around, hence will always be different. But they do determine
two different features of flow consequently they are dissimilar in the output graphs.

Total Pressure Loss



displacement from fuselage (mm)












Total Pressure Loss (kPa)

The graph showing relationship between pressure loss and displacement from fuselage.

The data table


Drag force
= 2

[1 1


= 1.275 102
[1 1

Drag coefficient.

[1 1

A is the cross-sectional area of the wing.

A is unknown, H is unclear,
Ho is the total local pressure (varies along the axis).
Thus the value of Cd cannot be evaluated.


Very frequently, flow visualization in the vicinity of the model in the subsonic flow
is performed using tufts.
However, tuft size, distribution on the model's surface and sticking are important for
turbulent flow testing and higher quality boundary layer visualization on complex
models. If tuft diameter is less than 0.1mm, the problem of recording occurs due to a
small amount of reflected light and long exposure time. Tufts can be used for testing
the entire flow field in the wind tunnel. A grid with attached or glued tufts as screen
can be used to visualize the vortex shedding behind the model or in the interaction
regime of different fields.
A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a force on it. Lift is the component of
this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag
force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction. Lift is
basically the force that allows the airplane to fly. Hence the structure and shape of the
airplane is determined in such an aerodynamic way so that the wings provide enough
lift to make the airplane fly.
Air continuously changes from high pressure to low pressure, and the track of smallest
confrontation is to the planes wingtips. There is drive of air from the foot of the wing
outer from the fuselage around the wingtips. This flow of air fallouts in spillage over
the wingtips, thereby setting up an eddy of air called a vortex. The air on the top
surface of the wing has an inclination to flow in toward the fuselage and off the trailing
edge. This air current forms a comparable vortex at the inboard portion of the trailing
edge of the wing, but the fuselage bounds the inward flow, hence the vortex is

unimportant. Therefore, the nonconformity in flow direction is highest at the wingtips

where the unobstructed lateral flow is the sturdiest. As the air curls upward around the
wingtip, it binds with the wings downwash to form a fast spinning trailing vortex.
These vortices upsurge drag because of energy spent in creating the turbulence. So,
whenever the wing is producing lift, induced drag occurs, and wingtip vortices are

Some real time images are shown below:


1+2) Total Power Loss:

The physical mechanics of an aircraft is it uses the forces created by the engine to
propel itself. When the nose of the aircraft is changed by the force created, the aircraft's
path and direction are also changed; they are synonymous. The aircraft must fabricate
enough upward force to maintain its weight, which ultimately means that the aircraft
needs to produce an adequate amount force to counteract the force generated due to
gravity. Total Power Loss happens, when the aircraft fails to produce the amount that is
An example of when this occurs is when the aircraft is not traveling fast enough, since
the aircraft can't counteract the wind forces acting upon it, it therefore loses to the
wind. All of the power that allows the aircraft to sustain control is then lost, which may
ultimately have disastrous consequences.
3)Flow Fields
Some of the problems concerning flow fields around an aircraft wing is that the amount
of wind pressure moving around the wing is unequal around the entire wing, and can
fluctuate. The amount of wind pressure on the top of the wing is more prominent than at
the bottom, causing it to undergo more variance. Meaning, it is affected the most. An
aircraft produces lift and counters any drag due to the difference in pressure by using
flaps, which redirects the airflow around the wing.
There are wing tip vortices that flow about the wing, which also influence the wing.
Vortices are clusters of air that circulate around itself, which then glide off the wing tip
and are left behind. This builds up vortices which then join the ones created by the other
wing far behind the aircraft and eventually crease a new and much bigger vortex. These
vortex then products a system of air pressure acting on the wing. The wing must then
change to this new pattern so it is able to maintain an acceptable lift-drag ratio.
The way the flow usually flows is that there is a slowing at the head of the nozzle or
nose. Then, there contains of an acceleration around the fuselage area which is outside
the boundary layer. This usually causes the flow speed to be faster than the free

This is how a typical flow field flows.

There are many things that are

involved on how the flow actually works. Drag is connected to the lift and attired of the

aircraft in general. Drag is vital for the pressure distribution on the flow field that can
cause the aircraft to have enough lift as well as descend with enough tolerance.


the wing tip, people yield quantities from that point. Since the wing tip makes vortices
that are sourced from air to swirl, this occurrence causes stability in the aircraft.
Having a really accurate measurement for these vortices is important for the aircrafts
aeronautical presentations.

4. Forces applied on the fuselage at continuous cruise speed. During a conventional in

line flight trail, the forces of thrust and drag act opposite to each other and parallel to the flight

trail. These opposing forces require equivalent magnitudes. The force of lift is also equivalent in
magnitude to the force of weight. However throughout an ascent, the thrust has 2 workings, one
acting perpendicular to the flight trail in the direction of lift, while the other acts along the flight
trail. Because the actual thrust is inclined, its magnitude must be greater than drag if its
component of thrust along the flight path is to equal drag. There is also a constituent of thrust
acts right angled to the flight trail, and thus acts in the similar direction as wing lift. When the
angle of attack increases with climb, thrust as well as the drag will also increase with time.
During a descent, there is a reduction in thrust. This will also lead a reduction of drag with time.

Scientific Technical Review,Vol.LVII,No.1,2007 39 DK: 533.6.07: 532.529
COSATI: 01-01

Flow Visualisation Techniques in Wind Tunnels

Part I Non optical Methods
Slavica Risti,PhD (Eng)

Edition. Wiley &
Sons, Inc.1996.



The end