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AIRCRAFTSTABILITYANDCONTROL

Thefineprint

Beforegettingintoallthematerialona/cstabilityandcontrol,itwouldbeirresponsible
ifacertaincaveatwasnotmentionedfirst.Aftertoday,rarelywillthesubjectofa/cflexibility
bebroughtup,indeed,oneofthemostprevalentassumptionsmadeinderivingnearlyallofthe
equationsinthiscourse(whetherimpliedordirectlystated)isthatofarigidstructure.However,
unlikemanyotherassumptionsweareusedtomaking(suchasinviscidflowthroughanozzleor
incompressibleflowoverthewingofaCessna172),whicharegenerallygoodapproximations
totherealsituation,assumingana/cwingisrigidisabsolutelyridiculous!

Now,althoughwewillnotcover'aeroelasticity'here,tosayyouknownothingaboutit
wouldbeimproper,notsimplybecauseyouareverysmartalready,butbecauseyouhavetaken
numerouscoursesonstructuralflexibilitiyanddeformation.The'aero'partofaeroelasticityjust
reflectsthefactthatunlikethedeformationofbeamsanalysisyouarefamiliarwithwherethe
mainloadsaregenerallyduetostructuralweight(oraresimply'externallyapplied'),forthe
fancybeamsusedina/cthemajorloadingisnotstructuralweight(indeed,a/caredesignedtobe
aslightaspossible)butratheraerodynamicinnature.Butwait,yousay,Icanalreadyhandle
beams with external loads, it doesn't matter what the source of these external loads are!
However, in the case here these loads are generated by the structure itself and thus as the
structuredeformsundertheaerodynamicload,theaerodynamicloadingchanges,whichinturn
changesthestructuraldeformationundertheseloads,whichinturnchangestheaerodynamic
loadsgenerated,whichinturn...uhoh!Therefore,knowingtheloadsonthea/cisnotenough
forthedesigner,knowinghowthestructurechangesundertheseloadsisalsocrucialbothforan
accurateassessmentoftheactualforcesproducedandtoensuretheseforcesdonotexceedgiven
limitations.

Similartothewaywewillapproacha/cstability,aeroelasticitycanalsobedividedinto
twomajorgroups>STATICandDYNAMIC. Thedifferencebetweenthetwoisthetime
frameinwhichwewishtoexaminethea/c.Staticrelatesonlytotheendstateofastructure,i.e.,
is there some equilibrium position that can be found? For example, one can calculate the
divergencespeedformosta/cusingformulaesimilarto,
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wherethewingsectionhasbeenapproximatedas,

Hopefully,ifyourdesignissoundyourdivergencespeedisfarinexcessofthemaximum
speedyouexpecttoseeinyoura/c,sinceatthedivergencespeedthewingtransitionsfrom
stabletounstablebehaviour.PastVDIVanincrementalincreaseintheangleofattackproducesa
correspondingincreaseintheairloadwhichinturnleadstoanincreasedtwistinganglethatthe
structurecannolongerresist,

Thedynamicpointofviewontheotherhandisconcernedwithhowastructurebehaves
overtime.Forinstance,evenifastaticallystableequilibriumpositionexists,willthestructure
continuetohuntforthisstateoveranindefiniteperiodleadingtoasustainedorevengrowing
oscillation?Inthecaseofflutter,thisusuallyinvolvesthecouplingoftwoormoredegreesof
freedom(suchaswingtwistandwingbending,orwingbendingandfuselagebending,ortail
twistandfuselagetwist,etc.),butinsomecasesitispossibletohaveflutterwithonlyasingle
degreeoffreedomsuchasstallflutter(butinthesecasessomesortofflowseparationisusually
involved).
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Although both static and dynamic stability are of critical importance, even if an a/c
structureisstable(i.e.,itwillnotripitselfapart),ifastablea/cbecomesdifficulttocontrol
effectivelyduetostructuralflexibility,thistoocanleadtoproblems. Infact,similartothe
divergencespeedonecandefineacontrolreversalspeedas,

where the structural deformation caused by a given aileron deflection da produces a


changeintheaerodynamicloadingoppositewhatthepilotexpects(i.e.,youturnthewheelleft
butthea/cbankstotheright!).

Infact,evenifonedoesnotreachthereversalspeedthecontroleffectivenesscanbe
reducedduetothesestructuraldeformations,
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ThesearebutafewoftheaeroelasticconsiderationsthatMUSTbetakenintoaccount
butwhichwewillhappilyignorethroughoutthiscourse.However,thisisnotmeanttoimply
thattheyaretrivialorcanbeneglected(forexample,themaximumbendingmomentatthe
wingrootcanbe15%20%largerforaflexiblewingwhencalculatinggustreactions),but
ratherthattoproperlyinvestigatetheseandotherrelatedphenomenae(i.e.,dynamicresponseto
gustloading,gunreactions,eventhreedimensionalwingliftdistributions)requiresmoretime
thanwehaveavailableinthiscourse(mightIsuggestAERO4602?).
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AIRCRAFTSTABILITYANDCONTROL

Withtheadventofmodernaircraftandtheabilitytoinputcontrol commandsfar in
excessofthecapabilitiesofanormalhumanpilot,itmaybetemptingtothinkoneneedno
longerbeconcernedwiththematerialtobepresentedinthiscourse.Naturally,thiswouldbea
mistake! Aside from the obvious fact that modern flight control systems are based on the
principleswewilldiscuss,thismaterialhasimplicationstoflightsafety(i.e.maintainingcontrol
undercircumstanceswheresystemsfail),pilottraining(properhandlingofbothlowandhigh
performanceaircraftrequiresthepilottounderstandtheconsequencesoftheiractionsBEFORE
execution),andevenaccidentinvestigation(wherethesequenceofeventsduringaninflight
incidentisoftenreconstructedfromdatarelatingtocontrolsurfacepositions,pilotinputs,and
aircraftstatevariables).

Giventhevastamountofknowledgerelatingtoaircraftstabilityandcontrol,wewill
focus on designing or analyzing STABLE aircraft, both from a STATIC and DYNAMIC
perspective.Therefore,itisimportanttomakeclearwhatismeantbystable.Immediatelymost
ofusprobablythinkofastablesituationasonewhereanobjectatreststaysatrest,oranobject
inuniformmotionstaysinuniformmotion(i.e.Newton'sFirstLaw).

(a) (b) (c)

However,thisdefinitionisincomplete.Asshownabove,eachoftheballscanremainin
theirrespectivepositionsindefinitelythustheyareallinEQUILIBRIUM.However,onlycase
(a)willreturntoitsoriginalpositionifdisturbed.Inthiscase,(a)isalsosaidtobeSTABLE.
Case(b)isUNSTABLE,inthatifdisturbedtheballwillbegintorolldownthehillandcontinue
toincreasespeed(nonuniformmotion).Case(c)isNEUTRALLYSTABLE,wherethisunique
staterepresentstheboundarybetween(a)and(b).Intheabsenceoffrictionorviscosity,given
aninitialpushtheballwillcontinuealongataconstantvelocitywithnothingactingtoincrease
ordecreaseitsspeed,andthusitwillbeinequilibriumagain. Clearlythereexistaninfinite
numberofpossibleequilibriumstatesinthiscase,dependingontheinitialperturbation,noneof
whichwillleadtoeithercase(a)or(b).

Having defined stability, let us consider the second caveat on our stated focus, the
differencebetweenstaticanddynamicstability.Foraircraft,staticstabilityrelatestothemotion
of the aircraft about abody fixedcoordinate axis and its tendency or inclination to return
towardsthepreviouslyheldposition.
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Dynamic stability refers to how the aircraft behaves over time, i.e., it concerns the
determinationoftheprocesstowardstheeventualendstateoftheaircraft. Thusastatically
stableaircraftcanbeeitherdynamicallystableorunstableasshownbelow(whileastatically
unstableaircraftwillalwaysbedynamicallyunstable)

Statically&
Dynamically
Stable

StaticallyStable
BUT
Dynamically
Unstable

Asthenameofthecourseimplies,thestability characteristicsofanaircraftplay an
importantroleindeterminingthecontrolinputsrequiredtoachieveasetofdesiredperformance
requirements. Many modern aircraft are actually unstable for various reasons (increased
maneuverability,betterstealth,improvedfueleconomy)therebyrequiringcontinuouscontrol
inputsfromautomatedflightcontrolsystems.Therefore,thiscoursewillalsofocusoncontrol
inputsandthevariousmethodsavailableforimpartingchangesonanaircraftduringflight,both
fromasteadyflightpointofview(withtheideaoftryingtominimizetheeffortrequiredfrom
thepilot)andfromaquasidynamicpointofview(i.e.,changesindesiredflightconditions
throughpullups,rolls,etc.).
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NOMENCLATURE

Throughout this course we will encounter a seemingly endless stream of variables,


however, they will all conform to the conventions defined here. Of course, by design
conventionscanbechangedtosuitpersonaltastebuttheonesshownbelowarethosegenerally
adoptedbythoseinthea/cindustry.
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Withtherelevantforces,rates,andanglesdefinedfortheentireaircraft,letusconsider
thewinginparticular......

TaperRatio:

AspectRatio:

MeanAerodynamicChord:

Sincetheuniqueelementofanairfoiloveraflatplateisitsabilitytoproduceliftevenat
zerogeometricalangleofattackbyvirtueofitscamber,letusexaminethisfeatureinmore
detail. Asshown,apositivecamber(k/c>0)willproducealiftdistributionoveranairfoil
whichcreatesanegative,orpitchdown,moment(asperthetraditionalaircraftconventionofa
noseupmomentbeingpositive). Ifonerepresentstheintegratedliftasasingleforce,then
placingthisforceatthecentreofpressure(xcp)willexactlyproducethepitchingmomentofthe
airfoil(abouttheleadingedge).However,ifthisliftforceisplacedatanyotherlocation,saythe
aerodynamiccentre(xac),thentheresultingpitchingmomentwillhavetobeadjustedbyan
additionalappliedmomentatthatpoint(Mac)suchthattheoverallpitchingmomentmatchesthat
obtainedwhentheliftislocatedatthecentreofpressure.Therefore,abouttheleadingedgeone
canwrite,
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1
dividethroughby V 2 c 2 (recallthatperunitspan,S/b=bc/b=c)
2

whileiftheliftismovedtosomearbitrarypoint(likexac)thentheadditionalmoment
requiredtomaintaincm_l.e.wouldbe

Thisisaninterestingresultwhenoneconsidersthenatureoftheaerodynamiccentre.It
turns out that there exists a point on most airfoils about which the pitching moment is
independentof theangleofattack(a),calledthe aerodynamiccentre (cm_ac (a1)=cm_ac (a2)
despitethefactthatcl(a1)cl(a2)).Foraconstantvalueoflift,asVincreasesbothclanda
mustdecrease. Bydefinition,cm_ac =constant,thereforeifoneassumesthattheaerodynamic
centreisfixedatc(whichisapproximatelytrue)thentheaboveexpressionindicatesthatxcp
moves towards the trailing edge with increasing speed. This is also true when flaps are
deflected,wheretheincreasedloadingnearthetrailingedgeactstoincreasethepitchdown
momentandthusshiftthecentreofpressurerearward(aflapdeflectioneffectivelyincreasesthe
camberofthewing).
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Sofarouranalyseshavesimplydealtwithinairfoils,butobviouslytheendresultsmust
beapplicabletoentirewings.Forwingswithagiventaperratio,itwouldbeconvenientifwe
coulddefinesomesortofmeaningfulconstantchordlengthforuseinourcalculations.....

Letusdefineanuntapered,unsweptwingwithaconstantchordlength c .Inaddition
tohavingaconstantchord,letusenforcetheconditionthatthistheoreticalwinghasthesame
planformareaasourtaperedwingandthatitproducesthesamepitchingmomentaboutthe
aerodynamiccentre(whichwouldthusbevalidoveralla.Consideringthecasewhenthelifton
ourequivalentstraightwingiszero....

wherethesecondintegralaccounts
foratwistedwing,whereeven
ifthetotalliftiszero,thesectional
liftmaynotbe

whileifoneneglectstwist(hencecl=0everywherealongthespan)andassumescm_ac
isindependentofy(hencethewingcrosssection,orairfoilshape,isconstantalongthespan)....
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Having balanced the zero lift moment about both wings, we must now balance the
momentcreatedbytheliftactingthroughtheaerodynamiccentreforthecasewhenL0....

neglectingtwist,otherwiseourintegralbecomes
b

b
2
LL twist x ac dy
0
2

recallthatintheintegralweareusingperunit
spandefinitions

With these two expressions one can calculate a value for xac and c which are
constantacrossthewingspanandwhichproducethesamepitchingcharacteristicsasthereal
wing!Forexample,forafinitewingwithbothaconstantsweepangleandtaperratiofromroot
totipthemeanaerodynamicchordcanbeexpressedas,

Havingdefinedanequivalentstraightwingforcalculationpurposes,onemustalsobe
capable of converting two dimensional airfoil data (which are readily available from
experimentaldata)tovaluesonewouldexpectonarealwing.Thisrelationisdirectlyrelatedto
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theaspectratio,wherearealwingnecessarilyhasafiniteAR,whilea2Dairfoilisequivalentto
awingwithaninfiniteaspectratio.Therefore,astheaspectratioisreduced,onewouldexpect
thebehaviourofthefinitewingtodifferincreasinglyfromthatoftheairfoil,whereforthelift
curveslopetherelationcanbeexpressedas,

Thisreductionintheliftproducedatagivenangleaimpliesthatevenifthewingisina
fixedposition(i.e.,heldconstantwithrespecttothehorizon),thismaynotbethecriticalangle
fordeterminingtheliftandthatperhapssomegreatercareshouldbeinvestedindefiningthe
angle of attack. Indeed, the main difference between the 2D and 3D airfoil and wing
respectivelyisthefactthatthe'freestream'velocityatagivenspanwiselocationvariesduein
largeparttothegenerationofwingtipvorticesatthewingtipswhichinturnproducedownwash
alongthewing(atermwewilldefinitelyseelaterinthecourse!).