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# Horizontal Flight Performance

Jet aircraft

## Dr. ir. Mark Voskuijl

Daan Westerveld
Delft University of Technology

Bryan - CC - BY 2.0
AE1110x - Introduction to Aeronautical Engineering

## Horizontal flight performance of jet aircraft

In the videos the horizontal flight performance of propeller aircraft is explained by means of the
Spirit of St. Louis. Due to the different nature of the propulsion system, jet aircraft perform
different from their propeller counterparts. Therefore, the horizontal flight performance of jet
aircraft will be explained in this writing.
Minimum airspeed
The calculation of minimum airspeed of jet aircraft is the same as for propeller aircraft. It occurs
at the maximum lift coefficient, and can be found from:
s
W2 1
Vmin = (1)
S CLmax

Maximum airspeed
The maximum airspeed of an aircraft occurs at maximum thrust (or maximum power). For a jet
aircraft we speak in terms of thrust. In steady, horizontal flight for a normal jet aircraft (t = 0)
we have the following equations of motion:

L=W (2)
T =D (3)

We want to find the maximum airspeed, and for that we need to find the CL for which we can get
maximum airspeed. We know that the maximum airspeed occurs at the maximum thrust setting
(T = Tmax ), which we assume as independent of airspeed. This can be done by starting from
Equation 3 (the explanation of each subsequent step is written next to the formula):

Tmax = D
L
Tmax = D We multiply by 1
L
CD D CD
Tmax = W = and L = W from Equation 2
CL L CL
CD0 + k1 CL + k2 CL2
Tmax = W From the lift-drag polar we know CD = CD0 + k1 CL + k2 CL2
CL

## This final equation can be rewritten as a parabolic relation as follows:

CD0 + k1 CL + k2 CL2
Tmax = W
CL
Tmax CD0 + k1 CL + k2 CL2
= Divide by W
W CL
Tmax
CL = CD0 + k1 CL + k2 CL2 Multiply with CL
W  
2 Tmax
k2 CL + k1 CL + CD 0 = 0 Group all terms with CL2 , CL and CD0
W
This quadratic equation can be solved for CL by means of the quadratic formula:

Tmax
 q 2
k1 W k1 TWmax
4k2 CD0
CLopt = (4)
2k2

Finally, the CL calculated with the equation above (take the smallest, positive value) can be inserted
in Equation 1 to find the maximum airspeed.

## Horizontal flight performance of jet aircraft 1

AE1110x - Introduction to Aeronautical Engineering

## Maximum specific range

In order to have maximum specific range, we want to use a minimum amount of fuel per unit of
distance. This means that the specific range VF (speed over fuel flow) should be minimised. In this
derivation we assume steady straight and symmetric flight, such that equations 2 and 3 hold.
For jet aircraft the fuel flow can be expressed as follows, where cT is assumed a constant (in reality
it can vary) relating the fuel flow F to the thrust T :

F = cT T (5)

We know that T = D (we are cruising in a steady, straight, horizontal and symmetric flight), such
that we can write F = cT T = cT D. Substituting this expression in the expression for specific
range we find:
V
V /F = (6)
cT D
If we want to maximise V /F , we need to maximise V /D (since cT = const). Furthermore, (V /D)max
is the same as (D/V )min . This expression can be used in order to find the optimal aerodynamic
condition as follows:
   
D D 1 L
= L We multiply with = 1
V min L V min L
   
D CD 1 D CD
= W Since = and L = W
V min CL V min L CL

 
D C D 1
= W q From Equation 1
V min CL W 2 1
S CL min

 
D W
= q We put everything under the square root
V min W 2 CL
2
S CD
min
   
D CL
2
V min CD max

Now we know at what aerodynamic condition maximum specific range occurs, we need to find at
what lift coefficient this is. For this we differentiate the expression just found with respect to CL ,
and put it equal to 0:
 
d CL
2 =0
dCL CD
 
CD2 1 C 2C dCD
d CL L D dCL
2 = 4 =0 Using the quotient rule
dCL CD CD
2 1 C 2C dCD
CD L D dCL dCD 1 CD
4 =0 =
CD dCL 2 CL

In order to rewrite the last expression into term of CL only, we need to use the lift-drag polar. First
we will find the derivative of the lift-drag polar with respect to CL :
dCD d
CD0 + k1 CL + k2 CL2 = k1 + 2k2 CL

= (7)
dCL dCL

## 2 Horizontal flight performance of jet aircraft

AE1110x - Introduction to Aeronautical Engineering

dCD 1 CD
If we fill that into the expression dCL = 2 CL , together with CD = CD0 + k1 CL + k2 CL2 we can
write:
dCD 1 CD
=
dCL 2 CL
1 CD0 + k1 CL + k2 CL2
k1 + 2k2 CL = We filled in the equations
2 CL
2CL (k1 + 2k2 CL ) = CD0 + k1 CL + k2 CL2 Bring CL and 1/2 to the other side
3k2 CL2 + k1 CL CD0 = 0 Bring everything to the left-hand side

Using the quadratic formula this brings us to an expression for the optimum CL for maximum
specific range: q
k1 k12 + 12k2 CD0
CL = (8)
6k2

If the optimum flight speed is of interest the (positive) value of Equation 8 needs to be plugged
into Equation 1.
Maximum specific endurance
In order to find an expression for the maximum specific endurance, we first need to state that the
aircraft is performing steady, straight and symmetric flight such that equations 2 and 3 hold.
Now we start looking at the physical condition for maximum specific endurance. If we want to stay
in the air as long as possible, we should use as little fuel as possible per unit of time in order to
make it last as long as possible. In other words: the fuel flow F should be minimised. We thus
need to minimise Equation 5, repeated below:

F = cT T
F = cT D From Equation 3

Because cT is constant, the only way to minimise the fuel flow F is to minimise the drag D:

(F )min (D)min
 
L L
(D)min = D We multiply with =1
L min L
 
CD
(D)min = W We use L = W
CL
  min    
CL CD CL
(D)min We cannot influence W and can be expressed as
CD max CL min CD max
This means that the optimum CL for maximum specific endurance occurs at:
CD0 + k1 CL + k2 CL2
   
d CD d
=
dCL CL dCL CL
   
d CD d CD 0
= + k1 + k2 CL
dCL CL dCL CL
 
d CD CD
= 20 + k2
dCL CL C
r L
CD 0
CLopt = (9)
k2
If the optimum airspeed for this condition is of interest, Equation 9 needs to be put into Equa-
tion 1.