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Jet aircraft

Daan Westerveld

Delft University of Technology

Bryan - CC - BY 2.0

AE1110x - Introduction to Aeronautical Engineering

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

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.

AE1110x - Introduction to Aeronautical Engineering

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

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.

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