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Both buffet and flutter is a vibration of a surface of the aircraft, such as a wing or tail, due to the air flowing over it (especially if the air is turbulent). The difference, I would say, is;

  • If the surface does not exhibit an increasing amplitude, as it is naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, it is called buffet.
  • Conversely, if the surface is not naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, its amplitude of oscillation will continue to grow, and likely structurally fail, catastrophically, it is called flutter.

In flutter, there is a coupling between the aerodynamic forces and structural response, that needs to be taken outaccount of, in analysis of flutter, which is not required in buffet. See the first paragraph of this technical paper.

The flutter analysis is generally conducted by complex eigenvalue analysis, whereas the buffeting response is typically estimated using a mode-by-mode approach that ignores the aerodynamic coupling among modes.

As examples of each, here is a video of flutter. As can be seen, the amplitude of vibration starts to grow, and it wouldn't appear surprising if the tail plane failed very quickly.

In comparision, the F-18 has experienced tail buffet from vortices from the wing leading edge extensions. As can be seen, the tails vibrate, but its a much smaller oscillation than the flutter example. While it could cause cracking in the long term, it would not be expected to fail instantly.

Both buffet and flutter is a vibration of a surface of the aircraft, such as a wing or tail, due to the air flowing over it (especially if the air is turbulent). The difference, I would say, is;

  • If the surface does not exhibit an increasing amplitude, as it is naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, it is called buffet.
  • Conversely, if the surface is not naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, its amplitude of oscillation will continue to grow, and likely structurally fail, catastrophically, it is called flutter.

In flutter, there is a coupling between the aerodynamic forces and structural response, that needs to be taken out of, in analysis of flutter, which is not required in buffet. See the first paragraph of this technical paper.

The flutter analysis is generally conducted by complex eigenvalue analysis, whereas the buffeting response is typically estimated using a mode-by-mode approach that ignores the aerodynamic coupling among modes.

As examples of each, here is a video of flutter. As can be seen, the amplitude of vibration starts to grow, and it wouldn't appear surprising if the tail plane failed very quickly.

In comparision, the F-18 has experienced tail buffet from vortices from the wing leading edge extensions. As can be seen, the tails vibrate, but its a much smaller oscillation than the flutter example. While it could cause cracking in the long term, it would not be expected to fail instantly.

Both buffet and flutter is a vibration of a surface of the aircraft, such as a wing or tail, due to the air flowing over it (especially if the air is turbulent). The difference, I would say, is;

  • If the surface does not exhibit an increasing amplitude, as it is naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, it is called buffet.
  • Conversely, if the surface is not naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, its amplitude of oscillation will continue to grow, and likely structurally fail, catastrophically, it is called flutter.

In flutter, there is a coupling between the aerodynamic forces and structural response, that needs to be taken account of, in analysis of flutter, which is not required in buffet. See the first paragraph of this technical paper.

The flutter analysis is generally conducted by complex eigenvalue analysis, whereas the buffeting response is typically estimated using a mode-by-mode approach that ignores the aerodynamic coupling among modes.

As examples of each, here is a video of flutter. As can be seen, the amplitude of vibration starts to grow, and it wouldn't appear surprising if the tail plane failed very quickly.

In comparision, the F-18 has experienced tail buffet from vortices from the wing leading edge extensions. As can be seen, the tails vibrate, but its a much smaller oscillation than the flutter example. While it could cause cracking in the long term, it would not be expected to fail instantly.

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Both buffet and flutter is a vibration of a surface of the aircraft, such as a wing or tail, due to the air flowing over it (especially if the air is turbulent). The difference, I would say, is;

  • If the surface does not exhibit an increasing amplitude, as it is naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, it is called buffet.
  • Conversely, if the surface is not naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, its amplitude of oscillation will continue to grow, and likely structurally fail, catastrophically, it is called flutter. 

In flutter, there is a coupling between the aerodynamic forces and structural response, that needs to be taken out of, in analysis of flutter, which is not required in buffet. See the first paragraph of this technical paper.

The flutter analysis is generally conducted by complex eigenvalue analysis, whereas the buffeting response is typically estimated using a mode-by-mode approach that ignores the aerodynamic coupling among modes.

As examples of each, here is a video of flutter. As can be seen, the amplitude of vibration starts to grow, and it wouldn't appear surprising if the tail plane failed very quickly.

In comparision, the F-18 has experienced tail buffet from vortices from the wing leading edge extensions. As can be seen, the tails vibrate, but its a much smaller oscillation than the flutter example. While it could cause cracking in the long term, it would not be expected to fail instantly.

Both buffet and flutter is a vibration of a surface of the aircraft, such as a wing or tail, due to the air flowing over it (especially if the air is turbulent). The difference, I would say, is;

  • If the surface does not exhibit an increasing amplitude, as it is naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, it is called buffet.
  • Conversely, if the surface is not naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, its amplitude of oscillation will continue to grow, and likely structurally fail, catastrophically, it is called flutter.

As examples of each, here is a video of flutter. As can be seen, the amplitude of vibration starts to grow, and it wouldn't appear surprising if the tail plane failed very quickly.

In comparision, the F-18 has experienced tail buffet from vortices from the wing leading edge extensions. As can be seen, the tails vibrate, but its a much smaller oscillation than the flutter example. While it could cause cracking, it would be expected to fail instantly.

Both buffet and flutter is a vibration of a surface of the aircraft, such as a wing or tail, due to the air flowing over it (especially if the air is turbulent). The difference, I would say, is;

  • If the surface does not exhibit an increasing amplitude, as it is naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, it is called buffet.
  • Conversely, if the surface is not naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, its amplitude of oscillation will continue to grow, and likely structurally fail, catastrophically, it is called flutter. 

In flutter, there is a coupling between the aerodynamic forces and structural response, that needs to be taken out of, in analysis of flutter, which is not required in buffet. See the first paragraph of this technical paper.

The flutter analysis is generally conducted by complex eigenvalue analysis, whereas the buffeting response is typically estimated using a mode-by-mode approach that ignores the aerodynamic coupling among modes.

As examples of each, here is a video of flutter. As can be seen, the amplitude of vibration starts to grow, and it wouldn't appear surprising if the tail plane failed very quickly.

In comparision, the F-18 has experienced tail buffet from vortices from the wing leading edge extensions. As can be seen, the tails vibrate, but its a much smaller oscillation than the flutter example. While it could cause cracking in the long term, it would not be expected to fail instantly.

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Both buffet and flutter is a vibration of a surface of the aircraft, such as a wing or tail, due to the air flowing over it (especially if the air is turbulent). The difference, I would say, is;

  • If the surface does not exhibit an increasing amplitude, as it is naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, it is called buffet.
  • Conversely, if the surface is not naturally damped at the frequency of the excitation force, its amplitude of oscillation will continue to grow, and likely structurally fail, catastrophically, it is called flutter.

As examples of each, here is a video of flutter. As can be seen, the amplitude of vibration starts to grow, and it wouldn't appear surprising if the tail plane failed very quickly.

In comparision, the F-18 has experienced tail buffet from vortices from the wing leading edge extensions. As can be seen, the tails vibrate, but its a much smaller oscillation than the flutter example. While it could cause cracking, it would be expected to fail instantly.