As per subject, I see that the above mentioned aircraft and some others that have engines mounted on the rear of the fuselage, have the engine intakes tilted slightly upwards. Why has this solution been implemented?

Wouldn't it be better having them parallel to ground?

If the airflow of the exhaust is directed slightly towards the ground would't it affect the plane causing it to push the nose downwards?

  • $\begingroup$ Can you add picture showing what you mean? $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Jan 2, 2018 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


I believe there this could be traced back to the so-called downwash angle of the air coming off the wing.

Looking at the picture below (and put on some imaginary engines on the back like the DC9/MD80), it becomes clear that by mounting it upwards by a few degrees would make it meet the airstream at the streamline angle:


You would want to that streamline to interact with the aircraft fan blades with the wind at the same angles. I would imagine that if you did not do this, it would result in an uneven force on the fan blades, which would probably be highly undesirable.

Looking at the drawings of the DC9, it might appear that the shorter version has a higher angle, and that the longer version has a smaller angle, as further from the wing the downwash angle is less, as could also be seen above.


For a little further analysis, the following is apparently off the DC-9 Manual, and might shed a little more light on the design, in particular in the last paragraph:

"The nacelles have been designed to enclose the JT8D engine with a shape that will allow the highest installed performance ( thrust minus drag ) possible at all flight conditions. The nacelle nose cowling is nonsymmetrical to keep the drag to a minimum at the high mach number cruising conditions.

The nonsymmetry is required to maintain an extremely flat nacelle line adjacent to the fuselage, such that the nacelle supervelocity increments, when added to those from the pylon and fuselage, do not lead to super-critical velocities with resultant shockwave losses.

The nacelle axis and pylon have been set at 3 degrees angle of attack relative to the fuselage to align them with the local flow conditions prevalent at cruising conditions. This is necessary to eliminate the interference and high induced drag that they would otherwise be subjected to. The nozzle is then canted upward relative to the engine axis, thus eliminating the pitching effects due to thrust."

Following picture appears to show the nozzle angle is in fact more horizontal than the entry angle, with the underside longer than the upper side:

MD80 engine

Thus, while it might not aesthetically pleasing maybe to have it off by a few degrees from the fuselage body, but it does bring advantages when seen with the airflow, and resulting concerns about that the thrust is not being vectored along the body axis is corrected by the nozzle.

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Amazing answer! That really cleared up everything. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Feb 5, 2014 at 13:04

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