I want to understand the theory behind supercritical airfoils and all the details about them. It would be nice if I could get a standard supercritical airfoil, its experimental Cl, Cd data in the transonic region and its verification from theory. I haven't been able to find anything concrete on the internet.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know your answer, but I'd suggest looking at universities with classes on this topic, seeing if there are public copies of class syllabi on professors' or students' pages, and look for texts on those reading lists or course guides. $\endgroup$
    – nexus_2006
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ Good question and good answer. Unfortunately, if this question were asked today, I'm afraid it would be closed without a forethought... $\endgroup$
    – JZYL
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


Introduction to Transonic Aerodynamics

Roelof Vos, Saeed Farokhi (more)

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Written to teach students the nature of transonic flow and its mathematical foundation, this book offers a much-needed introduction to transonic aerodynamics. The authors present a quantitative and qualitative assessment of subsonic, supersonic and transonic flow around bodies in two and three dimensions. The book reviews the governing equations and explores their applications and limitations as employed in modeling and computational fluid dynamics.

Transonic Aerodynamics of Airfoils and Wings

W.H. Mason (more)

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Professor emeritus by the Virginia Tech, expert in aerospace engineering who worked at Grumman Aerospace where he served in the structural mechanics section and later in aerodynamics and worked on a number of high-profile projects, including the Grumman X-29. Has taught classes — including his "famous" Configuration Aerodynamics course.

Review of NASA Supercritical Airfoils

Richard T. Whitcomb (more)

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NASA supercritical airfoils are characterized by a substantially reduced curvature of the midcord region of the upper surface together with increased camber near the trailing edge. The basic aerodynamic phenomena associated with the airfoils and representative wind tunnel results are discussed. The results indicate that the drag rise Mach numbers for NASA supercritical airfoils are 0.1 higher than for comparable NACA 6-series airfoils. A recent analytic method for predicting the aerodynamic characteristics of supercritical airfoils is described. The flight demonstration programs of three applications of supercritical airfoils utilizing the F-8, T-2C and F-111 as test beds are summarized.

Richard T. Whitcomb on Wikipedia.

NASA Supercritical Airfoils, A Matrix of Family-Related Airfoils

Charles D. Harris (more)

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The NASA supercritical airfoil development program is summarized in a chronological fashion. Some of the airfoil design guidelines are discussed, and coordinates of a matrix of family related supercritical airfoils ranging from thicknesses of 2 to 18 percent and over a design lift coefficient range from 0 to 1.0 are presented.

Supercritical Airfoil Design for Future HALE Concepts

Kasim Biber, Carl P. Tilmann (more)

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This paper presents design and analysis of a new airfoil for future High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) aircraft that has an operational condition at supercritical speeds. The XFOIL and MSES computational codes were used to design, modify and analyze the airfoil.

Design of Laminar Supercritical Airfoils Based on Navier-Stokes Equations

Zhong-Hua HAN, Jie DENG, Jun LIU, Ke-Shi, ZHANG, Wen-Ping SONG (more)

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This paper aims to develop a suit of design methods and tools for laminar supercritical airfoils, based on high-fidelity computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The reliable transition perdition method, efficient inverse design and global optimization design methods are regarded as three key issues, which are addressed in this paper. The automatic transition prediction method coupling Navier-Stokes equations flow solver and eN linear stability analysis method is applied to the design and analysis of the laminar supercritical airfoils; inverse design and optimization design methods based on kriging surrogate model is developed to attain favorable pressure gradient while reducing wave drag; efficient optimization based on kriging model and an improved EI (expected improvement) method is developed for finding the global optimum.

NASA Technical Memorandum 103933 An Experimental Investigation of a Supercritical Airfoil at Transonic Speeds

George G. Mateer, H. Lee Seegmiller, Lawrence A. Hand and Joachim Szodruch (more)

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Benchmark experimental data obtained in the two-dimensional, transonic flow field surrounding a supercritical airfoil are presented. Airfoil surface and tunnel wall pressure and LDV measurements are used to describe the flow on the model, above the wing and in the wake. Comparisons are made with calculations using the Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equations. The results illustrate the performance of two turbulence models in both separated and attached flows. The largest differences between theory and experiment occurred in separated flows with the Johnson and King turbulence model providing the best estimates.

Analysis of Aerodynamic Characteristics of a Supercritical Airfoil for Low Speed Aircraft

P.Sethunathan, M.Niventhran, V.Siva, R.Sadhan Kumar (more)

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The main goal of the proposed paper is the analysis of aerodynamic characteristics of an various supercritical airfoils like 0406, 0412, 0706 and 1006 influence on the dramatic improvement in lift and reduction of drag in low speed aircraft. In a precedent work, a cusp like structure at the trailing edge of an unsymmetrical airfoil produces a very high improvement in climbing performance of an aircraft.

Two-dimensional Wind-tunnel Tests of a NASA Supercritical Airfoil with Various High-lift Systems

E. Omar et Al. (more)

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Three high lift systems for a 9.3 percent blunt based, supercritical airfoil were designed, fabricated, and wind tunnel tested. A method for calculating the viscous flow about two dimensional multicomponent airfoils was evaluated by comparing its predictions with test data. A comparison of high lift systems derived from supercritical airfoils with high lift systems derived from conventional airfoils is presented. The high lift systems for the supercritical airfoil were designed to achieve maximum lift and consisted of: (1) a single slotted flap, (2) a double slotted flap and a leading edge slat, and (3) a triple slotted flap and a leading edge slat.

Aerodynamic Characteristics of an 11-percent-thick Symmetrical Supercritical Airfoil at Mach Numbers Between 0.30 and 0.85

Blackwell, J. A., Jr. (more)

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Abstract: The aerodynamic characteristics of an 11 percent thick symmetrical supercritical airfoil were determined in an 8 foot transonic pressure tunnel over a Mach number range of 0.30 to 0.85. The Reynolds number of the tests, based on the airfoil chord, varied with Mach number over a range of 360 million to 774 million. The geometric angle of attack varied from -0.5 to 10.5 deg. The abrupt drag rise for the supercritical airfoil at zero normal force conditions occurs at a Mach number just above 0.82. The corresponding drag rise Mach number for a conventional NACA 0012 airfoil is approximately 0.70. At zero normal force conditions, the level of supervelocity over the supercritical airfoil is considerably reduced from that for the NACA 0012 airfoil. Also, the shock wave for the supercritical airfoil is substantially weaker than that for the NACA 0012 airfoil.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi mins, great answer. +10 if I could! $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 10:50
  • $\begingroup$ Really helpful answer!! $\endgroup$
    – Manish
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 2:13
  • $\begingroup$ @mins can you tell me how do we know the design condition at which design lift is given which is used in the naming of the SC airfoils? Eg. SC(2) 0412. $\endgroup$
    – Manish
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Manish: Ah ok, in general I don't know. For this particular one, see page 53 of this thesis. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Manish: Many SC airfoils were developed in project named ATAT (Advanced Technology Airfoil Tests). You may search their server with ATAT and the airfoil as keyword. e.g. for SC(2) 0012 -- or -- SC(3) 0712. I've no recipe, just started searching supercritical transonic Whitcomb and added more keywords. Google in that case helped by using my previous searches (usually this 'feature' sucks). $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 9:29

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