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In this question about canards, they are described as being useful mostly/only for supersonic configurations which are unstable at regular? speeds.

But for a low power, ground hugging aircraft, would a canard help create lift with less width?

This question is part of a human powered dream I have.

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This highly depends on the overall conceptual design of the aircraft and there is no ideal configuration for any flight mission profile, except if you have very specific design constraints that will favor one configuration over another. In general, the trend when designing a wing of high aerodynamic efficiency, one that you would need for feasible human powered flight, is to have a traditional configuration of wing and empennage. This is for the wing to operate in clean air and not in the wake of the canard plane. Usually you focus on optimizing the wing and thus you want it to operate in its maximum efficiency.

A design example is the MIT Daedalus Human Powered Vehicle (HPV) enter image description here

For further technical details regarding human powered vehicles and the their feasibility study you can start with this and discover further on your own.

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  • $\begingroup$ @PatrickZissou Sorry for the link, I fixed it. If you have a wingspan restriction that is because of aircraft width you could consider a biplane configuration. $\endgroup$ – ares Feb 22 '18 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ woking my way through that pdf, but from your answer im to assume that the more wing surfaces i have the less aerodynamically efficient that design is? does that have to do with wingtip vortices? $\endgroup$ – Patrick Zissou Feb 22 '18 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ @PatrickZissou "the more wing surfaces i have the less aerodynamically efficient that design is" no, the exact opposite can happen. What matters is how the aerodynamic surfaces interact, not how many there are. A box-wing biplane (properly closed at wingtips) theoretically attains the maximum aerodynamic efficiency compared to other wing configurations (proved by Prandlt and Kroo). $\endgroup$ – ares Feb 23 '18 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ At those speeds, (very slow) canard wake on main wing isn't that much an issue. Gossamer Albatross for instance got rid of the rudder by putting the guy in one rudder shaped cockpit like canard version. $\endgroup$ – qq jkztd Mar 1 '18 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @qqjkztd At lower speeds the boundary layer is even thicker and the wake effect can of-course deteriorate wing aerodynamics close to the root, I didn't understand your point. Plus, the canard plane will induce a local flowfield that will lower the main wing's effective angle of attack and thus lift coefficient. $\endgroup$ – ares Mar 1 '18 at 20:29

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