How does angle of incidence affect an aircraft's stability?

I've tried searching the web for the simplest answer that makes sense but so far I've come up with nothing as yet. I know it sounds simple, but I'm still new to this so its pretty hard to grasp my mind around the concept yet.

  • $\begingroup$ It does not sound simple, it sounds like a strange thing to ask, which is probably why you couldn't find much on it. Because angle of incidence (of the main wing) is determined by other criteria and then other parameters (wing longitudinal position and horizontal stabilizer) are adjusted to achieve longitudinal stability. What makes you ask it? $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    May 2, 2018 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan Hudec I only need to know how the changes in the angle of incidence affects an aircraft's stability. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2018 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


The angle of incidence is the angle between the wing chord and longitudinal axis of the aircraft as depicted here. From years of building model aircraft and flying aircraft I can explain one way that it affects the aircraft, and that is by reducing drag caused by the fuselage. A given wing requires a certain angle of attack (pitch up attitude) in order to fly at a given weight and speed. If the angle of incidence is 0 degrees, then that would require a nose high attitude and expose more of the underside of the fuselage to the relative wind. However, having an appropriate angle of incidence allows the fuselage to have a more horizontal orientation (and better visibility for the pilot from the cockpit) than if the wing was mounted exactly parallel to the longitudinal axis of the fuselage.

So how does it affect an aircraft's stability? It affects an aircraft's stability by reducing its drag at certain airspeeds.

  • $\begingroup$ Uh? We have longitudinal, lateral and vertical stability. Which one are you saying increased incidence is a positive effect? $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    May 2, 2018 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ @jwzumwalt you are very observant. This answer doesn't really address whether longitudinal, lateral and vertical stability is increased or decreased. I was only able to explain what I know about the effects of the angle of incidence. Perhaps someone else will provider a more detail analysis. :) $\endgroup$
    – Devil07
    May 2, 2018 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the kudos... what I would expect in your answer is the possibility of a change in center of lift. This would change the pitch stability (about the longitudinal axis), though I don't remember which direction - go for it! ( I suggest a diagram) FYI, increased drag behind the cg would increase stability in all three. but as I remember it center of lift is in front of CG and therefore an increase in incidence would be a destabilizing effect. :) $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    May 2, 2018 at 18:12

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