# Is flutter speed always smaller than divergence speed for aircraft?

In aeroelasticity, there are three main phenomena that one should take care of: divergence, aileron reversal and flutter. Each of them has an associated speed at which the phenomenon might start to occur.

During wind-tunnel tests it is possible to increase the flutter speed to have access to the divergence speed first by using some small masses smartly placed on the wing. This is due to the fact that usually flutter speed is smaller than divergence speed.

Is it always the case for aircraft (without additional masses on the wing)? If not do you have any example? If yes do you have an explanation why or a mathematical proof of it?

• Wow, this is a really tricky question. It needsca lot of knowledge about aircraft design I honestly don't have and what you won't learn during normal flight training. Anyway I hope you'll find a good answer to this question.
– Falk
Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 18:24

For the sake of simplicity -since the entire calculation is pretty lengthy- let's imagine an airfoil at an angle of incidence θο that's been twisted by an angle θ due to aerodynamic loading. This additional angle θ is used to measure the twisting strain (dynamic) energy 0.5*K*θ^2 where K is the stiffness of the airfoil - much like a spring's K constant. An increase in speed will increase angle θ and the corresponding strain energy stored in the structure. When the speed reaches the divergence speed the restoring forces are smaller than the aerodynamic forces and the angle θ becomes infinite but since infinite is impossible in reality, the structure fails.