I’ve been reading about how improve the aircraft performance and I found that for low aspect ratios, the vortex created by the wing tips decrease the lift generated by the wings. Why is this happening?

  • $\begingroup$ related if not a dupe: What is vortex lift? $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 4:15
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure about the the duplicate: wingtip vortices are not the same as vortex lift. $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 6:42
  • $\begingroup$ In those post they talk about vortex and lift but, for me of course, @HiddenWindshield answered my question clearly $\endgroup$
    – VicenteC
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


The lift over a wing comes from an imbalance of pressure above and below the wing. The higher the pressure, the more force is imparted to the wing. Thus, by generating a higher pressure on the bottom of the wing then on the top, a net upward force is created which offsets the pull of gravity on the airplane. The greater the pressure differential, the more lift is created.

At the end of the wing, there's nothing to prevent the higher pressure underneath from causing air to "spill over" the end of the wing into the lower pressure area. Thus, the pressure at the end of the wing tends to equalize itself, with a corresponding decrease in lift.

  • $\begingroup$ The result of equalize the pressure is the vortex, right? $\endgroup$
    – VicenteC
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 1:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @VicenteC Yes, as the air moves over the end of the wing from bottom to top, it's also moving from front to back due to the fact that the airplane is moving forward. It keeps spinning after it leaves the wing due to inertia, and that's the vortex. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 1:19

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