Questions tagged [aircraft-design]

Questions about the different choices that aircraft designers (typically aerospace engineers) make in order to create an aircraft.

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25
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9answers
9k views

Has a fixed-wing aircraft ever been built that featured multiple turbines powering a single propeller?

Has a fixed-wing aircraft ever been conceived, prototyped or built that features multiple turbines powering a single propeller? The concept of a twin-engine aircraft with a single propeller is ...
25
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4answers
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Why did WWII prop aircraft have colored prop tips?

Why do propeller aircraft from World War II and similar planes sometimes have the tips of the props colored? I see it on single engine planes like the P-51 as well as bigger, multi-engine planes such ...
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4answers
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What is the purpose of eyebrow windows?

Nowadays they are no longer needed but why do they cover them up like in this photo? What is their purpose and why aren't they used anymore? Source
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4answers
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Why are no recent small aircraft designed to be “characteristically incapable of spinning” as the Ercoupe was?

I'm a student pilot at a flight school that primarily flies RV-12s as a trainer. We had one day that through a booking error meant that all the RV-12s were booked so we had to use their Ercoupe 415-C ...
25
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4answers
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Does temperature affect takeoff performance?

A few days ago, a Copa flight from Porto Alegre to Panama was delayed from noon until 12:30 AM. The company explained that the high temperature (about 40 degrees Celsius) would require a longer runway ...
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5answers
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Which aircraft have made notable use of lateral asymmetry?

I'm asking about functional asymmetry - doors on one side but not the other wouldn't count. Examples I can think of three examples: experiments with oblique wing designs, such as NASA's utterly ...
25
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2answers
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Why are there no longer any biplanes?

Is there an aerodynamic reason why the concept of biplane or triplane has been completely abandoned? Practically all planes were biplanes in WW1, and in WW2 practically none were developed.
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3answers
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Why has the 777x been designed with folding wingtips?

I recently visited the Boeing factory outside Seattle, WA and noted in the distance a new 777x being built with, what looked like very large winglets. However, on closer inspection they're not - the ...
25
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8answers
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What is the purpose of having contra-rotating props on an aircraft?

Why do planes, like the famous XF-11 and the Tu-95, have contra-rotating props? What is their purpose? Image credit: Mike Freer / Touchdown-Aviation / Wikimedia
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5answers
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Could the principle of owls' silent flight be used for stealth aircraft?

I was wondering about the ability of owls to fly so silently. Is it because they flap gently, they flap less often or do is their structure responsible? I was thinking their principle of stalking can ...
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4answers
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Why don't we have yokes that look like steering wheels?

This question came across my mind when I was thinking about cockpit design vs car design: why don't we have yokes that look like steering wheels? The first advantage I can think of is more gestures ...
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2answers
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How exactly did engineers come to the final design of jets like the F-16 or SR-71?

I ask this question because I read somewhere that SR-71 was designed in 60's with hand calculations and drafters and when engineers later tried to improve the design with modern computers they found ...
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3answers
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What is this white smoke like thing, seen inside the cabin before takeoff?

I saw this quite thick white smoke like thing in the cabin in my last flight, before takeoff that is, while it was taxiing and loading passengers: Video Please watch in HD to best notice the ...
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5answers
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Why was the Spitfire's elliptical wing almost uncopied by other aircraft of World War 2?

The Spitfire was one of the most successful designs of its day, with flying qualities of a similar standard to the other best designs of the era. In its decade of production from 1936 it grew bigger, ...
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2answers
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Why are the controls of transport category aircraft much heavier than light aircraft?

Anyone who has transitioned from light GA aircraft to large turbofan airliners will notice the difference: the control column on a large aircraft is much heavier. While still within limits of a ...
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3answers
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Why does the Boeing 787 have fewer cockpit windows?

Why does the Boeing 787 have fewer cockpit windows? The 787 has only 4 cockpit windows, whereas other airplanes have 6. Here is a comparison between the 787 and 777: ^ 787 V.S. 777 v
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3answers
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What is the largest taildragger in history?

Large, modern multi-engine airplanes do mostly have the 'tricycle' landing gear type. But it hasn't always be the norm. I remember at least one big plane with 'conventional landing gear', the German ...
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6answers
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What makes a bomber able to deliver nuclear bombs?

Currently the German Luftwaffe has Panavia Tornados to deliver American nuclear bombs in case of war. The bombers are getting older and are currently modernized. The German Luftwaffe also has ...
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4answers
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Do similar angles on a plane make it more stealthy?

I learned in my intro to engineering class at my college that 5th gen fighters (which are stealth aircraft) are designed with similar angles to evade radar. Why is this true? Also, does the angle ...
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5answers
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How do modern helicopters tackle Vortex Ring State?

According to the wikipedia page : Air vortices can form around the main rotor of a helicopter, causing a dangerous condition known as vortex ring state (VRS) or "settling with power". In this ...
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1answer
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Why does the F-16 canopy have a K-shaped 'latch'?

Why is the F-16 canopy latch (the yellow painted part) shaped like a K? It's a very funky shape, and I'm wondering if that functions as more than just a latch.
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2answers
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What is the purpose of the box between the engines of an A-10?

There is a curious box between the engines of an A-10. It's seems rather rudimentary, like an afterthought, although it was present on the prototype. I've found a few cutaways but this part is hidden....
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1answer
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What's the red light in the left wing of a N.A. T-6 for?

There's a yearly flight show near my location, and there's always this North American T-6 (D-FUKK): Today, I noticed that there's a single white light in the leading edge of the right wing, but a ...
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8answers
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How do pilots see at night if airplanes don't have front lights?

How can pilots identify threats ahead of them if they don't have front lights like cars?
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3answers
8k views

In WW2, were self-sealing fuel tanks really cost-beneficial?

I just read this question and answer, which seems to confirm my fears that an incendiary bullet will still destroy you if it hits your fuel. In other words, a self-sealing fuel tank will not protect ...
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3answers
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If stealth aircraft are invisible to radar, then how does their own Air Force manage them or see them in flight?

Air traffic controlling is a significant deal when it comes to air forces. If a stealth aircraft like the F22 is almost invisible as said, it has cross section of very small metal ball. Then, how does ...
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2answers
5k views

Have any operational aircraft ever used over wing fuel tanks?

We are most familiar with under wing fuel tanks, has any operational aircraft ever used over wing fuel tanks?
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6answers
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What are the factors behind increasing aircraft window sizes?

Modern airliners like the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 have bigger windows than older designs, like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. What factors have led to this change of window size, opposite to the ...
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6answers
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Which airplane designs have the greatest longevity?

What airplane designs have been around the longest, from first flight through last retirement from active commercial or military service? My guess is that the DC-3 will win, since it has been around ...
23
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4answers
17k views

What types of wood can be used for making propellers?

Early propellers were made from wood and they still are on some vintage/classic aircraft and reproductions. What types of wood are typically used to make wooden propellers?
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3answers
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What is the difference between the V-shape tail and the straight tail on the Beechcraft Bonanza?

In one of the answers to the question which aircraft is the oldest in production, the Beechcraft Bonanza is mentioned. While reading the Wikipedia entry on this interesting plane, I noticed that ...
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3answers
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What is this part which is mounted on the wing of Embraer ERJ-145?

Take a look at the yellow parts which are mounted on the wing of an Embraer ERJ-145. What is it? Two closer images: From bottom:
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2answers
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What was the first aircraft that could fly inverted?

I'm taking a guess and assuming the Wright Flyer was incapable of flying upside down. I'm just guessing it probably lacked the power... ;) So what was the first plane that could fly inverted for a ...
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2answers
12k views

Why is the A380's fuselage designed with a flat bottom?

I want to know if there is some explanation for why the A380 bottom is flat instead of the oval shape, just near the wings.
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4answers
3k views

Would an aircraft with contra-rotating propellers longer than the plane's wingspan be able to fly?

I enjoy taking the time to try and visualize how fictional aircraft might actually work in reality. Unfortunately there are some that seem highly impractical from an engineering student's point of ...
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1answer
4k views

What is this strut in biplane rigging, attached only to wires, not bearing any load?

A few biplanes like the Stearman have a strut parallel to the fuselage, halfway along the rigging's landing wires and flying wires, not fastened to the airframe, not bearing any obvious load. One on ...
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1answer
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What are the spiky things on the back of the Antonov-225 vertical stabilizers?

On the Antonov-225's split vertical stabilizers, there is a 'spiked' structure pointing directly rearwards (as you can see below). What is the purpose of these two structures? source
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4answers
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Why are special aircraft used for the carriers in the United States Navy?

Why are aircraft such as the legacy F-14 and now the F/A-18 used by the US Navy carriers? It seems to me that developing a new aircraft from the ground up is very expensive. Is it not possible to ...
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6answers
6k views

What are the least powerful airplanes that ever flew?

What manned airplanes have achieved flight with the least powerful engines (no gliders!), and what was their top speed? Im sure I've heard of an airplane with an 8hp engine capable of exceeding 120 ...
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3answers
9k views

How are modern jets modified to takeoff/land on a dirt runway?

I've been reading a lot about the Soviet and Russian military aircraft, and it seems a lot of them are built to work on dirt runways, or modified to do so. How is this accomplished? Is it a simple ...
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6answers
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Is triskaedekiphobia (fear of the number 13) the reason commercial planes normally do not have a row 13?

When I first time heard this "legend" I couldn't believe it. I was really surprised, if not shocked, to actually find row 13 missing on my next passenger flight. (I believe it was a Boeing 737.) Is ...
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5answers
7k views

Are there any aircraft with a nose wheel braking system?

I'm pretty sure that there are no aircraft equipped with a brake on its nose wheel, however two of my colleagues think there might have been. Are there? Aircraft with retractable gear of course have ...
22
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5answers
48k views

Why are Inline Engines more commonly used than Radial Engines?

Back in the early days of aviation radial engines were very popular, it seemed like all of the big planes of the 20s, 30s and early 40s used them. But some time during WWII (or so it seems to me) ...
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1answer
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Why does the Dassault Falcon 7X's cockpit have ashtrays?

While looking at the first implementation of Fly-By-Wire systems, I see that the 7X was the first business jet with fly-by-wire controls. Looking at the Wikipedia page for the aircraft, I saw this ...
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4answers
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What are the advantages of twin-fuselage aircraft?

During WWII, there were a number of twin-fuselage aircraft (notably bombers but some fighters). They were made by apparently combining two existing single-fuselage aircraft bodies together: Twin-...
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2answers
9k views

Why do Boeing and Airbus have distinctively different nose designs?

Boeing aircraft generally have a pointy nose, which seems to me to imply better aerodynamic qualities, less drag etc. Airbus aircraft on the other hand have rather bulbous noses. Is this difference ...
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3answers
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Why do some helicopters have the tail rotor mounted higher than the tailboom?

Why do some helicopters have the tail rotor mounted high above the tailboom, whereas others have it at the end of the tail boom? Above the tailboom: Wiki Commons At the end of the tailboom: Boeing....
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2answers
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Why aren't there any widebody propliners for the high-density short-haul markets?

Jetliners come in both narrowbody (one aisle) and widebody (two or more aisles) versions, but all propliners, to the best of my knowledge, are narrowbody aircraft. Now, granted, one of the big ...
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2answers
6k views

Why do some A380 main wheels have no brakes?

The A380 has 20 main and 2 nose wheels. Apparently the nose wheels have no brakes (compare with Are there any aircraft with a nose wheel braking system?). While researching for this question (How are ...
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3answers
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What dictates the aspect ratio of an aircraft's wing?

When designing an aircraft, there has to be a decision as to the aspect ratio of a wing. It's been said that having a higher aspect wing will reduce drag for the same wing area, however most of the ...

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