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54
votes
11answers
32k views

How do wings generate lift?

Just the basic question that every aviation enthusiast must be curious about: exactly how does a wing generate lift?
39
votes
3answers
10k views

How does an aircraft form wake turbulence?

This question discusses how wake turbulence can affect planes flying in formation. It got me wondering, how do aircraft (the wings in particular) form wake turbulence to begin with? It can't be as ...
66
votes
10answers
79k views

Why do jet engines get better fuel efficiency at high altitudes?

I'm told that this is true, but I can't imagine why. It seems like the fact that there is less air would make the engines less efficient... But that probably just shows how little I know about jet ...
56
votes
5answers
12k views

Is a winglet better than an equal span extension?

Is there indisputable evidence that a winglet improves performance over an equal span extension? Please note: I am only interested in L/D improvements. Winglets do improve roll performance, that is ...
42
votes
3answers
16k views

Why does supersonic flight detach airflow from a wing?

I've read in several answers to questions that when a wing passes the speed of sound the airflow will become detached from the craft towards the rear quarter of the wing (thus making things like ...
24
votes
1answer
11k views

Is there any equation to bind velocity, thrust and power?

I am designing a remote controlled airship. I will tune it so that the lift given by Archimedes' Principle will exactly balance the weight of all the structure. It will be propelled by brushless ...
43
votes
9answers
10k views

How complete is our understanding of lift?

I'm currently studying for my PPL and one of the accepted textbooks contains the following disclaimer at the end of the Principles of Flight section on lift: It is important to note that the ...
50
votes
4answers
9k views

Why are many jet aircraft designed to cruise around FL350-370?

If the flight distance permits, the B737-800 will cruise at FL350, the A320 a little bit higher... Flying at FL370. Photo: Live from the Flight Deck by GolfCharlie232 (reframed) Elements such as ...
59
votes
4answers
30k views

Why can't jet engines operate with supersonic air and how do they slow it down?

Typically jets cannot operate when intake airflow is supersonic relative to the engine. Why is this so? Also, why are scramjets able to use supersonic air? To slow down the air to subsonic speeds, ...
31
votes
3answers
7k views

What is the immediate cause of stall?

The direct cause of stall is unclear to me. I heard about exceeding maximum angle of attack (around 40°) ; I heard about reaching the stall speed in the current configuration (flaps, etc). I heard ...
31
votes
4answers
18k views

How does wind affect the airspeed that I should fly for maximum range in an airplane?

I have heard that wind affects the actual airspeed that I should fly for maximum range in an aircraft. I understand that wind will not affect the airspeed that I should fly if I am looking for ...
177
votes
14answers
144k views

Can Microsoft Flight Simulator help me learn to fly (or make me a better pilot)?

Microsoft Flight Simulator has "flight lessons" with a virtual flight instructor, some of which teach concepts that are taught during actual flight training. These simulators are becoming very ...
35
votes
8answers
16k views

How does stall depend on angle of attack but not speed?

Everyone says that the angle of attack is what determines a stall, not the speed. I understand the theory and understand that it is separation of the airflow that matters for stalling. However, I don’...
18
votes
2answers
20k views

How does chord length affect wing design?

In comments on the answer to a question about transonic speeds and control surfaces I came across this comment and I'm having a hard time understanding it. If you increase the chord, lift goes up ...
10
votes
1answer
18k views

How can I calculate the fuel consumption of an Airbus 320-200 at various loads?

I want to know: What is the fuel consumption of an Airbus A320-200 - 180 Seats, at 100% load factor for a distance of 2000 km? What is the fuel consumption of an Airbus A320-200 - 180 Seats, at 80% ...
49
votes
6answers
98k views

How are runways numbered?

I'm not a professional pilot, just an enthusiast, so this might seem obvious to others; but I noticed that airports don't use sequential numbering for runways, starting from 1. Liverpool (for example)...
20
votes
3answers
17k views

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 ...
67
votes
5answers
33k views

What determines the maximum altitude a plane can reach?

What factors determine the maximum altitude for a plane? Is it limited by wing design, engine thrust, and so on? Is there a formula by which one can calculate the maximum altitude a plane can reach?
50
votes
12answers
17k views

Why do airplanes lift up their nose to climb?

Is it right that basically an airplane just needs to accelerate to climb? Greater velocity of an airplane leads to greater lift - and since its weight remains constant (or even decreases) - a greater ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

How is the induced drag calculated for a wing with elliptical planform?

How is the induced drag calculated for a wing with elliptical planform ? Is this wing shape the most efficient ?
20
votes
5answers
9k views

Why is there a difference between GPS Speed and Indicator speed?

I just played with flight simulator and noticed that the GPS shows different speed from the speed indicator in the cockpit. Also, GPS speed is higher than the Indicator. Any Idea why?
36
votes
4answers
14k views

Why do gases in the combustion chamber only flow one direction to the gas turbine in a jet engine?

As far as I know from the working principle of jets engines, compressed air in the combustion chamber (or combustion canister) is mixed with fuel. The ignited mixture expands backwards to turn the ...
27
votes
3answers
13k views

Why are propeller engines uncommon on airliners?

My experience in aviation is essentially zero, but looking at Wikipedia it seems like the Tu-95 Bear offers high subsonic speed and extreme range. I assume that turboprop engines are more fuel ...
17
votes
7answers
15k views

Does lift equal weight in a climb?

This subject keeps coming up in the discussions and questions such as this one, which asks if lift equals weight in level flight. Good answers there, pointing out that upwards force has many sources. ...
26
votes
5answers
9k views

How does an aircraft tailplane work?

How does an aircraft tailplane keep the aircraft stable, and prevent it from tipping over? Also, how does the lift generated by a tailplane compare to that generated by the wing?
15
votes
4answers
10k views

What is the propeller efficiency, $μ_p$, of modern propellers for light sport aircraft?

Roskam's book on preliminary design gives a value of 0.7 for "homebuilt" aircraft and 0.8 for general aviation. What explains this difference in propeller efficiency? The content of Roskam's book is ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the aerodynamic centre and how does it relate to the pitching moment?

Okay so I have been trying to get my head around the Aerodynamic centre and the Pitching moment. Wikipedia really isn't helping much but from what I can gather the Pitching moment is a force caused by ...
87
votes
6answers
23k views

Why do we still use pilots to fly airplanes?

With the recent advances in drone and remote control technology, why are there still commercial and military pilots? I understand that there can be some serious tactical advantages to human pilots in ...
33
votes
3answers
2k views

Could the CVR and FDR record to the cloud?

Another enthusiast question. I watch a lot of the National Geographic Channel's "Air Crash Investigation", for better or worse, and it seems accident investigators make tremendous use of the Cockpit ...
42
votes
5answers
30k views

What is a 'deep stall' and how can pilots recover from it?

West Caribbean Airways Flight 708 which crashed in 2005, fell victim when their plane encountered a deep-stall. From my understanding, only certain planes can 'deep-stall' How can pilots recover ...
34
votes
4answers
27k views

How does the mounting location of a jet engine affect aircraft performance?

Different jet airplanes mount the engines in different ways. For example: Under the wing To the fuselage How does the engine location affect aircraft performance? Is one better than the other?
41
votes
5answers
83k views

How much is the minimum safe distance between two planes in-flight?

According to FAA regulations, how far should a commercial jet be away from another plane in-flight? How about military planes? They get really close when in formations... Is there a minimum distance?
27
votes
3answers
10k views

Why do aircraft on Flight Radar 24 jump around randomly sometimes?

I use Flight Radar 24 on my iPad to track friends/families flights when they are traveling (not paranoia, just curious). I've noticed that, quite often, their plane will jump from one location to ...
28
votes
1answer
8k views

I have a European EASA license - what do I need to do to be allowed to fly in the US?

I own a PPL(A) license following JAR-FCL. Recently, this license has been exchanged for a European EASA license. My training was on a motor glider (TMG), I do not have ratings for SEP, but TMG and ...
18
votes
3answers
7k views

Why do some military aircraft use variable-sweep wings?

There are a couple of American military aircraft (the retired F-14 and the B-1 come to mind immediately), that have variable swept wings. I know that they keep the wings full out (roughly ...
64
votes
3answers
13k views

Are we at peak speed efficiency for jet airliners at Mach 0.85?

The cruising speed of large jet airliners has not increased in the past four decades. The 747 cruised at Mach 0.85 and the new Dreamliner 787 also cruises at Mach 0.85 even though it was designed 40 ...
49
votes
12answers
92k views

Why are push-propellers so rare, yet they are still around?

Jet engines are by their very nature push-engines, however, most propeller airplanes use pull-engines. Is there an inherent advantage to using pull-propellers except for the increased airflow over the ...
38
votes
11answers
49k views

Could an electric engine provide the same performance as jet engines on current aircraft?

I have looked at various questions on this SE site regarding this topic but I have not really found a satisfactory answer. Some comments here regarding torque and power in electric motors vs gasoline ...
68
votes
2answers
28k views

Why are aircraft tires not pre-spun prior to landing to preserve them?

Why has someone not designed a landing wheel with a fin or fins on it so that the air will start the wheels turning before the wheels touch the ground? Wouldn't that preserve the tires longer from ...
13
votes
2answers
25k views

What is the method to calculate a finite wing's lift from its sectional airfoil shape?

I am struggling to get my head around a concept that I believe should be fairly simple to understand. Lift versus drag and AoA data of many airfoils are freely available, for instance the NACA 4-...
26
votes
3answers
3k views

Is wingtip design mature?

There are many wingtip design, all made to reduce vortex related drag, and neither boeing nor airbus seems to prefer one over another. They move from one design to another at each new aircraft, always ...
41
votes
8answers
19k views

Why would a glider have water ballast? If it is trying to stay aloft without an engine, wouldn't it be better to be as light as possible?

So I was looking at the description of a ASW 27 B glider and ran across this statement: Two water tanks in the wing plus a further 35 liter tank in the fuselage enable the ASW 27 B to carry more ...
14
votes
2answers
12k views

What is the reason for the poor low-speed characteristics of sweptback wings?

I know there are advantages of swept-back wings delaying shock-wave allowing a aircraft to fly faster. However, what are the disadvantages. I know one of them is that they have very poor low speed ...
28
votes
2answers
14k views

What is vortex lift?

In a recent question I asked, I was given an answer by Peter Kämpf and he described something about lift being created by a vortex used on delta wings and the Bird of Prey wing. How exactly does ...
25
votes
2answers
6k views

How do insects decrease aircraft performance?

Is it true that insects hitting the fuselage could decrease aircraft performance and increase fuel consumption? Insects are small in mass. I think even a large amount of them accumulate on the ...
109
votes
4answers
32k views

Why is the maximum speed of current fighter aircraft lower than those from the 1960's and 1970's?

While reading about the characteristics of the newest fighter aircraft, I observed that their maximum speed is lower than of the aircraft in the same roles half a century ago. For example, the iconic ...
27
votes
2answers
114k views

What is the difference between centre of pressure, aerodynamic centre and neutral point?

I have just started learning some aerospace concepts, and I am not able to understand the difference between the three terms centre of pressure, aerodynamic centre and neutral point. What are their ...
43
votes
5answers
145k views

When to use beacon, anti-collision, strobe, logo, and navigation lights?

During taxi, the taxi lights are used, and I think the landing lights are required to be used up to 10.000 feet for all commercial flights. However, my question is regarding the abovementioned lights:...
44
votes
4answers
20k views

Who has the higher authority, the pilot in command or ATC?

I'm sure many people have heard about the communication between a Delta flight 2244 and Atlanta tower being on news today. When the Controller informs the Pilot he is on a wrong taxi-way, things get ...
13
votes
3answers
41k views

How does wing sweep increase aircraft stability?

I was told at one point that the sweep of a wing can help with the straight line stability of the craft, in fact I think it's one of the main systems that keeps flying wings flying straight (like the ...

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