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Training Centre (PTC) Module 8 BASIC AERODYNAMICS


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MODULE 8 : BASIC AERODYNAMICS


Sub Module 8.1 PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE


Sub Module 8.2 AERODYNAMICS
Sub Module 8.3 THEORY OF FLIGHT
Sub Module 8.4 FLIGHT STABILITY AND DYNAMICS

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Sub-Module &
Amendment No. Issue Date: Date Inserted: Inserted By: Date Removed: Removed By:
Pages:

Issue 01, Rev-00 All 31 March 2014

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MODULE 8
Sub Module 8.1

PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

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Contents

INTRODUCTION1
PRINCIPALLAYERS3
CHARACTERISTICS5
INTERNATIONALSTANDARDATMOSPHERE14

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INTRODUCTION Air, like other fluids, obeys the ordinary laws of fluid pressure-
e.g. in still air the pressure at any point will be the same in all
The Earth's atmosphere is a layer of gases surrounding the directions, the pressure will act at right angles to any surface
Earth. The Earths atmosphere contains 78.08% nitrogen, with which the air is in contact, and also obeys Archimedes'
20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.038% carbon dioxide, and Principle.
trace amounts of other gases. A variable amount of water vapor
(on average around 1%) is also present in the atmosphere. Air is invisible, and this fact in itself makes flight difficult to
understand. When a ship passes through water a bow wave" or
The presence of atmosphere is an important factor that made the "wash" astern are all visible. When an airplane makes its
life possible on Earth. It absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the way through air nothing appears to happen, yet in reality there it
sun during the day and retains some of for the night .This is creating aerodynamic forces that are due in great part to the
prevents extreme temperature variation between day and night. properties of the air mass in which the airplane is operating.

The atmosphere surrounds the earth like an ocean. It is


composed of air and is the medium through which airplanes,
airships, or balloons fly. It is, therefore, necessary to learn the
properties of this medium to understand the phenomenon of
flight.

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Figure 1: Composition of Atmosphere

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PRINCIPAL LAYERS Mesosphere

The Earths atmosphere is considered to consist of four The mesosphere extends from the stratopause to 8085 km
gaseous layers. The layer closest to the Earth is called the (5053 mi; 260,000280,000 ft). It is the layer where most
troposphere, and then comes the stratosphere followed by meteors burn up upon entering the atmosphere. Temperature
ionosphere and finally the exosphere. Exosphere being the one decreases with height in the mesosphere. The mesopause, the
outermost from the earths atmosphere is not considered when temperature minimum that marks the top of the mesosphere, is
relating to aircraft aerodynamics as aircraft operate within the the coldest place on Earth and has an average temperature
troposphere and the lower regions of the stratosphere. around 100 C (148.0 F; 173.1 K).

Troposphere Thermosphere

The troposphere begins at the surface and extends to between Temperature increases with height in the thermosphere from
7 km (23,000 ft) at the poles and 17 km (56,000 ft) at the the mesopause up to the thermopause, then is constant with
equator, with some variation due to weather. The troposphere is height. The temperature of this layer can rise to 1,500 C
mostly heated by transfer of energy from the surface, so on (2,730 F), though the gas molecules are so far apart that
average the lowest part of the troposphere is warmest and temperature in the usual sense is not well defined. The
temperature decreases with altitude. This promotes vertical International Space Station orbits in this layer, between 320 and
mixing over. The troposphere contains 80% of the mass of the 380 km (200 and 240 mi). The top of the thermosphere is the
atmosphere. The tropopause is the boundary between the bottom of the exosphere, called the exobase. Its height varies
troposphere and stratosphere. with solar activity and ranges from about 350800 km (220
500 mi; 1,100,0002,600,000 ft).
Stratosphere

The stratosphere extends from the tropopause to about 51 km


(32 mi; 170,000 ft). Temperature increases with height, which
restricts turbulence and mixing. The stratopause, which is the
boundary between the stratosphere and mesosphere, typically
is at 50 to 55 km (31 to 34 mi; 160,000 to 180,000 ft). The
pressure here is 1/1000th sea level.

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Exosphere

The outermost layer of Earth's atmosphere extends from the


exobase upward. Here the particles are so far apart that they
can travel hundreds of km without colliding with one another.
Since the particles rarely collide, the atmosphere no longer
behaves like a fluid. These free-moving particles follow ballistic
trajectories and may migrate into and out of the magnetosphere
or the solar wind. The exosphere is mainly composed of
hydrogen and helium.

Figue2: Principal Atmospheric Layers

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CHARACTERISTICS At the tropopause the pressure decreases to about a quarter of


its sea level value.
The earths atmosphere is composed of gasses, principally
nitrogen and oxygen. Argon, carbon-dioxide and other gasses The ambient static pressure is denoted by "p" and the standard
are also present albeit in a small percentage. sea level static pressure is given the subscript "o" for zero
altitude, po.
Air has weight and has pressure, density and temperature. All
these properties decrease with increase in altitude. An important reference in aerodynamics and measurement of
aircraft performance is the ratio between the ambient static
Atmospheric Pressure pressure and the standard sea level static pressure. This static
pressure ratio is denoted by (delta).
The atmosphere remains in contact with the earths surface by
the force of gravity, which produces a pressure within the
atmosphere. p

The term pressure can be defined as force acting upon a unit p
area. For example, if a force of 5 lb is acting against an area of
where,
one square inch, there is a pressure of 5 psi (pounds per square
inch).
p = Ambient static pressure
The atmospheric pressure at any place is equal to the weight of po = Standard sea level static pressure
the column of air above it. The gravitational effects decrease
with increase in altitude and therefore the atmospheric pressure
will also decrease steadily with altitude. Thus a column of air
one square inch in section, extending from the earths surface to The performance of aircraft itself and its engine are directly
the extremities of the atmosphere, weighs 14.69 lbs and so affected by the change in altitude pressure ratio.
exerts this pressure on one square inch of the earths surface.
If the pressure in this column of air is measured at higher
altitudes (Say 10,000, 20,000 and 30,000 feet above sea level),
the pressures exerted at these points are found to be lower,
10.1, 6.7 and 4.2 lbs respectively.

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Figure 3: Change in Static Pressure with Altitude

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Figure 4: Mercury Barometer

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Atmospheric Temperature The more usual reference is the proportion of the ambient air
temperature and the standard air temperature at sea level. This
The air in contact with the earths surface is heated by temperature ratio is assigned the short-hand notation of a theta.
conduction and radiation, which results in decrease of density.
The air starts rising and as it rise the pressure drop causes it to T
expand .This expansion results in a decrease in temperature.
Under standard sea level conditions, the temperature is 15C T
(59F), and falls steadily with increase in altitude up to the
tropopause. At Tropopause, the temperature remains constant where,
at approximately -56C.
T = Ambient absolute temperature
To = Standard sea level absolute temperature
The rate at which the temperature falls is termed the lapse rate;
this is assumed to be 1.98C per 1000ft or 0.65 C per 100
metres, up to an approximate height of 36,090ft.
C 273
The absolute temperature of the air is another important Therefore,

property. The ordinary temperature measurement by the
288
Centigrade scale has a datum at the freezing point of water but
absolute zero temperature is obtained at a temperature of -273
The general gas law defines the relationship of pressure,
Centigrade. Thus, the standard sea level temperature of 15C is
temperature, and density when there is no change of state or
an absolute temperature of 288. This scale of absolute
heat transfer. Simply stated, this law says that density varies
temperature using the Centigrade increments is the Kelvin
directly with pressure and inversely with temperature. On a hot
scale, e.g. K. The short-hand notation for the ambient air
day, air expands, becoming "thinner" or less dense; conversely,
temperature is "T" and the standard seal evel air temperature of
on a cold day, the air contracts, becoming more dense.
288K is signified by To.

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Adiabatic Lapse Rate Text books on meteorology often state that the temperature
normally decreases with altitude at a rate of approximately
The temperature of the air decreases as pressure decreases 0.5C per 100m, or about 1 F per 300ft. This amounts to a
with an increase in altitude. This decrease of temperature with decrease of about 1.52 C for each increase of 1000 ft, which is
altitude is defined as the lapse rate. An adiabatic temperature different from the decrease under standard conditions. It should
change means that the temperature of the air has changed, but be noted that the text books using the foregoing values are
the air has neither gained nor lost heat energy. The temperature discussing average rather than standard conditions.
change in such a case is due to the change in pressure.

Atmospheric pressure differences cause the air to flow from an


area of higher pressure to an area of lower pressure. Thus, air
may flow up and over mountains or from higher elevations down
into valleys. As airflows to higher altitudes, it becomes cooler,
and as it flows to lower altitudes, it becomes warmer.

The adiabatic lapse rate varies from 3F [1.67C] per 1000 ft


[304.88m] for moist air to more than 5F [2.78C] per 1000 ft for
very dry air.

Under standard conditions, temperature decrease at approx.


1.98 oC for each increase of 1000 ft of altitude until an altitude of
36000 ft [11585.44m] is reached. Above this altitude, the
temperature remains at approximately -56.5C.

The temperature of the air often does not conform to standards.


For example, sometimes the air temperature at 1000 ft or more
above the surface of the earth is higher than it is at the surface.
This condition is called an inversion. Mountains, clouds, surface
winds, bodies of water, and sunshine all affect the temperature
of the air.

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Figure 5: Adiabatic Lapse Rate Atmospheric Layers

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Air Density This is because air is compressible; the air near the earth's
surface is compressed by the air above it, and as we go higher
The air density is described as the mass of air in a given volume the pressure becomes less, the air is free to expand and
(mass/unit volume). It is a variable quantity and depends upon becomes less dense, so that if we could see a cross-section of
the atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity. At any the atmosphere it would not appear homogeneous, i.e. of
given altitude, air density will increase with increase in uniform densitybut it would become thinner from the earth's
atmospheric pressure, decrease with increase of air surface upwards, the final change from atmosphere to space
temperature, and decrease with increase of humidity. With an being so gradual as to be indistinguishable.
increase in altitude, reduction of atmospheric pressure is the
dominant factor and air density reduces with increase in Changes in air density affect the flight of an airplane. With the
altitude. same thrust, an airplane can fly faster at a high altitude, where
the density is low, than at a low altitude, where the density is
Air, like gases, is compressible. As it is compressed, the air greater. This is because the air offers less resistance to the
becomes denser because the same quantity of air occupies less airplane when it contains a smaller number of particles of air
space. Density varies directly with pressure, with the per unit volume. However, ano ften-encountered problem is an
temperature remaining constant. inability to hold the thrust constant as altitude increases.
Generally, engine performance will decrease with altitude.
For the purposes of aerodynamic computations, air density is
represented by the Greek letter (rho), indicating mass density
in slugs per cubic foot. The slug is a unit of mass with a value of
approximately 32.175 Ib [14.59kg] under standard conditions of
gravity. Air at standard sea-level conditions weighs 0.0765 lb/ft3
and has a density of 0.002378 slug/ft3 . At an altitude of 40000 ft
[12192 m], the air density is approximately 25% of the sea-level
value.

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Altitude Density Ratio Although air is not quite a "perfect gas," it does obey the gas
laws within reasonable limits, and if the temperature and
In aerodynamics, it is very important to consider the pressure are known at any height, it is possible to estimate the
proportion of the ambient air density and standard sea level air density at that height from the formula derived from these two
density. (sigma) denotes this density ratio. laws i.e.
.




where,

= Ambient air density


o = Standard sea level air density

Effects of Temperature and Pressure on Density

The decrease in temperature with altitude in the troposphere


should cause the air to contract and tend to become denser, but
this effect is partially counteracted by the drop in pressure. The
overall effect is a reduction of density with increasing altitude.
The reduction in density is much more apparent in the
stratosphere as the temperature remains constant hence there is
no compensating effect on density.
Figure 6: Effect of Pressure on Density

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Viscosity Humidity

Air being a fluid has viscosity which is the tendency of the fluids The condition of moisture or dampness in the air is called
to resist relative motion within itself. If different layers of air are humidity. The maximum amount of water vapor that the air can
moving with different velocities, viscous forces tend to slow hold depends on the temperature of the air; the higher the
down the faster moving layer and to increase the velocity of the temperature of the air, the more water vapor it can absorb.
slower moving layer.
By itself, water vapor weighs approximately five-eighths as much
Because air is viscous, any object moving through it collects a as an equal volume of perfectly dry air. Therefore, when air
group of air particles. The particles directly next to the objects contains 5 parts of water vapor and 95 parts of perfectly dry air,
surface, because of viscous adhesion, are pulled along at it is not as heavy as air containing no moisture. This is because
approximately the speed of the object. The layers of air slightly water is composed of hydrogen (an extremely light gas) and
further away from the surface will also be pulled along but at a oxygen. Air is composed principally of nitrogen, which is heavier
reduced velocity. Layers of air further from the objects surface than oxygen.
will also be pulled along but at a reduced velocity. Layers of air
further from the objects surface will be less and less affected Assuming that the temperature and pressure remain the same,
until a point is reached when the movement of the object has no the density of the air varies with the humidity. On damp days the
effect on the parallel motion of air particles (layers). density of air is less than it is on dry days.

The layers of air extending from the surface of an object to the


point where no dragging effect occurs is known as the
Boundary Layer which can be a laminar or a turbulent airflow.

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INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ATMOSPHERE Atmospheric pressure at sea level under standard conditions is
29.92 inches of mercury (in Hg) or 14.69 psi. It must be noted
There is a considerable variation in the properties of the that 1in of mercury produces a pressure of 0.491psi; therefore
atmosphere namely, temperature, pressure, and density. The 29.92 in Hg will produce a pressure of 14.69psi (0.491 X 29.92
performance of engine and the airplane itself is dependent on 14.69).
these three factors. It is therefore obvious that the actual
performance of an airplane does not give a true basis of Atmospheric pressure may be designated by a number of
comparison with other airplanes, and for this reason an different units. Some normally used units are
International Standard Atmosphere has been adopted.
- Inches of mercury
The properties assumed for this standard atmosphere are those - Millibars (mbar),
given in Figure. If, now, the actual performance of an airplane is - Pounds per square inch,(psi)
measured under certain conditions of temperature, pressure, - Kilopascals, and
and density, it is possible to deduce what would have been the - Millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
performance under the conditions of the Standard Atmosphere,
and thus it can be compared with the performance of some other Standard atmospheric pressure at 59F [15C] is approximately
airplane, which has been similarly reduced to standard as follows in the units just described:
conditions.
- 29.92 inHg
A "standard" atmosphere was adopted by the National Advisory - 1013 mbar (0C)
Committee for Aeronautics (now the National Aeronautics and - 14.69 psi
Space Administration, or NASA). This standard atmosphere is - 101.04 kPa (60F) [15.56C]
entirely arbitrary, but it provides a reference and standard of - 760 mmHg
comparison. The standard atmosphere actually represents the
mean or average properties of the atmosphere.

Since all aircraft performance is compared and evaluated in the


environment of the standard atmosphere, all of the aircraft
instrumentation is calibrated for the standard atmosphere.

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The effect of atmospheric pressure was demonstrated early in Atmospheric pressure pressing down on the surface of any
the seventeenth century by the Italian mathematician and liquid will cause the liquid to rise in an evacuated tube in the
scientist Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647). Torricelli had worked same manner as mercury; however, the height to which a liquid
with Galileo and had noted his theories regarding the "law" that will rise depends upon the density or specific gravity of the
nature abhors a vacuum. To explore the idea, Torricelli filled a liquid. For example, water will rise to approximately 33.9-ft
long glass tube, having one end closed with mercury .He then [10.34 m] in a completely evacuated tube.
placed his thumb over the open end of the tube. Holding the tube
in a vertical position with the closed end up, he placed the open Sometimes pressure gauges are scaled for inches of water
end of the tube in a container of mercury and removed his finger (inH2O) rather than for inches of mercury because such a
from the end of the tube. Some of the mercury immediately gauge is more sensitive and will measure lower pressure
flowed out of the tube into the container, leaving a vacuum in the differences.
upper end of the tube, as indicated in Figure .The height of the
column of mercury remaining in the tube was measured and A mercury barometer is essentially a mercury-filled glass tube
found to be approximately 30 in [762 mm]. scaled to show the height of a mercury column. The upper end
of the tube is sealed, and the lower end is exposed to the
At sea level under standard conditions, the height of such a pressure being measured. The barometer can be scaled for
column of mercury is 29.92 in [760 mm]. Therefore the standard pounds per square inch, inches of mercury, or other unit of
atmospheric pressure at sea level is 29.92 in high. Barometers pressure. On weather maps, the unit of pressure is the millibars
and sensitive altimeters are scaled to provide pressure (mbar), which is approximately one thousandth of a bar. For
information in inches of mercury. standard purposes, the sea-level pressure is set at 1013 mbar
(standard conditions). The bar is therefore the approximate
As just mentioned, the space above the mercury in the tube is a atmospheric pressure at sea level 1 in Hg equals 33.86 mbar.
vacuum; this means that the pressure at this point is 0 Psia.
Psia indicates, pounds per square inch absolute." Any gauge
marked for psia measures pressure from absolute zero rather
than from ambient pressure zero.

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ICAO Table for ISA

ALTITUDE DENSITY PRESSURE TEMPERATURE


kg/m3 millibars degrees C
feet meters
52,496 16,000 0.166 104 -56.5
45,934 14,000 0.228 142 -56.5
39,372 12,000 0.312 194 -56.5
32,810 10,000 0.414 265 -50
26,248 8,000 0.526 357 -37
19,686 6,000 0.66 472 -24
13,124 4,000 0.819 612 -11
6,562 2,000 1.007 795 2
0 0 1.225 1013.25 15

Table 1: ICAO table for ISA

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