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AIAA Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Conference AIAA 2009-6046

10 - 13 August 2009, Chicago, Illinois

New methodologies for aircraft stability derivatives

determination from its geometrical data

Nicoleta Anton1 and Ruxandra Mihaela Botez2

Ecole de Technologie Superieure, Montral, Canada, H3C 1K3

Dumitru Popescu3
Ecole de Technologie Superieure, Montral, Canada, H3C 1K3

The common practice for aircraft design and certification is usually based on its flight
test data. The aircraft stability derivatives are the main unknowns to be determined from its
flight dynamics model. These aircraft stability derivatives data are the intrinsic parameters
used in the aircraft design - and are dependent on its geometry and on its flight conditions.
There is the need of determination with the highest precision of aircraft stability derivatives
for all regimes in order to determine the best aircraft flight model possible by use of
simulation tools rather than expensive flight test data. A way of obtaining the dynamic and
static stability derivatives is using a semi-empirical method DATCOM presented in USAF
Stability and Control DATCOM reference. A new code called FDerivatives was conceived by
us where new algorithms and methods were added, with respect to the DATCOM classical
FORTRAN code, to improve the stability derivatives calculations for an aircraft in the
subsonic regime. This new FDerivatives code was written under MATLAB 7.4.0 (R2007a)
version and has a complex structure which contains a graphical interface to facilitate the
potential users work. The new code and interface would allow aircraft designers to evaluate
aircraft new design concepts, predict its performances, and therefore bring the necessary
changes to its design. This code would provide important savings in man-hours and other
resources needed for flight tests. Results obtained in terms of stability derivatives values
with the new FDerivatives code are here presented and validated with the flight test data
results for the Hawker 800 XP aircraft by use of its aircraft geometry knowledge.

c = MAC (Mean Aerodynamic Chord)
cL = local airfoil section lift coefficient
cLmax = maximum airfoil section lift coefficient
q/q = dynamic pressure ratio
xcg = distance between the center of gravity and the quarter-chord point of wing MAC, parallel to MAC,
positive for CG aft of MAC
CD = drag coefficient
CD = drag-curve slope with respect to the angle of attack
CDq = drag due to pitch rate derivative
CDdot = drag due to angle of attack rate derivative
CL = lift coefficient
CLmax = maximum lift coefficient (to the wing)
CL = lift-curve slope
CLq = lift due to pitch rate derivative
PhD student, Laboratory of Research in Active Controls, Avionics and AeroServoElasticity LARCASE, 1100
Notre-Dame West Street, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 1K3, Canada.
Professor, Laboratory of Research in Active Controls, Avionics and AeroServoElasticity LARCASE, 1100 Notre-
Dame West Street, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 1K3, Canada, AIAA Member.
M.Sc. student, Laboratory of Research in Active Controls, Avionics and AeroServoElasticity LARCASE, 1100
Notre-Dame West Street, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 1K3, Canada.

Copyright 2009 by Ruxandra Mihaela Botez. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission.
CLdot = lift due to angle of attack rate derivative
Cm = pitching-moment coefficient
Cm0 = zero pitching-moment coefficient
Cm = static longitudinal stability derivative
Cmq = pitching moment due to pitch rate derivative
Cmdot = pitching moment due to angle of attack rate derivative
Clp = rolling moment due to roll rate derivative
Clr = rolling moment due to yaw rate derivative
Cl = rolling-moment due to sideslip derivative
Cldot = rolling-moment due to sideslip rate derivative
Cnp = yawing moment due to roll rate derivative
Cnr = yawing moment due to yaw rate derivative
Cn = yawing moment due to sideslip derivative
Cndot = yawing moment due to sideslip rate derivative
Cyp = side-force due to roll rate derivative
Cyr = side-force due to yaw rate derivative
Cy = side-force due to sideslip derivative
Cydot = side-force due to sideslip rate derivative
H = altitude
M = Mach number
= angle of attack
LE = quarter-chord sweep angle
L = twist factor in the relation for maximum lift coefficient
1, 2= sweep coefficients
s = stall factor correction
= total twist (geometric and aerodynamic)


A N important aspect in the flight simulator models is the quality of the real-time flight simulation that depends

mainly on the flight test data. There is need of flight simulator model validation with flight test data, therefore a

dependence on the aerodynamic stability derivatives. These derivatives are intrinsic parameters in the airplane,

dependent on the aircraft geometry and its flight test conditions. Such information is very expensive to obtain from

aircraft manufacturers, therefore flight simulator companies prefer to obtain these derivatives from aircraft


Currently, the only cost-effective way is to build simulation efficient methods less expensive than flight tests, in

order to estimate as closely as possible, the stability and control derivatives from aircraft geometrical data.

All geometrical data parameters involved in the stability derivatives estimation procedure are calculated with our

code, which is conceived for the following three configurations: Wing (W), Wing Body (WB) and Wing Body

Tail (WBT). Once these stability derivatives are calculated, the stability of the aircraft can be determined for

longitudinal (short and long time period of motion) and for lateral (roll, Dutch roll and spiral) motions.

FDerivatives code and its graphical interface would allow designers to evaluate new aircraft design concepts, to

predict their performances, and to bring changes before performing higher design evaluation steps. This process

would provide important savings of man-hours and other resources allocated to such projects. The methodology was

validated using Hawker 800 XP model for various flight cases expressed in terms of Mach numbers and altitudes for

which we had the experimental data. The validation was done using too the Digital DATCOM code.

Brief description of DATCOM method and its code

The static and dynamic derivatives may be estimated using the DATCOM method from aircraft geometry

knowledge [1]. The classical body-wing-tail geometries including their control effectiveness for a variety of high-

lift/control devices are treating in The USAF Stability and Control DATCOM. The outputs are generally expressed

in terms of incremental effects due to control surface deflections. Just to validate the common part of stability

derivatives obtained with our code FDerivatives we have used Digital DATCOM computer program written in


Main features of classical DATCOM method [1] are the following:

All the static stability derivatives - longitudinal and the lateral-directional - have expressed in the stability-axis

system. The body-axis normal force and the axial-force coefficients had also esteemed. For the given speed regimes

and configurations, the longitudinal drag, lift, moment, normal and axial coefficients CD, CL, Cm, CN and CA and their

corresponding lift, moment, side-force, normal and roll derivatives with respect to the angle of attack and sideslip

angle - dCL/d, dCm/d  dCY/d, dCn/d and dCl/d are obtained.

The lift, moment, roll, side-force, normal dynamic derivatives with respect to the pitch rate, angle of attack rate,

roll rate and yaw rate - dCL/dq, dCm/dq, dCL/ddot, dCm/ddot, dCl/dp, dCY/dp, dCn/dp, dCn/dr, dCl/dr (for

FDerivatives and Digital DATCOM codes) are also computed plus. In addition we have implemented in

FDerivatives code others functions available in DATCOM methods as dCD/ddot, dCY/ddot, dCn/ddot and


Aircraft model

The Hawker 800XP aircraft model is a midsize twin-engine corporate aircraft and in this paper the results

obtained for the stability derivatives were validated by the flight tests. This airplane is a construction with low

sweptback one-piece wings, a high tail plane and rear-mounted engines, for which the maximum considered Mach

number is 0.9. Therefore this aircraft can operate only in two regimes: subsonic and transonic. The scale of this

model is 1:1 and all its geometrical dimensions are given in foots. The Hawker 800XP aircraft schema is presented

in three-views drawing as seen in Figure 1.

Fig. 1 Three-views drawing of the Hawker 800XP aircraft model

The most important geometrical characteristics of the Hawker aircraft, estimated from its geometrical drawings

and calculated with other available methods, are shown in Table 1:

Table 1 Basic geometrical characteristic of the Hawker 800XP aircraft

Length, [ft] 51.1
Centre of Gravity FS (Fuselage Station), [ft] 25.42
Centre of Gravity WL (Wing Level), [ft] 0.0
Horizontal Vertical
Tail Tail
Reference Area, [ft2] 374.0 100.0 62.50
Span, [ft] 51.38 10.0 10.25
Aspect Ratio (AR), [-] 7.06 4.0 1.49
Mean Aerodynamic Chord (MAC), [ft] 7.95 - -
Thickness ratio, [%] 12.82 8.92 10.42
Leading-Edge sweep (inboard / outboard), [deg] 20 / 20 20.23 53
Semi-span of exposed surface, [ft] 22.21 9.60 8.31
Root chord, [ft] 11.25 6.54 15.71
Tip chord, [ft] 3.97 3.46 3.71
Chord at the breakpoint, [ft] 10.57 6.11 11.08

FDerivatives code

The new features (and advantages) added at FDerivatives code developed at LARCASE laboratory with respect

to the ones found in the DATCOM code are next described. The method estimation of the developed code is the

same as DATCOM in which stability derivatives are calculated from the geometrical model of each component.

First advantage of the FDerivatives code is the estimation of the lift, drag and moment coefficients and their

corresponding stability derivatives by use of a minimum number of aircraft geometrical data area, aspect ratio,

taper ratio and sweepback angle for wing, horizontal and vertical tail parameters, theirs airfoil coordinates, body and

nacelle parameters and for the both forms the coordinates in the three-dimensional plane.

FDerivatives code was written under MATLAB 7.4.0 (R2007a) version. It has a complex structure which

contains a graphical interface to facilitate the potential users work and a total of 73 MATLAB functions, where 24

functions value the aerodynamic coefficients and stability derivatives:

3 functions to estimate the lift, drag and moment coefficients: CL, CD and Cm;

6 functions to estimate the static derivatives: CL, CD, Cm, Cy, Cn and Cl.

15 functions to estimate the dynamic derivatives:

i. 3 pitching derivatives: CLq and Cmq plus CDq;

ii. 3 acceleration derivatives: CLdot, Cmdot plus CDdot;

iii. 3 rolling derivatives: Clp, Cnp and Cyp;

iv. 3 yawing derivatives: Cnr, Cyr and Clr;

v. Plus 3 derivatives: Cydot, Cldot and Cndot.

The rest of the functions until 73 are the intermediary functions necessaries to make the geometry calculus (bi-

and/or three-dimensional) and another useful to the aerodynamically calculations. A high level logical schema is

presented here, in the Figure 2, where we have the possibility to see the inputs and the outputs blocks and between

them the principle to esteem the aerodynamic parameters for each configuration.

At this moment our code does not calculate the control derivatives. It will be improved with the fallowing

control derivatives as elevator, aileron and rudder [3]. The most aircraft used as a control device the horizontal

stabilizer, and for this reason its derivatives must also be considered.

Fig. 2 Logical schema of FDerivatives code

The main function responsible with the aircraft and airfoils geometrys estimation in our code is

Aircraft_geometry.m and it has the global aim to determine the general parameters for Wing, Horizontal/Vertical

Tail, Body and Nacelles, while the secondary function airfoil_properties.m is used to define the geometrical and

aerodynamical particularities of different airfoils (bi/three - dimensional) included by the user. The main function is

called DATCOM.m.

The graphical interface (Figure 3) allows to the users to make any changes, fast and easy, in the aircraft model

and/or aircraft geometrical data (it is possible to change only the airfoils, for example, keeping the same

configuration of the aircraft). The main window facilitates the choice of the platforms type, airplane`s

configuration, flight characteristics and the range for angle of attack. We have the possibility to fix the wing position

and the roughness. For each of all three platforms (Wing, Horizontal/Vertical Tail) we introduce four global

parameters and airfoil coordinates situated at root, MAC and tip section. As supplementary options for Horizontal

Tail we have: Horizontal stabilizer on the fuselage or Horizontal stabilizer on the vertical stabilizer.

The body configuration has as inputs three global parameters (body length and position of gravity centre

Fuselage Station and Wing Level) and the fuselage coordinates (three-dimensional). The nacelle is described by the

number of nacelles, the axial position of the start of nacelle, the length and the nacelle coordinates (three-


Fig. 3 The graphical interface of FDerivatives code

The outputs are saved in three formats jpeg & MATLAB figures, and also a text files with all numerical data.

Fig. 4 FDerivatives outputs

DATCOM methods improvement for stability derivatives calculations

Descriptions of the main improvements are presented in this part of the paper. Some derivatives presented in

DATCOM method which are not implemented in Digital DATCOM can be found in the new FDerivatives code and

the method estimation for lift coefficient has been changed.

A table which contains all improvements of the FDerivatives code is presented.

Table 2 Outputs for Wing Body Tail configuration

Static derivatives
CL CD Cm CL CD Cm Cl Cn Cy

Dynamic derivatives
CLq CDq Cmq CLdot CDdot Cmdot Clp Cnp Cyp

Clr Cnr Cyr Cydot Cndot Cldot

DATCOM method
DATCOM method implemented only in FDerivatives code
method changed

A. The lift, drag and moment coefficients as well as theirs static and dynamic derivatives were calculated for a

three-dimensional aircraft flow. All geometric inputs can be checked visually using a three-dimensional model


B. DATCOM classical method assumes that airfoil section characteristics are constant across the airfoil span,

keeping the root section for the wing and horizontal/vertical tail. In these conditions we do not have the

possibility to catch the real configuration using Digital DATCOM code and this impediment is finds

considerably in the lift coefficient estimation.

The new FDerivatives code at LARCASE is now improved by considering that variable sections across the wing

span, taking 10 sections in the calculus. In the new code we consider that:

The aerodynamic twist is estimated versus the geometric twist estimated in DATCOM method,

Variable sections are considered across the wing span. These sections are estimated with a good precision

by taking into account the wing root, the MAC and the tip airfoils. The airfoil situated at breakpoint can also be

taken into consideration in these calculations.

To obtain the global lift coefficient for a wing with a total nonlinear twist, we use a method of lift-line type,

generalized in behavior close to the nonlinear airfoil [4].

The lift distribution along the wing is calculated, by taking into account the induced angle of attack by a finite

wing span, accordingly to the airfoil lift data calculated in the 10 sections of the wing span.

For this reason is necessary to have the airfoil coordinates situated at root, MAC, tip and another 7 intermediary

sections. If we do not have the possibility to benefice as inputs all this airfoil coordinates our code has a function

that cans make a reconstruction for any intermediary section. The three-dimensional airfoil coordinates are

introduced in millimeters.

Fig. 5 Three-dimensional wing of Hawker 800XP

The determining method of lift distribution is in fact a method of successive approximations. For each section

the code calculates the bi-dimensional lift coefficient value. A section lift coefficient distribution is assumed.

Equations(1) developed in reference [5] are here used to estimate the maximum lift coefficient.

C L max = L Ls L ( cL max L C L ) (1)
cL max ==00

This method applies to any geometry, including a twisted wing and is intended to replace the old algorithm used in

the DATCOM method for a linear twisting. Original formula presented contained a stall correction factor Ls which

was eliminated in our code. The maximum lift coefficient for the entirely wing is calculate for various flight

conditions with(2).

C L max = L L ( cL max L C L ) (2)
cL max ==00

The sweep correction factor depends on the aspect ratio and taper ratio, as shown in the following formula and in

Figure 6:

L 1 + 1 2 1.2 (3)

Fig. 6 Sweep coefficients for wings with linear taper

cL max (maximum lift coefficient of the section) in formula(2) is given by the section which has the most value. Once

the lift distribution along the wing span is obtained, the code sequence is used to calculate the stall coefficient of the

entirely wing(2).

Unfortunately we do not have the experimental data just for Wing or Wing-Body configuration and in this case

we are forced to validate the results obtained with FDerivatives code using other aircraft models existing in

literature, not the Hawker 800XP model.

To validate this part we had run the code at Mach = 0.35 and H = 4500ft for a case presented in reference [6]. The

wing has the characteristics shown in the Table 3:

Table 3 Wing characteristics

Root section NACA 4420

Tip section NACA 4412
Taper ratio 2.5
Aspect ratio 10.05
Span 15 [ft]
Area 22.39 [ft2]
Root chord 2.143 [ft]
MAC chord 1.592 [ft]
Tip chord 0.8572 [ft]
Geometrical twist -3.50
Aerodynamical twist -3.40
Sweepback angle of leading edge 120
Dihedral angle 20
Reynolds number 3490000

CLmax CLmax CLmax

experimental with without
correction correction
1.37 1.2510 1.3730

Reasonable results between experimental and calculated have obtained for the formula without the stall

correction factor where the error is only 0.22%, comparatively with the completely formula where we have an 8.7%

error. The conclusion, with this experimental case, is that the formula necessary to esteem the maximum lift

coefficient is the same with(2).

Fig. 7 CL distribution for Wing configuration at R = 3.49106

The model used for the present validation in WB configuration had permits test for wing alone, fuselage alone or

the fuselage in combination with the wing was presented in the reference [7] for a Mach number equal at 0.166 and

2075 ft altitude. The geometrical model for wing and fuselage are given in Table 4:

Table 4 Basic geometrical characteristics of the model

Length 40.0 [in]
Fineness ratio 6.67
Span 36 [in]
Area 324 [in2]
Aspect ratio 4.0
Taper ratio 0.6
MAC chord 9.19 [in]
Quarter-chord sweepback angle 00
Twist 00
Dihedral angle 00
Airfoil section NACA 65A008

Figure 8 shows a comparison between the experimental calculated data with the new FDerivatives code for lift

coefficient distribution function of angle of attack.

Fig. 8 CL versus , experimental versus calculated, WB configuration

It can remark the linear zone of CL where the both curves are very close and for Cm the results are similar.

C. The new FDerivatives code has changed the way to computation the total moment coefficient. Here the nacelles

contribution is included and the total moment is presented as a sum between the moment given by the Wing

Body Nacelles (WBN) and the Horizontal Tail (HT) contribution.

( Cm0 )total = ( Cm )WBN + ( Cm )HT (4)

( Cm0 )WBN = m d ( CL )WBN + ( Cm 0 )WBN (5)

dCm xCG ( Cm )
Where = is estimated as function of gravitational centre position and
L CG c ( CL )

( Cm ) = ( Cm ) free + ( Cm )drag + ( Cm ) potential _ flow + ( Cm )visqoues _ flow

( Cm 0 ) M
( Cm0 )WBN = ( Cm 0 )W + ( Cm 0 ) B + ( Cm 0 ) B
( C m 0 ) M =0

The body contribution including the increment is defined using the reference [8], where we have the fuselage zero

pitching moment coefficient and two times zero pitching moment coefficient given by the nacelles.

Fig. 9 Cm versus , experimental versus calculated, WB configuration

D. Longitudinal dynamic stability coefficients CLq and Cmq computed in Digital DATCOM is assumed as linear. In

FDerivatives code they are estimated considering in the computational method the dependence by the dynamic-

pressure ratio ( q '' q ) , in the plane of symmetry at an arbitrary distance x aft of the wing-root-chord trailing

edge. The linearity appears only if the rapport q '' q = 1 .

Fig. 10 CLq versus , Hawker 800XP WBT configuration

Fig. 11 Cmq versus , Hawker 800XP WBT configuration

In addition, CDq is computed in the new code using the method described in DATCOM and depends by the value

of pitching rate q, which is defined in the interval [0 10] deg/s. The results are presented in Figure 12 for M = 0.3,

0.4, 0.5, 0.6 and H = 30 ft in WBT configuration, with a pitch rate q = 5 deg/s.

Fig. 12 CDq versus , for H = 30 ft and q = 5 deg/s

E. Zero lift angle and pitch moment for a wing section are also calculated in FDerivatives code by the thin wing

section theory [9] using a Fourier method. A good approximation for zero lift coefficients and pitching moment

are obtained using the Pankhurst method.

F. In the subsonic regime, the new FDerivatives code was improved by taking into account equations for the

following dynamic derivatives such as:

Drag coefficient due to a time variation in the angle of attack dCD/ddot, to the W and WBT configurations,

Rolling moment coefficient due to a time variation in the sideslip angle dCl/ddot to the WBT


Side-force coefficient due to a time variation in the sideslip angle dCY/ddot to the WBT configuration,

Yawing-moment coefficient due to a time variation in the sideslip angle dCn/ddot to the WBT


The formulas are the same with the mathematical model presented in reference [1].

De introdus graficele cu rezultate pt cele 4 derivate

Validation approach and results

Results are presented in terms of stability derivatives for following parameters:

 Altitude = 30.0 ft;

 Mach number = 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6;

 Angle of attack = -5 20 deg;

To validate our results obtained with FDerivatives code the approach are performed in two different ways:

Validation with CAE Inc. results for the Hawker 800XP aircraft CL and CD;

Fig. 13 CL versus , at M = 0.4

Fig. 14 CD versus , at M = 0.4

A comparison between the results obtained with the new FDerivatives code, Digital DATCOM code and the

experimental data given by CAE Inc was made. The test case was chose at an altitude H = 30 ft and a Mach number

M = 0.4 and 0.5. The FDerivatives code provides the results for CL between the minimum value of angle of attack

and the stall angle. Default the method is valid for CD estimation considering the same interval.

Fig. 15 CL versus , at M = 0.5

Fig. 16 CL versus , at M = 0.5

We can remark that our results are almost identical for a large range of angle of attack for the both aerodynamic

coefficients. The differences appear for an angle of attack higher than 10 degrees.

Validation with results provided by Digital DATCOM program the rest of the stability derivatives

excepting the four presented in part F.

A restricted number of the graphics is presented in this paper, because of a large number of the tested cases.

Fig. 17 Cm versus , at M = 0.3

Fig. 18 Cy versus , at M = 0.3

Fig. 19 Cl versus , at M = 0.5

Fig. 20 Cn versus , at M = 0.5

Fig. 21 Cyp versus , at M = 0.3

Fig. 22 Cnp versus , at M = 0.3

Fig. 23 Clp versus , at M = 0.4

Fig. 24 Cnr versus , at M = 0.4


The new FDerivatives code is a sum of different methods founds in the literature and the main method presented

by DATCOM. This new code was designed to obtain all the stability derivatives of any aircraft considering as inputs

only a small number of geometrical data. The code is very easy to modified giving the possibility to the user to

choose the number of derivatives, the aircraft configuration and the flight characteristics. The outputs become inputs

for a model that will be implemented by an aircraft simulator.

The lift coefficient method implemented in our code is better than DATCOM method because we catch a

geometry which is much closer to the real wing, a wing with a variable geometry and airfoil characteristics, with a

nonlinear twist. Other derivatives had been implemented to complete the program, derivatives which are not

calculated in Digital DATCOM code.

If the user want to esteem the aerodynamic characteristics and stability derivatives only for a part of the aircraft

he has this option. He should introduce only the inputs of the desired configuration.


An Acknowledgments section, if used, immediately precedes the References. Sponsorship and financial support

acknowledgments should be included here.


[1] The USAF Stability and Control Digital DATCOM - AFFDL-TR-79-3032.


[3] Roskam, J., Airplane design, DARcorporation, Part. VI, 2000.

[4] Sivells, J.C. and Neely, R.H., Method for calculating wing characteristics by lifting-line theory using nonlinear section lift

data, NACA-TN-1269, Washington, April 1947.

[5] Phillips, W. F. and Alley, N. R., Predicting Maximum Lift Coefficient for Twisted Wings Using Lifting-Line Theory,

Journal of Aircraft, No. 3.

[6] Neely, R.H. and Bollech, T.V, Experimental and calculated characteristics of several NACA 44-series wings with aspect

ratios of 8, 10, and 12 and taper ratios of 2.5 and 3.5, NACA-TN-1270, Washington, May 1947.

[7] Letko, W. and Riley, D.R., Effect of an unswept wing of the contribution of unswept-tail configurations to the low-speed

static- and rolling-stability derivatives of a midwing airplane model, NACA TN 2175, Washington, August 1950, page 25-26.

[8] Etkin, B. and Reid, L.D., Dynamics of Flight, Stability and Control, Third Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996.

[9] Abbot, I.H., von Doenhoff A.E., Theory of wing sections, Dover Publication Inc, New York, 1959, page 12 30.