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Effect of Weight on Flight Performance

in Aerodynamics

The takeoff/climb and landing performance of an aircraft are determined on the basis of its maximum allowable takeoff and landing weights. A heavier gross weight results in a longer takeoff run and shallower climb, and a faster touchdown speed and longer landing roll. Even a minor overload may make it impossible for the aircraft to clear an obstacle that normally would not be a problem during takeoff under more favorable conditions.

The detrimental effects of overloading on performance are not limited to the immediate hazards involved with takeoffs and landings. Overloading has an adverse effect on all climb and cruise performance which leads to overheating during climbs, added wear on engine parts, increased fuel consumption, slower cruising speeds, and reduced range.

The manufacturers of modern aircraft furnish weight and balance data with each aircraft produced. Generally, this information may be found in the FAA-approved AFM/POH and easy-to-read charts for determining weight and balance data are now provided. Increased performance and load-carrying capability of these aircraft require strict adherence to the operating limitations prescribed by the manufacturer. Deviations from the recommendations can result in structural damage or complete failure of the aircraft’s structure. Even if an aircraft is loaded well within the maximum weight limitations, it is imperative that weight distribution be within the limits of CG location. The preceding brief study of aerodynamics and load factors points out the reasons for this precaution. The following discussion is background information into some of the reasons why weight and balance conditions are important to the safe flight of an aircraft.

In some aircraft, it is not possible to fill all seats, baggage compartments, and fuel tanks, and still remain within approved weight or balance limits. For example, in several popular four-place aircraft, the fuel tanks may not be filled to capacity when four occupants and their baggage are carried. In a certain two-place aircraft, no baggage may be carried in the compartment aft of the seats when spins are to be practiced. It is important for a pilot to be aware of the weight and balance limitations of the aircraft being flown and the reasons for these limitations.

51UFncHi9pL._SX390_BO1,204,203,200_Learn more about airplane aerodynamics with the Illustrated Guide to Aerodynamics. This unique introductory guide, which sold more than 20,000 copies in its first edition, proves that the principles of flight can be easy to understand, even fascinating, to pilots and technicians who want to know how and why an aircraft behaves as it does.

 

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