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Aerodynamic Factors

in Aerodynamic Factors

Several factors affect aircraft performance including the atmosphere, aerodynamics, and aircraft icing. Pilots need an understanding of these factors for a sound basis for prediction of aircraft response to control inputs, especially with regard to instrument approaches, while holding, and when operating at reduced airspeed in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Although these factors are important to the pilot flying visual flight rules (VFR), they must be even more thoroughly understood by the pilot operating under instrument flight rules (IFR). Instrument pilots rely strictly on instrument indications to precisely control the aircraft; therefore, they must have a solid understanding of basic aerodynamic principles in order to make accurate judgments regarding aircraft control inputs.

The Wing

To understand aerodynamic forces, a pilot needs to understand basic terminology associated with airfoils.  Figure 2-1 illustrates a typical airfoil. The chord line is the straight line intersecting the leading and trailing edges of the airfoil, and the term chord refers to the chord line longitudinal length (length as viewed from the side).

Figure 2-1. The Airfoil.

Figure 2-1. The Airfoil.

The mean camber is a line located halfway between the upper and lower surfaces. Viewing the wing edgewise, the mean camber connects with the chord line at each end. The mean camber is important because it assists in determining aerodynamic qualities of an airfoil. The measurement of the maximum camber; inclusive of both the displacement of the mean camber line and its linear measurement from the end of the chord line, provide properties useful in evaluating airfoils.


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