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Review of Basic Aerodynamics – Newtonian Law

by Flight Learnings

in Aerodynamic Factors

Newton’s First Law, the Law of Inertia

Newton’s First Law of Motion is the Law of Inertia. It states that a body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion, at the same speed and in the same direction until affected by an outside force. The force with which a body offers resistance to change is called the force of inertia. Two outside forces are always present on an aircraft in flight: gravity and drag. The pilot uses pitch and thrust controls to counter or change these forces to maintain the desired flight path. If a pilot reduces power while in straightand-level flight, the aircraft will slow due to drag. However, as the aircraft slows there is a reduction of lift, which causes the aircraft to begin a descent due to gravity. [Figure 2-4]

Figure 2-4. Newton’s First Law of Motion: the Law of Inertia.

Figure 2-4. Newton’s First Law of Motion: the Law of Inertia.

 

Newton’s Second Law, the Law of Momentum

Newton’s Second Law of Motion is the Law of Momentum, which states that a body will accelerate in the same direction as the force acting upon that body, and the acceleration will be directly proportional to the net force and inversely proportional to the mass of the body. Acceleration refers either to an increase or decrease in velocity, although deceleration is commonly used to indicate a decrease. This law governs the aircraft’s ability to change flight path and speed, which are controlled by attitude (both pitch and bank) and thrust inputs. Speeding up, slowing down, entering climbs or descents, and turning are examples of accelerations that the pilot controls in everyday flight. [Figure 2-5]

Figure 2-5. Newton’s Second Law of Motion: the Law of Momentum.

Figure 2-5. Newton’s Second Law of Motion: the Law of Momentum.

Newton’s Third Law, the Law of Reaction

Newton’s Third Law of Motion is the Law of Reaction, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. As shown in Figure 2-6, the action of the jet engine’s thrust or the pull of the propeller lead to the reaction of the aircraft’s forward motion. This law is also responsible for a portion of the lift that is produced by a wing, from the downward deflection of the airflow around it. This downward force of the relative wind results in an equal but opposite (upward) lifting force created by the airflow over the wing. [Figure 2-6]

Figure 2-6. Newton’s Third Law of Motion: the Law of Reaction.

Figure 2-6. Newton’s Third Law of Motion: the Law of Reaction.

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