Sunday, July 24, 2011

Flight dynamics

Flight dynamics is the science of air vehicle orientation and control in three dimensions. The three critical flight dynamics parameters are the angles of rotation in three dimensions about the vehicle's center of mass, known as pitchroll and yaw. In this page, you can learn more about pitch, roll and yaw.

Flight dynamics

  • Roll is a rotation about the longitudinal axis (equivalent to the rolling or heeling of a ship) giving an up-down movement of the wing tips measured by the roll or bank angle.
  • Pitch is a rotation about the sideways horizontal axis giving an up-down movement of the aircraft nose measured by the angle of attack.
  • Yaw is a rotation about the vertical axis giving a side-to-side movement of the nose known as sideslip.
A fixed-wing aircraft increases or decreases the lift generated by the wings when it pitches respectively nose up or down by increasing or decreasing the angle of attack. A fixed-wing aircraft usually "banks" to change the horizontal direction of flight. To maintain direction, efficiency and controllability of flight the sideslip angle must remain near zero, though there are instances when an aircraft may be deliberately "sideslipped" for example a slip in a fixed-wing aircraft.
Besides lift, the other main aerodynamic force on an aircraft is drag opposing its motion through the air. An aircraft is usually streamlined from nose to tail to reduce drag.
Flight control

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Aerospace engineers develop control systems for a vehicle's orientation (attitude) about its center of mass. The control systems include actuators, which exert forces in various directions, and generate rotational forces or moments about the aerodynamic center of the aircraft, and thus rotate the aircraft in pitch, roll, or yaw. For example, a pitching moment is a vertical force applied at a distance forward or aft from the aerodynamic center of the aircraft, causing the aircraft to pitch up or down. Control systems are also sometimes used to increase or decrease drag, for example to slow the aircraft to a safe speed for landing.
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