An airfoil (in
American English) or aerofoil (in British English) is the shape of a wingor blade (of a propeller, rotor or turbine) or sailas seen in cross-section.
An airfoil-shaped body moved through a
fluidproduces a force perpendicular to the motion called lift. Subsonic flightairfoils have a characteristic shape with a rounded leading edge, followed by a sharp trailing edge, often with asymmetric camber. Airfoils designed with water as the working fluid are also called hydrofoils.
fixed-wing aircraft's wings, horizontal, and vertical stabilizers are built with airfoil-shaped cross sections, as are helicopterrotor blades. Airfoils are also found in propellers, fans, compressors and turbines. Sails are also airfoils, and the underwater surfaces of sailboats, such as the centerboardand keel, are similar in cross-section and operate on the same principles as airfoils. Swimming and flying creatures and even many plants and sessileorganisms employ airfoils; common examples being bird wings, the bodies of fishes, and the shape of sand dollars. An airfoil-shaped wing can create downforceon an automobileor other motor vehicle, improving traction.
Any object with an
angle of attackin a moving fluid, such as a flat plate, a building, or the deck of a bridge, will generate an aerodynamic force (called lift) perpendicular to the flow. Airfoils are more efficient lifting shapes, able to generate more lift (up to a point), and to generate lift with less drag.
A lift and drag curve obtained in
wind tunneltesting is shown on the right. The curve represents an airfoil with a positive camberso some lift is produced at zero angle of attack. With increased angle of attack, lift increases in a roughly linear relation, called the "slope" of the lift curve. At about eighteen degrees this airfoil stalls and lift falls off quickly beyond that. Drag is least at a slight negative angle for this particular airfoil, and increases rapidly with higher angles.
Airfoil design is a major facet of
aerodynamics. Various airfoils serve different flight regimes. Asymmetric airfoils can generate lift at zero angle of attack, while a symmetric airfoil may better suit frequent inverted flight as in an aerobaticaeroplane. In the region of the aileronsand near a wingtipa symmetric airfoil can be used to increase the range of angle of attacks to avoid spin-stall. Ailerons itself are not cut into the airfoil, but extend it. Thus a large range of angles can be used without boundary layer separation. Subsonic airfoils have a round leading edge, which is naturally insensitive to the angle of attack. For intermediate Reynolds numbers already before maximum thickness boundary layer separation occurs for a circular shape, thus the curvature is reduced going from front to back and the typical wing shape is retrieved. Supersonic airfoils are much more angular in shape and can have a very sharp leading edge, which — as explained in the last sentence — is very sensitive to angle of attack. A supercritical airfoilhas its maximum thickness close to the leading edge to have a lot of length to slowly shock the supersonic flow back to subsonic speeds. Generally such transonicairfoils and also the supersonic airfoils have a low camber to reduce drag divergence. Movable high-lift devices, flaps and sometimes slats, are fitted to airfoils on almost every aircraft. A trailing edge flap acts similar to an aileron, with the difference that it can be retracted partially into the wing if not used (and some flaps even make the plane a biplaneif used). A laminar flow wing has a maximum thickness in the middle camber line. Analysing the Navier-Stokes equationsin the linear regime shows that a negative pressure gradient along the flow has the same effect as reducing the speed. So with the maximum camber in the middle, maintaining a laminar flow over a larger percentage of the wing at a higher cruising speed is possible. Of course, with rain or insects on the wing or for jetliner like speeds this does not work. Since such a wing stalls more easily, this airfoil is not used on wingtips (spin-stall again).
Schemes have been devised to describe airfoils — an example is the NACA system. Various ad-hoc naming systems are also used. An example of a general purpose airfoil that finds wide application, and predates the NACA system, is the
Clark-Y. Today, airfoils are designed for specific functions using inverse design programs such as PROFIL, XFOIL and AeroFoil [ [http://aerofoilengineering.com/ AeroFoil] ] . X-foil is an online program created by Mark Drela that will design and analyze subsonic isolated airfoils [ [http://web.mit.edu/drela/Public/web/xfoil/ X-foil] ] . Modern aircraft wings may have different airfoil sections along the wing span, each one optimized for the conditions in each section of the wing.
The various terms related to airfoils are defined below: [cite book
last = Hurt
first = H. H., Jr.
origyear = 1960
title = Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators
year = 1965
month = January
publisher = U.S. Navy, Aviation Training Division
location = U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.
id = NAVWEPS 00-80T-80
pages = pp. 21-22 ]
*The "mean camber line" is a line drawn midway between the upper and lower surfaces.
*The "chord line" is a straight line connecting the leading and trailing edges of the airfoil, at the ends of the mean camber line.
*The "chord" is the length of the chord line and is the characteristic dimension of the airfoil section.
*The "maximum thickness" and the location of maximum thickness are expressed as a percentage of the chord.
*For symmetrical airfoils both "mean camber line" and "chord line" pass from centre of gravity of the airfoil and they touch at leading and trailing edge of the airfoil.
*The "aerodynamic center" is the chord wise length about which the pitching moment is independent of the lift coefficient and the angle of attack.
*The "center of pressure" is the chord wise location about which the pitching moment is zero.
park flyer,laminar flow airfoil for a RC pylon racer,laminar flow airfoil for a manned propeller aircraft,laminar flow at a jet airliner airfoil,stable airfoil used for flying wings,aft loaded airfoil allowing for a large main spar and late stall,transonic supercritical airfoil,supsersonic leading edge airfoil.Colours: Black=laminar flow, red=turbulent flow, grey=subsonic stream, blue=supersonic flow volume ]
Thin airfoil theory
The thin airfoil theory is a simple theory of thin airfoils that relates
angle of attackto lift. It was devised by Ludwig Prandtland others in the 1920s. The theory idealizes an airfoil to have infinite span, which simplifies the problem into two dimensions instead of three. It can be viewed as the special case of lifting-line theorywhen the aspect ratio is infinite.
The theory states that:
* is the
lift coefficientat any angle of attack, ,
* represents the slope of the lift-curve (the rate of change of lift coefficient with changing angle of attack),
* is the angle of attack in radians,
* represents the lift coefficient when the angle of attack is zero.
The theory does not take into account the
induced dragthat arises from the wing tips of an airfoil, and thus is only a good approximation for an airfoil with a medium to large aspect ratio and only up to the stall angle, which is usually between 10° and 15° for typical aircraft configurations. [ [http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/aerodynamics/q0136.shtml aerospaceweb's information on Thin Airfoil Theory] ]
According to the ideal aerodynamics of thin airfoil theory, the airfoil is infinitely thin and thus has no form drag, only skin friction. According to this idealism, is 0 and is 2 . Thus this idealized equation is:
Derivation of thin airfoil theory
The airfoil is modeled as a thin lifting mean-line (camber line). The mean-line, y(x), is considered to produce a distribution of
vorticityalong the line, s. By the Kutta condition, the vorticity is zero at the trailing edge. Since the airfoil is thin, x (chord position) can be used instead of s, and all angles can be approximated as small.
Biot-Savart law, this vorticity produces a flow field where
where x is the location at which induced velocity is produced, x' is the location of the vortex element producing the velocity and c is the chord length of the airfoil.
Since there is no flow normal to the curved surface of the airfoil, w(x) balances that from the component of main flow V which is locally normal to the plate — the main flow is locally inclined to the plate by an angle . That is
This integral equation can by solved for , after replacing x by
as a Fourier series in with a modified lead term
(These terms are known as the Glauert integral).
The coefficients are given by
Kutta–Joukowski theorem, the total lift force F is proportional to
and its moment M about the leading edge to
The calculated Lift coefficient depends only on the first two terms of the Fourier series, as
The moment M about the leading edge depends only on and , as
The moment about the 1/4 chord point will thus be,
From this it follows that the
center of pressureis aft of the 'quarter-chord' point 0.25 c, by
aerodynamic center, AC, is at the quarter-chord point. The AC is where the pitching moment M' does not "vary" with angle of attack, i.e.
References: [ [http://www.desktopaero.com/appliedaero/airfoils1/tatderivation.html http://www.desktopaero.com/appliedaero/airfoils1/tatderivation.html] ] [ [http://www.aeromech.usyd.edu.au/aero/thinaero/ http://www.aeromech.usyd.edu.au/aero/thinaero/] ] [cite book
last = Batchelor
first = George, K
authorlink = George Batchelor
origyear = 1967
title = An Introduction to Fluid Dynamics
publisher = Cambridge UP
pages = pp. 467–471 ]
Angle of attack
Circulation control wing
Coefficient of lift
Foil (fluid mechanics)
* [http://www.ae.uiuc.edu/m-selig/ads/coord_database.html UIUC Airfoil Coordinates Database]
* [http://www.skias-engineering.gr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19&Itemid=47 Airfoil & Hydrofoil Reference Application]
* [http://math.fullerton.edu/mathews/c2003/JoukowskiTransMod.html The Joukowski Airfoil]
* [http://www.chardmuseum.co.uk/Powered_Flight/ Chard Museum] The Birth of Powered Flight.
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Look at other dictionaries:
airfoil — air foil n. 1. 1 a surface such as the wing of an airplane designed to provide reactive force when in motion relative to the surrounding air. Syn: aerofoil [WordNet 1.5] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
airfoil — (n.) 1922, U.S. form of AEROFOIL (Cf. aerofoil) … Etymology dictionary
airfoil — ☆ airfoil [er′foil΄ ] n. 1. a part with a flat or curved surface, as a wing, rudder, etc., specifically designed to keep an aircraft up or control its movements by reacting to the air through which it moves 2. a similar winglike surface designed… … English World dictionary
airfoil — aeroplane aer *o*plane aeroplane a [ e]r*o*plane , n. [a[ e]ro + plane.] (A[ e]ronautics) 1. A light rigid plane used in a[ e]rial navigation to oppose sudden upward or downward movement in the air, as in gliding machines; specif., such a plane… … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
airfoil — /air foyl /, n. Aeron. any surface, as a wing, aileron, or stabilizer, designed to aid in lifting or controlling an aircraft by making use of the air currents through which it moves. [1920 25; AIR1 + FOIL2] * * * Shaped surface, such as an… … Universalium
airfoil — noun Date: circa 1922 a body (as an airplane wing or propeller blade) designed to provide a desired reaction force when in motion relative to the surrounding air … New Collegiate Dictionary
airfoil — noun a) A structure shaped to produce lift when moving in air. b) A wing of an aircraft. Syn: foil, wing … Wiktionary
airfoil — n. surface (as in a wing, propeller, etc.) designed to aid in lifting and controlling an aircraft by means of air currents (Aeronautics) … English contemporary dictionary
airfoil — noun North American term for aerofoil … English new terms dictionary
airfoil — air•foil [[t]ˈɛərˌfɔɪl[/t]] n. aer. any surface, as a wing or stabilizer, designed to aid in lifting or controlling an aircraft by making use of the air currents through which it moves • Etymology: 1920–25 … From formal English to slang