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Fundamentals of aircraft performance

Determining Minimum drag velocity, V MD

Imagine an aircraft ﬂying in a uniform motion through the air. In order to

do this aircraft’s engine must produce thrust force that is equal and opposite

to the drag force. Thus we have:

T = D = qSC D

(1)

Where q is equal to dynamic pressure

the coeﬃcient of drag. Aircraft has to also create lift to stay in the air. In

uniform case the lift force must equal the force due gravity ie the weight.

Hence we will have:

2 1 ρV 2 , S is the reference area and C D

L = W = qSC L

(2)

Where C L is the coeﬃcient of lift. By dividing equation (1) by (2) we can

deduce that the thrust required to maintain uniform ﬂight is:

W
T =
= W
C L
L
D
C D

(3)

Since it is know that the total drag of aircraft is the sum of parasite drag and

lift induced drag, it can be written in the form:

T = D = qSC (D,0)

parasite drag

1

+

2

L

C

qS

πe( b 2 )

S

lift induced drag

(4)

Here b 2

S

is the aspect ratio. Now substituting C L =

have equation

T = qSC (D,0) +

W 2

qSπe( b 2

S )

qS W from equation (2) we

(5)

Since it is not possible to diﬀrentiate this equation with respect to V directly, we can write

dT

dq

= dT dV dV dq

(6)

From calculus we have that the velocity of minimum thrust required (thus

dV dT = 0. From equation

the minimum drag since T = D) is obtained when

(6) we also have that at that point dT

= 0 must also be true. Therefore we

can diﬀrentiate equation (5) with respect to q:

dq

dT

dq

dT

dq

= 1q (11) SC (D,0) + (

W 2

) )

q (11) Sπe( b 2

S

= SC (D,0)

W 2

) : S

q 2 Sπe( b 2

S

C (D,0) =

W 2

q 2 S 2 πe( b 2

S )

(7)

From this equation we can see that conclusion that:

 W 2 q 2 S 2 W ( qS ) 2 = 2 C (D,0) = C L πe( b 2 S ) = C D,i C (D,0) = C D,i parasite drag = lift induced drag

2

= C L Which leads to

What is V md ?

In order to obtain an expression for V md , it is possible to write the original equation in a diﬀerent form.

D =

1

2

ρV 2 SC (D,0) +

kW 2

1

2

ρV 2 S

(8)

Where k =

When this equation is diﬀrentiated with respect to V and the derivative is

set to be equal zero, an expression for V md can ve formed. In this equatin

ﬁrst term can be diﬀretiated using basic power rule and the second term by

) and the equation of q, dynamic pressure is written out.

1

πe( b 2
S

using quotient rule.

1

2

2

kW 2

2 1 ρV 2 S

D =

dD

dV

dD

dV

ρV 2 SC (D,0) +

1

4kW 2

ρV (21) S

= ρV (21) SC (D,0)

2

= ρV SC (D,0) 4kW ρV 3 S 2

Next, the derivative is set to be equal zero and is solved for V

2

0 = ρV SC (D,0) 4kW ρV 3 S ∥ · V

=

2

ρSC (D,0) 4kW

ρV 4 S

∥ · ρV 4 S

= ρ 2 S 2 C (D,0) V 4 4kW 2 : ρ 2 S 2 C (D,0)

4 4kW 2

V

md =

(ρS) 2 C (D,0)

Best range and endurance for jet aircraft

Next, consider a jet engine that produces thrust. Thurst produced in a

jet engine is directly propotional to the fuel consumed. Thus in order to

maximize endurance, the aircraft must ﬂy at maximum

C D . In order to have maximum range, aircraft must ﬂy maximum distance

with every unit of fuel consumed. Thus we must ﬁnd speed where the ratio

C L

D

V

is at its maximum value. First the ratio is obtained.

D

V

=

=

1

2

ρV 2 SC (D,0) + kW 2

1

2

ρV 2 S

V

1

2 ρV SC (D,0) +

kW 2

2 1 ρV 3 S

The next step is to diﬀrentiate the ratio with respect to V , which will give the

speed at which the plane will furthest with minimal fuel per unit distance.

Again, same methods of diﬀrentiation apply with this equation than with

the previous one as well. After that we set derivative to equal zero and solve

for V

d

D

V

dV

0

4

V

D

= 1 2 ρSC (D,0)

=

=

6kW 2

ρV 4 S

1 2 ρSC (D,0) 6kW ρV 4 S 2

12kW 2

U (ρS) 2 C (D,0)

Now it is possible to link minimun drag velocity and maximum range velocity.

Recall that V

4

4kW

md =

(ρS) 2 C

(D,0) , thus:

2

4

V

D

U

V D

U

= 3V 4

md

= 1.316V md

Therefore maximum range velocity is 32% higher than the minimum drag

velocity.

Best range and endurance for propeller driven aircraft

The diﬀerence of a propeller driven compared to a jet one in terms of best

range and endurance arises from the fact that fuel consumption of a propeller

aircraft is a function of power, not thrust as it is with a jet aircraft. aamuja