ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Airfoil the curious shape

Updated on January 6, 2014
Aircraft with very heavy all up weight on a take off run. You think it will take off;  of course it will, that is the magic of airfoil.
Aircraft with very heavy all up weight on a take off run. You think it will take off; of course it will, that is the magic of airfoil.

An aircraft with a huge metal body, having a very large wing span, filled with tones of fuel, carries 500 or more passengers and their baggage. How does this giant get lifted up in air against it's massive weight, why it is not falling down during its flight or how does it continue it's flight through air? All this was my curiosity until I learned about a peculiar shape called aerorfoil (British) airfoil (American).

Air flow over the wing. Air travels more distance on the top than through bottom as top surface is camber in shape.
Air flow over the wing. Air travels more distance on the top than through bottom as top surface is camber in shape.

Air flow over aerofoil

Of all shapes, only airfoil shape allows smooth pattern of air flow over when it is subjected to moving air. Shapes, other than airfoil produces turbulence or eddies to air flow resulting in greater amount of opposite force or drag when they are moved through air. Greatest application of airfoil is on the aircraft wing or on the rotating blades of helicopter which is also called rotating wing or rotary wing. If you look from the side of an aircraft wing what you see is the cross section of the wing and that is the shape of an airfoil. So the entire wing of an aircraft is simply airfoil shaped.

Laminar air flow over airfoil and how lift is generated
Laminar air flow over airfoil and how lift is generated
  • Flow of air is laminar over the airfoil. Smooth undisturbed layers or lamination of air flow takes place at top and bottom surface of airfoil. However, path of air on the top surface is longer than the bottom surface as the top is camber in shape
  • Speed of air moving on the top surface is higher so there is a pressure drop on the top surface.
  • Opposite happens at bottom side of the airfoil. Speed of air is low so there is an increased pressure at the bottom side.
  • High pressure underneath will therefore push the airfoil up against the lower air pressure on the top. This is called the lift produced by the airfoil.

Shape of an airfoil and its features
Shape of an airfoil and its features

Shape of aerofoil

Forward end of the airfoil is meeting the incoming flow of air so it is called the leading edge. The rear end is trailing the flow of air so it is the trailing edge. Leading edge is broader and round shaped where as trailing edge is sharp and thin. It is camber shaped, slightly curved on the upper surface makes the lower surface shorter than the upper side. Imaginary line joining leading edge and the trailing edge is the chord line. Angle formed between chord line and relative airflow makes the angle of attack. Lift generated by airfoil will continue to increase as its angle of attack increases until a point of stalling. Air flow over the airfoil when set at stalling angle is disturbed and turbulent instead of a smooth laminar flow. When airfoil is moved in relative air flow few interesting characteristics takes place and Bernoulli's principle helps to explain this phenomenon.

Forces acting
Forces acting

Forces acting on aerofoil

There are four forces acting on a body when it is idling. Lift acting upward against the weight of the body so also thrust acting forward against its drag or resistance to move. The picture given is self explanatory. Aircraft gets air lifted when lift generated by its wing over comes the weight of the aircraft. As we have discussed above in order to produce lift, airfoil is to be moved in the relative airflow. More the speed greater the lift airfoil produces, as such the aircraft is made to run on the runway at a faster speed for the wing to generate required amount of lift. Any massive weighing aircraft will there fore get airlifted when force of lift overcomes the force of weight.

Peculiarities of aircraft wings, its different shapes, Is there a way for aircraft to generate lift with out a take off run etc will be discussed through my continued writings. Until then follow me.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Khalid Mahmood 

      4 years ago

      Good knowledge and well written and managed. Keep it up

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)