Tailspin - Aircraft Design

Aircraft Design

For safety, all certificated, single-engine fixed-wing aircraft, including certificated gliders, must meet specified criteria regarding stall and spin behavior. Complying designs typically have a wing with greater angle of attack at the wing root than at the wing tip, so that the wing root stalls first, reducing the severity of the wing drop at the stall and possibly also allowing the ailerons to remain somewhat effective until the stall migrates outward toward the wing tip. One method of tailoring such stall behavior is known as washout. Some designers of recreational aircraft seek to develop an aircraft that is characteristically incapable of spinning, even in an uncoordinated stall.

Some airplanes have been designed with fixed leading edge slots. Where the slots are located ahead of the ailerons they provide strong resistance to stalling and may even leave the airplane incapable of spinning.

The flight control systems of some gliders and recreational aircraft are designed so that when the pilot moves the elevator control close to its fully aft position, as in slow speed flight and flight at high angle of attack, the trailing edges of both ailerons are automatically raised slightly so that the angle of attack is reduced at the outboard regions of both wings. This necessitates an increase in angle of attack at the inboard (center) regions of the wing, and promotes stalling of the inboard regions well before the wing tips.

A US certification standard for civil airplanes up to 12,500 lb maximum takeoff weight is Part 23 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, applicable to airplanes in the normal, utility and acrobatic categories. Part 23, §23.221 requires that single-engine airplanes must demonstrate recovery from either a one-turn spin if intentional spins will be prohibited or six-turn spins if intentional spins will be approved. Even large, passenger-carrying single-engine airplanes like the Cessna Caravan must be subjected to one-turn spins by a test pilot and repeatedly demonstrated to recover within no more than one additional turn. With a small number of airplane types the FAA has made a finding of equivalent level of safety (ELOS) so that demonstration of a one-turn spin is not necessary. For example, this has been done with the Cessna Corvalis and the Cirrus SR20/22. Successful demonstration of the one-turn spin does not allow an airplane type to be approved for intentional spinning. If an airplane is to be approved for intentional spinning it must be repeatedly subjected to a spin of six turns and then demonstrated to recover within one and a half additional turns. Spin testing is a potentially hazardous exercise and the test aircraft must be equipped with some spin-recovery device such as a tail parachute or jettisonable ballast, or some method of rapidly moving the center of gravity forward.

Agricultural airplanes are typically certificated in the normal category at a moderate weight. For single-engine airplanes this requires successful demonstration of the one-turn spin. However, with the agriculture hopper full these airplanes are not intended to be spun and recovery is unlikely. For this reason, at weights above the maximum for the normal category, these airplanes are not subjected to spin testing and, as a consequence, can only be type certificated in the restricted category. As an example of an agricultural airplane see the Cessna AG series.

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Aircraft Design

The term Aircraft design can have many different meanings:

  • An aircraft design as defined by type definition documentation, such as a type certificate for certified aircraft and as legally defined by the appropriate Airworthiness certificate, including a Standard Airworthiness Certificate for certified aircraft or a Special Airworthiness Certificate for other non-certified aircraft types.
  • Aircraft design process, the process of creating an individual aircraft design.
  • Aircraft Designs, an aircraft design and manufacturing firm based in Monterey, California, United States.
  • Aircraft designer, the person, or team of people, who design aircraft. See also Category:Aviation inventors and Category:Aerospace engineers by nationality

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