Friday, September 14, 2007


The term canard refers to a control surface with functions as a horizontal stabilizer but is located in front of the main wings. The term also is used to describe an airplane equipped with a canard. In effect, it is an airfoil similar to the horizontal surface on a conventional aft-tail design. The difference is that the canard actually creates lift and holds the nose up, as opposed to the aft-tail design that exerts downward force on the tail to prevent the nose from rotating downward.

Canard --A horizontal surface mounted ahead of the main wing to provide longitudinal stability and control. It may be a fixed, movable, or variable geometry surface, with or without control surfaces.

Canard Configuration --A configuration in which the span of the forward wings is substantially less than that of the main wing.

Although the Wright Flyer was configured as a canard with the horizontal surfaces in front of the lifting surface, it was not until recently that the canard configuration began appearing on newer airplanes. Canard designs include two types—one with a horizontal surface of about the same size as a normal aft-tail design, and the other with a surface of the same approximate size and airfoil of the aft-mounted wing known as a tandem wing configuration. Theoretically, the canard is considered more efficient because using the horizontal surface to help lift the weight of the aircraft should result in less drag for a given amount of lift. The canard's main advantage is in the area of stall characteristics. A properly designed canard or tandem wing will run out of authority to raise the nose of the aircraft at a point before the main wing will stall. This makes the aircraft stall-proof and results only in a descent rate that can be halted by adding power. Ailerons on the main wing remain effective throughout the recovery. Other canard configurations are designed so the canard stalls before the main wing, automatically lowering the nose and recovering the aircraft to a safe flying speed. Again, the ailerons remain effective throughout the stall. The canard design has several limitations. First, it is important that the forward lifting surface of a canard design stalls before the main wing. If the main wing stalls first, the lift remaining from the forward wing or canard would be well ahead of the CG, and the airplane would pitch up uncontrollably. Second, when the forward surface stalls first, or is limited in its ability to increase the angle of attack, the main wing never reaches a point where its maximum lift is created, sacrificing some performance. Third, use of flaps on the main wing causes design problems for the forward wing or canard. As lift on the main wing is increased by extension of flaps, the lift requirement of the canard is also increased. The forward wing or canard must be large enough to accommodate flap use, but not so large that it creates more lift than the main wing. Finally, the relationship of the main wing to the forward surface also makes a difference. When positioned closely in the vertical plane, downwash from the forward wing can have a negative effect on the lift of the main wing. Increasing vertical separation increases efficiency of the design. Efficiency is also increased, as the size of the two surfaces grows closer to being equal.

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