Monday, September 10, 2007


On high-speed airplanes, flight controls are divided into primary flight controls and secondary or auxiliary flight controls. The primary flight controls maneuver the airplane about the pitch, roll, and yaw axes. They include the ailerons, elevator, and rudder. Secondary or auxiliary flight controls include tabs, leading edge flaps, trailing edge flaps, spoilers, and slats.

Spoilers are used on the upper surface of the wing to spoil or reduce lift. High-speed airplanes, due to their clean low drag design use spoilers as speed brakes to slow them down. Spoilers are extended immediately after touchdown to dump lift and thus transfer the weight of the airplane from the wings onto the wheels for better braking performance.

Jet transport airplanes have small ailerons. The space for ailerons is limited because as much of the wing trailing edge as possible is needed for flaps. Another reason is that a conventional size aileron would cause wing twist at high speed. Because the ailerons are necessarily small, spoilers are used in unison with ailerons to provide additional roll control.

Some jet transports have two sets of ailerons; a pair of outboard low-speed ailerons, and a pair of high-speed inboard ailerons. When the flaps are fully retracted after takeoff, the outboard ailerons are automatically locked out in the faired position. When used for roll control, the spoiler on the side of the up-going aileron extends and reduces the lift on that side, causing the wing to drop. If the spoilers are extended as speed brakes, they can still be used for roll control. If they are the Differential types, they will extend further on one side and retract on the other side.

If they are the Non-Differential type, they will extend further on one side but will not retract on the other side. When fully extended as speed brakes, the Non- Differential spoilers remain extended and do not supplement the ailerons. To obtain a smooth stall and a higher angle of attack without airflow separation, an airplane's wing leading edge should have a well-rounded almost blunt shape that the airflow can adhere to at the higher angle of attack. With this shape, the airflow separation will start at the trailing edge and progress forward gradually as angle of attack is increased.

The pointed leading edge necessary for high-speed flight results in an abrupt stall and restricts the use of trailing edge flaps because the airflow cannot follow the sharp curve around the wing leading edge. The airflow tends to tear loose rather suddenly from the upper surface at a moderate angle of attack. To utilize trailing edge flaps, and thus increase the maximum lift coefficient, the wing must go to a higher angle of attack without airflow separation. Therefore, leading edge slots, slats, and flaps are used to improve the low-speed characteristics during takeoff, climb, and landing. Although these devices are not as powerful as trailing edge flaps, they are effective when used full span in combination with high-lift trailing edge flaps. With the aid of these sophisticated high-lift devices, airflow separation is delayed and the maximum lift coefficient (CLmax) is increased considerably. In fact, a 50-knot reduction in stall speed is not uncommon.

The operational requirements of a large jet transport airplane necessitate large pitch trim changes. Some of these requirements are:
- The requirement for a large CG range.
- The need to cover a large speed range.
- The need to cope with possibly large trim changes due to wing leading edge and trailing edge high- lift devices without limiting the amount of elevator remaining.
- The need to reduce trim drag to a minimum.

These requirements are met by the use of a variable incidence horizontal stabilizer. Large trim changes on a fixed-tail airplane require large elevator deflections. At these large deflections, little further elevator movement remains in the same direction. A variable incidence horizontal stabilizer is designed to take out the trim changes. The stabilizer is larger than the elevator, and consequently does not need to be moved through as large an angle. This leaves the elevator streamlining the tail plane with a full range of movement up and down. The variable incidence horizontal stabilizer can be set to handle the bulk of the pitch control demand, with the elevator handling the rest. On airplanes equipped with a variable incidence horizontal stabilizer, the elevator is smaller and less effective in isolation than it is on a fixed-tail airplane. In comparison to other flight controls, the variable incidence horizontal stabilizer is enormously powerful in its effect. Its use and effect must be fully understood and appreciated by flight crewmembers.

Because of the size and high speeds of jet transport airplanes, the forces required moving the control surfaces can be beyond the strength of the pilot. Consequently, hydraulic or electrical power units actuate the control surfaces. Moving the controls in the cockpit signals the control angle required, and the power unit positions the actual control surface. In the event of complete power unit failure, movement of the control surface can be effected by manually controlling the control tabs. Moving the control tab upsets the aerodynamic balance that causes the control surface to move.

No comments:

Post a Comment