Monday, September 3, 2007


All certificate airplanes are designed to withstand loads imposed by gusts of considerable intensity. Gust load factors increase with increasing airspeed and the strength used for design purposes usually corresponds to the highest-level flight speed. In extremely rough air, as in thunderstorms or frontal conditions, it is wise to reduce the speed to the design maneuvering speed. Regardless of the speed held, there may be gusts that can produce loads that exceed the load limits.
Most airplane flight manuals now include turbulent air penetration information. Operators of modern airplanes, capable of a wide range of speeds and altitudes, are benefited by this added feature both in comfort and safety. In this connection, it is to be noted that the maximum "never-exceed" placard dive speeds are determined for smooth air only. High-speed dives or acrobatics involving speed above the known maneuvering speed should never be practiced in rough or turbulent air.

In summary, it must be remembered that load factors induced by intentional acrobatics, abrupt pull-ups from dives, high-speed stalls, and gusts at high airspeeds all place added stress on the entire structure of an airplane. Stress on the structure involves forces on any part of the airplane. There is a tendency for the uninformed to think of load factors only in terms of their effect on spars and struts. Most structural failures due to excess load factors involve rib structure within the leading and trailing edges of wings and tail group. The critical area of fabric-covered airplanes is the covering about one-third of the chord aft on the top surface of the wing.

The cumulative effect of such loads over a long period of time may tend to loosen and weaken vital parts so that actual failure may occur later when the airplane is being operated in a normal manner.

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