Thursday, April 17, 2008


CRITICAL ALTITUDE — The maximum altitude under standard atmospheric conditions at which a turbocharged engine can produce its rated horsepower.

CRITICAL ANGLE OF ATTACK—The angle of attack at which a wing stalls regardless of airspeed, flight attitude, or weight.

DATUM (REFERENCE DATUM)—An imaginary vertical plane or line from which all measurements of arm are taken. The datum is established by the manufacturer. Once the datum has been selected, all moment arms and the location of CG range are measured from this point.

DEAD RECKONING—Navigation of an airplane solely by means of computations based on airspeed, course, heading, wind direction, and speed, groundspeed, and elapsed time.

DECELERATION ERROR—Fluctuation of the magnetic compass during acceleration. In the Northern Hemisphere, the compass swings toward the south during deceleration.

DELTA—AGreek letter expressed by the symbol . to indicate a change of values. As an example, .CG indicates a change (or movement) of the CG.

DENSITY ALTITUDE—This altitude is pressure altitude corrected for variations from standard temperature. When conditions are standard, pressure altitude and density altitude are the same. If the temperature is above standard, the density altitude is higher than pressure altitude. If the temperature is below standard, the density altitude is lower than pressure altitude. This is an important altitude because it is directly related to the airplane's performance.

DEPOSITION.The direct transformation of a gas to a solid state, in which the liquid state is bypassed. Some sources use sublimation to describe this process instead of deposition.

DETONATION — The sudden release of heat energy from fuel in an aircraft engine caused by the fuel-air mixture reaching its critical pressure and temperature. Detonation occurs as a violent explosion rather than a smooth burning process.

DEVIATION — A compass error caused by magnetic disturbances from electrical and metal components in the airplane. The correction for this error is displayed on a compass correction card placed near the magnetic compass in the airplane.

DEW—Moisture that has condensed from water vapor. Usually found on cooler objects near the ground, such as grass, as the near-surface layer of air cools faster than the layers of air above it.

DEWPOINT—The temperature at which air reaches a state where it can hold no more water.

DIFFERENTIAL AILERONS — Control surface rigged such that the aileron moving up moves a greater distance than the aileron moving down. The up aileron produces extra parasite drag to compensate for the additional induced drag caused by the down aileron. This balancing of the drag forces helps minimize adverse yaw.

DIFFERENTIAL PRESSURE—A difference between two pressures. The measurement of airspeed is an example of the use of differential pressure.

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