Sunday, September 14, 2008

Aircraft Arms, Weight, and Moments

The term arm, usually measured in inches, refers to the distance between the center of gravity of an item or object and the datum. Arms ahead of, or to the left of the datum are negative (-), and those behind, or to the right of the datum are positive (+). When the datum is ahead of the aircraft, all of the arms are positive and computational errors are minimized. Weight is normally measured in pounds. When weight is removed from an aircraft, it is negative (-), and when added, it is positive (+).

The manufacturer establishes the maximum weight and range allowed for the CG, as measured in inches from the reference plane called the datum. Some manufacturers specify this range as measured in percentage of the mean aerodynamic chord (MAC), the leading edge of which is located a specified distance from the datum.

The datum may be located anywhere the manufacturer chooses; it is often the leading edge of the wing or some specific distance from an easily identified location. One popular location for the datum is a specified distance forward of the aircraft, measured in inches from some point, such as the nose of the aircraft, or the leading edge of the wing, or the engine firewall.

The datum of some helicopters is the center of the rotor mast, but this location causes some arms to be positive and others negative. To simplify weight and balance computations, most modern helicopters, like airplanes, have the datum located at the nose of the aircraft or a specified distance ahead of it.

A moment is a force that tries to cause rotation, and is the product of the arm, in inches, and the weight, in pounds. Moments are generally expressed in pound-inches (lb-in) and may be either positive or negative. Figure 2-1 shows the way the algebraic sign of a moment is derived. Positive moments cause an airplane to nose up, while negative moments cause it to nose down.

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for good explanation. It is very easy to understand.