Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aircraft High Speed Stalls

The average light plane is not built to withstand the repeated application of load factors common to high speed stalls. The load factor necessary for these maneuvers produces a stress on the wings and tail structure, which does not leave a reasonable margin of safety in most light aircraft.

The only way this stall can be induced at an airspeed above normal stalling involves the imposition of an added load factor, which may be accomplished by a severe pull on the elevator control. A speed of 1.7 times stalling speed (about 102 knots in a light aircraft with a stalling speed of 60 knots) produces a load factor of 3 Gs. Only a very narrow margin for error can be allowed for acrobatics in light aircraft. To illustrate how rapidly the load factor increases with airspeed, a high-speed stall at 112 knots in the same aircraft would produce a load factor of 4 Gs. aerodynamics would predict minimum usable turn radius or maneuverability to occur at this condition. The maneuver speed is a valuable reference point, since an aircraft operating below this point cannot produce a damaging positive flight load. Any combination of maneuver and gust cannot create damage due to excess airload when the aircraft is below the maneuver speed.

The other point of importance on the Vg diagram is the intersection of the negative limit load factor and line of maximum negative lift capability. Any airspeed greater than this provides a negative lift capability sufficient to damage the aircraft; any airspeed less than this does not provide negative lift capability sufficient to damage the aircraft from excessive flight loads.
The limit airspeed (or redline speed) is a design reference point for the aircraft—this aircraft is limited to 225 mph. If flight is attempted beyond the limit airspeed, structural damage or structural failure may result from a variety of phenomena.

The aircraft in flight is limited to a regime of airspeeds and Gs which do not exceed the limit (or redline) speed, do not exceed the limit load factor, and cannot exceed the maximum lift capability. The aircraft must be operated within this “envelope” to prevent structural damage and ensure the anticipated service lift of the aircraft is obtained. The pilot must appreciate the Vg diagram as describing the allowable combination of airspeeds and load factors for safe operation. Any maneuver, gust, or gust plus maneuver outside the structural envelope can cause structural damage and effectively shorten the service life of the aircraft.

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