Drag Case Study

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Drag is one of the most fascinating concepts in the aviation industry today. Dating back to the late 1930s, near the World War II, the concept was given much importance since scientists were working on ways to make flight and aerial combat more effective. As time progressed, various methods to reduce drag were introduced since it can influence the future of aviation. Drag reduction methods have many positive ramifications like higher operational range, fuel consumption reduction, greater endurance, and higher achievable speed. For example, on the Concorde a one count drag increase (ΔCD = .0001) requires two passengers, out of the 90~100 passenger capacity, be taken off the North Atlantic run (Strang and McKinlay, 1979). In design studies, a drag decrease is equated to the decrease in aircraft weight required to carry a specified payload the required distance. Today, in configuring an aircraft, determining drag and drag reduction methods in the early phase of design can dictate the configurations for the aircraft. The drag projections have a huge effect on the projected configuration size and cost, and thus on the decision to proceed with the design (Hendrickson et al., 1997). The sizing of an aircraft can also influence the environmental issues of an aircraft. Reduced noise and air pollution can further help in reaching the target of a better environment set by the European Commission in 2001.

The drag breakdown of a civil transport aircraft shows that the skin friction drag and the lift-induced drag constitute the two main sources of drag, approximately one half and one third of the total drag for a typical long-range aircraft at cruise conditions (Reneaux, 2004). Skin friction drag can be determined by ob...

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...always be kept in mind during the preliminary design of an aircraft. The initial stages of design are very crucial as the stage determines the true capability of an aircraft. The reduction methods are important because of the various reasons. Lower fuel consumption, larger operational range and higher speed flight are some targets for some of the leading aviation industries. The only possible way to meet these requirements is by reducing drag. As mentioned earlier in the introduction, as how the Concorde’s drag increase cause 2 passengers to be taken out. The fuel consumption per passenger ration has to decrease. The initial stage of this target is by reducing the various types of drags and then concentrating on the operational range of the aircraft. Such a feat can only be achieved by finding the right balance between the different aircraft drag reduction methods.
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