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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Effects of Wake Vortices on Commercial Aircraft

Summary: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Effects of Wake Vortices on Commercial Aircraft
T. Economon+
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, 46556
Commercial aircraft are becoming more and more susceptible to wake vortex
encounters at cruise altitude. Every airplane generates a trailing vortex which can linger
behind the aircraft for miles. If a following aircraft penetrates the wake, it could potentially
be a flight safety issue due to the induced roll on the airplane created by the circulation of
the vortex. The strength of a wake vortex can be modeled and quantified by the coefficient
of roll which a penetrating aircraft will experience when passing through a vortex. In this
study, the coefficient was computed by a closed-form method and by using strip theory in
order to analyze the effects of the vortex on the penetrating aircraft and determine the risk
involved. Results showed that a penetrating aircraft with an equivalent span to the wake
generating aircraft will experience a much lower coefficient of roll than when the
penetrating aircraft has a smaller span. The results are especially important in a situation
where there is a large disparity in aircraft size, such as a regional jet passing through the
wake of a jumbo jet. Further, the coefficient of roll induced by a trailing vortex with a small
core radius will be stronger than that of a vortex with a larger radius. In all cases, at least
one scenario existed where the penetrating aircraft could not produce a control power


Source: Alonso, Juan J. - Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University


Collections: Engineering