Principles of Flight for Pilots / Edition 1

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Organised and written as an accessible study guide for student pilots wishing to take commercial ground examinations to obtain ATPL or CPL licenses, Principles of Flight for Pilots also provides a reliable up-to-date reference for qualified and experienced personnel wishing to further improve their understanding of the Principles of Flight and related subjects. Providing a unique aerodynamics reference tool, unlike any book previously Principles of Flight for Pilots explains in significant depth all the topics necessary to pass the Principles of Flight examination as required by the EASA syllabus.

Aviation ground instructor Peter J. Swatton, well reputed for his previous works in the field of pilot ground training, presents the subject in seven parts including basic aerodynamics; level flight aerodynamics; stability; manoeuvre aerodynamics; and other aerodynamic considerations. Each chapter includes self-assessed questions, 848 in total spread over eighteen chapters, with solutions provided at the end of the book containing full calculations and explanations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Organised and written as an accessible study guide for student pilots wishing to take commercial ground examinations to obtain ATPL or CPL licenses, Principles of Flight for Pilots also provides a reliable up-to-date reference for qualified and experienced personnel wishing to further improve their understanding of the Principles of Flight and related subjects." (, 1 March 2011)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470710739
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/7/2010
  • Series: Aerospace Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 506
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Swatton is Director and Chief Ground Instructor at Ground Training Services at Bournemouth/Hurn airport which specialises in training pilots for the JAA examinations. He was a navigator in the Royal Air Force for 37 years, of which 28 were spent as an OCU instructor and Wing examiner: on retirement he became an instructor with the Professional Pilot Study Centre at Bournemouth and remained there for 12 years before assuming his current role.
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Table of Contents



List of Abbreviations

Weight and Mass


1 Basic Principles

The Atmosphere

The Composition of Air

The Measurement of Temperature

Air Density

The International Standard Atmosphere

ISA Deviation

JSA Deviation

Height and Altitude

Pressure Altitude

Density Altitude

The Physical Properties of Air

Fluid Pressure

Static Pressure

Dynamic Pressure

Basic Physics

Newton’s Laws of Motion


First Law

Second Law

Third Law

Constant-Acceleration Formulae

The Equation of Impulse

The Basic Gas Laws

Boyles Law

Charles’ Law

Pressure Law

The Ideal Gas Equation

The Conservation Laws

Bernoulli’s Theorem


The Equation of Continuity

Reynolds Number

Critical Reynolds Number (Recrit)

Units of Measurement

Self-Assessment Exercise 1

2 Basic Aerodynamic Definitions

Aerofoil Profile

Aerofoil Attitude

Wing Shape

Wing Loading

Weight and Mass

The Newton


Airspeed Indicator Reading (ASIR)

Indicated Airspeed (IAS)

Calibrated Airspeed (CAS)

Rectified Airspeed (RAS)

Equivalent Airspeed (EAS)

True Airspeed (TAS)

Mach Number

Speed Summary

The Effect of Altitude on Airspeeds

a. Below the Tropopause

b. Above the Tropopause

Self-Assessment Exercise 2


3 Basic Control

Aeroplane Axes and Planes of Rotation

The Longitudinal or Roll Axis

The Lateral or Pitch Axis

The Normal or Yaw Axis

The Flight Controls

The Elevators

Pitch Control

Control Surface Area

Control Surface Angular Deflection

The Moment Arm

Angle of Attack

Alternative Pitch Controls

Variable Incidence Tailplane

The Stabilator

The Elevons

The Rudder

Yaw Control

Control-Surface Area

Control-Surface Deflection

The Moment Arm

Engine-Induced Yaw

Asymmetric Engine Yawing Moment

Asymmetric Rolling Moment

Minimum Control Speeds

For Take-off

For Landing



The Effect of the Variables on Vmcg and Vmc


Vmcl (1 out)


The Effect of the Variables on Vmcl

The Ailerons

Roll Control

The Flaperon

Wing Twist

Geometric Twist

Aerodynamic Twist


High-Speed Twist

Low-Speed Ailerons

High-Speed Ailerons

Roll Spoilers

Self-Assessment Exercise 3

4 Lift Generation

Turbulent Flow

Streamline Flow

The Boundary Layer

The Laminar Boundary Layer

The Transition Point

The Turbulent Boundary Layer

Leading-Edge Separation

Boundary-Layer Control



Vortex Generators

Two-Dimensional Flow

The Stagnation Point

Aerofoil Upper-Surface Airflow

Aerofoil Lower-Surface Airflow

Lift Production

Symmetrical Aerofoils

Cambered Aerofoils

a. Negative Angles of Attack

b. Small Positive Angles of Attack

c. Large Positive Angles of Attack

The Centre of Pressure (CP)

Pitching Moments

The Aerodynamic Centre

Three-Dimensional Flow

Wing-Tip Vortices

Wake Turbulence

Spanwise Lift Distribution

The Effect of Wing Planform

Self-Assessment Exercise 4


5 Lift Analysis

The Four Forces


Lift Analysis

The Factors Affecting Cl

The Effect of Angle of Attack

The Effect of the Wing Shape

The Effect of Leading-Edge Radius

The Effect of Camber

The Effect of Aspect Ratio

The Wing Planform

The Effect of Sweepback

The Effect of Airframe-Surface Condition

The Effect of Reynolds Number

The Relationship between Speeds, Angles of Attack and Cl

Aerofoil Profiles

High-Lift Aerofoils

General-Purpose Aerofoils

High-Speed Aerofoils

Self-Assessment Exercise 5

6 Lift Augmentation

Wing Loading

Clmax Augmentation


Automatic Slats

Manual Slats



Leading-Edge Flaps

The Krueger Flap

The Drooped Leading Edge

Trailing-Edge Flaps

The Plain Trailing-Edge Flap

The Split Trailing-Edge Flap

The Slotted Trailing-Edge Flap

The Fowler Flap

The Effect of Trailing-Edge Flaps

Leading- and Trailing-Edge Combinations

The Effect of Sweepback on Flap

Self-Assessment Exercise 6

7 Drag

Parasite (Profile) Drag

Surface-Friction Drag

Surface Area

Coefficient of Viscosity

Rate of Change of Airspeed

Flow Transition

Surface Condition

Speed and Size

Adverse Pressure Gradient

Form (Pressure) Drag

Interference Drag

Induced Drag

The Effect of Speed

The Effect of Mass

The Effect of Planform

The Effect of Sweepback

The Effect of Aspect Ratio

The Effect of Flap

The Effect of the CG Position

Effects Summary

Ground Effect

Wing-Tip Design

Wingspan Loading

The Coefficient of Induced Drag (CDI)

Total Drag

Analysis of the Total-Drag Curve

The Velocity of Minimum Drag (Vimd)

The Velocity of MinimumPower(Vimp)

The Maximum EAS/Drag Ratio (Vi/Dmax) Speed

Speed Stability and Instability

The Effect of the Variables on Total Drag

The Effect of Altitude

The Effect of Mass

The Effect of Flap

The Cl v Cd Polar Diagram

Analysis of the Lift/Drag Ratio

The Effect of Flap

The Effect of Aspect Ratio

The Effect of Mass

Drag Augmentation



Flight Spoilers

Ground Spoilers

Roll Spoilers

Barn-Door Flaps

Drag Parachutes

Self-Assessment Exercise 7

8 Stalling

The Stall

The Boundary Layer

Boundary-Layer Separation

Trailing-Edge Separation

Leading-Edge Separation

The Low-Speed Stall

Stalling Angle

Factors Affecting the Low-Speed Stalling Angle

Slat/Flap Setting

Ice Accretion

Effect on Take-off and Landing



Reduced Stalling Angle

Abnormal Stalling Characteristics

Heavy Rain

The Effect of Wing Design on the Low-Speed Stall

Swept Wings

Elliptical Wings

Rectangular Wings

Straight Tapered Wings

Spanwise-Flow Attenuation Devices

The Wing Fence

The Sawtooth Leading Edge

The Notched Leading Edge

Vortex Generators

Wing-Tip Stalling

The Effect of Flap

The Prevention of Wing-Tip Stalling

a. Washout

b. Root Spoiler

c. Changing Camber

d. Slats and Slots

e. Aspect Ratio

Stalling Characteristics

Ideal Stalling Characteristics

Swept-Wing Stalling Characteristics

Summary of Factors Affecting the Stalling Angle

Stall Warning

Aerodynamic Stall Warning

Mechanical Stall Warning

The Flapper Switch

The Angle of Attack Sensor

Stick Shakers

Stick Pushers

Stalling Speed

Factors Affecting Stalling Speed

Centre of Gravity (CG)

Forward CG



Aft CG






Ice Accretion

Wing Planform

Summary of Factor Effects on Stalling Speed

The Speed Boundary

The Effect of a Gust on the Load Factor

Turn Stalling Speed

Stalling-Speed Definitions












Other Types of Stall

The Deep Stall

The Accelerated Stall

The Power-On Stall

The Shock Stall

Stall Recovery

The Low-speed Stall

The Deep Stall

The Accelerated Stall

The Power-On Stall

The Shock Stall

The Spin

Self-Assessment Exercise 8

9 Thrust and Power in Level Flight


Analysis of the Thrust Curves

Thrust Available

Thrust Required

Maximum Speed (EAS)

The Effect of the Variables on Thrust



Asymmetric Flight

Centre of Gravity


Analysis of the Power Curves

Maximum TAS

Vmp and Vmd

The Effect of the Variables on Power




Self-Assessment Exercise 9

10 Advanced Control

Wing Torsion and Flexing

Wing Flutter

Torsional Flexural Flutter

Aileron Flutter

Torsional Aileron Flutter

Flexural Aileron Flutter

The Mass Balance


Control Secondary Effects

Adverse Yaw

Counteraction Devices

Rudder/Aileron Coupling

Slot/Aileron Coupling

Spoiler/Aileron Coupling

Differential Aileron Deflection

Frise Ailerons

Control-Surface Operation

Aerodynamic Balance Methods

The Hinge Balance

The Horn Balance

The Internal Balance

The Balance Tab

The Antibalance Tab

The Spring Tab

The Servo Tab

Primary Control-Surface Trimming

Variable Trim Tabs

Fixed Trim Tabs

Stabilizer Trim Setting

Powered Controls

Power-Assisted Controls

Fully Powered Controls

Artificial Feel

The Simple System

The Servo-Assisted Hydraulic System


Self-Assessment Exercise 10


11 Static Stability

Static Stability

The Effect of the Variables on Static Stability

Directional Static Stability

Yaw and Sideslip

The Directional Restoring Moment

Fin and Rudder Design

The Dorsal Fin

The Ventral Fin

The Moment Arm

Aeroplane Design Features Affecting Directional Static Stability





Propeller Slipstream

Neutral Directional Static Stability

Lateral Static Stability

Aeroplane Design Features Affecting Lateral Static Stability

Increased Lateral Static Stability

Decreased Lateral Static Stability

Sideslip Angle and Rolling Moment Coefficient

Analysis of Design Feature Effects

Wing Contribution




Wing/Fuselage Interference

Shielding Effect

Wing Location


Fin Size

Ventral Fin

Handling Considerations

Propeller Slipstream

Crosswind Landings


Longitudinal Static Stability

The Centre of Pressure (CP)

The Neutral Point (NP)

Types of Static Neutral Point

The Stick-Free Static Neutral Point

The Stick-Fixed Static Neutral Point

The Effect of the CG at the NP

The Aerodynamic Centre (AC)

The Centre of Gravity (CG)

The CG Envelope

CG Envelope Limitations

CG Movement

The Effect of CG at the Limits

CG at the Forward Limit

CG at the Aft Limit

The Static Margin (SM)

The Trim Point (TP)

Longitudinal Dihedral

Aircraft-Design Variations

The Effect of the Variables on Longitudinal Static Stability

Elevator Deflection


The Fuselage

Angle of Attack


Trailing-Edge Flaps


Stick-Fixed Longitudinal Static Stability

Stick-Position Stability

Stick-Free Longitudinal Static Stability

Stick Force

Certification Standard Stick-Force Requirements

a. Class ‘A’ Aeroplanes CS 25.173(c)

b. Class ‘B’ Aeroplanes CS 23.173(c)

The Effect of CG Position on Stick Force

Longitudinal Static Manoeuvre Stability

The Manoeuvre Point

Factors Affecting Stick Force


The Effect of Atmospheric Conditions

Ice Accretion

Heavy Rain


The Factors Affecting Static Stability

Self-Assessment Exercise 11

12 Dynamic Stability

Longitudinal Dynamic Stability

The Phugoid

Short-Period Oscillation

Factors Affecting Longitudinal Dynamic Stability

Lateral Dynamic Stability




Dutch Roll

Spiral Instability

Dutch Roll

Asymmetric Thrust

Aerodynamic Damping


The Factors Affecting Dynamic Stability

a. General

b. Longitudinal

c. Lateral

Self-Assessment Exercise 12


13 Level-Flight Manouevres

The Manoeuvre Envelope

The Flight Load Factor

Manoeuvre-Envelope Limitations

The Stalling Speed

The ‘g’ Limitation

The Manoeuvre-Envelope Limiting Parameters

The Manoeuvre-Envelope Maximum-Speed Limitation

Stalling and Design Speed Definitions

Limiting Speeds

The Gust Envelope

The Load Factor

The Gust Load Factor


Low-Speed Buffet

High-Speed Buffet

The Buffet Onset Boundary Chart


The Load Factor in a Turn

The Turn Radius

Rate of Turn

Turn and Slip Indications

Self-Assessment Exercise 13

14 Climb and Descent Aerodynamics

Climbing Flight

The Forces in a Climb

The Effect of the Variables on the Climb



Flap Setting

Wind Component

Climb Gradient

Climb-Gradient Calculations

Method 1

Method 2

Rate of Climb

Rate-of-Climb Calculations

Vx and Vy



Aircraft Ceiling

Vy at the Absolute Ceiling

Piston/Propeller Aeroplanes

Jet Aeroplanes

The Effect of the Variables on Vx and Vy





Wind Component

The Effect of Climbing-Speed Variations

Factors Affecting the Climb

The Glide Descent

The Glide Variables

Gliding for Maximum Range

The Effect of the Variables on a Glide Descent


Wind Component


Angle of Attack


Gliding for Maximum Endurance

Climbing and Descending Turns

Self-Assessment Exercise 14


15 High-Speed Flight

General Introduction

High-Speed Definitions

High-Speed Calculations

The Shockwave


Shockwave Formation

Air-Pressure-Wave Patterns




The Shockwave Deflection Angle

The High-Speed CP

Critical Mach Number (Mcrit)

The Effect of a Shockwave

Wave Drag

Drag Divergence Mach Number

The Flying Controls

The Effect of the Aerofoil Profile

Thickness/Chord Ratio

Wing Camber

Swept Wings

The Effect of Sweepback

The Advantages of Sweepback

Increased Mcrit

Aerodynamic Effects

The Disadvantages of Sweepback

Remedial Design Features

Low-Speed Ailerons

High-Speed Ailerons

Area Rule

High-Speed-Flight Characteristics

High-Speed Buffet

Tuck Under

The Shock Stall

The Buffet Boundary

Coffin Corner

Speed Instability

The Mach Trimmer

Lateral Instability

The Supercritical Wing

Supersonic Airflow

The Convex Corner Mach Wave (Expansion Wave)

The Concave-Corner Shockwave

Self-Assessment Exercise 15

16 Propellers

Propeller Definitions

Basic Principles

Factors Affecting Propeller Efficiency


Fixed-Pitch Propellers

Variable-Pitch Propellers

Power Absorption

Propeller-Blade Shape

Blade Length

Blade Chord

Propeller-Blade Number


The Effects of a Propeller on Aeroplane Performance


Slipstream Effect

Asymmetric Blade

Gyroscopic Effect

Propeller Forces and Moments

Centrifugal Force (CF)

Centrifugal Twisting Moment (CTM)

Aerodynamic Twisting Moment (ATM)

Propeller-Blade Positions

The Constant-Speed Unit (CSU)

Propeller Windmilling

Propeller Feathering

Reverse Pitch

The Effect of a Constant Speed Propeller On a Glide Descent

Engine Failure

Self-Assessment Exercise 16

17 Operational Considerations

Runway-Surface Contamination

Surface Contaminants

Standing Water


Wet Snow

Dry Snow

Very Dry Snow

Compacted Snow


Specially Prepared Winter Runway


Contaminant Drag

Water-Equivalent Depth

The Effect of Runway Contamination


Aeroplane Contamination

The Effect of Heavy Rain

The Effect of Propeller Icing

The Effect of Airframe Icing

The Effect of Airframe-Surface Damage

The Effect of Turbulence


The Effect of Windshear

Energy Loss

Energy Gain




Countering Windshear

Self-Assessment Exercise 17


18 Summary

Aerofoil-Profile Definitions

Aerofoil-Attitude Definitions

Wing-Shape Definitions

High-Speed Definitions

Propeller Definitions

V Speeds

PoF Formulae


Wing Loading/Load Factor

Stalling Speed Calculations

Mass Change

Load Factor


Design Manoeuvre Speed (Va)

Turn Details

Radius of Turn

Rate of Turn


Descent Calculations

Maximum Glide Range

Mach Angle (_) Calculation



The Maximum Coefficient of Lift (Clmax)

The Critical Angle

The Stalling Speed


Static Stability

Dynamic Stability

The Stick Force

The Gust Load Factor


Propeller Efficiency

Fixed Pitch Angle of Attack

Propeller Gyroscopic Effect

The Effect of the Variables on Performance

Airframe Surface

Airframe Surface


Aspect Ratio


CG Position





Self-Assessment Exercise 18

19 Solutions

Self-Assessment Exercise 1

Self-Assessment Exercise 2

Self-Assessment Exercise 3

Self-Assessment Exercise 4

Self-Assessment Exercise 5

Self-Assessment Exercise 6

Self-Assessment Exercise 7

Self-Assessment Exercise 8

Self-Assessment Exercise 9

Self-Assessment Exercise 10

Self-Assessment Exercise 11

Self-Assessment Exercise 12

Self-Assessment Exercise 13

Self-Assessment Exercise 14

Vx and Vy Mathematical Proof

Self-Assessment Exercise 15

Self-Assessment Exercise 16

Self-Assessment Exercise 17

Self-Assessment Exercise 18 – Turn Calculations


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