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The Lifting Capacity of Aircraft Wings

written by: Raunekk•edited by: Jason C. Chavis•updated: 5/31/2010

The lifting capacity of aircraft wings depends on several factors. The aerodynamics that generates the lift plays an important role in this process. The article describes the aircraft wing lifting capacity and what factors can affect its performance.

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    Introduction

    Airplane wings generate an upward force that makes the aircraft airborne. This upward force, known as the lift, is an aerodynamic force which depends on several factors related to airplane development. The amount of lift generated by aircraft wings is directly proportional to the lifting capacity of the airplane and its wings. In this article we will learn about aircraft wing lifting capacity and the factors that affects the physics of flight.

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    Understanding Lifting Capacity

    Technically, the lifting capacity or the amount of lift generated by an object depends on the size of the object. We know that the lift in an aircraft is created as a result of the difference in air pressure around the airplane wings. The upper surfaces of the wings are curved to allow the moving air to pass smoothly and quickly over the surface. This reduces the amount of pressure above the wings. The air pressure below the wing is higher than the air pressure above it, which actually leads to the generation of the lift.

    The amount of lift generated in an aircraft mainly depends on the size of the wings. Thus it can be said that the lift is directly proportional to the surface area of the aircraft wings. The landing and takeoff of an airplane is when the lifting capacity of the wings play a very important role. It is during these two situations that the velocity of the airplane is less and the amount of lift required is more and less respectively. In order to allow this, the airplane wings are made larger in size in order to increase the lift and lifting capacity of the airplane.

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    Lift and Factors Affecting It

    However, increasing the surface area alone doesn’t guarantee increase lift or lifting capacity of the wings. This is because with the increase in the size of the wings, another aerodynamic force known as drag also increases. This not only reduces the velocity of the airplane, but also affects the overall lifting capacity. To eradicate this problem and to increase the lifting capacity, the thickness of the wings is altered.

    Lifting capacity of the wings also depends on the flaps and spoilers hinged at the rear portion of the wings. They help in increasing the lifting capacity of the wings and also in the maneuvering process. Lifting capacity of the wings is also greatly affected by the inclination of the aircraft or the angle of inclination of the wings. For example, during takeoff, the pilot rotates the airplane to increase the angle of inclination which eventually increases the lift. The lifting capacity of the wings suddenly increases, assisted by the flaps and spoilers.

    Thus, there are several factors on which the lifting capacity of the aircraft wings depends. It is not possible to take just one factor into consideration when talking about the lifting capacity. Moreover, lifting capacity of different types of planes also varies depending on the size and shape of the wings, number of flaps and spoilers provided, and the overall weight of the airplane. The lifting capacity also depends on the thickness and the type of the material used for the wings construction. Thus, the lifting capacity of different types of planes is different; however it can be varied according to the requirements of the craft.

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