Wake turbulence

From Academic Kids

Wake turbulence are vortices that are formed any time an airfoil is producing lift. Lift is generated by the creation of a pressure differential over the wing surfaces. The lowest pressure occurs over the upper surface and the highest pressure under the wing. This pressure differential triggers the rollup of the airflow aft of the wing resulting in swirling air masses trailing downstream of the wingtips. Viewed from behind the generating aircraft, the left vortex rotates clockwise and the right vortex rotates counterclockwise.

The intensity or strength of the vortex is primarily a function of aircraft weight and configuration (flap setting etc.). The strongest vortices are produced by heavy aircraft, flying slowly, in a clean configuration. For example, a large or heavy aircraft that must reduce its speed to 250 knots below 10,000 feet and is flying in a clean configuration while descending, produces very strong wake. Extra caution is needed when flying below and behind such aircraft.

Contents

Induced roll

While there have been rare instances where wake turbulence caused structural damage, the greatest hazard is induced roll and yaw. This is especially dangerous during takeoff and landing when there is little altitude for recovery.

Short wing span aircraft are most susceptible to wake turbulence. The wake turbulence-induced roll rates can be extreme. Countering roll rates may be difficult or impossible even in a high performance aircraft with excellent roll control authority.

Parallel or crossing runways

During takeoff and landing, the vortices sink toward the ground and move laterally away from the runway when the wind is calm. A 3 to 5 knot crosswind will tend to keep the upwind vortex in the runway area and may cause the downwind vortex to drift toward another runway.

At altitude, vortices sink at a rate of 300 to 500 feet per minute and stabilize about 500 to 900 feet below the flight level of the generating aircraft.

Helicopter wake

Helicopters also produce wake turbulence. Helicopter wakes may be of significantly greater strength than those from a fixed wing aircraft of the same weight. The strongest wake can occur when the helicopter is operating at lower speeds (20 - 50 knots). Some mid-size or executive class helicopters produce wake as strong as that of heavier helicopters. This is because two blade main rotor systems, typical of lighter helicopters, produce stronger wake than rotor systems with more blades.

Stay On or Above Leader's Glide Path

Incident data shows that the greatest potential for a wake vortex incident occurs when a light aircraft is turning from base to final behind a heavy aircraft flying a straight-in approach. Use extreme caution to intercept final above or well behind the heavier aircraft. When a visual approach is issued and accepted to visually follow a preceding aircraft, the pilot is required to establish a safe landing interval behind the aircraft s/he was instructed to follow. The pilot is responsible for wake turbulence separation. Pilots must not decrease the separation that existed when the visual approach was issued unless they can remain on or above the flight path of the preceding aircraft.

Warning signs

Any uncommanded aircraft movements (i.e., wing rocking) may be caused by wake. This is why maintaining situational awareness is so critical. Ordinary turbulence is not unusual, particularly in the approach phase. A pilot who suspects wake turbulence is affecting his or her aircraft should get away from the wake, execute a missed approach or go-around and be prepared for a stronger wake encounter. The onset of wake can be insidious and even surprisingly gentle. There have been serious accidents where pilots have attempted to salvage a landing after encountering moderate wake only to encounter severe wake vortices. Pilots should not depend on any aerodynamic warning, but if the onset of wake is occurring, immediate evasive action is vital.

Examples of Accidents/Incidents Due to Wake Turbulence

USAir Flight 427 crashed near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1994. This accident was believed to involve wake turbulence.

Measurement

Wake turbulence can be measured using several techniques. A high resolution technique is doppler lidar, a solution now commercially available. Techniques using optics can use the effect of turbulence on refractive index (optical turbulence) to measure the distortion of light that passes through the turbulent area and indicate the strength of that turbulence.

External links

nl:Zogturbulentie

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