Interference Aerodynamics
Summary
Aerodynamic interference arises from the fact that aerodynamic bodies are
generally not standalone devices in unbounded flow, but come to interact with each
other, or find themselves in marginal regions of the flow domain, or both. Examples
include: multielement wings, biplanes, cascades, wingbody, wingnacelles, wingtail
in aircraft, wingpropeller, ducted propellers, counterrotating propellers, between
propeller blades, ground effect, wind tunnel boundaries, and more. Some of these
aspects are treated in this section.
A general treatment is not straightforward. Interference at low speeds is of elliptic
type (perturbations radiate in all directions), while at supersonic speeds it can
only be unidirectional (law of the forbidden signals, von Karman).
The problem is always to find the perturbation quantities from one aerodynamic body
onto the others, in order to be able to evaluate the change in pressure, lift, drag,
moments, thrust, etc. All methods that can be reduced to a numerical solution are
effective for this purpose.
Interference produces the socalled interference drag, whose effects can be
negative, as in aircraft technology, or beneficial, as in wing newar ground (see
below), and birds formation flight.
Wing performance in presence of a solid wall (ground) is affected in a measure
that depends on some fundamental geometric parameters: the ground clerance, the wing
camber and its thickness ratio.
Lifting surface methods of various kind (vortex lattice, for example) and
panel methods are the most effective at subsonic speeds. Computation is relatively
easy, since the methods lead to the formulation of a system of equations that contain
influence coefficients from the bodies onto themselves and from each body onto
the other bodies. The system is solved for all unknowns all all bodies.
For example, a wing in ground effect will be equivalent to a twowing problem, where the
second wing is the mirror image of the first; Wingbody combinations are solved
simultanously.
The most complicated cases are those where there is a time variation of one body
with respect to another (wing propeller, ducted propellers, etc.), because the influnce
of one body onto the other changes with time. This may require the computation of
the influence coefficients at every time step (unsteady analysis.)
Linearized theory, based on some theorems (Munk’s stagger theorem, etc.) are effective
to determine the aerodynamics of an arbitrary arrangement of lifting lines.
Related Material
Special Wing Configurations
Selected References
 Cone CD. The Theory of Induced Lift and Minimum Induced Drag of Nonplanar
Lifting Systems, NASA Report R139, 1962.
 Ashley H, Landahl M. Aerodynamics of Wings and Bodies,
AddisonWesley Publ. Company, Reading, Mass. 1965.
 Schlichting H, Truckenbrodt E. Aerodynamics of the Airplane,
McGrawHill, New York, 1979.
[Top of Page]
