The Practical Value of the General Aviation Light Airplane.
The General Aviation light airplane is an efficient transportation vehicle for transporting four to eight people and a reasonable amount of luggage. At least 80 percent of general aviation flying is done for business or commercial purposes. Thus clearly our light airplanes are saving time and money for their owners and pilots. Thats what especially business flying is about.
Higher Aerodynamic Efficiency = Cleaner Airplanes.
As the price of aviation gasoline goes up, aerodynamic efficiency plays an increasingly important part in operating costs of the light airplane. The more aerodynamically clean the airplane, and the smaller its frontal drag area, the more efficient it is in service. There is plenty of scope here for improvement through better, more efficient aerodynamic design, construction, production-methods, and better maintenance and upkeep once the airplane is in service.
Different Speed Regimes
Most of our cross-country light airplanes spend their flying-time cruising at 75 percent or less power at altitudes of between 4,000 and 11, 000 feet. Experience has shown that for different purposes there are different practical speed ranges.
More Speed Wanted.
When it comes to the improvement of the light airplane, increased cruise-speed is often THE main aim. Most private/business pilots want speedy (that is, faster) efficient airplanes suitable for business but also for family travel and business flying. Sheer speed and its attendant other performance advantages for both business and private flying is the new touchstone. However, higher cruise-speed is expensive. Higher speed costs money in the form of fuel burned. Thus we need to reach a higher performance level at the same or preferably less fuel cost. And thats exactly where high parasite drag comes in.
The New Composite Airplanes
It will be very interesting to see how the appearance on the market of the various new composite airplanes will change the thinking and practices of the established airplane manufacturers in the United States and abroad. A lot will depend on how much pressure for low-drag airplanes there will be from you, the buyers, owners, and pilots. Market pressure, or market demand I believe it is called.
About This Book
In this book well discuss parasite drag. Well look at where it comes from, and what it may be costing you on your airplane. Well also take a look at what drag-reduction can do for your and for any other airplane. We'll look into the money and time-savings possible with drag-reduction, and also important, the safety-aspects of drag-reduction.
While we do point out the "draggy" areas of your airplane, we are not going into how you can specifically decrease its the drag.
First, as owner of a certified airplane there is very little the FAA lets you get away with.
However, there may well be a good deal of work you can do or have done in the way of regular upkeep and maintenance. A good look at the transient airplanes at the yearly Oshkosh Fly-In makes that very clear.
Second, there are many mod shops that offer a good number of well thought-out, well-designed, and certified modifications for decreasing your airplane's parasite drag. If you decide to accept their help, they are willing and able to tell and show you what is possible, and at what price. Then you can decide what to do.
Third, airplane owners can demand higher efficiency airplane's from the manufacturers.
"The increasing cost of flying is a significant threat to
the long-term survival of General Aviation."
A meaningful statement from the October 11, 1999 issue, page 50, of AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY magazine. Quoted by permission.