What are Spoilers and what do the Aerodynamics of the plane do?

Ever wondered what those large flaps on the wing are which often are open when the plane touchdown? These are spoilers and they work using aerodynamics. Join me as I take a look at what Aerodynamics actually does, and how spoilers help with it.

What is Aerodynamics?

Aerodynamics means the airflow surrounding the plane when it traveled through the air. For instance, the Concorde was so fast because its nose was engineered to pierce the air, instead of having the airflow travel slower, which happens when aircraft have rounded noses. If a plane with a flat nose flew into the wind, it wouldn’t go as fast as a pointed nose, because the air would travel straight onto a flat surface.

An image of how Aerodynamics work (credit: stocktonpropellor.com)

The aerodynamics of a wing

Wings are built to have a curved shape to reduce the air which is hitting the front of the wing. If wings were built as cubes, planes would travel a lot slower. Instead, the air goes either over the top or beneath the wing, giving the plane its speed. Different wing shapes mean different speeds. For instance, because of a Glider’s longwing shape, it can go a lot slower and reduce the time it takes to lose altitude. Fighter Jets often have short and stubby wings and pointed noses, which increases their airspeed.

A diagram of how aerodynamics work on a wing ( credit: quora.com)

What do spoilers do?

Spoilers are what is deployed when a plane hits the ground and is slowing down before taxi. Because of them being raised, the airflow has to travel a further distance and therefore reducing the plane’s speed. Spoilers are rarely deployed when in mid-air, because they drastically reduce the plane’s speed, meaning it would stall and crash.

Credit: airlinerratings.com

Aerodynamics is a key part of aviation, and they drastically change the way planes are designed. Without the discovery of how aerodynamics work, we would probably be flying in rectangular planes and it would take us a lot longer to get to our destination.


Wikipedia.com (Cover image)

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