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3 Answers

Why does Maneuvering Speed increase with weight?!

Asked by: 16696 views Aerodynamics

Not an ERAU aeronautical engineering grad, but I'd like to think I know the basics :)  Just can't wrap my brain around how a heavier airplane can maneuver faster - and more safely - than a lighter one?  By that rationale, a cement truck can corner faster than a Honda Accord ...  Can anyone help with this? 

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3 Answers

  1. Micah on May 16, 2012

    You’re probably thinking of this backwards. Maneuvering Speed isn’t meant to be a benchmark for maximum maneuverability–it’s a benchmark for safety. Although the more techinically inclined will correct my comments, the idea (as I understand it) is that Va is a standard for determining whether a full-scale deflection of the flight controls will impose a force that will comprimise the structural integrity of the airframe. Below Va and full-scale deflection should result in a stall of the wing surface before the load can increase to a dangerous level; when flying above Va, full-scale deflection will allow large loads to be imposed while still flying. 
    To understand why Va increases with an increase in weight, think of Va as a benchmark for available lift. You could say that it’s the available lift that imposes a danger to your airframe. A heavier airplane has less available lift (higher angle of attack at the same airspeed) so the potential load imposed by sudden full-scale deflection of the flight controls is decreased (and Va can be increased).

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  2. Best Answer

    Lucas on May 16, 2012

    Well dear Nerissa, this is a very good question. Many of my students ask me this and it is part of our Commercial Written Preparation Software so I went ahead and uploaded an excerpt from it to youtube because I find it much easier to explain it with a video than simple words. I hope this helps you.
    Click on the image or link to see the explanation…


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  3. Nerissa Alikaii on May 16, 2012

    Thanks to both of you.  Lucas – I tried to give you a thumbs up for your answer and illustration, but I clicked the wrong picture 🙁  Sorry.  Thanks for the detailed explanation – that makes perfect sense to me now.

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