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Aerospace 2016, 3(4), 31; doi:10.3390/aerospace3040031

Comparison of Power Requirements: Flapping vs. Fixed Wing Vehicles

Institute of Flight System Dynamics, Technische Universität München, Boltzmannstr. 15, 85748 Garching, Germany
Academic Editor: Sutthiphong Srigrarom
Received: 23 May 2016 / Revised: 31 August 2016 / Accepted: 1 September 2016 / Published: 28 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flapping Wings)
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The power required by flapping and fixed wing vehicles in level flight is determined and compared. Based on a new modelling approach, the effects of flapping on the induced drag in flapping wing vehicles are mathematically described. It is shown that flapping causes a significant increase in the induced drag when compared with a non-flapping, fixed wing vehicle. There are two effects for that induced drag increase; one is due to tilting of the lift vector caused by flapping the wings and the other results from changes in the amount of the lift vector during flapping. The induced drag increase yields a significant contribution to the power required by flapping wing vehicles. Furthermore, the power characteristics of fixed wing vehicles are dealt with. It is shown that, for this vehicle type, the propeller efficiency plays a major role. This is because there are considerable differences in the propeller efficiency when taking the size of vehicles into account. Comparing flapping and fixed wing vehicles, the conditions are shown where flapping wing vehicles have a lower power demand and where fixed wing vehicles are superior regarding the required power. There is a tendency such that fixed wing vehicles have an advantage in the case of larger size vehicles and flapping wing vehicles have an advantage in the case of smaller size ones. View Full-Text
Keywords: drag increase due to flapping; propeller efficiency; power required; flight performance drag increase due to flapping; propeller efficiency; power required; flight performance

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Sachs, G. Comparison of Power Requirements: Flapping vs. Fixed Wing Vehicles. Aerospace 2016, 3, 31.

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