Supercritical Airfoil Coordinates

As we have explained previously, an airfoil is a special shape that defines the cross-section of a wing or other lifting body. This shape promotes the generation of a lower pressure on the upper surface than on the lower surface, and the difference between these pressures creates lift. Many classes of airfoils exist, some of which are further described in previous airfoil questions. A supercritical airfoil, an example of which is illustrated below, is merely a special class of airfoil shapes tailored for use at speeds near Mach 1.

Whitcomb supercritical airfoil
Whitcomb supercritical airfoil

Coordinates for a vast variety of airfoils are available on the internet. By far the most expansive and complete list that we have come across is the UIUC Airfoil Coordinates Database. The only limitation of this site is that it doesn't always provide a description of what kind of airfoil a given set of coordinates describes, so additional knowledge is required on the part of the user.

Nevertheless, a couple of good classic supercritical shapes you might want to investigate include:

Whenever you make use of airfoil coordinates, one of the key characteristics to look for is the order of the points since many software programs require the coordinates to be ordered a certain way. The UIUC coordinates are ordered from leading edge to trailing edge along the upper surface and then leading edge to trailing edge along the lower surface. Depending on the airfoil analysis or CFD program you use, they may need to be reordered. The simplest way to accomplish this is usually using a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel.
- answer by Jeff Scott, 8 June 2003

Related Topics:

Read More Articles:

Back Aircraft | Design | Ask Us | Shop | Search Home
About Us | Contact Us | Copyright 1997-2012