Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Douglas Hunsaker


The study of designing stable aircraft has been widespread and ongoing since the early days of Orville and Wilbur Wright and their famous Wright Flyer airplane. All aircraft as they fly through the air are subject to minor changes in the forces acting on them. The field of aircraft stability seeks to understand and predict how aircraft will respond to these changes in forces and to design aircraft such that when these forces change the aircraft remains stable. The mathematical equations used to predict aircraft stability rely on knowledge of the location of the aerodynamic center, the point through which aerodynamic forces act on an aircraft. The aerodynamic center of an aircraft is a function of the aerodynamic centers of each individual wing, and the aerodynamic center of each wing is a function of the aerodynamic centers of the individual airfoils from which the wing is made. The ability to more accurately predict the location of the airfoil aerodynamic center corresponds directly to an increase in the accuracy of aircraft stability calculations.

The Aerolab at Utah State University has develop new analytic mathematical expressions to describe the location of the airfoil aerodynamic center. These new expressions do not suffer from any of the restrictions, or approximations found in traditional methods, and therefore result in more accurate predictions of airfoil aerodynamic centers and by extension, more accurate aircraft stability predictions.