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Video - What is the Lift-to-Drag ratio of an airplane?

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Like any aerodynamic object, airplanes have a Lift-to-Drag ratio, to define the ability of the aircraft to glide in flight, i.e. without no engine assistance, being the main characteristic of gliders.The Lift-to-Drag ratio of an airplane depends not only on its aerodynamic forms, its wings and its air resistance, but also its weight and speed.

In fact, the Lift-to-Drag ratio is a mathematical ratio, calculated by dividing the horizontal distance that the airplane glides by the height it descends within the same time. In other words, the bigger the Lift-to-Drag ratio of an aircraft is, the greater will be its ability to glide.

To give an order of magnitude, airliners have a Lift-to-Drag ratio of between 15 and 22. That’s to say, in the event of total engine failure, they can glide 9.3 to 13.5 miles ( 15 to 22 kilometres ) for a drop in altitude of only 3,300 feet ( 1,000 metres ). Gliders have a Lift-to-Drag ratio of about 45, which can increase up to 70 for the highest performance glider, the ETA.

We went to an airport armed with our camera and microphone to ask you the question.

Your comments
  • Eric
    Posté the 10/20/2015 9:03 am

    Hi everybody,
    As a glider pilot I am very pleased to see so often in your pages information about Perlan and explanations about aerodynamics effects. If you are interestesd in doing a report about a small gliding club in north of France we will be happy to meet you in "Planeur club des Coquelicots" in Picardy!
    Good flights and take care!

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    • aeronewstv
      Posté the 10/20/2015 12:57 pm

      Thanks for your post Eric. It's a good idea. We will let you know.

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