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Florida Institute of Technology Aerodynamics Boeing C 17 Discussion

Take a look at the wing design of this C-17. Based on what you know about aerodynamic terminology and the term “moment”, explain why you think the wing was designed the way it is. How does this compare to similar size commercial air carrier aircraft? Is there another design that you think might be better, since this aircraft was designed in 1970? Explain. In order to complete this question thoroughly, you will need to research anhedral/dihedral. 

JhonThe Boeing C-17 has a somewhat unusual wing design which NASA refers to as a “super critical” wing. According to NASA a super critical wing is an advanced airfoil type that allows many benefits to the mission of a C-17. The design “enhances the range, cruising speed, and fuel efficiency of jet aircraft by creating weaker shockwaves that create less drag and permit high efficiency” (NASA). Another major design feature of the C-17 wing is the fact that they are anhedral as opposed to the more common design of dihedral wings. An anhedral wing is one where the wings are sloped downwards towards the ground rather than dihedral wings which slope upwards. According to Colin Cutler from Bold Method, dihedral wings provide a more stable aircraft and a plane with dihedral wings will have the natural tendency to return to wings level whereas a plane with anhedral wings will not. In terms of the Boeing C-17, the decreased stability of the anhedral wing was worth the performance gained from NASA’s supercritical wing design. In most cases, there is more benefit in a dihedral wing which is why most modern commercial aircraft share this design. However for the mission needs of the C-17 I do not believe that there is a better design than the anhedral super critical wings that are currently in use by them.

chris

When it comes to military aircraft, the government doesn’t skimp out on the design/functionality of the aircraft. They want the best when it comes to aircraft that are defending and providing transport for this country, so why not build the best. With a wingspan of 169 feet and 10 inches, data provided by Boeing, the C-17 is an absolute unit of an aircraft. With that big wingspan and heavy fuselage, it would need a descent amount of thrust to generate enough lift to carry this big bird into the skies. On this aircraft are 4 Pratt & Whitney engines producing a total of 40,500 pounds of thrust, which generate the necessary amount of lift required to lift the aircraft off the ground. Not only did Boeing design and manufacture this beast, but NASA also contributed to the designs of the C-17. The C-17 wings are anhedral, which displaces a negative degree slope from the wing base. An anhedral wing will also induce roll instability and improve roll maneuverability. With having an aircraft with such a big fuselage, which is going to be carrying tons of weight, it’s important to go with a wing design that has a good center of gravity. When it comes to the United States Air Force, maneuverability is everything. For instance, the C-17 has to be able to perform tactical maneuvers, landings, and takeoffs to suite the needs of the Air Force. Therefore, having an anhedral wing design would be best for this aircraft since it not only thrives on range and performance, but maneuverability as well. 

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