Aerodynamic models rely on wind tunnel and flight test data for their accuracy. However, many references list formulas for estimating stability derivatives based on geometry and mass properties alone . These stability derivatives can serve as the coefficients in a basic polynomial model.
Many stability derivatives are constant for any trim point or transient point of significance. The polynomial model does not require higher-order terms to represent such relationships. However, some stability derivatives (for example, ) vary with flight condition. The model requires higher-order terms to account for the variation.
Obviously, not all forces depend on all variables. Linear stability analysis decouples longitudinal motion from lateral-directional motion. Many of these coupled terms are not needed. However, in flight simulation, there are some coupled terms. Some of these terms, such as and , are fairly significant terms that stability analysis neglects to decouple the motions. Other terms, such as , depend on the lift coefficient, which is considered constant in stability analysis. The equivalent term in flight simulation is a mixed coupled term: .
There are several nonlinear terms. Arguably, the most important relationship is CZ versus . While this relationship is linear for low angles of attack, the onset of stall destroys this linearity. Modeling stall requires higher order terms; probably at least fifth-order for a close match. The relationship between CMand is also nonlinear beyond stall; if the flight simulator models CZ beyond stall, it should model CM beyond stall also. (Other relationships may lose their linearity beyond stall also; however, it is not considered worthwhile to model these in a simple polynomial model.)
Another nonlinear relationship is CX versus . Basic airplane performance calculations treat this relationship as quadratic, which is sufficient for a polynomial model, also.
Equations 54-59 present a basic polynomial
model, with some nonlinear terms.
The major benefit of the basic model is that its coefficients are simple to calculate. Most coefficients stem from basic stability and performance equations, while a simple polynomial curve fit determines the higher order terms in Equations 54 and 56.