Jump to content

Article-- Wing Loading

Recommended Posts

Aero-Tips 09.14.06


Different airplanes handle differently. That should be pretty obvious, but why is this so? There are many factors that affect an airplane's handling -- one of them is wing loading.


Wing loading describes the amount of aircraft weight carried by the wing. It's usually calculated as the airplane's maximum takeoff weight divided by the wing area, and measured in pounds per square foot.


(Note: the units are arbitrary; it could just as easily be expressed in fanegas per hectare. Okay, maybe not as easily).


An airplane with a lower wing loading (more wing for the weight) can takeoff off in a shorter distance and outclimb a similar-weight airplane with less wing (higher wing loading). They can also carry more aircraft weight for the same engine power…more wing is pulled (or pushed) through the air by the engine, so more lift is generated to counter weight.


The downside is that lower wing-loading airplanes are more affected by turbulence. With less directional inertia (per unit of wing area) and more wing area on which a gust can act, the lightly-loaded wing will bounce around a lot more than an airplane with higher wing loading. It's not the only factor, but wing loading determines in large part how a particular airplane will ride in turbulent conditions.


In general, if you want a good ride you want higher wing loading, but if short-field performance and maneuverability are important to you, low wing loading is superior.


For comparison purposes let's look at the wing loading of a few personal aircraft, to gauge (at least initially) how they might takeoff, climb, turn and ride compared to others:



You can divide your airplane's maximum takeoff weight by the wing area to see how it stacks up.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...