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Vehicle Performance Consultancy

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Vehicle performance is the study of the motion of a vehicle. The motion of any vehicle depends upon all the forces and moments that act upon it. These forces and moments, for the most part are caused by interaction of the vehicle with the surrounding medium(s) such as air or water (e.g. fluid static and dynamic forces), gravitational attraction (gravity forces), Earth’s surface (support, ground, or landing gear forces), and on-board energy consuming devices such as rocket, turbojet, piston engine and propellers (propulsion forces).

Consequently, in order to fully understand the performance problem, it is necessary to study and in some way characterize these interacting forces. Although these four categories of forces are the dominating ones acting on the vehicles of our interest, it should be pointed our that other forces can enter into the performance considerations with varying degrees of participation (e.g. magnetic, electrostatic).


Vehicle Performance Consultancy

These types of forces will be neglected for the present studies. For performance studies vehicles are usually assumed to behave as rigid bodies, that is structural deflections are generally ignored. In most cases this is a good assumption and it simplifies analysis considerably.

Under this assumption, a theorem from the dynamics of rigid bodies states that the motion of a rigid body can be separated into the motion of the center-ofmass (translational motion), and the motion about the center-of-mass (rotational or attitude motion). Further it can be shown that the center-of-mass motion or translational motion is caused only by the forces that act on the vehicle while the rotational motion is caused only by the moments about the center-of-of mass that act on the vehicle.

For detailed studies of vehicle motion, both rotational and translational motions must be considered simultaneously since these motions cause both forces and moments to act on the vehicle (e.g. aerodynamic forces and moments). Hence there is a coupling between the two motions through the forces and moments that they generate (translational motion can cause moments as well as forces and rotational motion can cause forces as well as moments). However, there is a large class of problems that may be considered under the assumption that these two types of motion can be separated. 

That is we can look at the force – center-of-mass motion, and the moment – rotational motion independent of each other. Studies concerning center-of-mass motion are called trajectory and/or performance analysis while those concerning rotational or attitude motions are called static stability and control analysis

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