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Aerodynamic and Geometric Parameters Affecting Aircraft Weight


Ballhaus, William Francis (1947) Aerodynamic and Geometric Parameters Affecting Aircraft Weight. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/T60T-F120.


A number of single engine conventional aircraft are studied to investigate the possibility of applying statistical methods to the problem of aircraft weight estimation. It is shown that the statistical treatment is definitely useful. It is also shown that, without proper care and judgment, such a statistical treatment leads to somewhat misleading results. The need for structural and aerodynamic training and experience together with essential weight estimating experience is evident. Such experience is requisite to arriving at proper weight estimates when basing these estimates upon the weights of aircraft which have previously been designed and built.

It was hoped that the effects of all of the important aerodynamic and geometric parameters upon aircraft weight would be found from this study of successful single engine aircraft. It was further hoped that the results of this study would be applicable to the difficult problem of estimating the weight of new aircraft. The number of aircraft in the sample for which pertinent information was available was not large enough to permit the evaluation of the effects of all of the parameters although most of the important parameters and their essential effects have been indicated. Lack of complete information due to the restricted or confidential nature of the data was one of the most troublesome handicaps. The latter problem of obtaining weight estimating procedure has, however, been solved since satisfactory weight estimating formulas have been developed for use in basic design weight estimates.

It is this latter result for which the entire study was made. That is, the study was initiated to offer assistance to practicing preliminary design engineers by providing usable information concerning the effects of such factors as gross weight, load factor, and wing span upon aircraft weight. Such information should be invaluable to assist in arriving at the optimum aircraft design with respect to performance, maneuverability, and utility.

All the useful estimating formulas are summarized on page 43. Also included are the calculated probable errors of estimate.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Aeronautics and Mathematics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Aeronautics
Minor Option:Mathematics
Awards:Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award, 1978
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Unknown, Unknown
Group:GALCIT, Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:23 May 1947
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-10302003-152006
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:4321
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:06 Nov 2003
Last Modified:22 Jul 2021 18:51

Thesis Files

PDF (Ballhaus_wf_1947.pdf) - Final Version
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