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Rain And Handling Characteristics

Thu May 04, 2006 4:43 pm

This might be a silly question, but i just have to ask it after some great visuals on a recent flight. Over the weekend I flew on an AA MD-80 from ORD to MCI. It was raining steadily when we tookoff, and the rain continued till what seemed like around 10K feet. I was seated just ahead of the wing, and while the wing/ice (or whatever they're called) lights were on, I had a fascinating view of the rain streaking by the window and impacting the wings with a billion tiny splashes every second. Always a treat, since my last few flights have been uncomfortably bumpy with nothing fun to look at.

Anyway, although the rain probably appeared much heavier than it actually was, since we were cutting through it at 250 Kts, I wonder if the presence of abundant water in the air effects the basic handling characterstics of the plane. I suspect any replies to include a resounding "no," but hey, I've been surprised before on this forum. Thanks for any answers,

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RE: Rain And Handling Characteristics

Fri May 05, 2006 6:07 am

I don't expect it to be noticeable in airliners, but it does decrease the stall angle of attack and available lift (i e decrease stall speed) and increase drag.

Usually there's a downdraft if there's heavy rain (not gonna say always, as there's always an exception), meaning you won't notice the above effects.

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RE: Rain And Handling Characteristics

Fri May 05, 2006 6:27 am

The one thing rain CAN affect is engines, although you need a pretty hefty downpour. Measures are taken to ensure continuous ignition in these conditions. Still, modern engines don't really have a high risk of flameout due to rain.
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RE: Rain And Handling Characteristics

Fri May 05, 2006 6:42 am

What's the difference between flying through rain and flying through a cloud? They are both condensed water vapor, just that the cloud is a large number of tiny droplets and rain is a smaller number of big drops.

Which is more dense? Which causes more drag?
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