airplane wake

The wake behind an airplane can be modeled as an evolving vortex sheet, where time represents distance behind the trailing edge. Initially, three spiral vortices form on each side of the wake due to non-uniform loading produced by the wing tips, the fuselage and the flaps. For early times, the motion can be understood in terms of simple vortex dynamics: two like-signed vortices rotate around one another, and two opposite-signed vortices propagate in space. Later in time, more complex interactions occur.


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Krasny, R. (1987) Computation of vortex sheet roll-up in the Trefftz plane, J. Fluid Mech. 184, 123-155