How many of us think wake turbulence is a problem only behind a large commercial aircraft?
Well, you need to know that you are wrong!
On September 9, 2012 a Robin DR400 with one pilot and three passengers crashed on takeoff due to wake turbulence behind an Antonov AN-2 aircraft which had departed just 39 seconds before the DR400.
In this dramatic footage the accident is caught on video. The video has been edited to explain what happened and why - a lesson for all of us.
DR400 Wake Turbulence Accident Video
Antonov AN-2 Aircraft
The Antonov AN-2 is a Soviet manufactured single engine bi-plane which has been in production since 1946. It is used as a light utility transport for missions requiring a slow flying biplane such as parachute jumping, aerial application and use on short, non-improved airstrips.
It carries a crew of 1-2 and 12 passengers and has a maximum takeoff weight of 12,000 pounds. It is powered by a 9 cylinder supercharged radial engine rated at 1,000 hp. Maximum cruise speed is 120 mph and a range of 525 miles.
This is the aircraft that took off just 39 seconds before the DR400 departed, and the wake turbulence it generated was found to be the cause of this tragic accident.
What Is Wake Turbulence?
Any aircraft in flight will cause wake vortex turbulence which can be dangerous to another aircraft which is too close behind.
Aircraft wings generate lift which is what allows an aircraft to fly. Lift is the result of a pressure differential over the wings surfaces. The pressure on the top of the wing is lowest and the bottom of wing produces the highest pressure.
As the aircraft wing moves through the air the pressure differential between the two creates rolling vortices coming off of the wing tips.
These vortices can be very strong depending upon the weight, speed and shape of the aircraft wings.
They will trail the aircraft for approximately one to three minutes before they dissipate.
Never assume! Always allow adequate time before following a departing aircraft too closely. Even an aircraft the size of this AN-2 can generate enough wake turbulence to cause the following aircraft to upset if it is too close behind!
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
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