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Aeroelasticity is the science which studies the interactions among inertial, elastic, and aerodynamic forces. It was defined by Arthur Collar in 1947 as "the study of the mutual interaction that takes place within the triangle of the inertial, elastic, and aerodynamic forces acting on structural members exposed to an airstream, and the influence of this study on design."



Airplane structures are not completely rigid, and aeroelastic phenomena arise when structural deformations induce changes on aerodynamic forces. The additional aerodynamic forces cause an increase in the structural deformations, which leads to greater aerodynamic forces in a feedback process. These interactions may become smaller until a condition of equilibrium is reached, or may diverge catastrophically.

Aeroelasticity can be divided in two fields of study: steady (static) and dynamic aeroelasticity.

Steady aeroelasticity

Steady aeroelasticity studies the interaction between aerodynamic and elastic forces on an elastic structure. Mass properties are not significant in the calculations of this type of phenomena.


Divergence occurs when a lifting surface deflects under aerodynamic load so as to increase the applied load, or move the load so that the twisting effect on the structure is increased. The increased load deflects the structure further, which brings the structure to the limit loads and to failure.

Control surface reversal

Control surface reversal is the loss (or reversal) of the expected response of a control surface, due to structural deformation of the main lifting surface.

Dynamic aeroelasticity

Dynamic Aeroelasticity studies the interactions among aerodynamic, elastic, and inertial forces. Examples of dynamic aeroelastic phenomena are:

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