Stall (flight)

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In fluid dynamics, a stall is a reduction in the lift coefficient generated by an airfoil as angle of attack increases. This occurs when the critical angle of attack of the airfoil is exceeded. The critical angle of attack is typically about 15 degrees, but it may vary significantly depending on the airfoil and Reynolds number. In recent years there has been an increasing use of vectored thrust in manned and unmanned aircraft to the surpass stall limit, thereby giving rise to post-stall technology. [1][2]

Because stalls are most commonly discussed in connection with aviation, this article discusses stalls mainly as they relate to aircraft, particularly fixed-wing aircraft. Stalls in fixed-wing flight are often experienced as a sudden reduction in lift as the pilot increases angle of attack and exceeds the critical angle of attack (which may be due to slowing down below stall speed in level flight). A stall does not mean that the engine(s) have stopped working, or that the aircraft has stopped moving—the effect is the same even in an unpowered glider aircraft.


Formal definition

A stall is a condition in aerodynamics and aviation where the angle of attack increases beyond a certain point such that the lift begins to decrease. The angle at which this occurs is called the critical angle of attack. This critical angle is dependent upon the profile of the wing, its planform, its aspect ratio, and other factors, but is typically in the range of 8 to 20 degrees relative to the incoming wind for most subsonic airfoils. The critical angle of attack is the angle of attack on the lift coefficient versus angle-of-attack curve at which the maximum lift coefficient occurs.

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