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Aviation Glossary :: Spoiler  Aviation Glossary :: Spoiler FAA Written Test Preparation
Aviation Glossary Welcome to the Dauntless Aviation Glossary!

At Dauntless, our editorial staff maintains the web's largest unified glossary of aviation terms. This glossary is built from a combination of official, quasi-official, and proprietary sources (including original material that we develop oursselves). Uniquely, we often provide multiple definitions of a given term so that you can find that which best applies to you. In order to maximize your learning efficiency, this glossary (and similar ones for our international users) is incresingly fully integrated into our aviation learning apps, including our FAA written test prep and FAA practical test prep software and apps. If you like this glossary, you'll love them with their polished learning environments and world's best and clearest content (please do give them a try.).

Spoiler
Spoiler
A long, movable, narrow plate along the upper surface of an airplane wing used to reduce lift and increase drag by breaking or spoiling the smoothness of the airflow.
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source: FAA Aerosense Glossary

In aeronautics, a spoiler (sometimes called a lift dumper) is a device intended to reduce lift in an aircraft. Spoilers are plates on the top surface of a wing that can be extended upward into the airflow to spoil it. By so doing, the spoiler creates a controlled stall over the portion of the wing behind it, greatly reducing the lift of that wing section. Spoilers differ from air brakes in that air brakes are designed to increase drag without regard to affecting the lift, while spoilers reduce lift as well as increase drag.

Spoilers fall into two categories: those that are deployed at controlled angles during flight to increase descent rate or control roll, and those that are fully deployed immediately on landing to greatly reduce lift ("lift dumpers") and increase drag. In modern fly-by-wire aircraft, the same set of spoilers serve in both functions.

Spoilers are used by nearly every glider (sailplane) to control their rate of descent and thus achieve a controlled landing at a desired spot. An increased rate of descent can also be achieved by lowering the nose of an aircraft, but this would result in an excessive landing speed. Spoilers enable the approach to be made at a safe speed for landing.

Airliners are almost always fitted with spoilers. Spoilers are used to assist descent to lower altitudes without picking up speed. Their use is often limited, however, as the turbulent airflow that develops behind them causes noise and vibration, which may cause discomfort to passengers. Spoilers may also be differentially operated for roll control instead of ailerons; Martin Aircraft was the first company to develop such spoilers in 1948. On landing, however, the spoilers are nearly always used at full effect to help slow the aircraft. The increase in form drag created by the spoilers directly assists the braking effect. However, the real gain comes as the spoilers cause a dramatic loss of lift and hence the weight of the aircraft is transferred from the wings to the undercarriage, allowing the wheels to be mechanically braked with less tendency to skid. (Reverse thrust is also often used to help slow the aircraft on landing.)

In air-cooled piston engine aircraft, spoilers may be needed to avoid shock cooling the engines. In a descent without spoilers, air speed is increased and the engine will be at low power, producing less heat than normal. The engine may cool too rapidly, resulting in stuck valves, cracked cylinders or other problems. Spoilers alleviate the situation by allowing the aircraft to descend at a desired rate while letting the engine run at a power setting that keeps it from cooling too quickly. (This is particularly true for turbocharged piston engines, which generate higher temperatures than normally aspirated engines.)

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source: Wikitionary / Wikipedia and Related Sources (Edited)


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Disclaimer: While this glossary in most cases is likely to be highly accurate and useful, sometimes, for any number of editorial, transcription, technical, and other reasons, it might not be. Additionally, as somtimes you may have found yourself brought to this page through an automated term matching system, you may find definitions here that do not match the cotext or application in which you saw the original term. Please use your good judgement when using this resource.


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