Pros and cons of high-wing vs. low-wing design

maimou
  • Pros and cons of high-wing vs. low-wing design maimou

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of a high-wing vs. low-wing aircraft design? When might one prefer one to the other?

    Is the answer the same for large and small aircraft?

  • This is actually a really hard question to answer, as there are a ton of factors. I'll try to cover a few.

    • Visibility is probably the reason you most hear when it comes to GA pilots.
      • High-wing aircraft offer better visibility below the aircraft, especially for passengers in 4-seat or larger aircraft, as the wing doesn't block it.
      • Low-wing aircraft can offer better visibility above the aircraft, as the wing remains mostly out of the field of view.
      • Note that a lot of midair collisions involve mixed types; low-wing aircraft descend into high-wing, or high-wing aircraft climb into low-wing.
    • Landing characteristics are different, as low-wing aircraft can incur more ground effect than high-wing.
    • Aerodynamic stability of the two designs differs a bit; the center of lift can be higher in a high-wing design, often offset with dihedral in low-wing aircraft.
    • Ground clearance (and debris protection), specifically in multi-engine aircraft, is going to be greater when engines are mounted on a high wing rather than a low wing. This is true of both propeller and jet engines, although propellers tend to have a larger radius for a given aircraft size.

    There are a bunch more, but that ought to get the argument discussion going.

  • @Egid, your already gave really good and correct answer dealing with the most important benefits and downsides, or simple the most significant differences. I like to follow your invitation and add the differences I thought of and you have not already mentioned:

    The additional ground clearance also benefits the maximum crosswind some high-wing aircraft can cope with, what in my eyes is also an important point.

    Also high wing aircraft - talking about light sports - benefit the design of the fuel system as it allows consumption from boath tanks simultaneously without installation of additional fuel pumps - this is not only a benefit for lazy pilots but has probably already prevented some accidents.

    Now somebody needs to answer me, why I'm flying low-wing ;)

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