Nature and physics of wake turbulence

  • Wake turbulence is the turbulence generated by an aircraft in flight
  • It has several components, the most significant are wing tip vortices and jetwash
  • Wing tip vortices represent a significant hazard for an aircraft following another one
  • Jetwash (and propwash) also represent a hazard, but
    these disturbances disperse more quickly than the wake vortex
  • Wing tip vortices are a consequence of the pressure differential between the lower and upper surface of the wing moving through the air
  • Vortices are counter-rotating masses of air trailing behind the wing tip
  • The strength of vortices depends on the mass and speed of the aircraft and the shape of the wing
  • The vortices persist behind the generating aircraft for up to five minutes while descending slowly