Can an Aircraft Hover or Stop Midair?

With a typical fixed-wing airplane, one can now traverse the globe in times never before thought possible, as countries across the world are now just hours away instead of weeks or months. A majority of these fast-moving aircraft utilize a similar design where engines create forward momentum and wings ensure ample lift. These are the types of aircraft that we are used to in our current day, but one may wonder if we have the ability to create the science-fiction-like aircraft that hover, glide, and otherwise have full control of how they move. While these aircraft are fictional, we do actually have some aircraft that are able to take off vertically before gliding forward, not accounting for helicopters. 

As stated before, a majority of aircraft utilize forward momentum to create lift, and as such, they would quickly fall out of the sky if they were to lose their motion and forward movement. Additionally, there is often not a practical purpose for creating an aircraft that is specifically designed for hovering as it would only be used for a short time while landing or taking off. Hovering also requires a much greater energy expenditure, and aircraft capable of it are often heavier and slower than other models. Despite these various drawbacks, aircraft capable of hovering are still made to this day, so the question is “why?”

A majority of aircraft that have hovering capabilities are within the sphere of military sectors, and there is an important reason for this. Aircraft for aerial superiority are often a crucial tool in waging war, and some spaces may not accommodate for the long take-off distances that many fixed-wing aircraft require to first begin flight. This may be because there is a lack of infrastructure surrounding a base, or one may even be operating on a naval carrier runways are very limited. As such, aircraft known as “VTOLs” are regularly used in these instances.

VTOL aircraft, or vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, are those that are able to hover. VTOLs will often feature one of two types of technologies, those being tilt-rotor and thrust vectoring designs. Tilt-rotor aircraft are those that feature power rotors which create lift for takeoff, and these are typically found at the end of the aircraft’s wings. One well-known example of this type of aircraft is the V-22 Osprey. For other aircraft, thrust vectoring is used, and these models rely on rocket thrust for vertical propulsion. The Harrier Jump Jet is a common thrust-vectoring aircraft, capable of vertical takeoffs and landings.

While VTOL aircraft hover, so too do those that take advantage of balanced forces. This is when an aircraft has four forces acting in opposite directions while in the air, those being thrust, drag, lift, and weight. While thrust propels the aircraft forward, lift will keep it in the air. At the same time, drag will prevent forward movement, and weight will push it downward. When these four forces are equal, the aircraft will begin to hover.

If you operate a fixed-wing aircraft, rotary-wing aircraft, VTOL, or other aircraft type, look no further than NSN Purchasing for all your operational needs. On our website, you can save time and money while procuring all the airplane engine parts, helicopter rotor blade components, aircraft fuselage products, and aircraft propellers you require. With our online RFQ service, requesting quotes has never been easier as all you need to do is provide us with your information, and we will craft a customized solution for your needs in 15 minutes or less. If you have any questions, give us a call or email today and connect with a team member who would be more than happy to assist you however they can! 


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