The clean, sleek appearance and the splendid performance characteristics of modern airplanes, even the most inexpensive training airplanes, reflect the demands of modern travel, business, and industry. The present day airplane is clean and sleek because aerodynamic cleanness of line, and efficiency of design, result in greater range, speed, and payload at the least operating cost. Although this is especially important in the functions of large jet transports, it is also a principal factor in the operation of executive and personal type airplanes.
"Performance" is a term used to describe the ability of an airplane to accomplish certain things which make it useful for certain purposes. For example, the ability of the airplane to land and take off in a very short distance is an important factor to the pilot who operates in and out of confined fields. The ability to carry heavy loads, fly at high altitudes at fast speeds, or travel long distances is essential performance for operators of airline and executive type airplanes.
The chief elements of performance are the takeoff and landing distance, rate of climb, ceiling, payload, range, speed, maneuverability, stability, and fuel economy. Some of these factors are often directly opposed: for example, high speed versus shortness of landing distance; long range versus great payload; and high rate of climb versus fuel economy. It is the preeminence of one or more of these factors which dictates differences between airplanes and which explains the high degree of specialization found in modern airplanes.
The various items of airplane performance result from the
combination of airplane and powerplant characteristics. The aerodynamic
characteristics of the airplane generally define the power and thrust requirements
at various conditions of flight while powerplant characteristics generally
define the power and thrust available at various conditions of flight.
The matching of the aerodynamic configuration with the powerplant is accomplished
by the manufacturer to provide maximum performance at the specific design
condition, e.g., range, endurance, climb, etc.