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The International Standard Atmosphere (ISA

The International Standard Atmosphere (ISA

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1 The International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) Mustafa Cavcar  *    Anadolu University, 26470 Eskisehir, Turkey Nomenclature a  = speed of sound, m/sec  g   = acceleration of gravity, m/sec 2   h  = altitude, m or ft  p  = pressure, N/m 2  or hPa  R  = real gas constant for air, 287.04 m 2 /°Ksec 2 T   = temperature, °K or °C  ρ   = density, kg/m 3   Subscripts 0 = standard sea level conditions11 = tropopause caonditions Abbreviations ICAO = International Civil Aviation OrganizationISA = International Standard Atmosphere MSL = Mean Sea Level PA = Pressure Altitude 1. Standard Atmosphere Modeling For purposes of pressure altimeter calibrations, aircraft and rocket performance and their design, and so forth, knowledge of the vertical distribution of such quantities as pressure, temperature, density, and speed of sound is required. Since the real atmosphere never remains constant at any particular time or place, a hypothetical model must be employed as an approximation to what may be expected. This model is known as the standard atmosphere. The air in the model is assumed to be devoid of dust, moisture, and water vapor and to be at rest with respect to the Earth (that is, no winds or turbulence).  The first standard atmospheric models were developed in the 1920's in both Europe and the United States. The slight differences between the models were reconciled and an internationally accepted model was introduced in 1952 by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  The International Standard Atmosphere is defined in ICAO Document 7488/2. The ISA assumes the mean sea level (MSL) conditions as given in Table 1. *  Professor, School of Civil Aviation; mcavcar@anadolu.edu.tr.   2 Table 1 International Standard Atmosphere, Mean Sea Level Conditions Pressure = 0  p 101 325 N/m 2  = 1013.25 hPa Density = 0  ρ  1.225 kg/m 3  Temperature = 0 T  288.15°K (15°C) Speed of sound = 0 a 340.294 m/sec Acceleration of gravity  = 0  g  9.80665 m/sec 2   1.1. Temperature Modeling The following diagram (Figure 1) illustrates the temperature variations in the standard atmosphere: Figure 1 International Standard Atmosphere temperature variation . Temperature decreases with altitude at a constant rate of -6.5°C/1000m (-1.98°C/1000ft) up to the tropopause. The standard tropopause altitude is 11,000 m (36,089 ft). Therefore, the air which is considered as a perfect gas in the ISA model presents the following characteristics within the troposphere: 1000(m)5.6 0 hT T   −=  (1) or   3 1000(ft)98.1 0 hT T   −=  (2) For simple estimations, Equation (2) can be assumed 1000(ft)2 0 hT T   −=  (3) The temperature remains at a constant value of -56.5°C (216.65°K) from the tropopause up to 20,000 m (65,600 ft). This ISA model is used as a reference to compare real atmospheric conditions and the corresponding engine/aircraft performance. The atmospheric conditions will therefore be expressed as ISA +/- ∆ISA at a given flight level . Example: Let’s consider a flight in the following conditions: Altitude = 31,000 feet Actual Temperature = -37ºC The standard temperature at 31,000 feet is: 4731215  −=×−= T   ºC, whereas the actual temperature is -37ºC, i.e. 10ºC above the standard. Conclusion: The flight is operated in ISA+10 conditions 1.2. Pressure Modeling To calculate the standard pressure  p  at a given altitude, the temperature is assumed standard, and the air is assumed as a perfect gas. The altitude obtained from the measurement of the pressure is called pressure altitude (PA). Both Table 2 and Figure 2 show variation of the pressure altitude as a function of the pressure. The last column of Table 2 shows corresponding flight levels for the given pressure altitudes. The flight level is the altitude expressed in hundreds of feet. Table 2 Pressure altitude versus pressure .   4 Figure 2 Pressure altitude versus pressure . The pressure variations for the International Standard Atmosphere can be calculated by using the hydrostatic equation, perfect gas law and the temperature lapse rate equation. The hydrostatic equation for a column of air (Figure 3):  gdhdp  ρ  −=  (4) Figure 3 A small atmosphere element. The equation of state for the perfect gas:   5  RT  p  ρ  =  (5) where  R  is the real gas constant for the air. Dividing the hydrostatic equation by the equation of state gives: dh RT  g  RT  gdh pdp     −=−=  ρ  ρ   (6) The relationship between the pressure at a troposphere altitude and sea level pressure can  be obtained by integrating equation (1) between 0 0  = h  and h : ∫ ∫ =  −−=  p phh hT dh R g  pdp 00 00 0065.0 Performing the above integration, we obtain: 2561.500 0065.01     −= T h p p  (7) In equation (7), the unit of 0 T   is °K, and h  is in meters. Pressure above the tropopause For the altitudes above the tropopause, the temperature is constant, so that integrating equation (6) from the tropopause to an altitude above the tropopause: ∫ ∫ = −=  p phh dh RT  g  pdp 1111 1100011  results in )(11 1111 hh RT  g  e p p −− =  (8) where the parameters with subscript “11” correspond to the values at the tropopause, and = 11  p 226.32 hPa, = 11 T  216.65 °K, and = 11 h 11,000 m 1.3. Density Modeling Since the pressure and standard temperature are known for a given altitude, the standard density can easily be calculated from the perfect gas equation (5):
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