Oil Flow on 2D wing section in wind tunnel.

What is a Vortex Generator?

In simple terms a vortex generator is a device that creates a swirl or “vortex” of fluid due to its shape. A great deal of research has been done to develop guidelines to determine the size and shape of a proper vortex generator. Vortex generators come in many shapes and sizes depending on their intended use. Some examples are shown here.

How do vortex generators work?

Vortex generators work by mixing high-energy fluid (freestream air in this case) with the lower energy fluid found near the skin surface, called the boundary layer. This process is called re-energizing the boundary layer. The higher energy fluid is now more resistant to separation and allows for higher performance of the aircraft. Technically speaking, a vortex generator increases the mean streamwise momentum of the boundary layer by drawing in high momentum fluid from the freestream.

Why do I want to put vortex generators on my airplane?

Vortex generators can be used to improve the performance of aircraft in a variety of ways. If properly sized and positioned vortex generators can be used to lower the stall speed of an aircraft, improve stability and control during maneuvering, decrease turning radius, decrease takeoff distance and increase takeoff weight. For commercial aircraft this can mean higher payloads and increased safety. While the general aviation pilot will enjoy better maneuverability as well as the increase in safety.

Can vortex generators cause any problems with my airplane?

All of ATS’s vortex generator kits have undergone many hours of development and flight testing to provide the highest benefit without causing any harmful effects.

What happens if some of my vortex generators are missing?

ATS’s kits have been designed to allow you to fly your airplane if some of the vortex generators are missing. The minimum number of vortex generators varies between kits and is listed in the supplementary AFM.

Are ATS’s vortex generator kits certified by the FAA?

With the exception of our kits for experimental airplanes, all of ATS’s vortex generator kits are certified by the FAA and come with an approved STC.