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How to Analyze the Pitch, Lift and Drag Coefficients?


When you think of an external aerodynamics simulation, the first thing you need to quantify is the drag of the body under test. For example, if you want to analyze an airplane or a car, we would mainly focus on the three dominant design parameters such as lift, drag and the pitch moment. This article describes what to do on the example of the drag coefficient, but the other ones are applied with the same workflow.


This can be achieved through using SimScale, by simply setting the result outputs as described below. You find this menu under result control → forces and moment coefficients.

setup lift drag pitch
Example settings for lift, drag and pitch

Lift and Drag Direction

You need to assign those according to your coordinate system. Like the picture above demonstrates, drag pulls the aircraft back. In our example, drag is in the positive X-direction. This is why we need to set the value for X-axis as 1 for the drag. Accordingly, looking at the Lift direction, the Y-axis is 1 and the Pitch axis corresponds to the Z-axis in this case.

Freestream Velocity

Freestream velocity is the velocity of your airplane or vehicle in most cases. You can choose the inlet velocity here.

Reference Length and Area 

We need the reference length, to analyze the pitch coefficient. It is important to take the same value for all your calculations in order to be able to compare them.

The reference area is important for calculating the lift and drag coefficients. Depending on the industry and the application, different areas are commonly used. One possibility is to use the frontal area which is often used as the reference area for calculating the drag coefficient. However, one can also use the wing area as the reference area, which is often used if one is rather interested in the lift coefficient. Make sure to use the same value for all your calculations.


Note that both reference length and area can change for specific cases, so we recommend finding it out for your specific application.

Pick Faces

Pick the faces for which you want to analyze the coefficients. You can do this for single parts or the whole assembly.


If none of the above suggestions solved your problem, please post the issue on our forum or contact us.

Last updated: October 12th, 2020

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