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At high angles of attack, the flow around the leading edge of an airfoil can separate from the airfoil, leading to a drastic loss of lift also known as stall. Separation of the flow from the surface occurs because the pressure is increasing past the initial curve of the leading edge and positive pressure gradients reduce fluid velocity; such a pressure gradient is referred to as adverse. One way to prevent this separation from occurring at high angle of attack is to apply suction at the leading edge. The suction creates an artificial negative (or favorable) pressure gradient to counteract the adverse pressure gradient and allows flow to remain attached around the shoulder of the airfoil. Suction is sometimes also used to control the transition of a boundary layer from laminar to turbulent flow.

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