Aerospace2016, 3(3), 26; doi:10.3390/aerospace3030026 (registering DOI) - published 26 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The special type of aircrafts in which the human power of the pilot is sufficient to take off and sustain flight are known as Human-Powered Aircrafts (HPAs). To explore the peculiarities of these aircrafts, the aerodynamic performance of an existing design is evaluated first, using both the vortex lattice method and computational fluid dynamics. In a second step, it is attempted to design and optimize a new HPA capable of winning the Kremer International Marathon Competition. The design will be special in that it allows one to include a second pilot on board the aircraft. As the structural deflection of the wing is found to be a key aspect during design, fluid–structure interaction simulations are performed and included in the optimization procedure. To assess the feasibility of winning the competition, the physical performance of candidate pilots is measured and compared with the predicted required power.
Abstract: Over the last decade, aircraft morphing technology has drawn a lot of attention in the aerospace community, because it is likely to improve the aerodynamic performance and the versatility of aircraft at different flight regimes. With the fast paced advancements in this field, a parallel stream of research is studying different materials and designs to develop reliable morphing skins. A promising candidate for a viable morphing skin is the sliding skin, where two or more rigid surfaces remain in contact and slide against each other during morphing. The overlapping between each two panels create a backward-facing step on the airfoil surface which has a critical effect on the aerodynamics of the wing. This paper presents a numerical study of the effect of employing a backward-facing step on the suction side of a National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) 2412 airfoil at a high Reynolds number of 5.9 × 106. The effects of the step location on the lift coefficient, drag coefficient and critical angle of attack are studied to find a favorable location for the step along the chord-wise direction. Results showed that employing a step on the suction side of the NACA 2412 airfoil can adversely affect the aforementioned aerodynamic properties. A drop of 21.1% in value of the lift coefficient and an increase of 120.8% in the drag coefficient were observed in case of a step located at 25% of the chord length. However, these effects are mitigated by shifting the step location towards the trailing edge. Introducing a step on the airfoil caused the airfoil’s thickness to change, which in turn has affected the transition point of the viscous boundary layer from laminar to turbulent. The location of the step, prior or post the transition point, has a noteworthy effect on the pressure and shear stress distribution, and consequently on the values of the lift and drag coefficients.
Abstract: The capability of flapping wings to generate lift is currently evaluated by using the lift coefficient , a dimensionless number that is derived from the basal equation that calculates the steady-state lift coefficient CL for fixed wings. In contrast to its simple and direct application to fixed wings, the equation for requires prior knowledge of the flow field along the wing span, which results in two integrations: along the wing span and over time. This paper proposes an alternate average normalized lift that is easy to apply to hovering and forward flapping flight, does not require prior knowledge of the flow field, does not resort to calculus for its solution, and its lineage is close to the basal equation for steady state CL. Furthermore, the average normalized lift converges to the legacy CL as the flapping frequency is reduced to zero (gliding flight). Its ease of use is illustrated by applying the average normalized lift to the hovering and translating flapping flight of bumblebees. This application of the normalized lift is compared to the same application using two widely-accepted legacy average lift coefficients: the first as defined by Dudley and Ellington, and the second lift coefficient by Weis-Fogh. Furthermore, it is shown that the average normalized lift has a physical meaning: that of the ratio of work exerted by the flapping wings onto the surrounding flow field and the kinetic energy available at the aerodynamic surfaces during the generation of lift. The working equation for the average normalized lift is derived and is presented as a function of Strouhal number, St.
Abstract: An analysis of the kinematics of a flapping membrane wing using experimental kinematic data is presented. This motion capture technique tracks the positon of the retroreflective marker(s) placed on the left wing of a 1.3-m-wingspan ornithopter. The time-varying three-dimensional data of the wing kinematics were recorded for a single frequency. The wing shape data was then plotted on a two-dimensional plane to understand the wing dynamic behaviour of an ornithopter. Specifically, the wing tip path, leading edge bending, wing membrane shape, local twist, stroke angle and wing velocity were analyzed. As the three characteristic angles can be expressed in the Fourier series as a function of time, the kinematics of the wing can be computationally generated for the aerodynamic study of flapping flight through the Fourier coefficients presented. Analysis of the ornithopter wing showed how the ornithopter closely mimics the flight motions of birds despite several physical limitations.
Abstract: A recent alleged “drone” collision with a British Airways Airbus A320 at Heathrow Airport highlighted the need to understand civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) accidents and incidents (events). This understanding will facilitate improvements in safety by ensuring efforts are focused to reduce the greatest risks. One hundred and fifty two RPAS events were analyzed. The data was collected from a 10-year period (2006 to 2015). Results show that, in contrast to commercial air transportation (CAT), RPAS events have a significantly different distribution when categorized by occurrence type, phase of flight, and safety issue. Specifically, it was found that RPAS operations are more likely to experience (1) loss of control in-flight, (2) events during takeoff and in cruise, and (3) equipment problems. It was shown that technology issues, not human factors, are the key contributor in RPAS events. This is a significant finding, as it is contrary to the industry view which has held for the past quarter of a century that human factors are the key contributor (which is still the case for CAT). Regulators should therefore look at technologies and not focus solely on operators.
Abstract: This review describes a number of biologically inspired principles that have been applied to the visual guidance, navigation and control of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). The current limitations of UAS systems are outlined, such as the over-reliance on GPS, the requirement for more self-reliant systems and the need for UAS to have a greater understanding of their environment. It is evident that insects, even with their small brains and limited intelligence, have overcome many of the shortcomings of the current state of the art in autonomous aerial guidance. This has motivated research into bio-inspired systems and algorithms, specifically vision-based navigation, situational awareness and guidance.