Application of hybrid methodology to rotors in steady and maneuvering flight

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Rajmohan, Nischint
Sankar, Lakshmi N.
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Helicopters are versatile flying machines that have capabilities that are unparalleled by fixed wing aircraft, such as operating in hover, performing vertical take-off and landing on unprepared sites. However, modern helicopters still suffer from high levels of noise and vibration caused by the physical phenomena occurring in the vicinity of the rotor blades. Therefore, improvement in rotorcraft design to reduce the noise and vibration levels requires understanding of the underlying physical phenomena, and accurate prediction capabilities of the resulting rotorcraft aeromechanics. The goal of this research is to study the aeromechanics of rotors in steady and maneuvering flight using hybrid Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) methodology. The hybrid CFD methodology uses the Navier-Stokes equations to solve the flow near the blade surface but the effect of the far wake is computed through the wake model. The hybrid CFD methodology is computationally efficient and its wake modeling approach is non-dissipative making it an attractive tool to study rotorcraft aeromechanics. Several enhancements were made to the CFD methodology and it was coupled to a Computational Structural Dynamics (CSD) methodology to perform a trimmed aeroelastic analysis of a rotor in forward flight. The coupling analyses, both loose and tight were used to identify the key physical phenomena that affect rotors in different steady flight regimes. The modeling enhancements improved the airloads predictions for a variety of flight conditions. It was found that the tightly coupled method did not impact the loads significantly for steady flight conditions compared to the loosely coupled method. The coupling methodology was extended to maneuvering flight analysis and the flight test control angles were employed to enable the maneuvering flight analysis. The fully coupled model provided the presence of three dynamic stall cycles on the rotor in maneuver. Analysis of maneuvering flight requires knowledge of the pilot input control pitch settings, and the vehicle states. As the result, these computational tools cannot be used for analysis of loads in a maneuver that has not been duplicated in a real flight. This is a significant limitation if these tools are to be selected during the design phase of a helicopter where its handling qualities are evaluated in different trajectories. Therefore, a methodology was developed to couple the CFD/CSD simulation with an inverse flight mechanics simulation to perform the maneuver analysis without using the flight test control input. The methodology showed reasonable convergence in steady and maneuvering flight regimes and control angle predictions compared fairly well with test data. In the maneuvering flight regions, the convergence was slower due to relaxation techniques used for the numerical stability. Further, the enhancement of the rotor inflow computations in the inverse simulation through implementation of a Lagrangean wake model improved the convergence of the coupling methodology.
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