Enhancement of aeroelastic rotor airload prediction methods
Abras, Jennifer N.
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The accurate prediction of rotor air loads is a current topic of interest in the rotorcraft community. The complex nature of this loading makes this problem especially difficult. Some of the issues that must be considered include transonic effects on the advancing blade, dynamic stall effects on the retreating blade, and wake vortex interactions with the blades, fuselage, and other components. There are numerous codes to perform these predictions, both aerodynamic and structural, but until recently each code has refined either the structural or aerodynamic aspect of the analysis without serious consideration to the other, using only simplified modules to represent the physics. More recent research has concentrated on combining high fidelity CFD and CSD computations to be able to use the most accurate codes available to compute both the structural and the aerodynamic aspects. The objective of the research is to both evaluate and extend a range of prediction methods comparing both accuracy and computational expense. This range covers many methods where the highest accuracy method shown is a delta loads coupling between an unstructured CFD code and a comprehensive code, and the lowest accuracy, but highest efficiency, is found through a free wake and comprehensive code coupling using simplified 2D aerodynamics. From here methods to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the CFD code will be considered through implementation of steady-state grid adaptation, a time accurate low Mach number preconditioning method, and the use of fully articulated rigid blade motion. The exact formulation of the 2D aerodynamic model used in the CSD code will be evaluated, as will efficiency improvements to the free wake code. The advantages of the free-wake code will be tested against a dynamic inflow model. A comparison of all of these methods will show the advantages and consequences of each combination, including the types of physics that each method is able to, or not able to, capture through examination of how closely each method matches flight test data.