The integration of active flow control devices into composite wing flaps
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Delaying stall is always an attractive option in the aerospace industry. The major benefit of delaying stall is increased lift during takeoff and landings as well as during high angle of attack situations. Devices, such as fluidic oscillators, can be integrated into wing flaps to help delay the occurrence of stall by adding energized air to the airflow on the upper surface of the wing flap. The energized air from the oscillator allows the airflow to remain attached to the upper surface of the wing flap. The fluidic oscillator being integrated in this thesis is an active flow control device (AFC). One common method for integrating any device into a wing flap is to remove a section of the flap and mechanically secure the device. A current trend in the aerospace industry is the increased use of fiber-reinforced composites to replace traditional metal components on aircraft. The traditional methods of device integration cause additional complications when applied to composite components as compared to metal components. This thesis proposes an alternative method for integration of the AFC devices, which occurs before the fabrication of wing flaps is completed and they are attached to the aircraft wing. Seven design concepts are created to reduce the complications from using current methods of integration on composite wing flaps. The concepts are based on four design requirements: aerodynamics, manufacturing, maintenance, and structure. Four of the design concepts created are external designs, which place the AFC on the exterior surface of the wing flap in two types of grooved channels. The other three designs place the AFC inside the wing flap skin and are categorized as internal designs. In order for the air exiting the AFC to reach the upper surface of the wing flap, slots are created in the wing flap skin for the internal designs. Within each of the seven design concepts two design variants are created based on foam or ribbed core types. Prototypes were created for all of the external design AFC devices and the side inserted AFC and retaining pieces. Wing flap prototypes were created for the rounded groove straight AFC design, the semi-circular groove with straight AFC, and the side inserted AFC designs. The wing flaps were created using the VARTM process with a vertical layup for the external designs. The rounded groove and semi-circular groove prototypes each went through three generations of prototypes until an acceptable wing flap was created. The side inserted design utilized the lessons learned through each generation of the external design prototypes eliminating the need for multiple generations. The lessons learned through the prototyping process helped refine the designs and determine the ease of manufacturing to be used in the design evaluation. The evaluation of the designs is based on the four design requirements stated above. The assessment of the designs uses two levels of evaluation matrices to determine the most fitting design concept. As a result of the evaluation, all four of the external designs and one of the internal designs are eliminated. The two remaining internal designs' foam core and ribbed variants are compared to establish the final design selection. The vertically inserted AFC foam core design is the most fitting design concept for the integration of an AFC device into a composite wing flap.