Physics based prediction of aeromechanical loads for the UH-60A rotor
Marpu, Ritu Priyanka
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Helicopters in forward flight experience complex aerodynamic phenomena to various degrees. In low speed level flight, the vortex wake remains close to the rotor disk and interacts with the rotor blades to give rise to blade vortex interaction phenomena. In high speed flight, compressibility effects dominate leading to the formation of shocks. If the required thrust is high, the combination of high collective pitch and cyclic pitch variations give rise to three-dimensional dynamic stall phenomena. Maneuvers further exacerbate the unsteady airloads and affect rotor and hub design. The strength and durability of the rotor blades and hub components is dependent on accurate estimates of peak-to-peak structural loads. Accurate knowledge of control loads is important for sizing the expensive swash-plate components and assuring long fatigue life. Over the last two decades, computational tools have been developed for modeling rotorcraft aeromechanics. In spite of this progress, loads prediction in unsteady maneuvers which is critical for peak design loads continues to be a challenging task. The primary goal of this research effort is to investigate important physical phenomena that cause severe loads on the rotor in steady flight and in extreme maneuvers. The present work utilizes a hybrid Navier-Stokes/free-wake CFD methodology coupled to a finite element based multi-body dynamics analysis to systematically study steady level and maneuvering flight conditions. Computational results are presented for the UH-60A rotor for a parametric sweep of speed and thrust conditions and correlated with test data at the NFAC Wind Tunnel. Good agreement with test data has been achieved using the current methodology for trim settings and integrated hub loads, torque, and power. Two severe diving turn maneuvers for the UH-60A recorded in the NASA/Army Airloads Flight Tests Database have also been investigated. These maneuvers are characterized by high load factors and high speed flight. The helicopter experiences significant vibration during these maneuvers. Mean and peak-to-peak structural loads and extensive stall phenomena including an advancing side stall phenomena have been captured by the present analyses.